Document Type


Publication Date



"[T]he working class and the employing class have nothing in common ....” So began the Preamble to the Constitution of the I.W.W., the Industrial Workers of the World. "Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the World organize as a class, take possession of the earth, and the machinery of production and abolish the wage system." Nicknamed the Wobblies, this group advocated a form of militant unionism built around the ideal of One Big Union embracing all industries. The I.W.W. enjoyed its strongest appeal among the miners, loggers, agricultural laborers, and construction workers of the West during the years preceding World War I. Because of their revolutionary rhetoric and frequent involvement in strikes that led to violence, the Wobblies came to occupy a special place in the demonologies of both the American business community and the moderate labor union movement.

The advent of World War I exacerbated the class conflicts on which the Wobblies thrived. Like some other segments of the populace, the Wobblies viewed the nation's entry into the war with suspicion, considering it a sacrifice of the lives of workingmen to protect the profits of J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller. A Wobbly response to military recruitment appeals was the slogan, "Don't Be a Soldier, Be a Man." When the government embarked on a campaign to increase wartime industrial production, some Wobblies distributed posters that read: "Slow down. The hours are long, the pay is small, so take your time and buck them all."


Constitutional Law | First Amendment | Law