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Use History to Win

Labor needs to take a historical look at the philosophy of the industrial unionism. The fast food low-wage workers should embrace what Big Bill Haywood shouted out at a meeting in 1905 at the Brands Hall in Chicago, “I do not care a snap of my fingers whether or not the skilled workers join the industrial movement at this time. We are going down into the gutter to get at the mass of workers and bring them up to a decent plane of living.” The International Workers of the World (IWW) were way ahead in its philosophy and tactics, such as it viewed a labor/management contract as an interference with labor’s only true weapon: the strike. Contracts were also rejected because they hampered workers from declaring strikes at the most critical times for employers. Most labor contracts have done more harm in the long run than good, such as stopping strikes. Maybe labor should take another look at Fr. Thomas J. Hagerty’s 1905 scheme, considered the most comprehensive scheme of labor organizations ever envisioned, prompting AFL president Samuel Gompers dubbed it Fr. Hagerty’s Wheel of Fortune. Again, the IWW was way ahead of its time, but with labor in decline and a renewed push of labor, maybe we should look at some of our history? Fr. Hagerty was among a group in 1905 who opposed political socialism in a convention speech he said, “The ballot box is simply a capitalist concession. Dropping pieces of paper into a hole in a box never did achieve emancipation of the working class and, in my opinion, it never will.” How true that has been. So we can learn from history what works and what doesn’t work. We are at the end of the year of 2013, working in a worn-out and corrupt system, which offers no promise of improvements or adaption. There is no silver lining to the clouds of darkness and despair is settling down upon the world of labor. This system offers only a perpetual struggle for slight relief within wage slavery. We must come together to win. Remember, there is more of us 99 percent than the 1 percent. In the race of people versus money, people will always win.

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