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Posts tagged Big Bill Haywood

On chutzpah

I really like this shirt, due to the fact that it’s just about the cutest thing ever, and would love to be able to buy it as a gift for some toddler of my acquaintance. Unfortunately, I can’t bring myself to pay one red cent for it.

It's a little red and black t-shirt for a toddler, with a cartoon of a black kitten and the words I'm A Little Wobbly

Why not? Well, consider the source: https://unionshop.aflcio.org/I_m_a_Little_Wobbly_T-shirt_P177.cfm

Ah, yes, The AFL-CIO Retail Store for Activists. The product details explains:

Your little one toddling around will show his or her union roots with this “I’m a Little Wobbly” children’s T-shirt in bright red. Wobbly, of course, refers to a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

Of course. The Industrial Workers of the World. Which you may remember as the union whose founding convention was marked by an address where Big Bill Haywood argued that the conservative and bureaucratic AF of L, which presumes to be the labor movement of this country, is not a working-class movement, and which to this day routinely condemns the AFL-CIO as business unionists and labor fakirs. You may also remember it as the union which the AFL’s Great Leader and President-for-Life Sam Gompers declared a radical fungus on the labor movement, a union organized of, by, and for the reckless, the unprincipled, the uneducated, the unstable. You may also recall that, from 1917 to 1919, Gompers and his AFL actively collaborated with, and publicly defended, the Wilson War Government’s systematic efforts to stamp out those same Wobblies, through press censorship, through raids on union headquarters, through the seizure of membership lists and internal records, through mass arrests, through espionage and sedition prosecutions, through imprisonment, and through torture of imprisoned organizers. For his patriotic efforts Gompers was rewarded with newfound influence as an apparatchik for Wilson’s National War Labor Board.

I have to hand it to the AFL-CIO: I haven’t seen such chutzpah since maybe 1921 (when the the Bolsheviks gave a handful of Anarchist political prisoners day-passes out of jail so they could help put on a big state funeral for Peter Kropotkin).

For what it’s worth, if you want actual Wobbly merchandise, you can get it through the IWW Online Store.

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