The IWW and Paid Staff

In the IWW, paid staff are often emblematic of a decayed, reactionary unionism. In this piece, Anton J., member of the Communist League and IWW, considers the question more closely.

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The argument against “paid staff” usually is in reality the argument against a bureaucratic leadership and a technical division of labor. For instance:

“As use of paid officials does the exact opposite of encourage workers to organize ourselves, but instead encourages us to rely on “professionals” and “experts”, which is the exact opposite of what we need to happen for workers to start winning again.” (Paid staff is inimical to “self-activity”)…. …This advocacy of paid officials is also not only more right wing than what I’ve seen from any anarchist, including the likes of the shit ones like Liberty & Solidarity, but way more right wing than any trots or even right wing social democrats like Labour supporters.” (http://libcom.org/blog/leave-it-professionals-paid-union-organisers-23092014)

Notice that no clear distinction is made between staff and officials. Both are seen to be forces which work against the “self-activity” of the average worker. It’s important to make clear how that happens, because staff can often play a role in stopping worker initiative. But what is that role? In 2012, the IWW membership passed an amendment to it’s constitution phrased thusly:

‘D) Amend Bylaws Article VIII “Speakers and Organizers” (new language in underlined text)
Article VIII Sec. 1. No members of the IWW shall represent the organization before a body of wage earners without first having been authorized by the General Executive Board or a subordinate part of the IWW.
Sec. 2. No organizer for the IWW while on the platform for this organization shall advocate any political party platform.
Sec. 3. The IWW shall seek to avoid using paid organizing staff as much as possible.
Sec. 4. The IWW shall not hire any permanent salaried organizing staff.
Sec. 5. In the event that the IWW does make use of paid organizing staff, paid organizers shall be selected from the IWW membership.
Sec. 6. Any paid organizing positions in the IWW shall be for temporary and fixed terms tied to the campaign on which they are working.
Sec. 7. Upon completion of their term any paid organizers shall be expected to remain IWW members and to return to regular work . ‘

Why? We may turn to some member arguments for clarification:

Item D commits us to try to avoid using paid organizing staff, and to give temporary stipends to organizers when necessary. Salaried, career organizing staff would be completely prohibited. I was lucky enough to receive a stipend as an organizer in Madison during the occupation movement, an experience which changed my life and my outlook on the IWW, and gave me a ton of confidence for workplace organizing. This kind of experience should belong to as many of our members as possible, who should take their skills back with them to organizing at their own jobs, where they know the issues, the co-workers, and the industry. Plus, if we expect workers to one day run the world, that has to begin with them running their own union. Vote YES on D.

As well as this bit:

But these positions should be temporary, as to avoid emulating the model of the reformist unions, who don’t believe in as many members as possible being organizers, but would rather have a layer of functionaries employed to do this for the members. Having organizing staff tends to come up as an easy answer for encountering the difficulties with solidarity unionism. But instead of drawing from the AFL-CIO’s playbook on this matter, barring permanent paid organizing staff will necessitate that we blaze our own trail, developing a revolutionary unionism that is empowering, democratic and member driven. (GOB # 10 2012)

In one sense, both point out the benefits of paid staffing, specifically paid organizing staff. One even suggests more members should have the opportunity to work as paid staff. But their argument is for limiting staff. Here, using staff is congruent with “robbing” the workers of the necessary skills to organize.

Another point is that “workers should…organize their own jobs…” What exactly does this mean? That workers should have clear decision making ability and control of their organization? The fear of bureaucracy is a worthy apprehension. But we must not conflate staff and leadership, as if in all things, payment is tantamount to “selling out” or capitulating worker control. If anything, having organizers, accountants etc. that are highly skilled would mean they would have more to share with membership development. There is no reason we could not structure staffing in a way that requires this. But what the AFL-CIO does in regard to securing contracts and dues money, has little to do with using paid staff in organizing, media, or technical positions, and everything to do with using government backed contracts that at most, are enforced with the vague threat of a strike. In other-words, their political orientation toward the power of the state and away from the power of an organized working class, defines this phenomenon more than the use of office secretaries or paid organizers. While the CIO had to historically restrict the local authority of workers in taking direct action and solving their grievances at work (or more), it’s not at all clear that staff played the central role in this dynamic.

But what exactly are the IWW’s politics? Clearly anti-capitalism, though not explicitly communism or collectivism. A term Wobblies have often used in the past to describe their ideal society is “Cooperative Commonwealth,” which is a very 19th Century American way of saying socialism. And if we accept that the IWW is at least ideologically socialist, in a sense, we can perhaps point out that is a specific kind of socialism one rooted in workers getting organized themselves, literally, and taking action. It’s a kind of class-struggle socialism as opposed to a reformist, electoral, or perhaps social-democratic movement. It is this which I think that IWW has to offer workers. This is something no other union is willing to do, which means we ought to be encouraging, defending, and teaching the merits of working class direct action. It is not clear to me that using paid staff, though not paid officials, would contradict this. I think some common myths cloud this picture however.

Class struggle is inherent to capitalism. There is a definite antagonism between the working class – as a class – and the capitalist class. The capitalists need workers to create value, and the workers will only work if kept in a position of dependence, destitution; that is deprived of the necessary means of living. In order to eat, workers have to enrich capitalists and so they resist. But not always by organizing. Sometimes they quit, and find another job. Sometimes they punch their boss in the mouth and are fired. Sometimes they discover in a small way, their interests, at least withing their workplace, as being united, and make a joint petition with a higher-up. Even this will likely lead nowhere. This is because workers are divided technically and socially. Different unions seek to group workers together on different terms, in order to bargain with capital or destroy it.

A technical division of labor is also inherent to capitalism. People specialize in certain tasks as a means to coordinate complex working processes. This in and of itself is not a bad thing. Certainly Wobblies want a society where specialization occurs and allows for maximum leisure in conjunction with maximum satisfaction of the needs of all. But this technical division of labor can lead to social antagonisms. Often the argument goes like this: if our union leadership, skilled in law, public speaking, drafting press releases, book-keeping, organizing and so on, are not accountable, they can place their interests as bureaucrats ahead of those of the membership. They may put their own interests in salary and security ahead of the workers’ interest in bread and revolution. However, what determines the outcome in this antagonistic relationship is the same as the class antagonism: If workers have power in their own organization, they can kick out any careerists or corrupt officials.

But this is too simplistic. Organizational structure matters, but primarily in regards to political commitments. Take a look at the AFL-CIO’s webpage regarding it’s training of union organizers:

‘Union organizers help people who work secure union representation at their worksite. A union organizer informs people (mostly nonunion workers) about their rights, identifies and develops leadership skills among workers, explains the union organizing process and helps the workers campaign for union recognition. The organizer builds relationships based on what those workers do on their jobs, the problems they face at work and challenges and inspires them to get involved with their co-workers to have a say on the job by organizing a union. The ultimate goal is for workers to build power in their workplaces by winning a binding agreement with their employer that makes real improvements in their living and working conditions.‘ (http://www.aflcio.org/Get-Involved/Become-a-Union-Organizer)

In contrast, the IWW recognize this fact; that above all else workers’ power is based upon their own organization and solidarity in direct action. On that premise, the IWW seeks to increase the organization, confidence, and knowledge of the working class. On the other hand, unions like the AFL-CIO, from the beginning, approach the raw material of class struggle differently. They see that the interests of labor and capital can be harmonized, whether through bargaining, politics, or government boards.

This piece has two parts: In one, I look at the nature of class struggle in capitalism and it’s history in the U.S. I look at the examples of the CIO unions and the Mechanics Educational Society of America, both in the 1930’s and during WWII and the IWW’s heyday as examples of unions with different political commitments, that nevertheless all used paid staff. The second part of this piece puts forward some ideas about what a Paid Organizer program for the IWW might look like.

In the 1930’s, especially in 1934 there was a wave of intense, insurrectionist strike activity of workers of all sorts in the U.S.: longshoreman on the West Coast, Mineworkers and Teamsters, Auto and Rubber workers in the Midwest, Textile workers in New England and the South. These were strikes that lead to pitched battles with the police, the unions and at times the National Guard. It’s important to note here that this was before the CIO was a thing worth mentioning. John L. Lewis, the leader of the United Mineworkers of America, began the CIO initiative with other unionists fed up with the AFL’s trenchant craft-focus, in response to this strike wave. Workers were taking initiative, with or without a union, and the central tactic of the CIO was not to engender this rebellion and striking, but to come in after the fact, and broker a peace with the bosses. Lewis himself has been noted for his willingness to use Communists and other leftists (the best organizers) likely because they would push for militancy. Witnessing the immense labor unrest of 1934, Lewis, and other eventual CIO officials, seized on the opportunity to begin organizing mass production workers. In a move that would be consecrated only fully in the blaze of reaction that was WWII, the emerging CIO unions sought to represent the workers of various industries to their employers in exchange for exclusive rights to dues and bargaining. In the late 30’s during waves of sitdown strikes Lewis reported, “A CIO contract is adequate protection against sit-downs, lie-downs or any other kind of strike.” (Lichtenstein, Labor’s War at Home, Chapter 1, Brecher, Depression Decade).

The point here is that the narrative of “good unions gone bureaucratic” is mistaken. From the get-go, the bulk of the CIO leadership approached unionization as a means to secure their own position as bargaining on behalf of workers for their ‘interests’ as this or that type of industrial worker. It had nothing to do with drawing the lines of the class struggle clearly, educating workers about their interests as a class, or fighting capitalism. So much was easy to see within the emerging framework of the NLRB and eventually the No-Strike Pledge signed by virtually all unions at the start of World War II.

In the WWII period, contemporary labor relations established themselves through routine handling of skyrocketing shopfloor conflicts by the National Labor Relations Board and the War Labor Board which set up arbitration committees in each of the major industries. When this happened, the state took a more active, policy-oriented role in managing the antagonism inherent in capitalism between labor and capital. This was done for the most part through working with the “representatives” of labor in the form of CIO and AFL unions. Those unions were able to get maintenance of membership clauses as well as automatic dues-checkoff in exchange for a no strike pledge. This meant that even if the workers did not like their union, they could not quit it, as quitting it would mean quitting their job. This also meant that the CIO unions could fire workers if they kicked them out of the unions. While militancy during the WWII period rose dramatically, it was forced to express itself in tight, wildcat skirmishes for narrow demands in almost all cases. The opposition to strikes was overwhelming, both organizationally and ideologically, with CPUSA members, CIO, and AFL officials as well as bosses and the Government all working against strikers. As Glaberman notes:

‘Most of the labor leadership reacted quickly, but more moderately, to the new situation created on December 7, 1941. William Green, president of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), called a meeting of the AFL Executive Council for December 9 to deal with the situation. In the meantime he said, “Labor knows its duty. It will do its duty, and more. No new laws are necessary to prevent strikes. Labor will see to that. American workers will now produce as the workers of no other country have ever produced.” In a radio speech on December 8, Philip Murray, president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), said that CIO members “were ready and eager to do their utmost to defend our country against the outrageous aggression of Japanese imperialism, and to secure the final defeat of the forces of Hitler.” He was, however, careful to note that “they of course expect reciprocity, and that no selfish advantage will be taken of the sacrifices they are prepared to make.”‘ (Wartime Strikes, pg 2)

While the CIO unions relied on paid staff in different capacities, we cannot isolate as their failure simply their use of paid staff. (Robert Zieger’s The CIO 1935-1955, ). Different unions within the CIO had different constitutional structures and different applications of paid staff or officials. Especially after the war and with passage of Taft-Hartley many of these unions strengthened the powers of their executives and centers to discipline any contract breaking locals seeking to act on their own, and expelled en masse the “communists” from their ranks. (Glaberman, Lichtenstein, chapter 12).

It can be seen that the CIO unions already, without considering their structure in detail, approached the labor question with an inherent conservatism. They sought to occupy the space of antagonism between capital and labor, work with government boards and harmonize the interests of both. This is a political stance, one that relied on increasing the international levels of authority over Local levels, thus ensuring the application of paid staff toward predictable ends. Further, the development of the CIO unions toward their combination with the AFL and the purging of the communists and the passage of Taft-Hartley, were not forgone conclusions but definite historical developments that were at times contested by reform movements within the organizations. It’s clear that we cannot reduce the arguments against the CIO unions to paid staff = bureaucracy = bad!

In the same period that the CIO unions were emerging, there was a movement among machinists and tool and die workers in the Midwestern Auto cities like Detroit pushing for organization. Led by Matt Smith, the Mechanic’s Educational Society of America (MESA) was a pioneering effort at uniting skilled workers and unskilled workers in the auto industry. The effort involved many communist workers, who would split after the union gained recognition and inaugurated Matt Smith as its general Secretary. Smith was a syndicalist machinist with organizing experience from the Shop Steward movement in the UK in the 1910’s and early 20’s. The union used skilled workers as a sort of wedge and vanguard, at a critical point in the production schedule, to force recognition in 1933. The MESA’s foundational strike occurred on September 21st, 1933, when machinists in plants at GM, Packard, and a number of other auto-manufacturers and tool and die shops in Flint, Detroit and Pontiac went out on strike for higher wages and recognition. Smith, assisted by labor lawyer Maurice Sugar, hoped to use the National Recovery Administration’s newly formed apparatus to bring the manufacturers to the table to bargain but they soon realized that the National Labor Board set up by the NRA was effectively useless. By October, the MESA had tried to meet with government and business representatives numerous times but business refused to show. On October 29th, after over a month on strike and awaiting negotiations, strikers formed a “riotcade” and attacked shops all over Detroit, burning tool blueprints, smashing windows and giving the police fake tips as to where they would strike next. By the next day, the riot had subsided, and by Nov. 2nd various shops began to concede to 5 cent wage increases as well as representation by the MESA. Fisher Body, Packard, and Hudson Motor conceded to representation in a town and industry where unionism had struggled to get a foothold for decades.

The 1933 foundational strike of the MESA is the most commonly cited piece of it’s history. Often regarded as a pioneering event in the Auto industry, it combined a swirl of historical forces prevalent in organizing unskilled workers at the time. Part of the MESA strategy was for the skilled tool and die makers who were essential for the unskilled mass production side of auto-manufacturing, to strike right before the new model of cars were scheduled to be released. This put extra pressure on the auto-companies as well as encouraged workers on the production side of things to join in the strike. The fact that it attempted to organize craft workers alongside production or unskilled workers was a big influence on the emergent UAW. It would be inaccurate to suggest that they spent their main focus on organizing production, but they never the less allowed for production workers full membership in the union at a lower dues rate, at first as a separate body, and latter alongside the craft workers. Not only that, but their strategy of applying skilled workers’ strike activity strategically around production schedules is one the UAW would further exploit. The ideology of the organization was great deal closer to that of the IWW, with the exception that they had no problem signing contracts. They would often publish essays or jokes and songs from Wobbly papers, and were structured in a fashion Wobblies might find interesting.

Smith was the spiritual leader of the organization, and remained it’s General Secretary throughout the rest of his life. He drew a salary that was equal to the average of the membership and aside from Secretary responsibilities he often represented the union to the public press and Congress, when they opposed the No-Strike Pledge (and struck throughout the war). Official positions were held by workers, who worked in the shops. However, it seems they were compensated for time missed at work for union business. For instance the President of the union was a machinist, voted for by the membership, who worked right alongside them in the factories. It does seem that they had paid staff that edited their paper, the MESA Educator, and they made use of paid organizers as well.
In the wartime, the MESA administration and leadership, fully supported and worked to widen, if possible, the activity of it’s rank and file. Because of this, it boasted wartime gains in income, vacation, overtime and maintenance of grievance procedures on the shopfloor, things it often chided the CIO for relinquishing. Put clearly, the MESA, even with paid staff, was able to maintain a Wobbly orientation toward workers’ power, that is, direct action solidarity, as it’s own base of existence.

Another example is our own union. We already utilize some paid staff. Perhaps the reason we don’t use more is that we don’t have the resources (and that is quite a good reason!). But we certainly should then be thinking ahead about how we get to the point where we would begin a program of paid staff, and how they would relate to the membership. But we also have had a similar organizational role connected to workers fighting their bosses. Local 8 in Philadelphia, was an IWW Local of Longshoreman in the 1910s. Organized in an industry devoid of formal skill divisions, rife with racism, and prone to high turnover, the Wobblies there were able to virtually sign up the entire longshoreman workforce. They did this with a commitment to direct-action dealings with grievances as well as a politics of class centered integrated solidarity. They utilized paid organizers and leaders like E.F. Doree and Bill Fletcher, and had to fight off the ILA(to this day an anti-worker racket). The workers on the docks went with the IWW because they didn’t want segregated unions and they captured their spirit of resistance to the bosses. Not only this, but Ben Fletcher, a black longshoreman and Wobbly organizer, had been working on the docks leading up to the strike, spreading the gospel. Local 8 maintained it’s power on the docks directly with their own organization; that is, organization of direct action. They workers had a clear understanding that the easiest way to get something from the bosses was to stop working an until they gave in. (Peter Cole, Wobblies on the Waterfront) But that requires broad support among other workers.

The IWW generally used paid delegates as well as organizers. Delegates then kept a portion of initiation fees, dues, and literature sales as a commission as this excerpt from a history of the Agriculture Workers Organization makes clear:

At the meeting held on May 20th, the A.WO. Secretary proposed to grant a commission of One Dollar to voluntary organizers and delegates for each New Member brought into the organization. After a lengthy discussion this commission basis was accepted, but the amount of the commission was reduced to 50 cents (Roughly $10-12 at today’s value). Having accepted this method of organizing, it now became possible to issue credentials to every member willing to act as delegate or voluntary organizer. (E. Workman History of the AWO).

This made sense as the goal of the roving delegate was to replace the local branch among workers who were not stationary. Check any IWW paper where finances are reported and you will see line items for staff in offices as well as for organizers and delegate commissions, for example OBU Monthly June 1919. This example shows the various industrial unions using the same waged delegate system as the AWO, which by 1919 was divided back into it’s industrial sections. Not just delegates, but office staff and organizers as well as commission on literature sold.

Notice the Section

Notice the Section “Summary Disbursements”


 Now I’m not suggesting that we give delegates commissioned pay; we have a system right now of mixed locals, with delegates “commission” going to the GMB. This makes some sense. But it’s important to remember that our history, our heyday, of heightened and principled struggle with bosses against the whole damn capitalist system, was organized and structured partly by paid staff. Bill Haywood, Ben Fletcher, and countless nameless organizers and delegates who never reached the level of administration, drew income from the union. Often it wasn’t much, but it helped the work along.

It seems, upon reflection of general labor history in the U.S., that paid organizers are no clear indication of union capitulation. The IWW in the past used paid staff, and the same is true of the MESA and the CIO unions. What makes the IWW and the MESA unique is their basing their power in the organization of the working class, as opposed to the state. The 1930’s, and especially in the emerging CIO unions, saw many an organization rushing to contain strike activity and direct action as a means of brokering a deal between workers and bosses, and capturing a membership. For them, this created some degree of possible financial security, and was intermingled with an ideology of labor-capital reconciliation and bargaining. For this, the government guaranteed their monopoly on labor, with maintenance of membership clauses, so long as they promised to control workers.
There exist a complex set of factors, including ideology, relations of production and arbitration, rather than the ubiquitous “tendencies inherent to unions under capitalism,” that drive them to be collaborative, useless, traitorous, tools of the bosses. Simply keeping out paid staff is a perhaps only effective at keeping this from happening because it keeps the union from actually getting power at all. What actually determines a union’s viability, with regard to Wobbly principles, is this: Does it spread the Wobbly message, that workers must get organized, across all dividing lines, to fight the bosses? Does it build that organization in the form of encouraging openly workers direct action? Does it encourage workers participation in their own union, in the forms of education and participation in decision making? Any union will have to recognize and sanction to some degree the direct action of workers. The goal of the IWW ought to be to help our fellow workers understand that workplace direct action is only the beginning. That we’re really after for the big picture of workers’ power, socially.

My suggestion is that the IWW can inaugurate a program of paid staff; paid organizers and other technical staff; alongside a commitment to it’s politics. How we go about building the IWW must be accountable to the membership, must be effective, and must create not simply dues-paying members, but class-conscious leaders. If we were to create a standing organizing body in the union, with a program of paid organizing, we would have to clarify what the role of the organizer was, outline the structure of payment for organizers, and define the relationship between the program and the decision making base of the union. The role of these organizers might be illustrated in this manner: Suppose you had a city with an established branch. Suppose then that you set out an organizing target. Now imagine if 1 paid organizer took the job of helping organize at that workplace. Alongside full-time Wobblies in those shops, you had part-time worker, who for the other 15-20 hours a week, was paid by the union to agitate, educate, and organize? Not just sign up workers, but really organize! Train workers in running meetings, accounting, setting up and running locals, public speaking. Organizers would help the workers organize themselves. It’s clear to anyone who has attempted to organize on a volunteer basis that it is a constant and draining battle of attrition, especially when working full-time for shit money, to organize your co-workers without critical resources including simply the time to talk. Paid organizers could host educational workshops and trainings, flyer, research, door-knock, all while full timers are working on the inside. This would certainly help us in generating support for the one thing workers need to begin fighting back; direct action solidarity.

The aim of this organizing initiative ought to be to build up not just general support for “the union” but to encourage activity by the workers to win their demands. This could, in a city without an established or large branch, take the form of a union-centered Solidarity Network/ city wide organizing committee. These paid staff could have as their first aim the amassing of a list of sympathetic potential picketers, while putting it’s service of solidarity out there. “Fired from your job? Not paid back wages? We’ll help you raise hell until you get what you need!” Unlike other Solidarity Networks, we would not be based only on volunteer work, and could therefore dedicate more effort toward internal organizing, upon discovery of shops of workers interested. We could also collect dues, allowing the organizing efforts to bring in funds. It may be noted here that as working-class solidarity and the interruption of the work process are where the power of workers lay, in either of the above situations the organizing of a type of solidarity network is paramount for growth. Organizing the interruption of work requires many supporters.

Too often in the union we expect people to do things “for themselves” that they simply cannot do. There is no conflict of interest in dividing our labor on a technical basis in order to accomplish more together than what we can alone; is this not the definition of organized? This isn’t to say that these efforts would not still use and require volunteer work, but that the burden of certain tasks would be removed. Instead rank and file workers could be doing what they know better than organizers; talking to co-workers, identifying problems in the shop, making contacts internally. Further, it’s irresponsible for us to only use volunteer work; if a job is worth doing, it takes time, and time requires that we pay the person who does it. Not an exorbitant salary, but enough to eat at a least.

But how do we evaluate the program? Our goal is not merely more dues money, though that is an important measure. Our goal is increasing power for the working class. But what does that look like? Well, how about groups of workers in a city, actively planning work-stoppages to get their demands from bosses? Our aim with our organizers would certainly be to increase membership, but membership in a democratic workers organization that shirks contracts with a boss and relies on working class solidarity as it’s strength. Unlike business unions that send an “organizer” around every few years to rile up the membership, negotiate another contract, and then leave, our organizers would be committed to giving whatever leadership develops locally the same tools, knowledge, and organizing skills our organizers themselves have, to maintain their local membership and organization. Indeed, if effective the ideal ought to be that a group of workers in a city become so organized as to have enough dues on retention for offices, printing, and paying their own staff (provided they’re warranted). Our organizers ought to organize themselves out of the job! That being said, we would evaluate the success of the paid organizers by looking at several factors. Here are some potential ones:

1) Was the effort financially sustainable? Did we generate enough new members for the cost of the effort? (Assuming a Full-Time organizer) (numbers based on the budget for GST)
– 30k wages
– 3k benefits
– Taxes 12%
– Payroll Total = $36,960
– Travel… Depends on strategy a couple thousand for visiting 5 cities in a year, more for more cities, less for less. overall cost = ~ 38 – 40,000 a year for an organizer, potentially.

Break even is then over the 12 months of organizing, would have to get ~500 new members that pay 11$/month dues for 12 months, accounting for branches taking ½ monthly dues as well as assuming initiation fees for new members going to pay for the organizer.

2) Is the new branch, local etc. stable?

3) What is the turnover rate of members?

4) Are they still organizing? Are they growing?

Perhaps we could pilot the program in a city with a major branch that could split the cost between the general union and the local branch. Perhaps we could use the volunteer work of building a solidarity network, albeit one that collects dues, as a test for a city that would like an organizer or two to come to town. That too could raise funds.

The next question would be: Who decides what organizers go where? We could perhaps elect from the membership an Organizing Board which oversees the paid organizers and evaluates possible organizing opportunities. This board would have to report to the membership it’s financial, as well as it’s evaluations of any organizing drives. The membership would then be able to evaluate the board and determine who to elect/re-elect. Further, groups of Wobblies who encounter workers in the “hot shop” scenario, could petition the Organizing Department Board to send an organizer. The Board could evaluate this case on the basis of it meeting defined criteria of possible campaign sustainability.

The basic conclusion here is that “paid staff” are not the slippery slope to bureaucracy or capitulation to capitalism they are often made out to be. Certainly there are dangers inherent to bureaucracy forming in any union, as it’s activity occupies a space in the antagonism inherent to capitalist society, one that capitalist must always work to smooth over, ignore and police. This combined with the general technical division of labor can put pressure on an organization to relinquish control to a bureaucratic leadership. But unions become acquiescent to capitalist interests within this antagonism not inevitably and not simply, but as a result of many processes, factors, and not least of all, ideological commitments. The IWW used paid staff because it made sense, and did not see it as compromising Wobbly ideals. By defining the scope and aim of paid staff within the union clearly, we can ensure it’s effective application and it’s commitment to the will of the membership and IWW principles.