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The Industrial Worker, "the voice of revolutionary industrial unionism," is the newspaper of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a radical labor union. It is currently released eleven times a year, printed and edited by union labor, and is frequently distributed at radical bookstores, demonstrations, strikes and labor rallies. It contains news relevant to working class people, such as information on economics, industrial conditions, strikes, direct action against employers, labor history, and general labor issues.
The newspaper was first printed in journal format in Joliet, Illinois, beginning in January 1906, incorporating "The Voice of Labor" and "International Metal Worker." It was edited by A. S. Edwards, and early contributors include Eugene V. Debs, Jack London, Daniel DeLeon, Bill Haywood, and J. H. Walsh, along with poetry by Covington Hall. When the group led by ousted President Charles Sherman retained physical control over the paper after the union's 1906 Convention, and continued publication under that name for a few months (before giving up the ghost), the IWW instead issued the "Industrial Union Bulletin" for several years. The second series of the Industrial Worker commenced in 1909 in Spokane, Washington, and has continued to this day, with only one major interruption, during the period of 1913-1916. In the early years, it was printed weekly and mainly circulated west of the Mississippi, while the IWW's "Official Eastern Organ" was Solidarity published in New Castle, Pennsylvania and later, Cleveland, which continued until it merged with the Industrial Worker in Chicago in the 1930s.
The Spokane paper was the birthplace of the beloved comic strip character Mr. Block, later commemorated in a Joe Hill song. The Industrial Worker usually ran four pages, with an annual eight page May Day issue reflecting on gains of the labor movement in the previous year. Circulation fell off due to the repression of the IWW during and after the First World War, reflecting a decline in the influence of radical unionism more generally.
Long-time Industrial Worker editor Jon Bekken stepped down in 2006, and the current editor is Peter Moore.
Issues of the Industrial Worker are often available on microfilm at university libraries and other research oriented facilities, as they contain a wealth of information on labor issues not easily found in the mainstream press of the time.
- A detailed study of the Industrial Worker from 1909-1930, including images
- The Industrial Worker web site
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