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Free Speech Fight Victoria – July 21

July 27, 2011

One hundred years to the minute Fellow Worker DJ and a handful of Van Isle Wob supporters reenacted the Victoria Free Speech Fight of 1911. (None of us got arrested, unlike the original action!) Below is the text of DJ’s  speech.

Fellow Workers,

On this corner – at this hour – one hundred years ago today 13 members of the Industrial Workers of the World, the IWW, stood up to declare the fight for Free Speech in the city Victoria and to denounce the capitalist system.

The Victoria Free Speech Fight of 1911 started when City Hall revoked the right of the IWW and Socialists to hold street meeting downtown while the Salvation Army and politicians could speak unimpeded. One hundred years ago tonight the streets were filled thousands of protesters demanding that labour speakers be accorded the same treatment as the Salvation Army. The police arrested 13 IWW soapboxers. When faced with fines or jail time the IWW chose jail and promised City Hall that IWW members would flood the city and continue to soapbox, fill the jail, and cost the city untold thousands. With this promise the city capitulated.

Those fights continue to this day as workers are refused the right to speak out in their own defence against oppressive bosses, work conditions and anti-labour laws. In the last few months we have seen unionized workers forced back to work by an anti-labour government. Make no mistake the Provincial Government will use the Federal Governments actions to take a strong stand against labour in British Columbia.

In 1911 a member of the IWW would have mounted the soapbox and declared:

Fellow Workers pay attention – to what I am about to mention – for it is the intention of the Industrial Workers of the World, the IWW, to organize all of the Working Class into One Big Union. One Big Union of all workers in order to bring about social and economic change

The IWW means to organize all workers – all skilled workers, all semi-skilled workers, all unskilled workers, and all unemployed workers into One Big Union. One Big Union that will have the united power of Solidarity to fight the bosses.

We have allowed the politicians and the media to redefine class based on income level. Class is defined by the relationship to the means of production. If you don’t own your workplace, if you don’t own the tools that you work with. If all you are doing is selling yourself, your energy, and your knowledge to a boss for a pay check, you are Working Class. All labour is Working Class and the Working Class is everyone that works for wages. You Are Working Class wither you are an airline pilot, a bank teller, a sales associate, a bus driver, or work for a non-profit. You are Working Class and you should be proud of it.

The IWW organizes workers along industrial lines not craft lines. We organize all workers on a job into one union, rather than dividing workers by trade. This way we pool our strength to fight the bosses together.

Don’t let the Industrial part fool you; our members include teachers, social workers, bus drivers, unemployed workers, stay at home parents, construction workers, bartenders, programmers, domestic workers and baristas. Only bosses and there ‘tools’ are barred from membership.

What is the advantage of One Big Union?

Just over a month ago Air Canada ticket agents went on strike in order to regain wages lost when Air Canada went into Bankruptcy Protection.

The Air Canada Ticket Agents’ picket line was crossed by Air Canada Pilots, Air Canada Cabin Attendants, Air Canada Maintenance Staff, and Air Canada Office Staff. Each of these groups are covered under separate contracts where they a legally bound not to strike during the duration of their contract. They had to cross the picket line or lose their jobs.

The IWW would organize all Air Canada workers into one union and the Airport would be organized into one larger union that all air transportation workers would be part of. So when the Ticket Agents went on strike everyone at the airport would walk out in Solidarity. An Injury To One Is An Injury To All.

The IWW does not seek change through political means. The IWW does advocate change through insurrection. The IWW will bring about change through economic reality using the General Strike to make the bosses aware of who has the economic power.

Once all workers are organized into One Big Union the IWW will call for a General Strike. At a given time all workers step away from their desks, climb down from their vehicles, step away from their machines, come around from the counter and fold their arms. Everything stops. With the General Strike the working class will show the bosses and the governments who has the economic power.

Workers know how to run the work places that they work in. It is our brains and our muscle that run the economic machine. We don’t need the boss; the boss needs us. The General strike will show who has the power.

 Who has the Power?

The IWW declares that “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common” and that “It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism”

If we do not stand up and fight we will be lost. The actions of the Feds and the Provincial governments in dealing with labour, along with high unemployment rates, will embolden the bosses to treat workers as more disposable than ever

Don’t listen to the bosses,

Don’t listen to their lies.

It is time to come together

It is time to organize.

Those bosses

Those parasites

The ones we have to fight

Mistakenly believe they can crush us with their might

The bosses won’t admit it

There is something you must learn

That without our brains and muscle

Not a single wheel would turn

It is time for Solidarity. The only way to fight for your rights is by organizing on the job and to carry out Direct Action

The IWW says that An Injury To One Is An Injury To All. We demand direct action to every injury.

When fellow workers are mistreated – We Stand Together / Fight Back

When fellow workers are sexually harassed – We Stand Together / Fight Back

When we are told that we have to make concessions so that the boss can make more money – We Stand Together / Fight Back

When the environment is under attack – We Stand Together / Fight Back

We cannot be defeated if -We Stand Together / Fight Back

All of you good workers, you must decide, which side are you on?

Remember; Solidarity is not just a word it is a weapon


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