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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


BC Workers Rights Booklet Published

July 17, 2011

HOT OFF THE PRESS! The  KNOW YOUR RIGHTS booklet  has just been written and produced by the Vancouver Island IWW GMB. While specifically for BC workers it is also aimed at young or first time workers as well. Make sure the boss is not screwing you go to

Miner’s Memorial Day Cumberland

July 3, 2011

On June 25th seven members of the Vancouver Island GMB marched to the Cumberland Cemetery to honour not only the labour martyr Ginger Goodwin but also  those Cumberland miners who died in the mines.There was also a lit table and Wob singers sung labour songs including Solidarity Forever (with its original verses) and the Internationale.

Noam Chomsky on Madison, WI.

June 30, 2011

This video was sent to the Industrial Workers of the World  by Noam Chomsky himself.   (He is also a member of the IWW)


Noam Chomsky on Madison, WI

Van Isle Wobs travel to Edmonton for Organizing Summit

June 6, 2011

On Thursday May 26 a committee of organizers and members from the Vancouver Island General Membership Branch took off on a road trip to Edmonton, Alberta, to attend the annual IWW Organizing summit. This year’s summit coincided with the chartering of the Canada Regional Organizing Committee (CanROC) and there was excitement and discussion about the opportunities open for cross-Canada organizing now that we have a more localized organizing setup.

Upon arriving in Edmonton early Friday morning the members found their billets and slept off the drive before attending a casual social at the Playhouse, a local anarchist community centre, where beers & battle stories were shared over a fire in the backyard as the sun went down. IWW members from as far as Regina were in attendance.

Saturday commenced at 10:30 am with introductions & a timeline for the discussions and roundtables that were planned for the next two days. There was time for sharing our successes & failures and we had time to learn about what the IWW is up to across Canada. Lunch was provided by members of the Edmonton GMB and was followed by discussions of organizing strategy. After a long day of interesting discussion, a barbeque dinner/party was held and even more Wobblies showed up (some had been unable to attend the conference due to work or time constraints but were able to make it in the evening for the dinner). A short acoustic set by one of our musically inclined Wobs was followed by good eats & great conversation.There was a great mix of folks at the party and we only suffered one injury from an overzealous knife.

The next day and seven stitches later, the Wobblies were back in the classroom (the summit was held in the U of A campus) and mostly ready to get back into the circle discussions. Topics of the day included: regional organizing strategy, considerations about organizing students & student workers, discussions on specific campaigns and updates on Canadian labour laws (especially a recent court decision suggesting that non-certified unions require bargaining in good faith). The meeting was wrapped up by 4pm and the wobs scattered around Edmonton with their hosts to get into some trouble before they had to return.

Early on Monday morning the ragged crew from Vancouver Island packed back into their ride and made a speedy return back to the coast. They were able to catch the evening ferry back to the island. The crew was happy to have had such a great road trip but were happier still to see the ocean and to get to sleep in their own beds that night.

Canadian Labour Martyrs Booklet

June 5, 2011

Hot off the press! THEY DIED FOR YOU – A Brief History of Canadian Labour Martyrs, by D.J. Alperovitz and Larry Gambone. When we started this project we thought we would have maybe 8 or 9 martyrs and a 10 page pamphlet. Doing research we found twenty-five of them. Read their stories in this 37 page booklet. Full of illustrations. Available from for $4.00 per copy plus postage.

Little Red Song Book Blog

May 27, 2011

Fellow Worker Smokey has been busy putting together a Little Red Song Book Blog. He has about a dozen song lyrics – plus chords – listed so far and intends to fill it up with lots of good rebel songs. Check it out at

May Day Marches – Victoria and Nanaimo

May 2, 2011

The Van Isle IWW Branch in conjunction with other community and labour activists managed to pull off  simultaneous May Day Marches in Nanaimo and Victoria.  For the story and photos  go to

Earth Day March

May 2, 2011

Van Isle IWW Branch took part in the April 16 Earth Day March in Victoria. Wobs also provided songs and even got a plug from the featured speaker, Cindy Sheehan.

Nanaimo May Day March

April 12, 2011

Sunday, May 1. Meet at the Library at Diana Krall Square 12:30 – 1:00 PM, we will then march around downtown, arriving at the China Steps by 2:00 or so. There will be chili and a potluck as well as speakers & music.