On this day in labor history, the year was 1905.
That was the day over 200 Socialists, Anarchists and Marxists, representing over 40 organizations, met at Brand’s Hall in Chicago to convene the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World.
Representatives from groups like the Socialist Party, Socialist Labor Party and Western Federation of Miners joined together for an eleven-day convention to discuss the future of industrial unionism and revolutionary struggle.
Those present included Big Bill Haywood, James Connolly, Daniel De Leon, Eugene Debs, Lucy Gonzalez Parsons, Mother Jones and many others.
They hoped to cohere an alternative to the politically conservative, business unionism of the American Federation of Labor.
They sought to Build on the legacy of the Knights of Labor and their motto of “An injury to one is an injury to all.”
They were determined to build an industrial union that organized workers regardless of skill level.
They also distinguished themselves by opening their doors to men and women; black, white and all immigrant workers, including Asians.
Big Bill Haywood opened the first day’s morning session with the following remarks: “This is the Continental Congress of the working class.
We are here to confederate the workers of this country into a working class movement that shall have as its purpose the emancipation of the working class from the slave bondage of capitalism.
There is no organization that has for its purpose the same object as that for which you are called together today.
The aims and objects of this organization should be to put the working class in possession of the economic power, the means of life, in control of the machinery of production and distribution, without regard to capitalist masters.”
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