May Day has historically been a day of celebration and protest for the workers of the world. From the worker’s marches during the Great Depression to the Amazon walkout of 2020, this is a day where we can come together as a united front to push for new, fruitful changes. This May 1st was doubly exciting for IWW: on May Day weekend, the General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Industrial Workers of the World began the move to its new home.
This change begins a new, exciting era for the IWW branch. The Montrose location has been the headquarters and store location of the Wobblies since 2021, and it took a strong and coordinated effort to move to the new location on Belmont Street. J. Cameron Mancini and Kevin O’Connor, General Secretary-Treasurer and the Store Coordinator respectively, spent their May Day moving out of the Montrose location and into the IWW’s new home on Belmont.
This move did not come without its struggles. All rent-payers are familiar with the economic fallout the pandemic has brought down upon us, most of which is falling on the shoulders of the working class. Many citizens are unable to pay rent due to the instability of their jobs or the difficulty of accessing unemployment checks. “I wasn’t bringing in any money at the beginning of the pandemic,” one source tells us, who is a server in the Chicago area. “I feel like I’m going into debt for a place to sleep.”
The organization of tenant’s unions have been on the rise since the start of the pandemic. Many people have banded together to protect themselves against evictions (which, despite the Illinois moratorium, is still a fear) and to stand together as a united front against their landlords. And for the Industrial Workers of the World, an anti-landlord union based in Chicago, it certainly took time and negotiation to find a location that fulfilled the needs of IWW without sacrificing our ideals.
But a new location has been found, and the staff on the whole are very excited for the move. The new space is friendly and warm, and will make for a healthier and more pleasant space. There is ample space for meetings and planning demonstrations, as well as spaces to hold events for all Wobblies. The new location is even more home-like, including a modern kitchenette to make early breakfasts and late lunches. The store space is bright and open, making it easier to navigate for anyone that wants to come through. Even better, accessibility on all fronts has become easier. There is a handicap accessible bathroom inside. For those using public transport, it is easy to find, being close to both the Paulina Brown Line station and the 77 and 9/X9 bus lines.
GHQ is excited to open its doors on May 4th, 2021. Anyone interested in becoming a Wobbly, or interested in learning more about the IWW, should contact the Organizing Department at iww.org/#organize. If you are hoping to make work more bearable and get the raise you deserve, the IWW hopes to give you the tools you need to organize in the workplace.
Or, as General Secretary-Treasurer Cam puts it, “Talk to your coworkers. Find out what their issues are and get them on board to fight for something better than what the capitalist class is willing to give them with a powerful, worker-led organization to support them.”