In August, the General Executive Board of the Industrial Workers of the World voted unanimously to extend voluntary union recognition to staff working outside of the IWW’s General Headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. While the IWW’s staff in Chicago were previously unionized, the new Remote Workers Union covers employees hired more recently and located in New York, Ontario and Quebec.
“The Industrial Workers of the World congratulates these workers for unionizing and celebrates that it now has a fully unionized staff,” wrote the IWW’s General Executive Board in a motion recognizing the Remote Workers Union.
Members of the Remote Workers Union were hired by the IWW as recently as July and include the Web Director, Publications Committee Chair, Communications Officer and Organizing Department Coordinator. Previously having no union representation, these staffers have been working under individually negotiated contracts. For its part, the Remote Workers Union aims to ensure that staffers have a voice in discussions regarding their jobs.
“We’re just looking to have a seat at the table when it comes to decisions that impact our work, our livelihood and our working conditions,” says Maxim Baru, the IWW’s Communications Officer and member of the Remote Workers Union.
Baru compares the Remote Workers Union to other unions at nonprofit organizations that the IWW has recently organized, such as Socialist Rifle Association Workers United and the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition Union.
“Employees of the Socialist Rifle Association came to the Industrial Workers of the World this year, in fact, to unionize under the banner of the IWW because they wanted a seat at the table for decision-making at their organization,” says Baru. “The IWW also just won a union election at the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition …. They want to assert their basic labor rights, ensure their dignity and respect on the job, and have an impact on decision-making. The Remote Workers Union is looking to have no more than other IWW members have in this respect.”
Beyond ensuring that all staffers have a voice as workers within the IWW, the Remote Workers Union hopes to unite its members’ various contracts under one unified contract, also known as a collective bargaining agreement. In the motion recognizing the Remote Workers Union, the IWW’s General Executive Board expressed its willingness to commence bargaining in good faith at the workers’ request.
According to Baru, members of the Remote Workers Union have been part of the IWW as volunteers for nearly a decade prior to being hired. They believe that the formation of the Remote Workers Union will help the IWW become a stronger organization in the long run by ensuring it lives up to its principles.