On July 24, the Industrial Workers of the World began distributing a survey to all of its members in North America. Shared via email, social media, and other channels, the questionnaire collects occupational, demographic and economic information, which all members are encouraged to complete in its entirety.
The purpose of the IWW’s membership survey is to give the union an accurate, up-to-date picture of its membership in North America, known internally as the North American Regional Administration. The last comprehensive survey of the IWW’s NARA membership was conducted in 2018.
“The NARA membership survey aims to be a census of the IWW membership, in order to have a good understanding of who we are as a union, where our challenges may lie and what kinds of membership needs and resources we have within our ranks,” says John Hollingsworth of the IWW’s Survey and Research Committee, which developed the survey and will analyze its results.
The SRC will use members’ survey responses to establish larger socio-demographic and economic trends within the IWW, focusing especially on occupational industries and working conditions. All questions are voluntary, and the raw data will only be available to SRC members and select others, who are required to sign confidentiality agreements. Generalized results of the survey will be made available to all members to inform workplace organizing efforts and other union activity.
The IWW membership survey is made up of both recommended and optional modules, with the SRC requesting that all members answer at least the first set of 17 questions. This module focuses on basic membership information and demographics, while latter questions cover employment status, union activities and more. All questionnaires must be verified by the respondent’s IWW membership number, also known as their “x number.”
In addition to distributing the IWW membership survey via email and social media, special consideration is being put into reaching the union’s incarcerated members, who are organized with the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee. Due to their limited access to the Internet, IWOC members are being sent paper questionnaires to complete and return.
The SRC reports that the IWW membership survey has received more than 400 responses thus far — a great start, but still short of their goal of at least 2,000 sets of answers. To that end, they encourage all IWW members to participate.