Cartoon art

Item no. 28192
May 1909
Collection: Other

'What Will the Boss Do Now?' by unknown artist, Industrial Worker, May 13, 1909.

The IWW began organizing in America's northwestern lumber camps as early as 1907 when it waged a successful strike of Portland's sawmill workers. The conditions in the lumber camps were appalling. The camps had no bedding accommodations, insufficient heating, overcrowded bunkhouses, terrible food, and disgracefully inadequate dining, bathing and medical facilities. In 1912, IWW locals consolidated their efforts in the lumber industry to create the National Industrial Union of Forest and Lumber Workers. The union led strikes throughout Washington in the sawmills of Hoquiam, Raymond, and Aberdeen. As in virtually every IWW strike, Wobbly literature and speeches about topics like direct action and sabotage was cited in the press to discredit the IWW and brand them as violent terrorists and lawless criminals. Actual events, however, always seemed to prove otherwise.

Citizens committees, formed under the guidance of the lumber barons and with the consent of the police, raided IWW halls, rounded up Wobblies, and forcibly deported them. Strikers who refused to return to work were continuously harassed and beaten before being compelled to choose between work or being deported. This cartoon points to the hypocrisy of bourgeois morality, according to which workers are asked to deal with their grievances in one way while their capitalist masters deal with them in another. Workers are prohibited from taking direct action and encouraged to address their problems to political or religious mediators. Capitalists, on the other hand, are free to deal with their problems directly (even violently) without regard to the law or the tenets of morality.

See this image in the Solidarity Forever: A Look at Wobbly Culture exhibit.

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