Ottawa-Outaouais IWW

The General Membership Branch of the Ottawa-Outaouais region

Ottawa-Outaouais IWW header image 6

1920: Organize the Lumber Workers!



Do you realize that you are the most important factor in one of the three greatest industries in Canada? Lumber was at one time produced without the aid of the faithful horse or of gas and steam power machinery. But lumber has never been produced without labour power! That means YOU!

Although lumbering today is simplified and greatly aided by modern machinery, of which the band-saw and the tractor may be quoted as instances; the lumber industry still requires the services of wage workers. Even with modern machinery and the much boasted improved methods, there still must be axemen, sawyers, rollers, skidders, etc. (and snuff chewers of course), in order that lumber and pulp may be produced to supply those needs of humanity that only the products of the forests can fill. Without the raw material that you produce there would be no pulp and paper mills. No lumber for the building of houses, factories, docks, ships, railway coaches and cars, and the many other structures and products of wood do necessary to industry. In short, without the material made available by the labours of lumber workers, there could be no industry and civilization as we know it today. Consider this. Without lumber we would still be living in thatched huts. We could never have advanced to our present stage of civilization.; Lumber workers you have made civilization possible! Why then can you not enjoy the fruits of man’s material and intellectual advancement? Why must you, who have supplied the material for the building of palaces, be condemned to spend your nights (you have nothing else to spend) in filthy bunk houses at your work places, and equally filthy flop-houses in town when unemployed? You produce wealth and exist in poverty! Not because you have produced too little: but because you receive for yourselves so little of what you produce.

Have you never stopped to consider that the logs and pulp-wood sticks that you cut, and the ties you hack, are worth a great deal more than the wages you receive? It is as plain as the nose on your face; and the boss paid you (in wages) the full value of what you produce, that there would be no profits left for him. It is clear that he robs you of the greater part of your product – but how?

Let us put it this way. If you cut in one day one hundred logs (most of you put in even bigger counts) and the boss said to you at the end of the day: “Jack, out of the 100 logs you have cut I will let you keep 15 logs as your wages and I will take the remaining 85 logs, you would reply: “Hell, no! that ain’t a square deal!” We use these figures, the 100 and the 15, because the figures compiled by the government statisticians show that on average, “all persons gainfully employed” in the industries of Canada receive about 15 per cent of their production as wages. It should be remembered, however, that the government ‘figure-twister’ (that’s what statistician means) has included salaried executives who get several thousand a year instead of $30.00 or so a month. When this fact is taken into consideration, “Jock’s” 15 shrinks to about 8. When we put it this way it is easy to see that you are being robbed.

You will easily see and understand how the big bosses of the lumber woods can afford mansions and motor cars if you just take a pencil and do a little simple arithmetic. Having set aside the high salaried executives we found Jack’s share to be eight; but even allowing the government figures, the big boss get 85 logs. If he had only one set of sawyers cutting for him he would have only a modest income, but no boss is satisfied with “Chicken-feed.” Tho’ many employers hire thousands of workers we will take an easy round number, 100, to illustrate our point. One hundred workers each producing 100 logs equals a total product of 10,000 logs. The employer’s share is 85 out of every 100, or 8,500, while the remaining 1,500 logs are DIVIDED BETWEEN 100 workers! The difference between 8,500 and 15 is equal to the difference between a ragged pair of overalls and a dress suit.

It is not because your boss, as an individual is stronger than you that he takes the 85, but because the bosses are ORGANIZED. The power of economic organization enables the bosses to keep under their thumb the machinery of production and the sources of raw material, woods, mines, etc. They who own and control the means of life, the machinery of production and distribution, are the rulers of the world. They did not grow the trees, put minerals into the ground, and build the factories and mills, and the machinery in the, but they claim ownership of all these things.

Nature grew the trees and formed the mineral deposits. In fact, the whole material world and all living things and creatures, including man himself, are a part of nature. Labour, using material provided by nature, has built factories to work in and machines to work with-and jails to be confined in for disobedience to the boss’ orders. All men and women are entitled to what nature may have given and what they may have produced by their own efforts. The boss has no more right to keep your product for himself than the louse has to the blood of your body. Louse and boss are both parasites. Then why in the name of common sense do you boil the one and bow to the other?

What you think to be the power of the boss is simply the power that your lack of organization gives the boss. He is not going to part with any more than he must without a struggle. You suffer unsanitary camp conditions and work long hours for very small pay because you are not organized to TAKE more pay, shorten the hours of labour and get better conditions.

If Worker and Boss were two individuals you would think it very foolish of the Worker if he went up to the Boss and said: ” Naughty Boss, yuo have stolen 85 of my logs, I shall strike you with my little finger.” But if the Worker organized his five fingers into a fist and hit the boss a poke in the mush, you would all shout: “Atta boy Jack!” As the Boss fell backward over a windfall. The worker who meows in the bunk house and goes alone to the boss asking for more wages, or whatever he may want, is trying to knock the boss down with a little finger. For workers to organize themselves into a UNION and STRIKE for what they want is to HIT the boss with the all powerful FIST of economic power! What do we mean by “economic power?”

There was a time when all things that man required were produced: made ready for use: by hand labour, aided only by hand-made tools and weapons. This was a time when there were no factories; a time when even a man with the imagination of a Jules Verne had not yet dreamed of machinery. Man secured food and clothing in that early day by the use of bow and arrow, spear, and fishing net. But these things were useless unless set into action by the mental direction and muscular energy of man himself. It would have been silly of our skin-clad ancestor of the long ago to say to his crude weapons: “Go you into the forest my worthy bow and arrow and my trusty spear and fetch me a haunch of venison.” “Now you, my good fishing net, go and secure me an armful of herring from yonder shoals.” If this had been man’s mental attitude he would still be waiting for the venison and would never have tasted herring. This is just another way of saying that labour-power is the one factor that is absolutely necessary to production either with the crude tools and weapons of long ago or the highly perfected and ingenious machine of to-day. As it is the one essential factor in industry, if you withdraw your labour-power, go on strike, the tools and machinery would lie idle and utterly useless. By this simple act you would stop production and thus cut off the boss’ profits. Your ability to paralyze industry is your ECONOMIC POWER. We see then that Labour’s weapon in the fight for higher wages, shorter hours, better conditions, and finally the ownership of industry, is Economic Power. We see then that Labour’s weapon in the fight for higher wages, shorter hours, better conditions, and finally the ownership of industry, is Economic Power. Labour holds this power because Labour is the one essential factor in industry. In the face of these facts there can only be ONE reasonable answer to the question: “Where and how should we organize?” We must organize in INDUSTRY, as WORKERS! Why are so few of us organized?

It is to the master’s interest to keep us unorganized for we are helpless and therefore easy victims to his greed for profits as long as we are not organized to take those profits away from him. The master’s ownership of industry (the means of lifge) gives him control over the schools. He also owns the newspapers and will only allow them to print what iti is to his interest that the workers should read-and believe.; With school and press at his command he has created racial, religious, and other unfounded prejudices in the minds of the workers. While the workers are busy fighting one another as British, French, Dagoes and so on and as Catholic and Protestant, the boss is stealing the 85’s. The boss is a firm believer in Caesar’s motto: “Divide and rule.

The I.W.W. says: “Food, clothing and shelter are produced by Labour, using the tools and machinery of production to transfer raw materials, provided by nature into usable shape. The raw materials were not created by “nationality” or “religion.” The tools and machinery were produced by Labour, not by “State” or “Church.” Nationality, and religion then have no place in industry. It makes no difference to the boss what country you come from or what church you go to-or whether you go to any church. His only concern is, can you produce wealth for him.

In industry we are not divided into a number of races but into two classes. The class that produces and does not possess-The Working Class-And the class that possesses but does not produce-The Ruling (parasite) Class.

The man who works beside you is not a Britisher, Frenchman or Dagoe; neither is he a Catholic or a Protestant. He is a worker just as you are. As workers you are all robbed by the boss, regardless of race or creed. It is your common interest as workers to disregard race and creed and organize to win back what the boss has stolen from you.

In conclusion we will try to put the message of the I.W.W. into a few simple words. It is this.

“Workers! many years of struggling against the boss in the interests of Labour has taught us many valuable lessons. We have learned that to divide the workers of one industry into a number of unions; such as a teamsters’ union, swampers’ union and so on in the woods, weakens rather than strengthens the workers. It “allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry thereby helping to defeat one another in wage wars,” as our Preamble so truly states.”

“Our experiences and a study of industry has shown us that lumber workers could not produce lumber unless other workers provided food, clothing and tools they require. That other industries are dependent upon the products of the lumber worker. All industries are dependent upon one another and can only carry on as so many units organized into a One Big Union of Industry.” “In the heat of many fierce battles against the boss we have learned that the bosses are all organized into a One Big Union of Bosses to fight against the workers to maintain their own position as the rulers of the world.” “Recognizing these facts we call upon all workers, in every industry, in all countries, to set aside all racial and other hatreds and prejudices.” “To organize the many industrial units of workers into One Big Industrial Union of the Working Class.” Our immediate demands are: Higher Wages: Shorter Hours: Better Conditions: Our final aim: THE WORLD FOR THE WORKERS.

Add to the strength of the I.W.W. by joining it, the one little unit of economic power that is yours. In this way your power will increase to the extent of the many thousands of units of economic power that comprise: THE INDUSTRIAL WORKERS OF THE WORLD.

Literature Can Be Obtained from the following Branches:

512½ Second Ave., Seattle, Washington.

227½ Yamhill Street, Portland, Ore.60 Cordova Street, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

260 Bay Street, Port Arthur, Ontario, Canada.

223 N. Benard Street, Spokane, Washington.

… 464, Duluth, Minn.

… Sacramento, Calif.

… rcadero Street, San Francisco, Calif.

…5 Kasota Building, Minneapolis…

318 N. Wyoming Street, Butte, Mont.

555 West Lake Street, Chicago, Ill.

Box 800 City Hall Station, New York, N.Y.

206 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, Minn.

434 Bryson Block, Los Angeles, Calif.

Don’t depend on the Capitalist class papers for the news and the truth about the working class. Read the I.W.W. papers. Industrial Solidarity, printed at Chicago, and the Industrial Worker, printed at Seattle, booth weeklies with a $2.00 subscription rate carry all the news of interest to workers. Subscribe now!

28 Alder St., Sudbury, Ont.

138 Schreiber St., Sudbury, Ont.

314 Bay St., Port Arthur, Ont.

Pamphlet produced in Sudbury, Ontario, dated 1920.