ONE BIG UNION Industrial Workers of the World


“All workers of one big industry in one union; all unions of workers in one big labor alliance the world over.” [Text on bottom]

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The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw significant increases in wages and improved conditions for many workers across the United States, thanks in large part to the growth of organized labor unions. Despite the progress, tension and conflicting interests arose between the various unions in the industrial sector, prompting calls for further organizational unity.

The Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.), established in 1905, promoted a radical form of “One Big Union” in which industrial sectors were subdivided under a central departmental administration. This chart, issued in the back of an I.W.W. promotional booklet around 1922, outlines the organization of the proposed union.

Six numbered departments (Agriculture, Mining, Construction, Manufacture, Public Service, and Transportation) form the rim of the ‘wheel’, with their respective industrial sectors comprising the spokes. The I.W.W. Administration is the hub that holds the entire wheel together, as outlined in text at the bottom;

“Study the Chart and observe how this organization will give recognition to control of shop affairs, provide perfect industrial unionism, and converge the strength of all organized workers to a common center, from which any weak point can be strengthened.”

The message must have been effective, as membership in the I.W.W. grew, albeit haphazardly, between 1910 and the early 1920s. A series of political crackdowns, resistance from existing unions, and leadership crises led to a precipitous decline starting around 1924.


Map Details

Publication Date: c. 1922

Author: Industrial Workers of the World

Sheet Width (in): 13.75

Sheet Height (in): 16.50

Condition: B+

Condition Description: Folding chart, moderately toned, affixed to the back cover of a 32 pp. booklet with stapled binding (detached but present and in good condition). Creased and worn along former fold lines, including a bit of separation at the bottom fold intersection. A 5" tear along the top center of the sheet has been repaired on the verso with archival tape.


1 in stock