Letter from F. H. Bohn to IWW members (March 30, 1919)
March 30th, 1919.
What are you doing towards the building up of the One Big Union? By asking this of you we do not mean to infer that you are doing nothing, neither do we expect by asking the question that you will jump out and do the impossible. But we hope by asking the question you will naturally in turn, ask it of yourself and figure out from your knowledge of the conditions in your locality, just how much you could do. We leave the local conditions to you.
There are several things that this office would like to have you do. We would like some co-operation in getting the widest possible circulation for the Bulletin. This can be done in several ways. First, you can get a bundle of them and distribute them yourself, or you can send in addresses, from your locality, of workers whom you think it will want them, or of workers not yet members to whom you think it will be a means of education. Or you can send in the addresses and distribute them also. The Bulletins are free. However, do not send in any addresses that are not permanent, as it is impossible to tell when they move. These workers are reached better by the distribution method.
You can also send in news, such as reports of job conditions and local items that you think will be of interest to workers in other localities. This is important to a good bulletin, because, it will give the workers in one locality more heart to know by reading the bulletin, that workers in other localities are also active.
By far the most important thing you can do is to get busy on the job with supplies and credentials. The delegate on the job now is necessary, because, at the time of writing, peace has been declared, and the problems pursuant to this event can only be met by a strong revolutionary organization, such as the I. W. W.
Many Fellow Workers do not like to take out credentials unless they see a chance to do a land office business. This is a mistaken idea of the Delegate System. Because where the workers can be organized en-masse, they generally organize themselves. Where the delegate is needed most is on the jobs, where, after hours, he can talk and agitate to those other workers who do not yet see the light. If a delegate sells only two dollars worth of stamps a month, that is far better than having no supplies and selling nothing. And if there was a delegate on every third job in the country; how long would it be before every unorganized worker who travels from one job to another would be lined up? Figure it up for yourself, and if you figure it the same as we do, you will have credentials and supplies as soon as you can get them.
The Job Delegate is the most important part of the organization. NO DELEGATES, NO ORGANIZATION: LOTS OF DELEGATES, BIG ORGANIZATION. If you are on a hostile job and have to whisper, then whisper; maybe after awhile if you whisper enough you can talk right out loud. But in any case be a delegate. Don't leave it to someone else. Always bear this in mind—that the capitalist class don't care a damn what you believe in, just as long as you don't get active.
Now, Fellow Worker, think this over and keep the question at the opening of this letter constantly in mind. Give us some co-operation, and as a copy of this letter will reach many more fellow workers beside yourself and we get a little assistance from each plus yours, you can figure out that it will not be very long before we will be far ahead of our present day situation. Answer this letter and tell us how many bulletins you can handle. If you are getting bulletins and want more, let us know. Also make it a point to let us know of any change of address.
Yours for Industrial Democracy,
F. H. BOHN, Sec'-Treas. No. 573.
1001 W. Madison St., Chicago, Ill.