Remember Kids, The Only Good Cop Is A Dead Cop

How To Fire Your Boss
A Worker's Guide to Direct Action

This pamphlet was published by Bossbusters a project of the Bay Area I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World). For additional copies, or for more information, call (415)863-9627

The indignity of working-for-a-living is well-known to anyone who ever has. Democracy, the great principle on which American society is supposedly founded, is thrown out the window as soon as we punch to time clock at work. With no say over what we produce, or how that production is organized, and with only a small portion of that product's value finding its way into our paychecks, we have every right to be pissed off at our bosses.

Ultimately, of course, we need to create a society in which working people make all the decisions about the production and distribution of goods and services. Harmful or useless industries, such as arms and chemical manufacturing, or the banking and insurance scams, would be eliminated. The real essentials, like food, shelter, and clothing, could be produced by everyone working just a few hours each week.

In the meantime, however, we need to develop strategies that both prefigure this utopia AND counteract the day to day drudgery of contemporary wageslavery. BossBusters, a project of the Bay Area Wobblies, believes that direct action in the workplace is the key to achieving both these goals. But what do we mean by direct action?
Direct action is any form of guerrilla warfare that cripples the boss' ability to make a profit and makes him/her cave in to the workers' demands. The best-known form of direct action is the strike,in which workers simply walk off their jobs and refuse to produce profits for the boss until they get what they want. This is the preferred tactic of the AFL-CIO ``business unions,'' but is one of the least effective ways of confronting the boss.

The bosses, with their large financial reserves, are better able to withstand a long drawn-out strike than the workers. In many cases, court injuctions will freeze or confiscate the union's strike funds. And worst of all, a long walk-out only gives the boss a chance to replace striking workers with a scab (replacement) workforce.

Workers are far more effective when they take direct action while still on the job. By deliberately reducing the boss' profits while continuing to collect wages, you can cripple the boss without giving some scab the opportunity to take your job. Direct action, by definition, means those tactics workers can undertake themselves, without the help of government agencies, union bureaucrats, or high-priced lawyers. Running to the National Labor Relations Board (N.L.R.B.) for help may be appropriate in some cases, but it is NOT a form of direct action.

What follows are some of the most popular forms of direct action that workers have used to get what they wanted. Yet nearly every one of these tactics is, technically speaking, illegal. Every major victory won by Labor over the years was achieved with militant direct actions that were, in their time, illegal and subject to police repression. After all, until the 1930's, the laws surrounding labor unions were simple -- there were none. Most courts held labor unions to be illegal conspiracies in restraint of ``free trade,'' and strikers were routinely beaten and shot by police, state militia, Federal troops, and private security goons.

The legal right of workers to organize is now officially recognized in the U.S., yet so many restrictions exist that effective action is as difficult as ever. For this reason, any worker contemplating direct action on the job -- bypassing the legal system and hitting the boss where s/he is weakest -- should be fully aware of labor law, how it is applied, and how it may be used against labor activists. At the same time, workers must realize that the struggle between the bosses and the workers is not a badminton match -- it is war. Under these circumstances, workers must use what works, whether the bosses (and their courts) like it or not.

Here, then, are the most useful forms of direct action:

`I don't know of anything that can be applied that will bring as much satisfaction to you, and as much anguish to the boss, as a little sabotage in the right place at the right time.'' -- ``Big'' Bill Haywood,Industrial Workers of the World.(I.W.W.)

Thanks to the New York I.W.W. Branch and the Lehigh Valley I.W.W. Branch for their earlier editions of The Worker's Guide to Direct Action, from which this pamphlet was adapted. Thanks also to Martin Sprouse and Pressure Drop Press for some of the stories in this pamphlet, culled from their book Sabotage in the American Workplace: Anecdotes of Dissatisfaction, Mischief and Revenge.

This pamphlet was published by Bossbustersa project of the Bay Area I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World, or Wobblies). For additional copies, or for more information, call (415)863-9627, or drop by our office at 1095 Market Street, Suite 204, San Francisco, CA 94103 (at 7th Street, Civic Center BART).

NOTE: the above phone number is correct, but the address is historical.