We are a union for the incarcerated fighting for prison abolition.
The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), is a prisoner-led section of the Industrial Workers of the World. IWOC struggles to end prison slavery along with allies and supporters on the outside. In 2016, IWOC was part of a coalition of inside and outside groups that launched the largest prison strike in US history. And in 2018, we participated in another nationwide prison strike that pushed the prisoners’ demands even further into the global spotlight. Resistance to prison slavery continues with work stoppages, hunger strikes and other acts of resistance to business as usual.
SLAVERY NEVER ENDED
REVOLUTIONARY ANTI-FASCIST UNIONISM
IWOC Statement of Purpose
1. To further the revolutionary goals of incarcerated people and the IWW through mutual organizing of a worldwide union for emancipation from the prison system.
2. To build class solidarity amongst members of the working class by connecting the struggle of people in prison, jails, and immigrant and juvenile detention centers to workers struggles locally and worldwide.
3. To strategically and tactically support prisoners locally and worldwide, incorporating an analysis of white supremacy, patriarchy, prison culture, and capitalism.
4. To actively struggle to end the criminalization, exploitation, and enslavement of working class people, which disproportionately targets people of color, immigrants, people with low income, LGBTQ people, young people, dissidents, and those with mental illness.
5. To amplify the voices of working class people in prison, especially those engaging in collective action or who put their own lives at risk to improve the conditions of all.
Seattle Chapter Outside Organizer Statement
As we are still in our early stages, we are seeking those in need of support on the inside and those feeling drawn to support prisoners on the outside. Our goal is to assist prisoners in campaigning for the policy changes they see necessary in our region. We understand that prisoners are the most intimately familiar with the criminal justice system which is why we follow their lead in supporting their initiatives. We reject any claims to authority or justice made by a system that refuses to acknowledge and account for its foundation in genocide and slavery. As it stands, the American flag flies as a symbol of torture.
During the 2018 National Prison Strike, we participated in supporting those incarcerated in the state of Washington, including the 200 detainees at Tacoma’s Detention Center, and prisoners nationwide, by forming a solidarity group in Seattle that hosted outside events. These events included noise demos, pickets, protests, spoken word open mic events and other forms of demonstration that took place to raise awareness and educate the public on prisoners’ demands.
Though the strike has officially ended, organizers in Seattle are keeping our solidarity alive with ongoing actions to ensure follow-up on the strike’s ten demands and to support the leadership of incarcerated people in addressing the harms they face. As abolitionists, we recognize the prison industrial complex as a tool for destroying relationships and we prioritize building relationships in response: with organizers inside and out and with communities who can use their resources to mobilize in support of prisoner-led action.
One specific relationship that needs to be healed in this context is the relationship between the labor of those living outside of prison walls and those living within them. Too often labor organizing neglects the overwhelming injustices faced by prisoners, who work in incredibly coercive and violent conditions. So to assist in further supporting prisoners in the northwest in the spirit of the strike, the Washington state solidarity group organizers are establishing a Seattle Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) under the guidance of the Oakland Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) and in partnership with Olympia IWOC. By forming an IWOC chapter of the IWW, we intend to bring labor and anti-prison struggles together in order to address the ongoing crisis of incarceration in a capitalist context. We recognize that it is only with the abolition of prisons and capital that white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, ableism, and settler colonialism can die out.