The Cambridge Dictionary defines a troublemaker as "someone who intentionally causes problems for other people, especially people who are in a position of power or authority." Labor unions, organizers, agitators, and workers have a long history of troublemaking.

Sara Puotinen has a blog devoted to TROUBLE and troublemaking. In her post, Union Activists as Troublemakers, Puotinen notes that "many union activists/activist organizations proudly embrace the label of troublemaker."

Labor Notes a Detroit-based non-profit for union members and grassroots labor activists has released A Troublemaker's Handbook and A Troublemaker's Handbook 2. According to the handbook, "By 'troublemaker' we mean someone who dares to defend her or his rights and those of fellow workers. That often means making waves and making management uncomfortable—so management tends to call such brave souls 'troublemakers'."

Labor Notes also regularly hosts Troublemaker Schools around the United States. According to an article from the Los Angeles Times, "How a stripper, a barista and an electrician ended up at a ‘Troublemakers School’ for L.A. labor activists", the Troublemaker School hosted workshops, including “Bargaining Basics,” “Building Solidarity and Power in the Logistics Chain” and “What to Do When Your Union Breaks Your Heart,” and a panel titled "Young Workers Rising." Union workers and labor activists shared stories and knowledge about their tactics, their struggles, and their hopes for the future of the labor movement.

Direct action gets the goods.jpg

The Black Cat, also known as the Sabo-Tabby or Sab-kitty, is an unofficial mascot of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). This black cat is often depicted angry with claws out, a bushy tail and arched back. The first version of the black can probably be attributed to IWW member Ralph Chaplin, most famously known for writing the "Solidarity Forever" labor anthem lyrics. The original purpose of the black cat, was as a code or symbol for sabotage, or direct action at the point of production. According to Ralph Chaplin, "My 'Sab Cat' was supposed to symbolize the 'slow down' as a means of 'striking on the job'." The black cat has continued to serve as an unofficial mascot for the IWW, and has also been used more broadly beyond it's intended symbolism for direct action at the point of production. The black cat has also been used as "a mascot and a symbol of general collective working class militancy" as seen during a recent Starbucks Workers Organizing Campaign.The IWW also states that "The IWW does not condone or endorse such use of the black cat and bears no responsibility for its usage by others, nor does the IWW officially make use of the black cat to symbolize sabotage (indeed, the IWW does not officially endorse or condone sabotage itself)."

An injury to one is an injury to all.jpg

Similar to the black cat, the slogan "An injury to one is an injury to all" is also linked to the Industrial Workers of the World. This phrase can be found in the "Preamble to the IWW Constitution." This motto is an appeal for working class solidarity within one's industry and across industries for the collective action needed to cease work and effectively strike.

This phrase also appears twice in "Lumber Workers - You Need Organization!" In this appeal for the collective action of unionized lumber workers, the Lumber Workers Industrial Union 120 state that,

"The slogan of the LWIU 120, An Injury to One is an Injury to All, is the slogan of the IWW of which the LWIU 120 is an integral part. The aim of IU 120 is through organization to gain strength and use this organized strength to demand and take better conditions."

Similar to the IWW and the black cat, the Black Panthers used imagery of black panthers in protest art. One poster from the Swann Auction Galleries features an image of an attacking black panther and the words "An attack against one is an attack against all. The slaughter of Black people must be stopped! By any means necessary!" 

Following in the legacy of the IWW and the Black Panthers, activists continue to commit to working in solidarity with one another.