Don’t Mourn, Organize!
Hellraisers Journal, Friday June 1, 1917
From the International Socialist Review: Telegram from Washington
INDUSTRIAL ACTION NEWS
ON the 5th of November, 1916, five working men, members of the Industrial Workers of the World, were shot to death on the docks at Everett, Wash., by hirelings of either the mill owners of the State of Washington, or the Commercial Club of Everett, Wash. Forty-six other workers were wounded.
For this crime, seventy-three workers were jailed for six months under various charges and on the 5th day of May, this year, Thomas H. Tracy was acquitted of a murder charge after a trial lasting two months. Now comes the good news of “all prisoners released.” Another clean cut victory for the fighting I. W. W.!
Class Lines Clearly Drawn
Never in the history of the American labor movement have the class lines been so clearly drawn and the supposed defendant in the case so completely pushed to one side as in the case of the State of Washington vs. Thomas H. Tracy. For days at a time Tracy would sit listening to the evidence and arguments as if he were only one of the spectators, and in no way whatever connected with the case. On the other hand, every principle and idea of the Industrial Workers of the World, the actions of the Commercial Club of Everett, the industrial disturbances of Everett and several other towns in Washington, and any thing that would tend to throw light upon the industrial situation or the propaganda of the I. W. W. was brought out and explained in fullest detail.
The charging of Thomas H. Tracy with the murder was merely perfunctory. It was the only way in which the state, which represented the Commercial Club of Everett, hoped to be able to break down and completely wipe out the Industrial Workers of the World in the camps and mills of the state of Washington. It was but an extension of the open shop campaign that has been waged on the Pacific coast by the Merchants’ and Manufacturers’ Association for the past eight years, and it is the first really big case in all that time in which that association has been defeated.
Attorney Cooley for the prosecution said:
The question in this case is as to whether any organization, whether it be a labor organization or any other, has the right to use unlawful methods; whether it has the right, because it may have the power, to use unlawful methods.
Attorney Fred Moore’s closing speech will rank alongside of Darrow’s defense in the Haywood case. In making this closing plea he said, in part:
Your responsibility is that of measuring out absolute and complete justice between warring elements in modern life, not for one moment allowing yourselves to be swerved by the fact that one class of witnesses are witnesses of social positions, of property qualifications, while, on the other hand, the witnesses called by the defense were witnesses from the four parts of the earth whose only claim to your attention is that they have built the railroads, that they have laid the ties, that they have dug the tunnels, that they have harvested the crops.
* * * We were further handicapped in view of the fact that we did not have behind us the resources of the state of Washington and the county of Snohomish. Neither did we have behind us the resources of various business interests; neither did we have behind us all the resources of allied business on the Pacific coast, as represented by Mr. Veitch for the prosecution.
History of Conspiracy
What have they? They have the old reliable, the old faithful, in the trial of cases of this character, namely, conspiracy, hallowed by age. Way back in the sixteenth century the tug women on the banks of the Thames were indicted for conspiracy in attempting to raise wages. The chandlers of London were likewise later indicted. The stone masons in New York, the carpenters in Boston! From time immemorial the charge of conspiracy has been leveled against Labor. Indeed, it was only in the reign of Victoria that labor unions became other than simply conspiracies.
I can almost hear ringing in my ears the impassioned plea of Mr. Cooley in closing this case. He is going to read this: “The question of right and wrong does not concern us.” My God, did it ever concern the sheriff of Snohomish county. Does it seem to concern others who are attempting this prosecution?
* * * * * * *
I might urge upon you that the state at that time wanted to absolutely suppress all speech because they had constituted the chief of police, they had constituted the sheriff, they had constituted the arresting officer, as the executive, the legislative and the judicial department of our government.
We are not afraid of the evidence. We are afraid of the deep grained interest that goes down into men’s consciences and that reaches back a thousand years.
They fight because they must. They fight because to do anything else is suicide. You could not have stopped the American revolution with all the powers of the British government. Since this jury was impaneled you have had the collapse of one of the greatest powers of modern times. It has passed from the stage of an absolute monarchy to a republic.
The trial of this cause is the presentation of a great social issue, the greatest of modern times, namely, What are we going to do with the migratory and occasional workers? These are the boys who have told their story on the stand.
* * * * * * *
If yours is a verdict of “not guilty,” Tom Tracy must take up again the job of finding a job, this endless tragedy of marching from job to job, without home, wife or kindred. His offense consists of being a migratory worker. I beg of you to render a verdict that has due regard and consideration for the tragedy of our twentieth century civilization that does not as yet measure out economic justice.
Your verdict means much. The wires to night or tomorrow will carry the word all over this land, into Australia and New Zealand. We are not in this courtroom as the representatives of one person, two persons or three persons. Our clients run into thousands. These are behind us and put us here as their mouthpiece, the mouthpiece of the workers of America, organized and unorganized. They are here behind our voices.
* * * * * * *
Importance of Free Speech
If there is any one principle that is ground into Anglo Saxon thought it is the principle of liberty of the press and freedom of speech. Those two things stand as the bulwark of our liberty. They are the thing for which the Anglo-Saxon has fought from time immemorial, liberty of the press and freedom of speech.
Attorney Moore closed with an appeal for a clear-cut verdict of first degree murder or acquittal.
Tracy’s acquittal is entirely due to the solidarity displayed by the militant workers of the country.
A complete history of this, the longest and most important labor trial in the history of the Pacific Coast, is now being written up under the direction of the general office of the Industrial Workers of the World and will be off from the press about July 1st. It will be substantially bound in cloth with over twenty illustrations. Every Revolutionary Socialist and intelligent union man will want a copy for his book shelf.
Meanwhile the Review will not talk about “justice” on the Pacific Coast until Sheriff McRae and the guilty members of the Everett Commercial Club have been arrested, brought to trial and convicted of shooting to death five members of the Industrial Workers of the World on the Everett docks on Sunday afternoon, November 5, 1916.
[Photograph of freed class-war prisoners added.]
THE SPRING DRIVE OF THE LUMBER JACKS
By C. E. PAYNE
A NEW method of organization is being tried out in North America, an invention which, like many another, is so simple and yet so efficient that the wonder is not that it has been discovered, but that it has not been tried before. This new machine is the Lumber Workers Organization No. 500 of the I. W. W.
Formerly when the timber workers in one locality became numerous enough to form a Local Union they took out a charter for that locality, and the certain result was that when the members would leave or be driven out, the Charter would lapse, and people would say that “the lumber jacks won’t stick together.”
The lumber workers who are now organizing in the L. W. O. were at first accepted under the jurisdiction of the Agricultural Workers Organization, but they became so numerous and their activities were in some respects so different from that of the A. W. O. that a convention was called to meet in Spokane on March 4th. It continued for three days, and resulted in an application to the I. W. W. The charter was issued on March 12th of this year, and the members engaged in the lumbering industry who had been members of the A. W. O. began transferring to the L. W. O. No. 500, and new members have been joining at a very encouraging rate. The number in good standing at present is close to 6,000.
The new form of organization is that of an Industrial Union with branches, and it has jurisdiction in the lumbering industry throughout the entire country. The head quarters is located at 424 Lindelle Block, Spokane, and the Secretary, Don Sheridan, and three assistants have all the work they can handle, and more coming in all the time.
There are district branches at Spokane, Duluth and Seattle. Duluth district has three branches, Seattle has seven branches, and Spokane has some seven branches, while each district and branch has a number of stationary and camp delegates working with credentials. Organization is being carried forward in Louisiana to establish a Southern District, and work is being started in California. Wherever there are a number of districts near each other they function as a district. On the other hand, where logging and milling operations are discontinued in some section of country, there is no lapsed charter because of the members moving away, but some Stationary Delegate who has a suitcase full of literature, stamps and cards simply moves to the new location, and the business of organization goes on.
The new arrangement means that there is but one Lumber Workers’ Charter for all North America, and every member belongs to the Industrial Union, which has headquarters at Spokane. But this does not mean any hard and fast rule of action. Each district is left free to tackle the boss whenever they feel so inclined, and to use such tactics as they find suitable, while the head office gives that particular district the support of the whole organization. It also provides a way for the head office to send delegates and organizers into unorganized territory with out waiting for a charter to be issued for that locality, and in case of all the members in any one locality being blacklisted they do not lose charter or membership, for there is but one charter for lumber workers, and camp delegates who collect dues and initiate members are becoming very numerous. As the result of organization, the members of the L. W. O. are coming to have a good understanding with each other, and they are quietly and coolly figuring just when and where to make their demands.
In Washington, Idaho and Montana, where logs are floated, or “drove,” to the mills, there are generally as many logs cut each winter as can well be taken down the streams during the high water of each summer, and but a few days delay in the drive will mean that large numbers of logs will be left on the banks of the streams till next year, and the worms and rot can do a lot of damage. It is a question with the bosses whether rot in the logs will cost more than the wages demanded. In some places the bosses have decided that it is better to agree to the demand than have no logs this year, and the L. W. O. is making preparations for presenting demands at the right time at other places. The results gained so far by the L. W. O. through organized effort, and the work of education that is being carried on, indicate that the growth in membership will be very rapid. The river drivers on the St. Maries River in Idaho have raised their wages from $3.50 for twelve hours to $5.00 for eight hours.
At the Convention held in Spokane, the pledge was given that if any of the Everett prisoners were convicted, the L. W. O. would bring economic pressure to bear to change the verdict. The convention also adopted a demand for $60 per month and board for all teamsters in the woods, and eight hours work; $5 and board for eight hours work for river drivers, and that all men be paid twice a month in cash or bank checks without any discount.
The Lumber Workers Organization is working along lines that were to some extent mapped out by the Agricultural Workers Organization during the past two years in the harvest fields of the Central states. But in some instances the work is being carried along on entirely new lines for which there is no precedent, and each problem is handled as it arises. The Organization and its methods are so new that the bosses have been unable to find any way to successfully combat it. And the very success that it is making is why the L. W. O. No. 500 is attractive to the lumber jacks.
As this is being written the river drivers are in some places enjoying the benefits of the better conditions they have secured; in some places they are still on strike, and in other places they are waiting till the drives are started before making their demands. There is no disposition to help the bosses break the strikes by going out when there is no demand for labor power. The disposition now is to wait till the bosses are just starting their log drives, and then making a good drive for wages. And the boss knows that the water running to the sea now will never come back to float logs to the mill. It must be taken at the flood to lead on to fortune, and the boss cannot grasp that fortune except he conceeds to the lumber jacks a larger portion of the wealth they create.
But more than the demands made for higher wages and better working conditions, the lumber jacks are consciously building their organization for the purpose of taking and operating all the lumber industry in the interest of the working class just as fast as the rest of the working class can be brought to see their economic position in society. The lumber workers know that they cannot go much beyond the most advanced position of other organized workers in industry, but they are determined to keep the L. W. O. in the front of the drive against the bosses, and have in less than three months since their convention been able to obtain some good results, and they know that better results can be obtained in the near future.
METAL MINERS BLAST
By G. H. PERRY
THE work of organizing the metal miners goes merrily on in spite of desperate resistance on the part of the corporation mine owners.
Metal Mine Workers Industrial Union No. 800 was organized January 29, 1917, and in four months’ time its membership has passed the 6,000 mark and is still going strong in spite of the fact that we have been denied meeting places, men have been blacklisted and the newspapers have carried on a campaign of open-shop slander and abuse.
The Arizona Local No. 800 is the power in the mining industry. Although the Western Federation of Miners, or rather its ghost, has been a silent partner along with the work of the boys to crush out a real organization among the miners.
The W. F. of M. has dwindled down to a few hundred members in this state. Where hundreds of the boys once prized their W. F. of M. cards, they are now turning them in for transfer in the I. W. W. The officials of the W. F. of M. fell flat in their attempt to foist upon the miners a contract system with a check off similar to that used by the United M. W. of America. The boys down here are on to that game and the mine owners knew that the W. F. of M. did not have the organization to deliver the goods.
Few people realize that Arizona is the biggest copper state in the Union. The deposits extend over the entire state. Some of the largest mining camps are Miami, Metcalf, Clinton and Morenci, where thousands of miners are employed in low grade mines.
The mines are insufferably hot and are located in dry districts where the water has to be hauled into many camps. Food is high because it has to be shipped in.
The whites and Mexicans work eight and ten hours a day and wages are $5.85 for miners and $5.45 for muckers while general laborers get from $2.50 up.
Copper is badly needed for munitions at the present time and the I. W. W. is in the game for shorter hours and higher wages whenever the opportunity offers, regardless of international financial differences.
Machine guns have been planted on the hill sides around the mining camps and search lights play all night long. Rifle clubs have been organized and various measures have been taken to stand off “foreign invasions.”
The miners realize that these military stunts are being staged regularly for their benefit. But they refuse to be intimidated and the work of organization goes steadily forward.
Conditions in other mining states are similar to those in Arizona. Local 800 is rapidly gaining ground in Montana, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and Nevada. One delegate in Butte sent in over 180 members. One day’s receipts from Butte brought in 535 new members while nearly every mining camp in the west is represented by a delegate of Local 800. At this writing we have 125 delegates and paid organizers on the job and best of all we have aroused the enthusiasm of the diggers from the Mexican border to Alaska and it will not be long before the men who drift and cross-cut will be the dictators of mining conditions.
THE BATTLE FOR THE LAKES
By H. L. VARNEY
WAR for job control has been declared on the great lakes by Marine Transport Workers’ Local No. 200, I. W. W.
For years the lake workers have been divided into autonomous unions and double-crossed by agreements which give the workers all the worst of it.
The seamen had their seamen’s Union. Then there was the Marine Firemen, Oilers and Water Tenders’ Union and the long shoremen had their I. L. A. The shipbuilders were also divided into a dozen or more craft unions. But the day has come when the lake workers realize that the old A. F. of L. form of unionism must go in the discard. They are beginning to realize that division brings dividends to the boss but does not bring the bacon home to the workers who do the work. They are awake to the fact that most of their unions are little better than bosses’ unions. And that is one reason why the union membership had declined to almost zero. That is why One Big Union looks awfully good to the lake workers at the present writing.
The first strike handled by Local 200 occurred at Ashtabula, Ohio, and resulted in a good, strong branch among the ship builders.
On May 1st a bitter strike broke out in Erie, Pa., between the longshoremen and the bosses. The men were organized in the I. L. A., which is run by one T. V. O’Connor, whose record is well known among intelligent union men. As soon as O’Connor heard of the trouble, he wired into the bosses repudiating the strike in the name of the I. L. A. He assured the bosses that they were free to fill the jobs with scabs and that he would give no support to the strike.
The Erie strikers appealed to the I. W. W. and applied for a charter. The strike is now on its third week and not a single man has shown a yellow streak or deserted in spite of the fact that gunmen, searchlights and threats of Federal deportation have been the bosses’ weapons.
About the same time Local 751 of the I. L. A. went on strike at Buffalo, demanding higher wages and the annulment of the old agreement with the bosses. This agreement or contract is one of the rottenest documents ever used to bind or gag a bunch of union men. According to its terms, if the local goes on strike without permission of the Hon. Mr. O’Connors, their worthy International Secretary, the local forfeits a $2,000 bond to the chief employer,— one W. J. (Fingy) Connors, who, by the way, is a notorious politician, and has taken advantage of the ignorance of these poor Polish workers for years past. They have revolted and drafted a new agreement which leaves O’Connor out in the cold.
On May 6th they declared themselves independent of the I. L. A. and voted unanimously to follow the example of the Erie lake workers and affiliated with the I. W. W. A tidal wave is surely sweeping our way and with the help of the General Organization it will not be long before One Big Union will hold full sway on the lakes.
The headquarters of Local No. 200 is Cleveland, Ohio. George Hardy is Secretary-Treasurer and at present the General Organization has the following organizers on the job: Joe Schmidt, Wm. Kornick, Emanuel Rey, C. L. Lambert and your humble servant. Arrangements have also been made for a colored organizer. We hope to be able to send the Review readers next. month news of the successful winding up of the strikes at Erie and Buffalo.
The International Socialist Review, Volume 17
Charles H. Kerr & Company,
July 1916-June 1917
ISR June 1917
“Industrial Action News”
Everett Massacre, Prisoners Released Telegram, ISR June 1917
Everett Free Speech Fight Prisoners at Cemetery, May 12, 1917, WCS
IWW Marine Transport Woker, ISR June 1917
IWW Yearbook 1917
-Highlights 1917 by Alison Cheung