Hellraisers Journal: Mesabi Miners Strike, Pinkertons Arrive, Warrant Issued for Organizer Teofilo Petriella

You ought to be out raising hell.
This is the fighting age.
Put on your fighting clothes.
-Mother Jones

Hellraisers Journal, Sunday July 28, 1907
Mesabi Iron Range, Minnesota – Pinkerton Gunthugs Arrive

One wonders what would happen should strikers import into the state of Minnesota 100 armed gunthugs. We expect that the militia would be immediately called out and the bullpen made ready. The Pinkertons, however, entered the state and proceeded on up to the Range where they will most likely be sworn in as Sheriff’s deputies, as is per usual.

Meanwhile, an arrest warrant has been issued for the peaceful strike leader, Teofilo Petriella, organizer for the Western Federation of Miners.

From The Minneapolis Tribune of July 27, 1907:

Mesabi Miners Strike, Petriella, Mpls Tb, July 27, 1907



DULUTH, July 27,-(Special.)-One hundred Pinkerton detectives have arrived in Duluth. It is expected that they will go out to the strike district at once. They are here to protect the interests of the United States Steel corporation.



Hibbing, Minn., July 27.-(Special.)-Fearing the present quiet is only a calm before the storm, a warrant was yesterday sworn out for the arrest of Teofile [Teofilo] Petriella, the little Italian, who is engineering the present gigantic strike of the iron ore miners.

Some citizens believe if he were thrown into jail on some minor charge it would have the effect of breaking up the strike.

Petriella left here yesterday morning for Eveleth and the officers have not succeeded in locating him.

[Acting] President D. C. Mahoney was due to arrive on the range yesterday and a delegation of miners was at Wolf Junction to meet him, but he did not come. He is expected this morning.

There is a good deal of suppressed excitement over the report that 100 Pinkerton detectives were on their way to protect the big steel corporation mines at Eveleth when an effort is made to open them Monday morning.

The miners look upon the Pinkertons as their deadliest enemy.

Despite the protection offered by the deputies armed with rifles and revolvers, no men are returning to work, indicating that the ranks of the strikers are still solid.

Although many of the idle men are seen on the streets they do not gather in the saloons and not the least remarkable thing in connection with the present general suspension of work is the good order which the leaders have so far preserved.

That interesting developments are expected shortly is shown by the fact that Sheriff Bates of St. Louis county arrived here on the afternoon train yesterday and at once held a hasty consultation with Mayor Weirick.

The sheriff claims he can land 150 deputies from Duluth here in four hours’ time.


From The Bemidji Daily Pioneer of July 20, 1907:

Forced Out of Work by Strike
of Iron Ore Handlers.

Mesaba and Vermillion Properties Closed Down,
Railroad Crews Discharged and
an Immense Fleet of Vessels
Out of Commission.

Duluth, July 20.-Mining operations on the Mesaba and Vermillion ranges are at a standstill and the enormous fleet of the Pittsburg Steamship company promises to be tied up as a result of the strike of ore dock laborers at Duluth, Superior and Two Harbors. Nearly 2,000 men in all are out as a direct result of the strike, but thousands of others are forced into idleness. The entire mining department of the United States Steel corporation is now idle and even the underground mines on the ranges are closing down. The open pit mines are already shut down.

The Duluth strikers held a mass meeting and organized a union, about 400 of the strikers being present. It is yet only a local body but it will probably be affiliated with the Longshoremen’s union after the strike is over. Both the company and the strikers declare they will stand firm.


Train Crews Laid Off.

Superior, Wis., July 20.-The Great Northern has laid off many of its train crews on the ore line and the road is apparently determined to simply sit and wait for the men to come back. The latter have formed an organization and are making no demonstrations, but say they will not go back to the docks at the old wages. Eighteen ore boats are tied up at the Allouez docks.


From the Duluth Labor World of July 27, 1907:


Minnesota’s Chief Executive Comes to
St. Louis County to Investigate
Listens to Simple But Effective Story
From Finnish Leader of Miners.

WFM button

Upon the invitation of Sheriff Bates of St. Louis county, Governor John A. Johnson came to Duluth Wednesday afternoon to size up the strike situation. There has been a demand from some interests for the calling out of the state militia, and the governor thought it best to look over the ground himself.

Unless the situation greatly changes there will be no necessity for the use of the military arm of the state government. The chief magistrate of Minnesota held conferences while in Duluth with officials of the steel trust and committees of the strikers. His first audience, after visiting the Wolvin building was with a committee of ore handlers, who impressed the governor most favorably.

Listens to A Miner.

His next interview was with John Macki, an organizer for the Western Federation of Miners. Macki is a simple-looking fellow about 24 years of age. At first appearance he does not impress one with possessing any qualifications as a leader among his people. He begins his story in a most simple, but straight forward manner. Finally before one knows it his argument becomes ponderous, while his voice remains calm and gentle, without the faintest display of malice. There wasn’t a movement in the room, which was filled with reporters and friends of the governor, while the modest little miner told his simple and pathetic story. Reporters forgot their notes and listened with intent to what the sincere little Finnish leader had to say. Once or twice he was interrupted by a question from the governor. His reply was given in a deliberate and honest manner, which went right to the heart of every person in the room. This is what he said:

John Macki’s Story.

My name is John Macki. I am 24 years old. I came from Finland with my father in 1901, and am an American citizen since I came of age.

I went to school three days. I learned to read and write when I was out of work. The hoboes taught me to read when I was idle a year and a half. Sundays and other times I read.

There are 8,000,000 men in this country always looking for toil, not to enjoy themselves, but for a chance to work.

I am a socialist. I believe these mines ought to belong, not to the company, but to the people of the country. In the stores I believe in co-operation.

About the red flag. When there is a picnic or doings the socialists carry the red flag after the American flag in the parade. It is red because the socialists are made of all workers. They could not take black or white or any other color because that would be only part of them. They took the red, which is the color that runs through them all.

It is the symbol of the workers. We are not anarchists. There are three sorts of anarchists. Some are not organized. Some are the philosophic anarchists. Some are organized for violence. I do not know of any anarchists on the range. There are not any organized.

The socialists are a political party. In economics we belong to the Western Federation of Miners. All the socialists on the range belong to that, but not all the members of the federation are socialists. There are about 2,000 socialists there, and there are more than 10,000 members of the federation.

To Educate Themselves.

We are striking partly for wages but more for the eight-hour day. When a man goes to work at 6 and gets home at 8, after all day in the mines, what chance has he to educate himself. Is he a man?

We say the eight-hour day is enough.

We believe we should have the wages we demand. But it does not make much difference about the wages. If you get more it costs that much more to live.

We are opposed to the contract system. Men who work hard and make slaves of themselves can earn $3 or $3.50 on the contract system when everything is in their favor. But they often earn less than $2 a day. After they have paid for their dynamite and so on.

But if they strike hard ground they earn less. The level is always kept down. Once I heard where men earning less than two cents a day. Near the end of the month—this was three years ago—the company cut off their supplies because they were too far in the hole.

We are opposed to the bonus system for shovel men. That is where the company holds back part of the wages, $25 or $30 a month, from men’s pay. At the end of the season they get what was kept back. If they quit before the end of the season they lose it.

As socialists we obey the law. We try to change the law, we want to overthrow the present system. But until the law is changed we go by it.

“We Are For Peace.”

The miners are for peace on the range. I have not heard any threats. I do not believe any have been made. We want the blind pigs closed and the saloons kept to the law. If that is done there will be no violence from the miners.

After the Hibbing meeting we voted that we would not go into the mines and would not march any more. The pickets at the mines might shoot and we do not want trouble. We will canvass from house to house. We try co get men to join the union.

We are taking in a hundred a day at the larger locations and have more than 10,000 members now.

If the men wish to take our places, we will not do any violence. If our members leave us they have the right to do it. We must educate them until they see things as we do.

If we lose this strike there is no more place for the Finns in northern Minnesota.

We were forced out of the old country. We have been forced out of the east. If we cannot stay here we must go somewhere else and keep on moving until things change.

The Arrests, at Bovey.

I was at Bovey and spoke to the miners. After the meeting I left two organizers there and went back to Hibbing. I was, going back to Bovey but they telephoned me that the people had a string (rope) for me. I do not know what I did that they should act that way toward me.

The two boys I, left there were at the depot when they were beaten by two of the company pickets. The village marshal at Bovey or Coleraine cut in and arrested them while they were being beaten. They were accused of carrying concealed weapons. One of them I know had no gun. The other I cannot tell.

But every man in Bovey carries a revolver. Unless they have a gun.

We Are Not Strangers.

We are loyal to this government. We have not done any wrong. The Western Federation of Miners is made up of men who live on the range. Petriella has been there more than a year. There are no others from Colorado. I am a citizen of Hibbing and the other organizers are taken from our own ranks.


[Photograph added.]



Duluth, Dock Workers Strike, LW July 27, 1907, 2

The ore dock workers have been seriously handicapped this week by the calling of the big strike of the miners on the Mesaba range. When the men on the Duluth docks entered into the contest they had no knowledge of the proposed strike of the Western Federation of Miners, and now that the situation at the mines has caused considerable excitement it makes it exceedingly difficult to arrange for a settlement with the Duluth, Missabi and Northern Railway company.

Since the last issue of the Labor World the ore dock workers have organized themselves into a union which will affiliate with the International Longshoremen’s association so soon as the trouble is adjusted. With the reputation of this organization clearly established for standing by its agreement, there is no valid reason why the railway officials should not signify a willingness to enter into an agreement with the new organization.

Elect Good Officers

The officers of the new union, which constitutes the executive board consists of Nelson Perry, president; Jacob Thoreson, vice president; J. Lindquist, recording secretary; J. W. Comer, financial secretary, and William Perry, treasurer. Other officers elected are: Emil De Caney, marshal; Joseph Wanie, guard; Louis Danielson, Wm. Perry, Fred Johnson, Alex Wierzbiski and Otto Hadrick, finance committee.

Acting upon the request of a large number of the strikers, organizers for the American Federation of Labor were urged to aid them in perfecting their new organization. It is the purpose of the A. F. of L. people to place the men in such a position that strikes will be unnecessary in the future….



Mesabi, Mine Strike, LW July 27, 1907, 2

The long expected, the long dreaded, and the much postponed strike of the Western Federation of Miners is on in full force on the Mesaba range. Over 20,000 men are affected, and no inclination is manifested by the steel trust to begin operations, either by making terms with the strikers, or by importing new men.

The contestants in the greatest industrial struggle ever affecting capital and labor in Minnesota are the United States Steel corporation on one side and the Western Federation of Miners on the other. From present indications it looks like a grim death struggle. Neither side will make concessions nor will they accept any. One is as determined as the other to win the strike. The steel trust hopes to wage such opposition as will result in the complete extermination of the Western Federation of Miners, while the latter will listen to nothing short of the eight hour day…

“Local Labor Notes”

Employs John A. Keyes.

John Macki, Finnish organizer for the Western Federation of Miners came down from Hibbing Wednesday to engage Attorney John A. Keyes to go to Grand Rapids to defend the two organizers who were deported from Bovey Tuesday. The miners will exert every effort to protect their two comrades.


Organize Co-Operative Stores.

The Hibbing branch of the Western Federation of Miners have subscribed $10,000 to organize a co-operative store for the purpose of furnishing provisions for the striking miners. A local merchant has been engaged to stock the new store.


Two Harbors Ore Workers.

A union of 400 striking ore dock workers was formed last Saturday and Sunday at Two Harbors. The organization is doing well and promises to come in for its share of the settlement in the strike.



Is This Colorado?

According to press reports organizers for the Western Federation of Miners are being deported from several towns on the ranges. The methods employed are similar to those used in Colorado during the Peabody-Bell regime. We predicted that it was the duty of Minnesota labor to object to Colorado methods then, for fear it would be Minnesota next. Is our prophecy coming true?

HMP, Colorado in America Poster, Harpers Weekly, May 25, 1907


[Photograph added.]



The Minneapolis Tribune
(Minneapolis, Minnesota)
-July 27, 1907
(Also source for image within article.)

The Bemidji Daily Pioneer
(Bemidji, Minnesota)
-July 20, 1907

The Labor World
(Duluth, Minnesota)
-July 27, 1907
(Also source for images of text within articles.)

WFM button
HMP, Colorado in America Poster, Harpers Weekly, May 25, 1907

See also:

For Petriella’s Report to the 1907 WFM Convention:
Official Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual Convention
Western Federation of Miners of America

-Held in Odd Fellows Hall at Denver, Colorado
-June 10-July 3, 1907
Fifth Day, June 14, 1907, Morning Session
Report of Teofilo Petriella
– Mt. Iron, Minn., June 3rd 1907