This Week in Labor History Episode 21

The 1917 Bisbee Deportation

The 1917 Bisbee Deportation

“The only effective answer to organized greed is organized labor.” -Thomas Donahue, AFL-CIO

I’m Kevin Cook, and This Week in Labor History:

Wednesday, July 10

In 1894, 14,000 Federal and State troops succeeded in putting down the strike against the Pullman Palace Car Company. A total of 34 American Railway Union members were killed by troops who were asked to protect company profits.

The Jerome Deportations took place on this day in Arizona in 1917. 200 men armed with rifles and pick handles attacked IWW union members. Over 135 union men were rounded up, beaten, and illegally deported. Although the Bisbee Deportation is better documented, the Jerome Deportation of union mine workers was the precursor for what was soon to follow.

Thursday, July 11

Striking coal miners in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, dynamited barracks that were housing Pinkerton management on this day in 1892. The National Guard was called out and martial law established on the 13th of July to protect company profits, low pay, deadly working conditions, and to help end the strike.

This day in 1917 marked the first day of "Deportation" of IWW union miners by vigilantes from Bisbee Arizona. They sent them to the desert without food or water. Union miners and some bystanders were rounded up, beaten and illegally deported in order to protect company profits, low wages and deadly working conditions.

Friday, July 12

State militia moved in to break a 12-day Labor strike against Carnegie Steel Corporation Strikers on this day in 1892. Seven of the workers, protesting wage cuts of 26%, were murdered by Pinkerton detectives who were there to protect scabs, low wages, deadly working conditions and company profits.

This day in 1917 marked the final day of the vigilante deportation of striking mine workers at Bisbee, Arizona. Authorities sealed off the county and seized the local Western Union telegraph office to cut off outside communication. Several thousand armed vigilantes rounded up 1,186 IWW union members. The Miners were herded into manure-laden boxcars and dumped in the New Mexico desert. Company-hired thugs attempted to kidnap and deport IWW member Jim Brew, who fought back. He was shot and killed.

Saturday, July 13

The Nurses Local 1199 went on strike in Seattle, Washington on this day in 1989.

In 1995, Detroit newspaper workers began their 19-month strike against Gannett, Knight-Ridder. The strike was to become a lockout, which lasted 4 years.

Sunday, July 14

The “Great Uprising,” a nationwide railway strike, began on this day in 1877 in Martinsburg, West Virginia after railroad workers were hit with their second pay cut in a year. The strike would spread through 17 states in the following days. The next week, Federal troops were called out to force the workers back to work and end the strike.

Woodie Guthrie was born on this day in 1912. Considered an American icon and a champion of the working class, Guthrie wrote thousands of songs, including This Land is Your Land and Union Maid. He also wrote Old Man Trump, a song about how Donald Trump's father, Fred Trump, used greed and racism to build his massive fortune.

Monday, July 15

50,000 lumberjacks went on strike for the 8-hour day in the Pacific Northwest on this day in 1917. They were led by the IWW and the AFL.

This day in 1967 marked the start of the longest strike in Butte’s history, by Butte Miner’s Union #1. It lasted eight and a half months.

Tuesday, July 16

A General Strike started in West Virginia on this day during the Great Upheaval of 1877, which spread across the US and halted the railroads. Workers clashed with police, militia and federal troops, resulting in large riots. In Chicago, federal troops, recently returned from an Indian massacre, murdered 30 unarmed workers and wounded over 100. The U.S. was in a major depression following years of greed, corruption and wealth accumulation by a group of young Capitalists that included J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, Leland Stanford and John Rockefeller. There were few successful unions in those days, and none were sanctioned by the government, making them all illegal.

In Butte, Montana in 1986, open pit mining resumed with 188 non-union workers offered profit sharing instead of a unionized workforce. Profit sharing encourages employees to join the company in lobbying against all environmental regulations, any tax increases, or anything that would affect the company profits, including hiring more employees.

This Week in Labor History is compiled by Kevin D. Curtis

For KBMF, I’m Kevin Cook.