IWW Yearbook: 1908

This is a chronological database of campaigns, strikes, and IWW related events as recorded in the pages of the Industrial Union Bulletin, the weekly IWW newspaper. It was researched and compiled by Michael Kirkman.

Highlights by Michael Kirkman

Just three years after its founding convention, the IWW endured its second fractious split in 1908. This followed the contentious withdrawal of the Western Federation of Miners the previous year. The controversy surrounding the tactics and the political goals of the IWW continued as a rift opened between Daniel DeLeon of the Socialist Labor Party and the direct-actionists led by Vincent St. John, William Trautmann, and William “Big Bill” Haywood. The latter believed in direct action as a means to further the cause of labor, utilizing strikes, propaganda, and boycotts, while eschewing electoral politics as a lost cause.

The clash came to a head during the IWW’s fourth annual convention held in Chicago in late September, when DeLeon was challenged on technical grounds regarding his credentials as a union member. In the first issue following the convention, the Industrial Union Bulletin filled its front page with two competing articles. The first, entitled “The Intellectual Against the Worker”, was a transcription of DeLeon’s statement to the convention, including a diatribe against the anarchist tactics which he viewed as dishonorable and leading to “disruption and chaotic conditions” (IUB, Oct. 25,1908). In the second article, conversely titled “The Worker Against the Intellectual”, Vincent St. John repudiates DeLeon and accuses him of placing “the life of workingmen below the dignified law of property rights, and capitalist class rules and ethics.”

 

[read full report/close report]

The articles referenced in the database can be found in the online copies of Industrial Union Bulletin digitized by Marty Goodman of the Riazanov Library Project at marxists.org. Dates are either the reported date of the incident or the date the article appeared in the newspaper. 

Date Article title Place State Event description
12/23/1907 Goldfield Miners United Goldfield Nevada President Roosevelt ordered the recall of the federal troops he sent in December, saying that the request by Governor Sparks was based on a misrepresentation of the conditions in Goldfield. Fifty-three strike breakers were brought in from California.
1/4/1908 The Latest From Goldfield Goldfield Nevada As a result of the strike, the mines are in poor condition and many strike breakers are leaving. The strikers are quietly awaiting developments.
12/17/1907 Appeal for Preston and Smith Carson City Nevada An attorney for the Western Federation of Miners asked the Supreme Court of Nevada for a new trial for Preston and Smith, saying their trial was prejudiced because of a the labor dispute that they were involved in. Preston shot and killed a restaurant owner, but he claims it was in self defense.
1/4/1908 Address to Hotel and Restaurant Workers New York New York Hotel And Restaurant Workers Local 130, IWW, called on workers employed in any capacity in hotels and restaurants to join together in one organization. They announced publication of a new trade paper, Hotel Worker. 
1/4/1908 Mine Owners Are Responsible Goldfield Nevada The conditions are peaceful but President Roosevelt is allowing the troops to remain until Governor Sparks can raise a state militia. An attorney for the Western Federation of Miners has announced a plan to remove trouble makers, saying that Goldfield will be a union camp "only of good well-intending miners." The IWW declares that it is the mine owners who are responsible for all the problems at Goldfield. 
1/4/1908 Joint Meeting at Phoenix Phoenix Arizona Five hundred men attended a meeting to protest federal troops being used by the mine owners in Goldfield.
1/11/1908 The Work in New England Providence Rhode Island An IWW organizer reported good meetings in December with textile workers, shoe workers, and ship builders in Massachusetts. 
1/11/1908 Goldfield Miners Are Firm Goldfield Nevada The miners are standing together and many strike breakers have quit. Small businessmen and stockholders are in trouble and there are rumors that leasers and mine owners may "start up with the miners at the old basis."
1/18/1908 No Truth in Mine Owners Reports Goldfield Nevada All IWW locals are urged to support the striking miners. The report of President Roosevelt's Commission confirms the contention that the mine owners had the troops sent into the camp in order to enforce a reduction in wages and break up the union. 
1/18/1908 Ettor's Reply to an Editor Salt Lake City Utah A Goldfield VP hired 120 strike breakers, but IWW members met them at the train depot and were able to get a majority of them to desert. 
1/18/1908 Organization Work in Seattle Seattle Washington A national organizer reported success in recruiting new members, chartering two local unions and holding numerous meetings in Seattle and Bellingham. He predicted that the shingle weavers would choose the IWW over the AFL, which had disappointed them last year.
1/17/1908 Special Announcement New York New York William Haywood spoke to a meeting of six thousand men and women.
1/19/1908 Special Announcement New York New York General Secretary Trautmann spoke before a large and successful meeting under the auspices of Local Union Number 500 of Pullman. Great interest was created and the local will arrange a series of meetings to meet the demand for discussion of Industrial Unionism.
1/25/1908 Textile Workers Chicago Illinois The IWW issued a call for the first convention of textile workers to be held May 1 in Paterson, NJ. Over 5000 workers have already joined the IWW and thousands more are ready.
2/1/1908 Notes from Meeting of General Executive Board New York New York Considering themselves betrayed by the AFL in a strike in 1907 a committee representing 12,000 waterfront workers in New York City wants to join the IWW
2/1/1908 Notes from Meeting of General Executive Board New Orleans Louisiana Telegraph and telephone workers in New Orleans and coal miners show interest in IWW.
2/1/1908 From the Mexican Defense Committee Los Angeles California An appeal is made for financial help for four Mexican revolutionists who have been unjustly held in prison for six months. 
1/21/1908 New Britain Workers in Big Demonstration New Britain Connecticut IWW Organizer Thompson was well received at a large, peaceful multi-ethnic demonstration of unemployed workers. They are facing starvation and asking the mayor to furnish them with employment. Thompson spoke of the difference between organizing on craft lines, like the AFL, and industry lines, like the IWW.   
1/27/1908 Unemployed March in Detroit Detroit Michigan Under the auspices of the IWW between 3000 and 4000 unemployed workers demonstrated and received assurances from the mayor that he would expedite public works jobs. 
1/26/1908 New England News Providence Rhode Island Thompson reported successful meetings with textile workers in RI, MA and CT.
2/8/1908 Some Notes From Goldfield Goldfield Nevada Mine owners are organizing a scab union, called the Nevada Miners Union, with the intention of competing with and defeating the socialist Western Federation of Miners.
2/15/1908 Two Loom System Established Dracut Massachusetts After striking and temporarily stopping a new system in which they are required to operate two looms instead of one, woolen weavers have admitted defeat.
2/15/1908 Good Work at Canton Canton Ohio IWW reps had a successful meeting with striking iron molders who denounced their old parties and are now leaning strongly toward socialism. 
1/9/1908 Propaganda in Philadelphia Philadelphia Pennsylvania Elizabeth Gurley Flynn spoke to a full hall about "Socialism from a Woman's Standpoint." There are now eight locals in Philadelphia.
2/22/1908 From the Seattle District Seattle  Washington The Public Service Workers Union has been chartered. IWW delegates from every union from Portland to Vancouver met to organize a district council. Volunteer organizers were well received in the logging camps. 
2/29/1908 Through IWW  Efforts Youngstown  Ohio Through IWW efforts a large number of men are being given work on public improvements.
2/1/1908 Free Speech Denied Los Angeles California Several IWW, Socialist and AFL speakers have been arrested for speaking on the streets.
3/7/1908 St. John's Illinois Tour Illinois Assistant General Secretary Vincent St. John will talk to miners about the aims and means of the IWW in March and April.
3/7/1908 Progress in Alaska Nome Alaska At a large meeting of Mixed Local No.264, IWW steady growth and hearty support from the Western Federation of Miners was reported.
3/7/1908 Principle Should Not Stand in the Way Philadelphia Pennsylvania A group of sheet metal workers who broke away from an AFL local and got a charter from the IWW refuse to go back.
3/14/1908 High Prices in Nevada Beatty Nevada IWW and WFM members went out on strike when the railroads announced a reduction in wages. More than 300 foreigners brought in by the companies refused to scab and left, but native born Americans are filling the strikers places. 
3/14/1908 Activity in Yukon Territory Dawson Yukon The IWW held a mass meeting for the purpose of organizing an Industrial Council of the entire district.
3/14/1908 Tailors Attention! Los Angeles California Two hundred Journeyman Tailors have been locked out for five months because of their union membership. Strike breakers from the East found only a little low paying work when they arrived.
3/21/1908 (No title) Goldfield Nevada The strike has been called off. The district is overrun with idle men and the large body of revolutionary unionists are seeking other fields.
3/21/1908 Notes From the Front New England Progress is being made in Hartford, Stafford Springs and Lowell, with numerous meetings and new members of almost every nationality, especially Italians, Poles and Belgians.
3/21/1908 Chaotic Conditions Among Railroad Workers Chicago area Illinois Three separate unions representing railroad workers attempted to negotiate contracts with the newly created Chicago, Indiana and Southern. The company required everyone to reapply and submit to a physical exam so that the most militant men could be thrown out. 
3/28/1908 The Flynn Lectures Providence Rhode Island Elizabeth Gurley Flynn spoke about industrial unionism to a large crowd, one of a series of very lively weekly meetings run by Textile Union 530, IWW. She is now starting an extensive lecture tour of the western and Pacific states under the auspices of the IWW. 
3/28/1908 St. John Among the Miners Illinois Vincent St. John's trip through Illinois is drawing large crowds of miners enthusiastic about industrial unionism.
3/28/1908 Take Notice Spokane Washington Workers in Spokane are making a desperate effort to build an organization and are setting up lecture routes in WA, ID and MT to educate workers. Socialists and members of the IWW and WFM are invited to participate. 
4/4/1908 Beautiful Butte Butte Idaho After being enticed to travel to Butte by news of five to twenty thousand jobs, five to ten thousand people have instead found themselves unemployed, cold, hungry and living in squalid conditions.  In spite of being called the Gibraltar of Unionism, the Butte No.1 Local is considered the most corrupt in the WFM.  The IWW has made a start but "will have to wage an incessant battle against the enemies without as well as the traitors from within." 
4/4/1908 Obstructionists Beaten New York New York The Central Federated Union tried and failed to prevent the IWW from obtaining a demonstration permit. 
4/4/1908 Developments at Spokane Spokane Washington Membership is growing, especially among the hundreds of  unemployed men.
4/11/1908 The Stuff is Off Chicago Illinois The Western Federation of Miners' attempt to launch an alternative organization to the IWW has failed. The proposed unity conference has not taken place.
4/11/1908 Japanese and Chinese Exclusion or Industrial Organization, Which? Chicago Illinois A pamphlet will be printed outlining the IWW's solidarity with all working class people of the world, regardless of race, creed or color, and its opposition to attempts to exclude Asian workers.
4/13/1908 The Future of Labor New York New York At a meeting, James Connolly cited economic history to support the IWW view that the working class must first gain economic power before it can exercise political power.
4/18/1908 French Weavers Strike Germantown Pennsylvania A strike at Dobson Badford is still on and donations  are requested.
4/18/1908 Propaganda League New York New York A Propaganda League held a successful inaugural meeting at IWW headquarters.
4/25/1908 (no title) Hoboken New Jersey Silk workers have been on strike for a small wage increase since March 20. Assistance is requested.
4/28/1908 Women of Greater New York New York New York Women who wish to work in conjunction with the men to build up the IWW are called to a meeting.
5/2/1908 A Victory Marble Colorado A strike organized by the IWW and International Union has been won.
5/2/1908 Persecution--What Next? Syracuse New York L. Caminata, who was to speak to Italian workers interested in joining the IWW, was escorted out of town by police.
5/9/1908 An IWW National Industrial Union of Textile Workers Organized Paterson New Jersey Twenty two delegates of textile unions and a delegation of the United Brotherhood of Tailors (representing 3000 workers) attended the first convention.
5/9/1908 Among the Workers in the Field, Mine and Factories Spokane Washington Organizer Jack Walsh reports organizing one union and two branches (300 members) and plans two lecture routes in Washington, Idaho, Montana and British Columbia
5/9/1908 From Organizer Thompson Lowell, Lawrence, Quincy, Worcester. Boston Massachusetts Thompson reports packed halls and new members, with meetings conducted in English, Polish, Flemish, Italian, Finnish and Swedish. A group of metal and machinery workers were able to prevent a wage reduction when members of all crafts stood together.
4/25/1908 From the Windy city on Lake Michigan Chicago Illinois General Secretary Trautmann spoke before a meeting of Italian Building Constructors; 500 joined the IWW.
5/16/1908 What the Workers Should Not Do Lowell  Massachusetts The textile workers of Lowell are joining the IWW in large numbers.
5/16/1908 From the Windy City on Lake Michigan Chicago Illinois Sec. Trautmann and General Organizer St. John addressed a meeting of Bakery Workers who want to join the IWW. They also addressed a meeting of striking cigar makers and advised them not to give up if their first strike fails.
6/6/1908 From Capitalism to the Industrial Commonwealth Socialist Party candidate for president Eugene Debs spoke, under the auspices of the IWW, about the superiority of industrial unionism over craft unionism.
5/24/1908 Progress Measured By "Actions" Portland Oregon A resolution was adopted by a meeting of the Scandinavian Discussion Club, attended by 400 men and women, that the industrial organization is both indispensable and superior to the craft union. 
5/31/1908 Convention of French IWW Workers Lawrence Massachusetts The second annual convention of French workers was a success. Membership is growing. Delegates came from Philadelphia, New Bedford, Woonsocket, Providence, Lowell and Lawrence. Issues discussed were work hours for men and women (who should be enlisted in the fight) and child labor.
6/13/1908 Industrial Unionism in Flathead County, Montana Somers and Kalispell Montana Organizers have succeeded in convincing 300 workers (from ship captains to sawyers) to join the IWW instead of a rival union of "schemers and traitors." Recruiting workers in remote logging camps is challenging but rewarding.
6/13/1908 Propaganda Notes from New York New York New York Large crowds and sales of literature on the West Side and in Little Italy.
5/30/1908 The "Fighting Temper" Kalispell Montana A resolution was adopted to protest against a contractor who refused to pay union scale wages. Support from other IWW and craft unions is requested.
6/20/1908 For Women Women IWW members are called to organize and educate their sisters, as women can be more easily reached by women. 
6/27/1908 Propaganda League of New York City, N.Y. New York New York Multiple open air meetings are being held in June.
6/27/1908 Workers Conditions in Portland and the Northwest Portland and Spokane Oregon Thousands are unemployed, logging camps are closing, businesses are failing, making it a poor time to organize but a good time to do educational work. The movement is growing in Spokane, with big agitation meetings and hundreds of Bulletins sold. In Portland: a Buildings Constructors Local has been formed, 23 meetings held, dozens of new members have joined, hundreds of Bulletins sold, and an open headquarters and reading room maintained.
7/4/1908 The Thermometer of Progress Imperial Valley California The local newspaper claims that IWW organizers are visiting all the towns in the area, spreading a plan to bring about a general strike  
7/4/1908 Strike in Alaska Seattle  Washington IWW members are working with WFM representatives to prevent Seattle employment agents from recruiting strike breakers to go to the Treadwell gold mine in Alaska.
7/11/1908 Report of the Propaganda League New York New York Several successful outdoor meetings have been held, drawing attentive audiences. A local of 41 silk workers was formed in Astoria and plans were made to hold outdoor meetings to expand membership.
7/25/1908 IWW in the Northwest Spokane Washington There are 700 IWW members in Spokane, the majority of whom are spreading the word out in the camps. A local of lumbermen has been organized in Newport and more locals are underway in surrounding towns and lumber camps.  Requests for organizers come in every day but the work is slow due to lack of money.  Hundreds of copies the Bulletin are being sold.
7/25/1908 New York City, NY New York New York The Propaganda League will hold six open air meetings the week of July 26.
7/25/1908 Attention! Woodworkers of New York New York New York Speakers in many languages will address a mass meeting at IWW headquarters in Cooper Square.
7/25/1908 San Pedro San Pedro California Joseph Ettor has enrolled 22 new members and is getting a good response from sailors and marine workers. He recommends establishing a central organization to make membership easier for traveling sailors.
8/8/1908 Organization--Education--Emancipation Kalispell Montana IWW Local 421 will open a permanent reading and rest room for workingmen
8/22/1908 Propaganda Notes Old Forge Pennsylvania Several new locals have been organized in the past few weeks, including a big coal miners local with 200 charter members
8/22/1908 We Told You So Chicago Illinois The essay "From Craft Unionism to the Industrial Commonwealth," which has been published in the Bulletin, will be printed in booklet form
8/22/1908 Preston and Smith Must be Liberated Chicago Illinois A campaign is announced to educate hundreds of thousands of workers and petition the Nevada Supreme Court to hear the appeal of Preston and Smith.  
8/22/1908 Will Start an IWW Paper in Spanish Phoenix Arizona The Mexican Branch of the phoenix Local of the IWW will publish a weekly paper devoted to the interests of Mexican workers.
8/22/1908 Assist the Striking Fellow Workers Lawrence Massachusetts The French Branch of the IWW Textile Workers Union of Lawrence went on strike two weeks ago, protesting cuts in wages. Assistance is requested.
9/5/1908 In the West Portland Oregon Organizer JH Walsh reports 91 meetings and 203 new members in three and a half months. The meetings have been large but because thousands are unemployed, few have the $1 for membership. He plans a five week speaking tour on his way to the IWW convention in Chicago.
9/5/1908 The Vampires at Work Boston and Philadelphia Massachusetts and Pennsylvania IWW efforts with bakery workers are being made difficult by conflict with AFL.
9/5/1908 Notice to Literary Agents Chicago Illinois The Handbook of Industrial Unionism by William Trautmann is now available in Finnish.
9/5/1908 Propaganda Notes A big longshore union on the Great Lakes is showing interest in the IWW. A local branch in Boston is adding 50 members at a time at their meetings. The IWW is gaining in prestige among the lumber workers in Montana.
9/19/1908 I.W.W. "Red Special" Overall Brigade Centralia Washington National Organizer JH Walsh's group of nineteen overall-clad men leaves Portland on its freight-car journey to the IWW convention in Chicago. Meetings are held along the way, literature and song cards are sold and collections are taken.
9/19/1908 I.W.W. "Red Special" Overall Brigade Tacoma Washington A great meeting was held to a packed street.
9/19/1908 I.W.W. "Red Special" Overall Brigade Seattle Washington Several good meetings held. The group was arrested for riding the train, then held another street meeting after spending the night in jail.
9/19/1908 I.W.W. "Red Special" Overall Brigade Spokane Washington Several good meetings held.
9/19/1908 I.W.W. "Red Special" Overall Brigade Missoula Montana Some of the best meetings of the trip, with streets packed from side to side. Good collections and sales of literature and songs.
9/19/1908 Propaganda Notes Fall River Massachusetts A branch of Portuguese textile workers has been organized.
9/19/1908 On the Advance Philadelphia Pennsylvania Elizabeth Gurley Flynn spent two weeks in Philadelphia, holding numerous meetings. The IWW has grown from a few scattered members a year before to a thriving movement with an established headquarters.
9/19/1908 Good Hints for Propaganda Work Cincinnati Ohio A campaign to reach street car workers used a clever tactic: leaflets were distributed simultaneously in sealed envelopes to every motorman and conductor throughout the city. 
10/1/1908 Convention Notes Chicago Illinois The Fourth Annual Convention was a success.  There are now 164 local unions; 76 were organized since the last convention and 63 have been disbanded. The West was well represented for the first time; the textile organization in the East is soon to be an important factor. The wives of wage earners will now be allowed to work in the Propaganda Leagues. It will now be possible for foreign nationality clubs and associations to be chartered.  
10/10/1908 The New Preamble Chicago  Illinois At the convention, language emphasizing the mission of the working class to do away with capitalism and abolish the wage system is added to the preamble.
10/24/1908 Preston and Smith Denied Rehearing Carson City Nevada The Nevada Supreme Court has denied Preston and Smith's appeal for the second time. Socialists and labor men say they will eventually have a new trial as a result of the agitation being carried on in their behalf.
10/24/1908 Abroad the Nation Missoula Montana JH Walsh continues his rail journey to the convention in Chicago. Lots of Bulletins, literature and song cards were sold and collections taken. There were three meetings in Missoula and it looks like the lumbermen's union will be leaving the WFM and joining the IWW.  
10/24/1908 Abroad the Nation Bozeman Montana One meeting in this farmer town.
10/24/1908 Abroad the Nation Livingston Montana One successful meeting in this railroad town.
10/24/1908 Abroad the Nation Billings Montana Five big meetings
10/24/1908 Abroad the Nation Glendive Montana Good turnout, in spite of the small size of the town.
10/24/1908 Abroad the Nation Minneapolis Minnesota Several big meetings, some interrupted by police and a trip to the police station. This is a good field for future work.
10/24/1908 Notes From the Field, Or What's Doing Chicago Illinois Street meetings were held during the convention and great interest has been aroused.
10/24/1908 Notes From the Field, Or What's Doing Chicago Illinois Since the convention five charters have been issued to painters in Los Angeles, public service workers in Globe AZ, and lumber workers in Darby, Potomac and St. Regis, MT.
11/7/1908 Hail the Militants Somers   Montana Local unions have invited Fred Heselwood to come to western Montana to organize. They have raised the money for his travel expenses.
11/7/1908 Hell Popping in Montana Missoula Montana Fred Heslewood, working with lumber workers, reports on conflict with rival unions, including the Western Federation of Miners.
12/12/1908 Notes From the Field   Montana A lumber workers local has switched from the Montana State Union into the IWW. The companies have discharged quite a number of men for joining the IWW but that only makes them more determined to keep out of the company union.
11/8/1908 St. John in Providence Providence Rhode Island Vincent St. John spoke to a crowded mass meeting of textile workers about the superiority of industrial unionism to trade unionism. This is the second meeting he has addressed this week.
11/8/1908 National Textile Union Providence Rhode Island At a meeting of the National Industrial Union of Textile Workers, St. John was charged with reorganizing the silk workers in Paterson, NJ. $10 balance due will be sent to strikers in Lawrence. There are more than 1350 members.  
12/12/1908 Propaganda Leagues New York New York General Executive Board Member BH Williams advocates for the establishment of Propaganda Leagues in large industrial centers. After the Propaganda Leagues do the preparatory educational and recruiting work, the local unions would then do the organizing. Foreign nationality clubs and wives of workers could participate.  The New York Propaganda League has reached 20,000 people in its meetings between April and September this year. They helped form a local of silk workers and agitated alongside machinists, longshoremen and railroad workers. An Italian Propaganda League has also been formed.