IWW Yearbook: 1910

This is a database of campaigns, strikes, and labor related events as recorded in the Industrial Worker. It was researched by Austin Upton. Start by reading his highlights report. Below that is the database.

Highlights 1910 by Austin Upton

The IWW and the whole labor movement had an eventful year in 1910. Three trends emerge in the articles and headlines of the IWW’s weekly newspaper, the Industrial Worker. The first was the fight for free speech. The biggest IWW campaigns of the year were the fights for free speech in Spokane and Fresno. Both began when IWW members were banned from speaking on city streets, and were won when IWW members flooded the cities to speak on street corners, get arrested, and pack the jails until policies changed.

The other recurring themes for 1910 were the IWW’s campaign against “employment sharks,” and the push to grow membership in the IWW and readership of the Industrial Worker. Every edition of the Industrial Worker provided employment advice from fellow workers on how to avoid using employment agencies who sold jobs to workers. Many told horror stories of employment sharks selling jobs that were already taken or lying about the real conditions and pay of the job.  While the paper consistently claimed that IWW membership was growing, it also seemed desperate to expand readership. Every issue begged readers to urge other workers to subscribe to the paper.

 Undoubtedly, the biggest campaign the year was the IWW’s fight for freedom of speech. The first fight occurred in the city of Spokane, Washington, which had banned IWW members from speaking on public streets in the final weeks of 1909, and had arrested all of the editors of the Industrial Worker.

[read full report/close report]

The articles referenced in the database can be found in the online copies of Industrial Worker digitized by Marty Goodman of the Riazanov Library Project at marxists.org.

Date Title Place State event description
1/1/1910 Struggle For Free Speech and Free Press Spokane WA With tensions running high in Spokane about police brutality and workers' rights, a special law was passed that made it illegal for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and other labor unions to speak on the streets of Spokane. Further, every editor of the Industrial Worker (IW) newspaper for five weeks was arrested under the charge of libel. The IW is calling for a boycott of Spokane products until free speech is reestablished. 
1/8/1910 The Road For Spokane  &  Free Speech in Spokane Spokane WA Two female members of the United Wage Workers of Washington are headed to Spokane to start a "free-speech fight." They are going to speak on the street and be jailed if necessary. The IWW is calling for other members in both articles to join them in big numbers so their voice is heard. They want the jails kept full. Also, there is a further call for boycotting Spokane goods. 
1/15/1910 The Flynn Meeting Marysville WA Elizabeth Gurley  Flynn, IWW leader and women's rights activist, gave a speech at Arcade Hall. She talked about how industry was organized and why craft unions were futile resistance to it. Further, she denounced the freedom of speech suppression in Spokane. The audience was very receptive and $67 was raised. Flynn then left for a speech in Spokane. 
1/22/1910 Spokane Appeals for Funds  Spokane WA Legal cases were arising in response to the over 400 members of the IWW who voluntarily went to jail in Spokane while fighting for free speech as well as other unconstitutional acts by the Spokane police. The article was a call for donations to support the cases that the IWW was hoping would rise to the supreme court, if for no other reason than to show the working class' voice. 
1/29/1910 Steel Strike on at Hammond Hammond IN Due to unfair back-rent issues, pay cuts, and a payroll system that made it impossible to know how much a worker was going to be paid, a strike was called. Over 1000 workers were on strike with leadership by IWW members. 
2/5/1910 Suits Filed Against Chief of Police Sullivan and Number of Patrolmen Spokane WA Several lawsuits were filed by members of the IWW, primarily against the chief of police for the horrendous conditions they experienced while in prison. Many had been arrested for speaking on the street and fourteen men were kept in a 6'x8' cell with steam pipes. Foss, the plaintiff, was seeking damages of $30,000, alleging he couldn't work anymore after health problems he developed because of his torture. 
2/5/1910 Battle Still On Spokane WA Due to the deplorable conditions of the Spokane jail, the IWW is temporarily letting up on encouraging people to speak out on the Spokane Streets with the intention of getting arrested. However, they claim to have another wave of people coming soon. 
2/12/1910 Polish Industrial Union Paper Buffalo NY The local Polish chapter of the IWW in Buffalo was working to start a semi-monthly paper "which is to devote columns exclusively to the propaganda of industrial unionism." The Industrial Worker is calling for all of its subscribers to help obtain Polish subscribers for the new paper. This call for help in obtaining subscribers and IWW membership from the Polish returns on 4/9/10, Pg.1. 
2/12/1910 Another Call for Loggers to Organize Repeats often. 
2/12/1910 A Call to Action Spokane WA The IWW makes another call to fight for free speech in Spokane. The paper is calling for a large protest with 500+ men and women to speak on the streets of Spokane on March 1st. Further, it calls to start protests in all Northwest cities "to cut Spokane off the map." Papers print letters of people and groups who are on their way to support the effort, or who are making donations. The call is repeated in later issues and by February 26th, the Industrial Worker is hoping for 5000 men and women. 
2/19/1910 In Spite of Promise to Contrary Chief Sullivan Arrests Men Selling Industrial Worker Spokane WA Mrs. Fiest, a prominent Seattle physician's wife, came to support the IWW's freedom of speech in Spokane by selling the Industrial Worker (IW). Because of her status, Chief of Police Sullivan wouldn't arrest her and gave an interview saying that its legal to sell the IW on the street. Shortly after he arrested three working men for the same thing.   
2/19/1910 I.W.W. Victory At Hammond Hammond IN Car builders unionized and went on strike demanding better wages. The IWW and AFL competed for leadership of the strike. The police deputized special police to attack the workers and kick them out of company housing. All of the IWW officers are soon arrested. Eventually, the mayor asked for a committee of the IWW workers and the company to come together and end the conflict. 
2/26/1910 Proceedings Flynn Filigno Trial Spokane WA This article dominates the first and second page of the 2/26/1910 issue of the Industrial Worker (IW). It's an in-depth review of the previous six days of trial in the Flynn Filigno case in which numerous IWW members are called to testify about the atrocities of the Spokane police department. The police have good counsel and an allegedly well stacked jury sympathetic to the police.  Many issues of the Industrial Worker are admitted to evidence by the Police's defense. This backfires and IWW members get to spend hours reading IW beliefs and articles to the jury. 
3/5/1910 Gurley Flynn Acquitted  Filigno Guily, Says Jury Spokane WA More court proceedings from the Flynn Filigno trial are provided. After much deliberation, the jurors came to a "decision" ten minutes before the trial would have been considered a mistrial. Most believed both were innocent but were deadlocked. In order to avoid the cost of another trial, they only acquitted Flynn. 
3/5/1910 Attempt to Kidnap Heselwood Frustrated  Coeur d'Alene ID Spokane police came into Coeur d'Alene, ID and arrested Frederick Heselwood under charges of conspiracy. He was held in the Idaho prison while Idaho courts decided if he could be extradited. Captain Burns of the Spokane police claimed to have seen him leading men into the streets in November, however Heselwood was in Seattle at the time and Burns couldn't recognize him when he had originally come to arrest him. Burns is being charged with perjury. Spokane police keep coming to Idaho for more IWW organizers. Industrial Worker calls for more to support the fight in Spokane. Influential Idaho businessmen are angry with Spokane police. 
3/12/1910 Spokane Fight For Free Speech Settled Spokane WA Finally the fight for free speech in Spokane is settled. A committee of three IWW members and city and county officials met and discussed the IWW demands. They made the following demands: 1) No discrimination or harassment in group meetings, 2) Freedom of press to sell the IW on the street, 3) The release of the IWW prisoners, 4) The right to use streets for public speaking. Demands 1-3 were granted and the 4th demand was promised to be just around the corner. In exchange, all damage suits, the Burns case,  and other lawsuits were dropped by the IWW. 
3/12/1910 Strike Situation at Bethlehem Bethlehem PA A strike had begun in Bethlehem in hopes of it becoming a general strike, and IWW member Schmidt was going to make a speech to the striking and interested workers. However, the police threatened to arrest him if he spoke in English. The meeting fell apart and the AFL is blamed for ending the strike and giving in and sending workers back to work. 
3/26/1910 Portland Reds There With The Goods Portland OR IWW workers at United Engineering Co. went on strike for a 30 cent/hour raise. Banners and signs were put up in the area telling everyone to stay away. Pickets were stationed around the building. Because of the warnings, the company could not hire replacements and gave the employees the raise within 4 hours. 
3/26/1910 Accounts of The Strike At Sheridan, Oregon  Sheridan OR 150 Workers at a lumber company went on strike for a 25 cent/day raise. The IWW painted signs that said "Strike on at Sheridan, Ore. Stay Away" and carried the signs in front of employment shark agencies. This prevented anyone from buying these jobs and thus prevented strike breakers. The strike was successful. 
4/9/1910 No title Edmonds WA The Shingle Weavers Union started a debating society to liven up the members and are inviting other working men to join the debate. 
4/16/1910 Glass Workers Strike at Muncie Muncie IN Various groups of employees came together to ask management for small raises. Management agreed to some, and after discussing it the workers accepted it. Management then backed out of the offer and refused to negotiate. Many workers are out on strike, and have been blacklisted. IWW members are organizing the strike and say they will stay on strike all summer. 
4/23/1910 Farm Hands Strike At North Yamhill Yamhill OR Farmhands went on strike when some were fired for teaching and talking about Industrial Unionism. The workers have been on strike for awhile, demanding a 30 cent/hour raise and a decent bunk house. Farmers refusing to give in tried unsuccessfully to hire strike breakers, and now are slandering the reputations of the strikers' wives. Fellow IWW members from Portland have helped bring supplies and sabotage some of the farmers' trees. There's an appeal for additional financial help as the workers have no food money.  
4/23/1910 All Local Unions of I.W.W. On Strike in the Steel Industry of the Pittsburg District. Struggle Promises to be Severe. Pittsburgh PA All IWW steel unions in the Pittsburgh area are on strike. Conflict began when editors of the paper "Solidarity" were arrested because they wouldn't state who technically owned the paper, which is technically illegal by some state law. 
4/23/1910 A. F. of L. Scabs Break Strike Muncie IN The Ball Bros. glass factory strike has been lost because of AFL actions according to the article. The company was able to work with one craft's union and this got those workers back. This broke the full strike and made it possible to fill the other positions with other AFL "scabs" to break the fight. 
5/7/1910 Red Flag Waves At Portland Portland OR A peaceful workers march took place in Portland with members of the IWW, SP, Finnish Federation, Lettish Club, and others. There were 3000 workers. A Red flag was flown to song, but the Portland Oregonian didn't mention this flag at all.  The march was followed by a gathering with free refreshments. 
5/21/1910 Cooks And Waiters on Strike in Spokane  Spokane WA Despite these workers being associated with the AFL, the IWW is applauding their work because they defied the AFL leadership and went on strike quickly and all together, rather than waiting for AFL approval and red-tape clearing. So far, many employers have agreed to worker demands. However, large companies have held out longer. The Industrial Worker is calling for all scabs to stay away. 
5/21/1910 An Injury to One an Injury to All New Bedford MA Textile workers in Massachusetts are on strike and have been for awhile. They are requesting funds from any and all IWW members so that they can continue the fight and not give in. 
5/21/1910 Workers Stay Away From The Frozen North Nome AK A worker  is warning fellow workers of the deteriorating mining conditions in Nome, Alaska. With gold finds decreasing, many people are out of work or are not being paid for the work that they have already done. He is warning workers not to invest their few dollars in passage and supplies to Nome. 
5/21/1910 Headquarters of The Industrial Workers of the World Seattle WA A new Seattle IWW headquarters has been established on Occidental Ave. At nearly 5000 square feet, it is very large and has a reading room and promises to host speakers whenever possible.
5/28/1910 Wenatchee Denies Free Speech Wenatchee WA Prior to an IWW meeting, worker Roe gave a calm speech on the street in front of their meeting hall to attract more attendees. A police officer arrested him for speaking on the street, and workers Chas and Foster asked to be arrested as well for solidarity. Then the chief would not release them on bail. The mayor said the police were ok in doing this despite their being no ordinance against speaking on the street. The police then asked for a six month wait for a trial, but they did it the next day and fined the arrested workers $25 and court costs. 
5/28/1910 I.W.W. Invading Fresno. Police There Have Trouble With Street Speakers. Fresno CA Many of the IWW members who were in Spokane fighting for free speech have moved south to Fresno for the same cause. The city has banned them from speaking on the city streets. Several have already been arrested. 
6/4/1910 Struggle For Free Speech in North and West; Second section, about Fresno Fresno CA Fresno seems to be shaping up for a fight with the IWW. The chief of police has made it illegal for anyone who is unemployed to refuse work for any reason. Further, he has banned all public speaking. The Industrial Worker is calling for men to come to Fresno to fight for free speech in the coming months. 
6/4/1910 Struggle For Free Speech in North and West             Third section, about Wenatchee Wenatchee WA Wenatchee is quickly caving under the pressure from the amount of IWW members in town. They let worker Roe go, and are only holding Foster to "save their face". 
6/18/1910 Heslewood Camps on Trail of the Loggers Bellingham WA IWW organizer Heslewood seems to be finally making progress with organizing loggers after the Industrial Worker has been calling for it for months. The workers are beginning to see the advantage of industrial unionism as opposed to craft unionism in their field. 
7/2/1910 Priests and Patriot Scabs Denver CO Factory workers in Denver went on strike for a 25 cent/day raise. Despite initial success, the employers convinced Catholic priests and the Austrian consul to advise people to take a 15 cent/day raise instead. The IWW was trying to help and advise workers but the language barrier was too great, as there were workers from all over eastern Europe.  
7/2/1910 Workers in Rhode Island RI Textile workers have been on strike for seven weeks here. While the strike is not an IWW strike, many members are leading the strike because the factory workers are not otherwise unionized. They are being slowed by foreign strike-breakers. 
7/2/1910 I.W.W. Men and a Boss Lake Point ID A boss was short-staffed and hired a group of extra men, who were all, unbeknownst to him, IWW members. He tried to pay them less and work them longer because they came at a different time. The whole group struck and the IWW members got their equal pay and hours. 
7/23/1910 Tacoma on the Job Tacoma WA Membership of the IWW in Tacoma is growing slowly with men from many industries. There are many of these reports in the paper throughout the year, particularly in July, from cities primarily along the west coast. 
7/30/1910 The Workers On Strike and in Revolt Spokane WA There is a strike of machinists, boilermakers and blacksmiths in Spokane. The unionized strikers were able to convince most non-union workers to quit as well. So far, some factories have agreed to demands. The article is unclear whether the union involved is the IWW. 
7/30/1910 Intimidation of Workers in Vancouver Vancouver WA An Italian IWW member was arrested for trying to talk "white men" into not scabbing on them in their strike. The Italian excavators are on strike for eight hour days and $2.75/day. The Industrial Worker says to follow this issue and be ready to assist if needed. 
7/30/1910 Telephone Slaves Strike   Shovelers for the Pacific Telephone Co. are on strike for a 25 cent/day raise. They were organized by IWW members.
8/6/1910 I.W.W. Boys Win Victory In Harvest Garfield WA IWW and other men are refusing to harvest unless they get higher wages. In the meantime, they are singing the IWW song Red Flag, while flying a red flag, and sharing the Industrial Worker. They have already gotten one raise offer, although the expect one more bump in pay. A follow-up a day later says they got the original raise but also better food and an agreement to not discriminate against IWW members. They are asking for an IWW union organizer to come and bring IWW pamphlets and propaganda. 
8/6/1910 More "Law and Order" Fresno CA Fresno police are again preventing IWW members from speaking on the street, but are still allowing the Salvation Army to do so. The Industrial Worker says that Fresno can expect the aid of "all reds in regaining the privilege of free speech", although no specifics are given. Similar police actions are noted in later papers. 
8/6/1910 Conspiracy Frustrated McKees Rocks PA The pressed steel car shop tried to trick IWW members into going on strike and then planned to broadcast their failed strike and say their union didn't back them up because the Union wasn't actually behind the strike. However, the IWW's saw through the paid tricksters and held an actual Union meeting to decide a course of action. It was decided there was no reason to strike, and everything returned to normal. 
8/13/1910 A Call For Aid Chicago IL Local Union 157 has 100 textile workers on strike Chicago. Their strike fund is entirely bankrupt and the article is asking for donations to keep the strike and Industrial Unionism going.  
8/20/1910 An I.W.W. Strike San Diego CA Sewer diggers comprised of Mexicans, Greeks, Italians, and Americans are on strike. American workers were getting paid 25 cent/day more. The Mexicans were all IWW members and called the strike and have been supported by most of the other workers. They expect to win the raise. 
8/27/1910 San Diego On The I.W.W. Map San Diego CA This is a follow-up on the previous San Diego story. The workers continue to strike and have broader support. The police have not interrupted the strike or disrupted any IWW meetings. In fact, they are said to be encouraging the workers. The workers believe they can spread IWW membership to all of San Diego's working class. Eventually, they got their 25 cent/day raise and a closed shop at the sewer company. 
9/3/1910 Another Free Speech Fight Go To Fresno Fresno CA The general secretary of the IWW, Vincent St. John, has called for a free speech demonstration in Fresno like the one in Spokane. Details and dates have not been set yet.
9/3/1910 I.W.W. Compels Uncle Sam to Pay Workers Spokane WA 52 firefighters were laid off by the Forest Ranger, Debitt, who refused to pay them. When the firefighters arrived back in Spokane, they refused to leave without their pay. The 52 stuck together, without any food, and waited for Mayor Pratt to do something. After several days, the Mayor was told by the forestry department to give the men room and board overnight and then to give them their back pay, which the city of Spokane will be reimbursed. The organization was led by IWW men and 43 of the 52 men had joined the IWW by the time they got their pay. 
9/10/1910 Free Speech Must Be Won In Fresno Fresno CA The fight for free speech in Fresno is heating up. IWW organizer Frank H. Little has been sentenced to 25 days in prison. Allegedly, the jury was corrupt and the prosecutor used three false witnesses. The Industrial Worker is calling for IWW members to begin to flood the city and practice free speech. 
9/10/1910 Heslewood With The Shingle Weavers Bellingham WA Organizer Heslewood held the biggest ever street meeting in Bellingham, talking to shingle weavers and other workers about Industrial Unionism. The IWW gained two dozen new  members. 
9/10/1910 Mexicans in San Diego Organize San Diego CA Mexicans are rapidly joining and using IWW tactics in San Diego following the successful strike against the Barber Asphalt Company. There are some successful Spanish-speaking agitators for the IWW including De Lara. They are hoping to organized 500,000 Mexicans in the next year. 
9/10/1910 Passive Resistance in Seattle Seattle WA Workers who are unable to get widespread support or who are too threatened by scabs are using passive resistance techniques to fight reduced wages and longer hours in Seattle. For example, hotel workers are giving customers dirty towels and railroad employees are intentionally misrouting luggage.
10/1/1910 Restaurant Hires Union Employees Spokane WA The Two Jacks restaurant in Spokane has hired a few union employees that have been on strike in Spokane for months. The restaurant's Employer's Association has forbid any restaurant in the city from hiring these workers, but restaurants are beginning to collapse without workers. 
10/8/1910 Free Speech Must Be Won In Fresno Fresno CA The free speech fight is about to begin in Fresno. Many "rebels" have already arrived and are encamped on the outskirts of the city. The police are arresting speakers claiming that they are calling for anarchy, and thus violence. The hope is to get 5000 workers to join. 
10/8/1910 First Round Goes to I.W.W. & Little Says He Preferred Dark Cell Fresno CA Both of these articles describe Organizer Frank H. Little's release from prison after twenty-five days. He was kept for fifteen days in solitary confinement on bread and water, and spent the last ten days in "the black hole." He filed several complaints about his treatment in prison. However, he claims his spirit is unbroken and he will continue to organize workers immediately. 
10/8/1910 I.W.W. Boosts Wages and Shortens Hours in Portland Portland OR Three successive strikes of bridge workers in Portland were led by the IWW. All were successful in gaining either raises or shortened hours. Wages went from $2.25/day to $3/day and hours went from 10 hours/day to 9 hours/day. 
10/19/1910 Fresno Fight Is On: Many Men in Jail Fresno CA The free speech fight is on in Fresno with men speaking in the streets. Nineteen have already been arrested. Over 250 men are in town for the fight. Another article in the paper calls for donations to help feed the agitators. 
10/19/1910 Concerning The 'Times' Explosion Los Angeles CA The LA Times building exploded and burned to the ground on October 1st, killing or injuring 30 workers. The paper is accusing the unions of dynamiting the building (although not the IWW specifically). The Industrial Worker presents several other possible causes, such as a gas leak (which employees had complained about), or even the paper sabotaging itself in order to blame unions. 
11/2/1910 Free Speech News From The Front Fresno CA Despite gatherings of up to 1500 interested people as reported the week before, the number of steady supporters is still not great enough. The IWW is hoping to have at least 5000 people in Fresno, and calling for more to come. 
11/9/1910 Special Issue regarding the history of the Haymarket Affair This issue is predominantly a historical account and telling of the Haymarket Affair. 
11/9/1910 Fresno Fight Postponed Fresno CA The free speech fight in Fresno has been postponed and all of the men in jail have been released. The fighters claimed there were not enough people. 
11/17/1910 Meat Packers on Strike Pittsburgh PA 1500 IWW members in the meat packing industry recently organized and went on strike. They had asked for a raise, and several firms were going to give them the raise, until the Chicago bosses of the business came to town and forced the workers to be locked out. Thirteen hour days and $9/week wages are not uncommon among these workers. All workers on strike including drivers, engineers, firemen, coopers and butchers. 
11/24/1910 Business Men in Court Fresno CA Fifty prominent businessmen of Fresno came to court to offer their help in assisting the authorities in case of emergency. Clearly the IWW is making an impression in Fresno. 
11/24/1910 Portland Scandinavian I.W.W. Propaganda League Started Portland OR After a large meeting of 200 workers, twenty-three have come together to start an IWW propaganda organization. They plan to hold fundraisers to fund a headquarters with reading room and the publication of Scandinavian leaflets and handbooks about industrial unionism. 
12/1/1910 Telegram Fresno CA "20 Men arrested To-day. Help!" 'Little'"
12/8/1910 Telegram Fresno CA "55 men now in Jail: Got to Win. Help! -J. Whyte"
12/15/1910 Capitalist Sluggers in Fresno Fresno CA F.H. Little was tried for Disturbing the Peace but the jury acquitted him because there was no law against speaking in public. The police were then forced to let all of the other IWW prisoners go and could not interfere with the IWW protesters anymore. However, a group of local citizens has banned together and burned the IWW camp down and beat up members. Fresno Mayor Rowell promised the mob would stop interfering with the IWW and free speech would be upheld but bashed the character of the IWW workers.  
12/15/1910 Strike On, Help Out the Loggers Cle Elum WA The Cascade Lumber Company is trying to reduce wages by 5 cents a day and begin charging for board. The workers immediately went on strike upon finding this out and are adamantly trying to prevent scab workers from showing up. The Industrial Worker is calling for all men to stay away. 
12/22/1910 On To Victory   &    The Disgrace of Sunny Fresno Fresno CA Despite the legal victory for free speech in Fresno, conditions for free speech have improved very little. A mob of local citizens continue to attack IWW protesters, and are not being stopped by the police. The Industrial Worker calls for even more workers to head to Fresno. 
12/29/1910 Headline:  500 MEN WANTED IN FRESNO, CALIFORNIA, IMMEDIATELY Fresno CA There is no follow-up article on this headline, but the paper has been saturated with information about the Fresno Free Speech fight for weeks. Any semi-regular reader would understand the headline and call for more men.