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Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

IWW Yearbook 1915

Below is a chronological database of nearly 100 campaigns, strikes, and IWW related events as recorded in the pages of Solidarity, the weekly IWW newspaper during 1915.

Research by Arianne Hermida

Arrests and trials dominated headlines in Solidarity throughout the year. In the winter months, the organization continued efforts to revive membership among the silk workers of Patterson New Jersey, and supported a two-week-long strike of Philadelphia street car workers that came to an inconclusive close. In April, the IWW launched the Agricultural Workers Organization (AWO) at a conference in Kansas City. Meanwhile Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, the IWW's most effective orator, set off on a cross-country speaking tour.

Free speech campaigns continued, notably in Sioux City, Iowa and Redding, California, where Wobblies endured mass arrests and crowded jails but were ultimately able to claim victories. In Redding, IWW members held in jail were released after the organization announced 1000 workers planned to flood the town in protest.

Summer saw more strike activity. Solidarity reported strikes by longshoremen in the New York area and Chicago transit workers without clarifying the role that IWWs played in those actions. Building the AWO and preparing for the wheat harvests across the Great Plains was a major focus of the organization. In October, Solidarity reported hundreds of new members joining the AWO. Agricultural worker campaigns in California were also reported.

Meanwhile Joe Hill's death sentence appeal was followed closely in each issue, continuing after his execution by firing squad in Salt Lake City on November 19, 1915.

In California, Wobblies organized protests against the harsh sentences imposed on Richard Ford and Herman Suhr, sentenced to life in prison for their role in the 1913 Wheatland Hop riot.

Date Title Place State Description
1/14/1915 Sioux City Starts Free Speech Fight Sioux City IA Police raided the Sioux City IWW Hall on numerous occasions and arrested all unemployed workers, leading to sixth month sentences in jail.
1/15/1915 N.Y. Unemployed Listen to IWW Manhattan NY A mass meeting regarding unemployment drew hundreds and packed the Manhattan Lyceum.
1/16/1915 Brooklyn Mass Meeting Brooklyn NY Mass meeting held in response to "long hours, irregular employment and unemploying." Speakers included Joseph Ettor and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.
1/16/1915 Four IWWs Dine Then Ride "Home"  St. Louis MO Four Wobblies, in protest of only being fed 'municipal soup' ate a hearty supper amounting to $1.50 and asked the waitress to put it on the mayor's tab, claiming they were old friends.
1/18/1915 Rowan and Baret Freed Edmonton Alberta IWW members James Rowan and W. E. Baret freed after awaiting trial for six months in jail on charges of murder.
1/19/1915 "Treason" Charge Against Ettor Bellaire OH Joseph J. Ettor, prominent public face of the IWW, was arrested on charges of treason for advertising an anti-capitalist speech.
1/24/1915 N/A Detroit MI IWW member Jack Leheney held a speech on "Labor Organization and the War" at Social Turner Hall.
1/27/1915 Paterson IWW Still on Deck Paterson NJ Paterson IWW Unemployment League held two mass large meeting for Paterson's out-of-work with speeches by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and others.
1/27/1915 Transport Workers Strike in Philadelphia Philadelphia PA IWW-organized strike demanding 60 cents per hour, time-and-a-half for overtime, and double-time for Sundays and holidays. The bosses and workingmen agree to second and last terms, but lower the first to 40 cents per hour.  Charles Taylor ,one boss, refuses the agreement and turns to non-unionized workers to maintain the low wages of his employees.
1/30/1915 Sioux City Wins Free Speech Fight Sioux City IA The city lifted its ban on the public speech of Wobblies and released all those arrested for vagrancy.
2/11/1915 Philadelphia Strike Off Philadelphia PA MTW called off their strike against Charles M. Taylor, who in turn allowed the former strikers to return to their jobs.
2/12/1915 IWW to Entertain in Seattle Seattle WA Seattle IWW held a benefit for the organization at their downtown headquarters with entertainment, food, beer, and tobacco.
2/14/1915 Direct Actions Wins at Redding, California Redding CA IWW members held in jail were released after the organization announced 1000 workers planned to flood the town in protest.
2/15/1915 New York Charity Slaves Strike New York NY Following the advice of the IWW Unemployed Committee, workers tasked with sorting through donated clothing and affiliated jobs strike in demand of a 15 cent wage increase, 8 hour days, and stricter safety and sanitation regulation
2/21/1915 Conditions in Little Rhody Providence RI Local 530 held a benefit smoker for IWW newspapers.
2/25/1915 Calif. Governor Exposes Hand Sacramento CA Gov. Hiram Johnson met with labor leaders to discuss the possibility of pardoning Ford and Suhr.
2/27/1915 Flynn Meetings in Providence Providence RI Despite bosses threatening to fire any workers to attend IWW meetings, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn spoke to crowds of people at three separate events.
3/3/1915 More Plans for Harvest Organization Minneapolis MN A local of the IWW held a special meeting and passed new rules and suggestions for locals, including a more efficient and robust data system, more agitation on the job, and to concentrate their forces in Kansas or Oklahoma.
3/6/1915 Ford and Suhr Case Up to Governor of California San Francisco CA In support of Ford and Suhr, whose verdict will depend on decisions of Governor Johnson, the IWW call for a boycott of all fruit canners, hop fields, and ranching in California.
3/6/1915 Some Notes from Salt Lake City Salt Lake City UT Wobbly arrested for using vulgarities at a meeting and later released.
3/9/1915 Tannenbaum Released from New York Prison New York NY Frank Tannenbaum released from prison after serving a year for inciting a riot is greeted with celebrations arranged by the IWW and other New York radical groups. 
3/12/1915 Tannenbaum Released from New York Prison New York NY A crowd of over two thousand gathered to hear speeches by Tannenbaum and others in an unemployment meeting arranged by the IWW.
3/25/1915 Kangaroo Court of Sioux City Sioux City IA One Wobbly arrested on charges of burglary. Thirteen others followed him and the police to the jail, leading to their arrests. Twelve of those sentenced to thirty days in jail and a $100 fine.
3/25/1915 Boyd Repudiates Sabotage Speech Trenton NJ Frederick Sumner Boyd, IWW member convicted of advocating radical views, renounces those in a petition for clemency. The petition is accompanied by a statement urging the court to grant it signed by Theodore Roosevelt and others.
4/3/1915 Jewish IWW Paper New York NY Jewish branch of New York local voted to start "Der Vacker," a weekly publication similar to Solidarity. 
4/16/1915 Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Lectures Chicago IL Topic: "Small Families a Proletarian Necessity"
4/16/1915 Report of the Proceedings of the Harvest Convection Kansas City MO A conference attended by delegates from locals across the country voted to create the Agricultural Workers' Organization of the IWW, which would include locals whose members work in agriculture in the US and Canada.
4/17/1915 On with the Fight! Sioux City IA Thirty more men arrested while speaking in public and sentences to at least thirty days and a $100 fine. The local jail was then holding 49 Wobblies.
4/18/1915 Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Lectures Chicago IL Topic: "Violence and the Labor Movement"
4/19/1915 Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Lectures Chicago IL Topic: "Solidarity -- Labor's Road to Freedom"
4/20/1915 Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Lectures Kensington IL Topic: "The Revolutionary IWW Its Aims Tactics, and History"
4/24/1915 IWW's Battle Bulls in Sioux City Sioux City IA The 82 IWW men in jail held a series of protests to their incarceration, including refusing to work on the rock pile, hunger strikes, and the burning of blankets so they could address the crowd that gathered when the firemen arrived. After a fight between the security and those in jail, the mayor offered their freedom if they never returned to Sioux City. The Wobblies refused his offer.
4/24/1915 Detroit Bosses Afraid of IWW Detroit MI Some IWW arrested in response to advertising the Elizabeth Gurley Flynn lecture in town and held only until the meeting was over.
4/24/1915 Sioux City Fight Won. Sioux City IA All IWW members held in jail were released.
4/25/1915 E. G. Flynn Lectures Rockford IL
4/26/1915 Boyd Denied Pardon Trenton NJ Frederick S. Boyd, IWW who is serving 1 to 7 years for of advocating sabotage, was denied pardon.
4/27/1915 E. G. Flynn Lectures St. Louis MO
4/28/1915 Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Lectures Kansas City MO Topic: "Solidarity -- Labor's Road to Freedom"
4/29/1915 E. G. Flynn Lectures Fort Scott KS
4/30/1915 E. G. Flynn Lectures Sioux City IA
5/1/1915 Ettor Meetings in Providence Providence RI Ettor held speeches for two large crows of textile workers addressing the idea of the power in the working class.
5/2/1915 E. G. Flynn Lectures Denver CO
5/2/1915 Joe Hill Defense Salt Lake City UT Joe Hill's appeal for a new trial in hopes of overturning his death sentence to be heard by the Supreme Court.
5/2/1915 Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Lectures Denver CO Topic: "War - Can Labor be Neutral?"
5/3/1915 Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Lectures Louisville CO Topic: "Solidarity -- Labor's Road to Freedom."
5/5/1915 E. G. Flynn Lectures Salt Lake City UT
5/8/1915 Farm Hands Strike Indianapolis IN 100 Polish farm hands strike for the ten hour day instead of the typical eleven. Not specified as an IWW strike.
5/8/1915 Two Strikes in Brooklyn Brooklyn NY 800 Longshoremen go on strike. Not specified as an IWW strike.
5/9/1915 E. G. Flynn Lectures Los Angeles CA
5/10/1915 E. G. Flynn Lectures Fresno CA
5/10/1915 Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Lectures Fresno CA Topic: "Solidarity -- Labor's Road to Freedom."
5/11/1915 E. G. Flynn Lectures Stockton CA
5/12/1915 E. G. Flynn Lectures Sacramento CA
5/13/1915 E. G. Flynn Lectures Oakland CA
5/14/1915 E. G. Flynn Lectures San Francisco CA
5/14/1915 Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Lectures Oakland CA Topic: "Small Families -- A Working Class Necessity"
5/20/1915 Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Lectures Portland OR
5/21/1915 Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Lectures Portland OR
5/22/1915 Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Lectures Tacoma WA Topic: "Unemployment -- A Menace to Society"
5/23/1915 Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Lectures Seattle WA Topic: "Solidarity -- Labor's Road to Freedom." and  "The Revolutionary IWW Its Aims Tactics, and History"
5/29/1915 Some IWW Experiences in Imperial Valley Brawley CA After the constable of Brawley was killed, police arrested everyone in the town's IWW headquarters and made them choose between 60 days on the chain gang or leaving town. Another member, Smith, was arrested and given 30 days on the chain gang, who refused to work and was thus beaten. Charges were brought up against the marshal who beat Smith. His attorney guaranteed the release of Smith if the charges against the marshal were dropped. The prosecutors agreed to that exchange
6/5/1915 Harvesters Defy Police Wichita KS Migrant workers from the East looking for work but unable to find it storm freight trains in groups of fifty to sixty and refuse to pay. None arrested.
6/12/1915 Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Lectures Minneapolis MN Topic: "Solidarity -- Labor's Road to Freedom."
6/13/1915 Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Lectures Minneapolis MN Topic: "The Revolutionary IWW Its Aims Tactics, and History"
6/16/1915 The Chicago Street Car Strike Chicago IL Strike of 14000 street car workers in settlement with the mayor. Not specified as an IWW strike.
6/26/1915 IWW Should Enforce Demands Various Harvest Belt AWO of IWW recommends harvest workers demand minimum of $3.00 per a 10-hour day, fifty cents per hour overtime, clean room and board, and no favoring non-unionized workers.
7/3/1915 Repressive Tactics Against IWW in Harvest Various Harvest Belt Rock Island Railroad ordered brakemen to ban IWW members from riding, leading to injuries and at least one death by beating.
7/9/1915 Speaking Dates for J.J. Ettor Dorchester MA J.T. Ettor speech.
7/10/1915 Speaking Dates for J.J. Ettor Stafford Spring CT J.T. Ettor speech.
7/10/1915 Harvesting Harvesters Arlington KS Four Wobblies arrested and convicted of illegally riding a freight train and sentenced to thirty days in jail and a fine of $10.
7/12/1915 Speaking Dates for J.J. Ettor Fitchburg MA J.T. Ettor speech.
7/13/1915 Speaking Dates for J.J. Ettor Holyoke MA J.T. Ettor speech.
7/15/1915 Speaking Dates for J.J. Ettor Springfield MA J.T. Ettor speech.
7/18/1915 Speaking Dates for J.J. Ettor Torington CT J.T. Ettor speech.
7/19/1915 Speaking Dates for J.J. Ettor Boston MA J.T. Ettor speech.
7/24/1915 Speaking Dates for J.J. Ettor Bridgement MA J.T. Ettor speech.
7/25/1915 Important Meeting of A.W.O. Kansas City MO Newly-forced A. W. O. Local 400, IWW held a meeting to vote for officers and discuss the situation in the harvest belt.
7/26/1915 Speaking Dates for J.J. Ettor North Plymouth MA J.T. Ettor speech.
7/27/1915 Speaking Dates for J.J. Ettor Lowell MA J.T. Ettor speech.
7/29/1915 Speaking Dates for J.J. Ettor Fall River MA J.T. Ettor speech.
7/31/1915 Lessons Gleaned From the Kansas Harvest KS, OK More than 100 Wobblies arrested, most being released shortly thereafter, but some sentenced to up to 60 days in jail.
8/1/1915 Frisco Adopts Strong Resolution on Hill Case San Francisco CA Mass meeting for Joe Hill raised $32 for his defense.
8/7/1915 "Der Wecker" Suspends New York NY Der Wecker, Jewish IWW weekly, halted publication due to lack of support, but planned on starting publication again in the fall.
8/14/1915 Cut Train in Two So All Can One Sioux City IA Wobblies bound for the harvest in the Dakotas try board a freight train, but only a few succeed due to its speed, so the riders remove a pin from the knuckle separating the train and allowing their comrades to get on.
8/21/1915 Defensive Action for Calif. Prisoners San Francisco CA Fundraiser held for the benefit of Ford and Suhr.
8/21/1915 United Action Brings Results Oakes ND The Oakes chief of police, mayor, sheriff, and others enter a camp with a hundred workers as they are cooking breakfast. Though some workers fled, about 25 Wobblies stood up to the law enforcement and were allowed to continue their meal.
8/21/1915 Flood Governor with Petitions Salt Lake City UT Members of the IWW and other radical groups sent William Spry, governor of Utah, over 300 letters protesting the decision to execute Joe Hill. 
8/21/1915 Defensive Action for Calif. Prisoners San Francisco CA IWW members in California used "the wooden shoe" to protest the detention of Ford and Suhr. The governor, in response to their action, decided he would not act on the matter until the sabotage stopped.
8/28/1915 Good Work of A.W.O. in Dakota Harvest Minot ND A.W.O. expanded their membership by 250 people, hoping to gain 150 by the end of the month.
8/28/1915 Hostility of Minot "Powers" Minot ND Nine Wobblies subject to ten days on the chain gang for vagrancy after not registering for a job at the police station. 
8/28/1915 Harvest Notes Ferry ND Six Wobblies strike in protest of low wages, long hours, and poor conditions.
9/10/1915 William Sanger Convicted New York NY William Sanger sentenced to thirty days in jail or a $150 fine on charges related to the distribution of Margret Sanger's pamphlet "Family Limitation."
9/11/1915 Workers, It's Time to Wake Up! Bayonne NJ The 1500 workers lined up to attend a rally with speeches by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Frank Tannenbaum, and Alexander Berkman blocked from entering by 20 policemen because the Chief of Police feared the IWW would "stir up trouble."
9/11/1915 Workers, It's Time to Wake Up! Waterbury CT Prominent IWW member Joseph J. Ettor sentenced to six months in jail.
9/11/1915 "To Hell with the U.S. Constitution" Minot ND Minot police arrested IWW members and discard the literature and supplies of delegates.
9/11/1915 In the Toils of the North Dakota Law Minot ND After a scuffle between IWW members and railroad operators about their illegal riding, the three IWWs arrested on charges of robbery.
9/18/1915 Good Progress in the Harvest Minot ND IWW organizer Ted Fraser sentenced to 15 days for vagrancy.
9/18/1915 Good Progress in the Harvest Various Various AWO gains 200 new members in the first two and half weeks of September with 400 more anticipated that month, which would bring their total membership to 2300.
9/18/1915 Charged with Murder Aberdeen SD James Schmidt charged with murder after killing a brakemen reportedly in self-defense.
9/18/1915 Fires Charged to IWW -- No Proof Sacramento CA Several grain fields burned and thousands of dollars worth of crops lost. IWW members protesting the detention of Ford and Suhr suspected, but the organization denies involvement. 
9/18/1915 Workers' Answer to Attempted Suppression Waterbury CT Machinists and others strike at a boiler and tube plant to gain a 35 cent per day wage increase.
9/18/1915 Workers' Answer to Attempted Suppression Berthold ND A police officer arrested one IWW member and one unorganized worker he believed to be in the IWW, loaded them into a box car in a freight train. They were able to escape, but the story spread through the town and chased off non-union workers, allowing the IWW to obtain their demand of $3.50 a day.
9/24/1915 Clumsy Attempt at a Frame-Up Watsonville CA One alleged IWW member confessed as the arsonist responsible for the grain fires a month earlier. The membership status of the member was in dispute.
9/25/1915 Governor Johnson Refuses Pardon to Ford and Suhr Sacramento CA Gov. Hiram Johnson rejects Ford and Suhr's request for pardon.
9/25/1915 Still Going Ahead in the Harvest Crosby ND Three IWW members were denied pay owed to them by their farmer. In response, they dined in a restaurant and refuse to pail the bill. They were arrested and sentenced to sixty days in jail.
9/25/1915 Casey Arrested -- Libel Brawley CA IWW member charged with libel after writing an article for Solidarity. 
9/27/1915 N.D. Court After Another Victim Maxbass ND AWO delegate arrested for sabotage after allegedly harming a threshing machine.
9/30/1915 Sixteen Days Reprieve for Joe Hill Salt Lake City UT Joe Hill's execution delayed sixteen days.
10/9/1915 IWW Active Among Sugar Workers Williamsburg NY IWW prepared to aid in the strike of up to 4,000 sugar workers in the American Sugar Refining Company.
10/9/1915 Paterson's Official Brutality and Stupidity Paterson NJ IWW and Free Speech League members from New York held a demonstration protesting the blocking of an IWW meeting a few weeks earlier.
10/9/1915 "For Tricks That Are Vain" Jamestown ND Delegate of the AWO sentenced to ten days for vagrancy.
10/12/1915 The Worker's Right to Organize Ambrose ND AWO member arrested for sabotage. IWW presence sparked a fight between them and non-unionized workers, leading the arrest of other IWWs for assault and vagrancy.
10/15/1915 (none) Seattle WA IWW locals in Seattle hold a benefit party in their headquarters.
10/16/1915 Chicago Entertainment Chicago IL Industrial Union 539 held a dance to raise money to open a new headquarters.
10/16/1915 Harvest Still in Full Blast Various Various 200 people gained membership into the AWO in the first ten days of October.
10/16/1915 Prompt Action Wins Legal Battle Rockford ND Two IWW members arrested for threatening to destroy property and harm non-unionized workers. Charges were dismissed in court.
11/5/1915 Harvest Notes Various Various 700 people joined AWO in October.
11/7/1915 Harvest Notes Minneapolis MN Demonstration and parade held for Joe Hill.
11/8/1915 Monster Joe Hill Protest Meeting in New York Manhattan NY Mass meeting held in support of Joe Hill's defense with speeches by Flynn, Ettor, and others.
11/13/1915 Eight Hour Day on Railroads Boston MA IWW participated in a railroad workers' strike for  the eight hour day.
11/13/1915 Trouble Brewing in Spokane Spokane WA Spokane city council passed a petition to halt public speeches on the streets.
11/14/1915 Big Cleveland Meeting on the 14th Cleveland OH Mass meeting held in Cleveland Propaganda League's new headquarters.
11/15/1915 Great Meeting of A.W.O.  Minneapolis MN Massive AWO meeting held with elections for representatives and talks of new branches on the west coast.
11/19/1915 Funeral in Chicago Salt Lake City UT Joe Hill executed by firing squad.
11/19/1915 Spokane Free Speech Fight Settles Spokane WA IWW members held in jail released after Spokane grants the organization the right to speak publicly.
11/19/1915 Spry's Bluff and Others Called Salt Lake City UT Utah Governor Spry pledges to "run every IWW" out of the state.
11/20/1915 California Lumber Camp Westwood CA IWW member removed from lumber camp after organizing a committee.
11/24/1915 K.C. Has Big Time Kansas City MO Local 61 held a smoker, drawing hundreds and collecting $13.26 for the defense of James Schmidt, Wobbly charged of murder.
11/25/1915 Joe Hill's Funeral in Chicago Chicago IL Hundreds gathered in the streets to mourn the execution of Joe Hill.
11/27/1915 "Law and Order" in Omaha Omaha NE IWW headquarters raided and twelve members arrested, eleven for being "suspicious" and one for possession of a pistol.
12/4/1915 Gurley Flynn Acquitted Paterson NJ Elizabeth Gurley Flynn acquitted of "high misdemeanor".
12/11/1915 none Various Various 360 new members joined the AWO in November.
12/13/1915 A.W.O. Established in California Sacramento CA 55 delegates convened and decided to establish branches of the AWO in California.
12/18/1915 Okla. Judge Tries to Make Peons of IWW's Oklahoma City OK Seven IWW members convicted of vagrancy and sentenced to 90 days in jail and a $99 fine.
12/25/1915 Flays City Court in IWW Case Oklahoma City OK Judge in the court of appeals decided the convictions of the seven IWW members of vagrancy were unfair and released them from jail.