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Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

IWW Yearbook 1920

This is a database of campaigns, strikes, and labor related events as recorded in the Industrial Worker during 1920. It was researched by Arianne Hermida. Start by reading her highlights report. Below that is the database.

Highlights 1920 by Arianne Hermida

            In 1920, the Industrial Worker was published in Seattle weekly, except the first three weeks of March when it was published bi-weekly. Each issue cost five cents, or one could subscribe for $2.00 per year or $1.00 per six months. That year, the publication was dominated by three major topics: The Centralia Tragedy and subsequent trials, arrests and persecution of IWW members, and labor strikes.

The Centralia Tragedy

Following a series of raids on their meeting halls, Wobblies suspected that an Armistice Day Parade by American Legion veterans planned for November 11,1919 in Centralia, WA, might lead to another assault. On the advice of a local lawyer and friend of the union, Elmer Smith, IWW members gathered arms to guard their hall. As Legionnaires marched passed the IWW hall, a number rushed the building and forced open its door. Armed Wobblies fired at the intruders, killing four Legionnaires. Enraged veterans then overwhelmed the defenders, taking them to the Centralia jail. That night a mob entered the jail and kidnapped Wesley Everest, who was hustled to the Chehalis River Bridge and hanged.[1]

The Industrial Worker in the early months of 1920 focused heavily on reporting the innocence of the Wobblies. It printed testimonies from Centralia Legionnaires claiming shots were fired only after men breached the hall,[2] an important and disputed factor in the case. It also noted the only people injured or killed during the incident were inside or just in front of the building[3]. A later testimony asserted two of the Legionnaires were carrying a rope, one of whom was reportedly involved in the reinstatement of the death penalty and hanging law in 1919.[4]

[read full report/close report]

Dates are either the reported date of the incident or the date the article appeared in the newspaper.

Date Title Place State Description
1/10/1920 Move to Suppress Efforts of Centralia Defense Spokane WA Charles Butts, Sam Crane, Stephen Indahl and one other arrested without "the pretense of filing charges against them" while carrying several pamphlets outlining the IWW's perspective on the events at Centralia. 
1/10/1920 Vanderveer's Arrest Vancouver WA George Vanderveer, lawyer chosen to represent IWW workers in the Montesano case, arrested for talking to prisoners in the county jail without permission.
1/17/1920 Missoula Authorities Take IWW Secretary Missoula MT Secretary of the IWW, Frank Jarvis, arrested and jailed. Authorities seized 100 pounds of IWW pamphlets about the Centralia Massacre.
1/24/1920 Present Status of the I.W.W Persecutions Spokane WA Temporary injunction again the IWW made permanent.
1/31/1920 Hayes Escapes from Pen Panama Canal Zone N/A James Hayes, IWW sentenced to two years for an alleged mutiny, escaped from the Gamboa Stockade in the Canal Zone of Panama.
3/2/1920 Fellow Workers at Montesano Strike for Better Treatment Montesano WA Six of the eleven IWW defendants in the Montesano trial went on hunger strike in protest of poor treatment while detained.
3/2/1920 Statement of Workers Held in The Jails Throughout The North-Western District Montesano (WA), Seattle (WA), Yakima (WA), Bremerton (WA), Eureka (CA), Ritzville (WA), Vancouver (WA), Walla Walla (WA), Chehalis (WA), Olympia (WA), Port Angeles (WA), Newport (WA), LaGrande (OR), Condon (OR), Pasco (WA), Ellensburg (WA), Tillamook (OR), Centralia (WA), Port Townsend (WA), Prosser (WA), Wenatchee (WA), Everett (WA), Tacoma (WA), South Bend (WA), Portland (WA), Spokane (WA) WA, OR, CA This article lists the more than 200 IWW members arrested in Washington, Oregon, and California primarily on charges of criminal syndicalism since November 1919.
3/6/1920 Northwest Defense Bulletin Sandpoint, Seattle, Chehalis WA, ID, Sixteen IWW members arrested on charges of criminal syndicalism
3/6/1920 Walkout on Pasco Ditch Pasco WA IWW members ditch workers walk out after being denied a raise from of 60 cents, from $4.40 to $5.00.
3/12/1920 Mass Meeting for the Montesano Defense Seattle WA IWW called for meeting in support of the IWW defendants in the Montesano trial.
3/19/1920 Second Degree Murder Is Montesano Jury's Verdict Montesano WA Mike Sheehan and Elmer Smith acquitted of having a connection to the death of Warren O. Grimm at Centralia. Loren Roberts was adjudicated mentally insane. Britt Smith, Bert Bland, Commodore Bland, Ray Becker, James McInerney, Eugene Barnett, and John Lamb all convicted of second degree murder
3/26/1920 Meeting at Snohomish Lumber Camp Snohomish WA IWW members In the Snohomish Lumber Company camp unanimously passed a motion to slow down their work in protest of poor conditions.
4/2/1920 Centralia IWW Hall Burned by Unknown parties Centralia WA The IWW hall famous for the Armistice Day massacre burned down by unidentified arsonists. 
4/9/1920 N.W. Defense Bulletin Seattle, Newport WA Eight IWW members arrested on charges of criminal syndicalism. Seven held for federal investigation.
4/16/1920 Switchmen Sidetrack Corrupt Labor Fakirs Port Jervis NY IWW crew operating the Chicago Express carrying milk, mail, and 250 passengers pulled into a siding and abandon their train to attend IWW-aligned railroad workers' meeting. Upon their return, the crew took only the milk and mail cars, leaving the passenger cars in the siding.
4/16/1920 Seattle Longshoremen Strike Seattle WA Over 500 longshoremen and truckers declared strike against all port commission work in protest to the port commission's recent plan to force union and non-union employees to work together and to reduce monthly pay by $26.40.
4/16/1920 N.W. Defense Bulletin Seattle, Everett WA Eight IWW members arrested on charges of criminal syndicalism. 
4/23/1920 Butte Miners Strike -- Demand Release of Prisoners Butte MT Miners unanimously voted to strike in demand of 6 hour day and seven dollar minimum, two men per machine,  the elimination contract bonuses, and the release of all "class war political prisoners."
4/23/1920 N.W. Defense Bulletin Seattle, Vancouver WA Nine IWW members arrested on charges of criminal syndicalism.
4/23/1920 Picketing Unlawful Jefferson City MI Missouri Supreme Court ruled picketing outside of places of business is unlawful.
5/1/1920 I.W.I.U. No. 500 Seattle Dist. Office Swooped Down Upon Seattle WA Police raided IWIU office, seize a directory of 12000 IWW members in the Northwest, and arrested W. E. Spear, Ed. Burns, and Alice Rose on open charges.
5/1/1920 N.W. Defense Bulletin Ritzville, Ellensburg, Seattle WA Four IWW arrested on charges of criminal syndicalism
5/1/1920 Solidarity Be Damned Providence RI IWW member and textile factory worker Louis Serrotti fired for distributing pro-labor pamphlets
5/8/1920 Many Thousands Attend Picnic at Renton Junction Renton WA Seattle IWW chapter drew thousands for picnic in celebration of May Day in Renton Junction with George Vanderveer as principal speaker.
5/8/1920 Northwest Defense Bulletin Pasco, Wallace (ID), Seattle WA, ID Sixteen IWW members arrested: fifteen on charges of criminal syndicalism, one charge unknown.
5/8/1920 IWW Turns Europe Labor Against U.S. Bill Haywood sent thousands of letters to workers in Western Europe calling for: A campaign against workers coming to US to "deprive] American capitalists of labor power," a strike against commercial vessels from the US bearing goods, a strike against serving American tourists, and a boycott of all American-made products
5/15/1920 Danger Ahead! Lookout! Seattle WA Northwest District Defense Committee of the IWW called for boycott against The Puget Sound Hotel because one hotel worker had acted in conjunction with the "Red Squad," leading to the arrest of over twenty workers in their rooms.
5/15/1920 Northwest Defense Bulletin Portland, Everett, Seattle OR, WA Forty-one IWW members arrested on charges of criminal syndicalism.
5/15/1920 Rail and Transport Strike Cause Daily Loss of 1,000,000 Manager of the Traffic Bureau of the Merchants'' Association estimates $1,000,000 was lost every day due to the rail and transport strike that began seven weeks before the publication of this article.
5/15/1920 Great Falls Labor Swamps Jail Great Falls MT Police arrest several of the 5,000 marchers in a parade protesting the recent deaths in Butte. Following their arrest, fellow marchers trailed them to the police station, demanding they also be arrested, leading to the release of all arrested paraders.
5/22/1920 Drastic Syndicalism Law for Kentucky Frankfort KY The governor of Kentucky signed a criminal syndicalism law providing the imprisonment of 21 years or a $10,000 fine, or both, for those convicted of criminal syndicalism.
5/22/1920 Butte Strike Is Now Transferred to Job Butte MT A mass meeting of striking miners voted to make the "off-the-job" strike enacted on 04/12/1920 an "on-the-job" strike, meaning the workers vow to purposefully and drastically reduce efficiency.
5/22/1920 Seattle Longshoremen Call Off Strike Seattle WA Longshoremen call off strike, one of a series beginning on 04/09/1920
5/22/1920 Northwest Defense Bulletin Coeur D'Alene (ID), Seattle ID, WA Fourteen IWW members arrested on charges of criminal syndicalism.
5/29/1920 Kansas Miners Ignore Anti-Strike Law KS Miners in Kansas held a strike in protest of new explosives being used and wage-related issues.
5/29/1920 Northwest Defense Bulletin Everett, Aberdeen WA Three IWW members arrested on charges of criminal syndicalism.
6/5/1920 High Lights of the Chicago Convention Chicago IL At the recent 12th convention of the IWW, many important decision were made, including: Increasing monthly dues from 50 cents to 1 dollar, the IWW will not support violence or sabotage, and cooperation with the Shop Stewards' and Workers' Committee in Great Britain.
6/5/1920 Copper Miners Threaten Strike UT Copper miners threatened their employers with a strike unless they are granted higher wages, better living conditions, and the release of all "class war" prisoners.
6/12/1920 Longshoremen of Philadelphia Tie Up Shipping Philadelphia PA Members of the Marine Transport Workers Industrial Union went on strike for higher wages to counteract the increased cost of living.
6/12/1920 Grand 4th of July Picnic Renton WA IWW published an invitation for their annual Independence Day picnic. 
6/19/1920 Stevedores Stop All East Coast Shipping Philadelphia PA All cargo on the East Coast was reported to have stopped shipment due to the continued strike of the longshoremen, who are asking for a 20c/hour increase in wage.
6/1/1920 Five Workers Guilty Says Jury at Yakima Yakima WA Five IWW members convicted of criminal syndicalism.
6/26/1920 Scab Commits Murder In Stevedore Strike Philadelphia PA A non-union worker hired by a shipping company during the continued longshoremen strike shot and killed an unarmed striker before fleeing the scene and shooting at least three others
7/3/1920 Northwest Defense Bulletin Seattle, Port Townsend WA Two IWW members arrested on charges of criminal syndicalism.
7/10/1920 Spokane's Autocrats Bar Red Sandwiches Spokane WA Police force assembled at IWW Independence Day Picnic in Spokane to forbid the distribution of ice cream and sandwiches without a health certificate.
7/10/1920 Bellingham Gag Rule  Arouses Opposition Bellingham WA Bellingham Chief of Police prevented Elmer Smith, lawyer and IWW-sympathizer, from speaking freely about Centralia in public debates.
7/10/1920 Vanderveer Arrested in Astoria, Oregon Astoria OR George Vanderveer, lawyer for the IWW members in the Centralia Massacre trial, arrested in Astoria on charges of resisting an officer.
7/10/1920 Northwest Defense Bulletin Seattle, Everett, Chehalis, Boise, Portland, Condon, Tillamook WA, ID, OR Six IWW member released from jail and their charges of criminal syndicalism dropped. Five awaiting trial. One found not guilty. Four convicted. Thirty-one indicted.
7/10/1920 Utah Miners Striking on the Job Bingham County UT Utah Miners joined the IWW and held a strike until their demands (unspecified) were to be met.
7/24/1920 Philadelphia Strike Has Been Called Off Philadelphia PA Longshoremen and related workers returned to work after winning pay increase of one dollar per day.
7/24/1920 Police Cannot Control Lawless Legion Astoria OR Famed IWW lawyer George Vanderveer fined $10 at the conclusion of his trial for resisting a police officer at a July 4th demonstration.
7/31/1920 Railroad Commission's Award made Public Chicago IL United States Railway Board decided to raise the average railroad worker's pay 20-27%. 
7/31/1920 Northwest Defense Bulletin Seattle, Centralia WA Four IWW members convicted of criminal syndicalism. One arrested on charges of disorderly conduct.
7/31/1920 Spokane Defense Bulletin Spokane WA Four IWW convicted of violating the injunction against the IWW. Three convicted of vagrancy.
8/14/1920 Masters of Industry To Blacklist Radicals Butte MT Copper mining companies begun to require all employees of their corporations to fill out a questionnaire, which includes "Are you a member of the IWW?" and "Do you believe in the purposes or methods of the IWW (Yes or No)?"
8/14/1920 Mob Violence Occurs in Several Places Denver CO A riot in Denver was instigated by armed strikebreakers attempting to operate railroad cars despite the weeklong strike by the employees of the Denver Tramway Company. The riot ended in the death of one striker and the injury of forty to fifty other people.
8/14/1920 Outlaw Workers Are Indicted Chicago IL Forty-one railroad workers were indicted on charges of violating the Lever Act and the Siberman Anti-Trust law with their strikes.
8/21/1920 Organization Expels Traitorous Members Philadelphia PA The General Executive Board of the IWW voted to banish the IWW branch in Philadelphia for their involvement in taking up arms against Russian revolutionaries.
8/21/1920 Railroad Construction Camps Closed Portland and surrounding area OR Work camps shut down as their 175 IWW-aligned workers strike in demand of $5 minimum wage and a removal of hospital fees.
9/4/1920 Northwest District Defense News Seattle WA Six IWW members charged with criminal syndicalism.
9/11/1920 Spokane Police Get Information Spokane WA Suspected IWW activities leader was arrested on charges of city vagrancy and was also alleged to be distributing IWW literature.
9/11/1920 Men Walk Out. Chitwood OR Half of all workers at an Oregon construction site walked out in protest of unsanitary conditions.
10/16/1920 Attention, Workers! Eagle Gorge WA Due a strike in reaction to hostile management, IWW called for a boycott against the Page Lumber Company.
10/23/1920 IWW Murdered by Corporation Gunman Hannaford ND Joe Bagley, a reportedly well-know member of the IWW, was shot and killed by Special Agent Nolan of the Great Northern railway.
10/23/1920 New IWW Paper at New York New York NY New York branch of IWW reported their beginning to publish a new radical paper, The Industrial Unionist. 
10/23/1920 Kansas Persecuting Member of the IWW Eldorado KS Kansas passed a temporary injunction against the IWW, specifically restraining the "teaching and putting into practice any of the doctrines of the organization."
10/30/1920 Balk at Police Chief's Illegal Activities Seattle WA Seattle Police Chief W.H. Searing attempted to ban the IWW dance scheduled for 10/22/1920. His attempt proved unsuccessful due to the ruling of a judge, but the IWW claimed the popularity and attendance of the dance was hindered due to the police involvement.
10/30/1920 Arrested for Selling IWW Literature Hoquiam WA Waino Aho, active IWW in western Washington, was arrested on charges of selling radical literature. He was found guilty and fined a total of $43.29
11/13/1920 Stops Seizure of "The Industrial Worker" Seattle WA Judge Everett Smith of the King County Superior Court issued a restraining order against Police Chief W. H. Searing protecting the Industrial Worker. 
11/27/1920 Officials of Portland Persecuting Workers Portland OR Public officials in Portland resumed their plans to oppose radical elements in Portland. Since mills and lumber camps closed in the area surrounding Portland, unemployed workers have entered the city in droves, which, the article explains, was likely the cause of the re-concentration of police on radicals.
12/4/1920 Strong Demands of Labor Workers Superior WI A lumber workers' faction of the IWW voted to demand the follow of their employers: Eight hour day, minimum pay of $100/month, bi-monthly pay periods, good food served on white dishware, proper heating and ventilation in camp, hot and cold water in tubs and showers, abolition of doctor and hospital fees, the release of class-war prisoners, and the right to free speech, assemblage, and press.
12/4/1920 Walter Smith Is Now on Trial at Everett Everett WA Walter Smith went on trial for criminal syndicalism. Another IWW, Pat Cantwell, was convicted of the same days before the beginning of Smith's trial
12/11/1920 Walter Smith Is Acquitted at Everett; Not Guilty of Criminal Syndicalism Everett WA After thirteen hours of deliberation, the jury of Smith's case found him not guilty of criminal syndicalism.
12/11/1920 City Law Unconstitutional; Six IWW Are Released Kansas City MI The city vagrancy law that led to the arrest and conviction of six IWW members was declared unconstitutional by the Missouri Supreme Court.