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Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

IWW Yearbook 1921

This is a database of campaigns, strikes, and IWW related events as reported in the Industrial Worker, the IWW's West Coast weekly, during 1921. It was researched by Cameron Molyneux. Start by reading the highlights report. Below that is the database.

Highlights 1921 by Cameron Molyneux

          The Industrial Worker continued to be published out of Seattle in 1921, as it had been since 1919. But following the persecution of 1920, the IWW had an even bleaker year in 1921. The weekly newspaper was dominated by reports of arrests and legal battles with few strikes and labor actions mentioned. Beyond external troubles, 1921 also saw both old and new internal divisions beginning to intensify. As the Soviet Union began to solidify its position near the end of the Russian Civil War, IWW leaders and rank and file debated whether the union should affiliate with the Bolshevik Red International of Labor Unions (RILU). More unrest followed as the General Executive Board (GEB) handled a dispute with the Marine Transport Workers Industrial Union 510 Local 8, of Philadelphia. This unique local had incurred controversy the year before after being accused of loading munitions for the capitalist White Army in Russia. While temporarily suspended, the Philadelphia longshore local continued to inflame Wobblies on both sides of the debate. In addition, internal controversy continued to rage over what the IWW should do regarding the “Class War Prisoners” who were still imprisoned in Leavenworth and San Quentin. Each of these conflicts would eventually contribute to the 1924 split that all but destroyed the IWW.

Legal Troubles:

Most of the article space of the Industrial Worker in 1921 was dedicated to the numerous battles the IWW found themselves in with the U.S. legal system. The year started with a raid of a Wobbly hall in Kansas City that resulted in the arrest of eleven members (1/15). This series of events would come to characterize the year- a raid on a hall or home would happen, members would be arrested and have their IWW literature confiscated, and they would be charged with criminal syndicalism. Locals all along the coast were raided (8/20, 8/27, 10/8, 10/15 x2, 10/22) as police attempted to prevent the IWW from regaining a foothold in their cities. The year also saw a number of Wobs being arrested on city streets for selling the Industrial Worker or distributing various leaflets to passersby.

[read full report/close report]

Dates in most cases are the date of publication.

Date Title Place State Description
1/8/1921 Lumber Workers Industrial Union No. 120 of the I.W.W. Holds Well-Attended Constructive Meeting of Northwest District in Seattle Seattle WA IU 120 convention, new leaders elected and bylaws confirmed. Talk of creating clearing house for NW IUs
1/8/1921 Seattle Joint Branch Delegate Meeting Paves the Way for Intensive Organization Work in All Lines of Northwestern Industry. Clearing House Arranged For. Seattle WA see above, creation of clearing house to distribute supplies for NW IUs
1/15/1921 Spear Trial January 24 Seattle? WA Criminal syndicalism trial starts in King County. Multiple other cases mentioned, described as a trial case for the laws. Later mentioned on 2/5 that his case is dismissed
1/22/1921 Raid Kansas City Hall; Arrest Eleven Members Kansas City MO Police raid wobbly hall, arrest workers. Quick trial- from judge "The reason these men were convicted is that we do not want the I.W.W. to ever set up headquarters in this town."
1/29/1921 Yakima Unemployed Seek Solution of Own Problem; Eight Hundred in Action Yakima WA Organizing campaign for unemployed, speak to Yakima mayor
1/29/1921 Appeal Is Again Denied Forty-Seven Sacramento Victims of War-Madness San Francisco CA Wobblies convicted under espionage act, sentences upheld by circuit court
1/29/1921 More Arrested in Spokane Spokane WA wobblies arrested for selling Industrial Worker in Spokane
2/5/1921 Supreme Court Sustains Conviction of Hennessy  by Unanimous Judgment Olympia WA WA state supreme court upholds validity of criminal syndicalism laws, case cited as precedent in other ongoing CS cases
2/5/1921 Portland Police Go Wild; They Threaten to Lynch Portland OR meeting at American Civil Liberties hall raided, workers arrested. Wobblies beaten in jail and threatened. Following meeting shut down, one FW charged with criminal syndicalism. Mayor declares no meetings without his approval, "The free speech war is on in Portland..."
2/12/1921 California Boycott Again Sacramento CA DA in California accuses wobblies of starting nationwide boycott, calls for vigilance against IWW, boycott does not actually exist
2/26/1921 Mayor of Raymond Leads Mob to Kill Constitution and Prevent Free Speech Raymond Cops and town officials in Raymond shut down free speech meeting, speaker leaves and vows he'll return after short speech
2/26/1921 More Criminal Charges Raymond Wobbly arrested for selling IW, charged with criminal syndicalism
3/5/1921 Wild Street-Car Strike Ties Up New York Towns to Stop Wage Reduction NY
3/5/1921 Mayor Baker's Petty Act Does Not Stop a Meeting; Then He Advises Violence Portland OR Portland mayor and cops attempt to shut down free speech meeting by citing building code violations. Meeting goes as planned, speech given. Mayor tells Spanish War veterans to shut down future radical anti-Americanism
3/12/1921 Unemployed Parade in Minneapolis Enlivened With Songs and Banners Minneapolis MN Wobblies hijack parade, make major demonstration leading group through streets of Minneapolis, distribute ~25k pieces of literature
3/19/1921 Red Council of Industrial Unions Appeals to the American Workers RILU urges IWW to join, well-received in paper. Contact with Soviets established.
3/19/2021 Companies Break Contract Forcing Coal Mine Strike Seattle WA plans for coal mining strike put in place after WA mining companies announce wage reduction
3/26/1921 Centralia Coming Back Into the I.W.W. Ranks Centralia WA Centralia chapter re-established following massacre in 1919. Elmer Smith speaks at a propaganda meeting.
4/2/1921 Seattle Clearing House Not Recognized by 310, Reply of Clearing House Officials Seattle WA IU refuses to recognize authority of previously established NW clearing house
Clearing House Closed in Northwest District Seattle WA Clearing house closed. Plans of centralization of NW IUs scrapped. Move towards decentralized authority in NW.
4/23/1921 Chicago and Centralia Appeals Denied, Workers Outlawed in Bosses' Courts Washington, DC and Olympia DC & WA USSC and WA SC deny appeals of prisoners convicted under espionage and murder. Leavenworth prisoners remain imprisoned, Centralia sentenced to 25-40 years
4/23/1921 Police Forbid Meeting of Two Thousand People; No Amnesty in Spokane Spokane WA Spokane wobblies attempt a free speech meeting, shut down by police
4/23/1921 Constructive District Conference California Construction Workers San Francisco CA IU 310 has first convention. Leadership elected, resolutions for next general convention enacted.
5/1/1921 Financial Report No. 120 West coast west coast financial report, looks like most branches have ~$25-100 on hand following expenses
5/1/1921 Strike in Tonopah Mines Tonopah NV
5/1/1921 Grand Amnesty Rallies in Duluth and Superior Fills Halls and Streets Duluth & Superior MN
5/1/1921 Organization Strength Growing in California; Amnesty Meeting Held San Francisco CA
5/14/1921 Fishermen Go on Strike Against Wage Reduction Astoria OR
5/14/1921 Strikes and Lockouts Typical American Day
5/14/1921 Convention of No. 110 Outlines Harvest Drive to Build Organization Sioux City IA Convention of IU 110, discussion of international affiliation and sliding scale dues
5/14/1921 About Leavenworth Men GEB announces Bill Haywood's departure to Russia
5/21/1921 Preliminary Meeting of Delegates for General Construction Workers Chicago IL Meeting of IU 310's Midwest workers, review of San Francisco meeting's resolutions
5/21/1921 Nineteen Are Released on Wichita Conviction Wichita KS Leavenworth prisoners convicted on sabotage have case thrown out, released from prison. 6 with additional charges remain imprisoned.
5/28/1921 Basic Problems Taken Up; Philadelphia Branch Out Chicago IL Beginning of annual general convention, Philadelphia branch of the MTW's suspension over high fee debate confirmed and endorsed. Brief discussion of upcoming RILU convention
5/28/1921 Forty Years in the Penitentiary to Be Fate of Workers Who Think Washington, DC DC text of "a bill to protect the property, processes, and agencies of the Government of the United States from anarchy and Bolshevism" being introduced in the senate
5/28/1921 Statement Co-Operative Bail and Bond Account Seattle and Chicago WA & IL financial info/bail & bond for Leavenworth and west coast prisoners totaling around $75k. Mention of one prisoner who jumped bail, costing $4k, possibly Haywood?
6/11/1921 Convention Concludes Work, Delegates Welcome Home Chicago IL General convention ends. Philly MTW threatened with expulsion from IWW if they do not amend initiation fees within 90 days. Centralization of Defense Committee, more oversight power over local defense committees granted.
6/11/1921 Jack Gaveel Sentenced; He Gets 1 to 14 Years Los Angeles CA first member of LA branch to be convicted under criminal syndicalism charges
6/18/1921 Conviction a Raw Deal; Seven More Await Trial in Los Angeles Co. Jail Los Angeles CA James Price, secretary of California District Defense committee, convicted of criminal syndicalism
6/18/1921 Order Given to Release I.W.W.s in Leavenworth Kansas City MO 19 Leavenworth prisoners released by orders of KS attorney general
6/25/1921 Striking Seamen Hold Huge Protest Meeting in City Park New Orleans LA New Orleans wobblies try to win over striking marine transport workers, clash with conservative AFL members
7/2/1921 Wobblies Wage Relentless War on Superintendent Junction City OR Oregon workers at a grading camp go on strike to protest an abusive foreman
7/16/1921 Police Terror Reigns Working Men Arrested Sacramento CA Sacramento workers arrested for distributing IWW literature, charged with criminal syndicalism
7/16/1921 State Police Called Out at Tonopah by Operators Tonopah NV State police brought to break general strike in Nevada mining town, workers maintain commitment to strike
7/23/1921 Workers Do Not Fear Syndicalist Law Now Centralia WA
7/23/1921 Pacific Coast Sailors Vote to Stay With the Strike
7/30/1921 "One Big Union" Is the Cry of Sailors on Pacific Coast San Francisco & Portland CA & OR
8/6/1921 Tonopah Strike is Hard One Tonopah NV strike in Tonopah continues, scabs brought in. One wobbly scabs and is expelled from the camp
8/6/1921 Sailors, After Being Out Three Months, Go Back San Francisco CA Marine transit workers lose strike nationwide, accept 15% wage reduction.
8/6/1921 Violent Deportation of Harvest Hands Aberdeen SD migrant farm workers run out of town in SD after striking for better conditions, attested to by an economics student from NYU who is working as migrant laborer to "gain a first-hand knowledge of the conditions"
8/13/1921 Harvest Hands Attacked by Mob of Boozy Bankers Fairmount ND Armed mob attempts and fails to run wobblies out of town for demanding higher wages
8/13/1921 Criminal Syndicalism Charges Against Men in Jail at Oakland Oakland CA Wobblies arrested for hosting meeting with local clergy, charged with criminal syndicalism
8/13/1921 Striking on the Job Haverhill MA Shoe stitchers go out on strike for fixing of piece-work rates
8/13/1921 Rights Denied Labor Aberdeen WA police raid house, arrest 6 suspected wobblies, seize literature
8/13/1921 No Lawyers Wanted Aberdeen WA Aberdeen IWW expels lawyers from local
8/13/1921 An Organization Call Chicago IL chairman of IU 440 calls for IWW to start an organizing drive for steel industry
8/13/1921 Arrests at Centralia Centralia WA
8/13/1921 Elmer Smith Addresses Large Meeting at 'Los' Los Angeles CA
8/20/1921 One Hundred Percenters Give Harvesters the Run Hoople ND Wobblies force unaffiliated workers off of boxcars, disgruntled workers alert police to their presence. Wobblies arrested and forced out of town at gunpoint
8/20/1921 More Arrests at Aberdeen Aberdeen WA Police raid stores, arrest wobbly, and confiscate literature
8/20/1921 Smith Meeting at Denver Denver CO Free speech meeting
8/20/1921 Criminal Syndicalism Against Live Delegate Is Charged at Eureka Eureka CA Wobbly arrested for distributing literature in lumber camps
8/20/1921 Hay Hands Arrested for Refusing to Work Reno NV Striking harvesters arrested for holding out
8/20/1921 Active Delegate Arrested Elko NV Wobbly arrested on charge of robbing cars
8/20/1921 Conference of the M.T.W. Meets for Pacific Coast Seattle WA IU 510 holds west coast conference
8/20/1921 Auditing Com. Report Seattle WA IW finances
8/27/1921 Woman Radical Convicted Under War Act, Is Freed Portland OR Dr. Marie Equi, arrested while speaking at an IWW meeting, has sentence commuted
8/27/1921 Boss Is Active at Aberdeen Aberdeen WA Owner of local pool hall arrested for receiving copies of IW
8/27/1921 Police Raid Headquarters of I.W.W. at Omaha Omaha NB Raid of IWW hall, citywide arrest wave results in 100 arrests, potentially 20 of them active wobblies
8/27/1921 Doyle Fulton Released; Charges Are Dismissed; Cooks, Waiters Strike Spokane WA Hospitalized wobbly has CS charges dropped, cooks and waiters local goes on strike against hostile employer
9/3/1921 Bosses' O.B.U. Is Strong MTW wages cut, radical workers blackballed
9/3/1921 Blacklist Is Out Against Strikers in Tonopah Tonopah NV Tonopah strike broken, miners blacklisted
9/3/1921 Reinstate Philadelphia Votes M.T.W. Conference      
9/10/1921 Tacoma Case Is Reversed, Thirteen Are Still in Jail Tacoma WA Case remanded to superior court by WA SC, wobblies held on CS. First mention of C.E. Payne, who's been sentenced from 6-12 months for CS
9/17/1921 Terrorism in West Virginia; Mine Owners Bomb Babies Charleston WV miners' uprising in WV faced with violent push back from federal troops and private detectives. Small town bombed, general gunfights abound.
9/17/1921 Free Speech Fight on In Oakland, Cal. San Francisco CA CS trial begins over distribution of literature
9/17/1921 I.W.W. at Astoria Vote to Ignore Lost Strike of Local 381 of I.L.A. Astoria OR Astoria local declares they will ignore AFL calling off ILA strike. P.J. Welinder named as secretary of Astoria Local
9/24/1921 Sheriff Murders Workers; Union men Shot from Behind Charleston WV violence in WV miners' uprising continues, death toll mounts
9/24/1921 Girls Strike for Raise; Walk Off as One Shouts 'Come On, You Wobblies!' Wenatchee WA Packers strike for higher piece-work rates, boss tries to hire men. Backfires when men demand even higher rate and boss is forced to acquiesce to higher rates for women
9/24/1921 Spokane Still Hostile; Woman's Trial to Start Spokane WA Workers arrested, put on trial. Probably a free speech case since Vanderveer is defense attorney?
9/24/1921 Workers' Defense Union Wins Victory in Court; Magazine Vendor Freed Los Angeles CA Worker arrested for selling Industrial Pioneer wins CS case, is released
9/24/1921 Selling Papers Brings Arrest by Paid Gunman Eureka CA Wobbly arrested in lumber camp for distributing literature
9/24/1921 Wobs Freed; Jury Acquits Montesano WA Group of 6 arrested in 8/13 article are acquitted for CS
9/24/1921 Wobblies Are Railroaded; Sentences Undetermined Crosby ND Wobblies convicted of vagrancy in North Dakota and Kansas
9/24/1921 Cold-Blooded Murder of Hatfield and Chambers Roused Miners to Arms Charleston WV background info on WV miner uprising, started as attempts to organize Mingo and Logan counties by UMW. Mentions murder of two union miners
10/1/1921 Coal Kings Seek Blood Williamson WV murder trial begins for UMW members who killed private detective in gunfight
10/1/1921 Fargo Police Use Guns on Citizens Fargo ND Two wobblies arrested for free speech demonstration during branch meeting for IU 110
10/1/1921 Country Rewards Service by Kicks Yuma CO Brief clashes between police and migrant harvest workers in Colorado
10/1/1921 To Be Tried Soon on Criminal Syndicalism Charge at Pocatello Pocatello ID Two workers charged with CS in Pocatello
10/1/1921 Pardon Granted Wobblies ID Two workers convicted of CS in 1918 receive pardons in Idaho
10/1/1921 A New "Worker" Seattle WA Mission statement for IW. More focus on educational material, including a women's section, asking for more workers to send in news. Notes that circulation hasn't grown any in the past year, pleads for wobblies to sell more subscriptions
10/8/1921 Case Is Dismissed When 'Cutor Sings Eureka CA Previously mentioned Gobbins has CS case dismissed
10/8/1921 San Joaquin Valley Oil Workers' Strike Shows Solid Spirit Bakersfield CA Mention of strike by 110, nearing a victory for workers
10/8/1921 Given Solitary for Remainder of Term Leavenworth KS Wobblies sentenced to solitary in Leavenworth forced to stay for rest of term. Prisoners from both Chicago and Sacramento
10/8/1921 Evidence Seized on Liquor Warrant Declared No Good Spokane WA Kanka case dismissed because of illegally obtained evidence
10/8/1921 Defends Self at Trial But Wobbly Convicted by Jury at Pocatello Pocatello ID Thomas O'Hara convicted of CS in Pocatello case
10/8/1921 Eight are Held. Wenatchee WA Following police raid and 60 arrests, 8 wobblies are charged with CS
10/8/1921 Organization Drive Begun by Construction Workers CA IU 110 announces organizing drive of harvest workers in WA, CA, and MT
10/8/1921 Paroled From Prison After Having Served Their Minimum Hitch Walla Walla WA Washington wobblies released after serving time for CS
10/8/1921 Financial Statements Seattle WA IW/NWDC finances
10/15/1921 Astoria Hall Raided; Two Men Are Arrested; Held for Syndicalism Astoria OR Astoria local raided during meeting, two speakers arrested
10/15/1921 Sixteen Arrests Caused by Leaders of Seamen's Union San Francisco CA MTW struggle against conservative elements of seaman's union continues as police raid defense committee offices and arrest workers
10/15/1921 Information Is Filed Against Four Arrested in Big Wenatchee Raid Wenatchee WA 4 of 6 arrested in Wenatchee have CS charges filed
10/15/1921 New Hall Opened New York NY MTW local hall opened in NYC
10/22/1921 Culinary Workers Forced to Strike Seattle WA Seattle restaurants announce plan to be open shops and cut wages, culinary workers go on strike
10/22/1921 Third Raid Pulled in Short Time by Frisco Detectives San Francisco CA SF police raid wobbly hall, arrest 8
10/22/1921 Coal Miners On Long Strike Restored by Workers' Gifts Wilkeson & Carbonado WA Mention of UMW strike in Washington, says miners have been locked out since April
10/22/1921 Released From Astoria Jail; One Still Held; Arrests at Hood River Astoria OR Welinder released, Johnson charged. Mention that wobblies have been temporarily run out of Hood River
10/29/1921 Food Producers Hold Convention Omaha NB IU 110 holds annual convention in Omaha
10/29/1921 Strike on Dock Ends New York NY ILA strike in New York ends
10/29/1921 Work Stiffs Defend Selves Against State Suppression Oakland CA Oakland case moves to trial, wobblies defend themselves
11/12/1921 Vote to Return to Work Taken and Strike Is Off Bakersfield CA Oil strike ends, sounds like neutral resolution
11/12/1921 Petition President to Free Prisoners New York NY ACLU sends petition to Pres. Harding requesting amnesty for wobblies convicted for espionage during WWI
11/12/1921 Agricultural Workers Meet in Successful Convention Omaha NB 110 convention wraps up, takes side of MTW local 8 in Philly dispute, re-commits to organizing oil workers and ag. Workers on west coast
11/12/1921 Sugar Factory Hands Strike for Increase and Eight-Hour Day Ogden UT Factory workers strike in Utah
11/12/1921 Waterfront Dispute Grows Out of Few Gobbling… (bad scan) Astoria OR Conflict between Astoria local and ILA as ILA attempts to strike without support of majority of longshoremen
11/12/1921 Special Meeting of Chicago Branch G.C.W.I.U. no. 310 Chicago IL 310 holds convention, calls on San Francisco local to come into compliance with constitution
11/19/1921 Criminal Syndicalism Charged Against Seven Down in Los Angeles Los Angeles CA 7 arrested in LA and charged with CS
11/19/1921 Great Victory Over Reactionary Forces Won at Eureka, Cal. Eureka CA Eureka workers win trial, avoid CS conviction
11/19/1921 Thought Tried and Convicted in the Masters' Courts Oakland CA workers defending themselves in Oakland case lose, get sent to San Quentin. Claim that prosecution witness lied
11/19/1921 Various financial reports IW/NWDC/bail & bond reports
11/19/1921 Tabulated Vote on Special Referendum Ballot referendum on dollar dues question, chairman of G.E.B. named
11/26/1921 …Six Defendants Placed in San Quentin (bad scan) Oakland CA Wrap up of Oakland case
11/26/1921 Bosses Wave Club at Active Toilers Los Angeles CA CS trial starts in LA
11/26/1921 Wobbly Envoy Deported to Sweden by Uncle Sam Reports Good Business Salt Lake City UT Worker deported to Sweden for being wobbly
11/26/1921 Police Raid Cell for Revolutionary Papers; They Return 'Em Later Woodland CA Jailed wobblies in CA have papers confiscated
11/26/1921 Three Drives In One - General Defense Needs Funds- Christmas, Deportation, and Jail Relief Chicago IL GDC asks members for donations for multiple drives
12/3/1921 Reactionaries Ride Over More Progressive Seamen San Francisco CA conservative AFL union leaders expel wobblies and progressive workers from International Seaman's Union
12/3/1921 Courageous Wobs Down Ole Hanson Los Angeles CA LA trial continues, interrupted by outburst from W.I. Fruit insulting Ole Hanson, who is testifying against wobblies
12/10/1921 State Troops Go Against Strikers Walsenburg CO UMW strike continues in Colorado, governor declares martial law
12/10/1921 Well-Known Editor Tried on Charge of Sedition Vancouver BC Editor of British Columbia Federationist arrested and charged with sedition
12/10/1921 President Will Not Consider Pardoning Any Industrialists… (bad scan) Chicago IL Rumors circulate that Pres. Harding will pardon Eugene Debs and other socialists, but not wobblies because of their tendency towards militancy and sabotage
12/17/1921 Eighteen Sailors Expelled for Activities by Seamen's Union WA more wobblies expelled from seaman's union
12/17/1921 Arrested as Wobblies Ponca City OK Wobblies arrested, literature seized
12/17/1921 Garment Workers Strike Chicago IL 5,000 garment workers in Chicago go on strike for return of piece-work system
12/17/1921 Return Conviction Against Wobblies Los Angeles CA LA trial ends, 9 of 11 wobblies are convicted
12/17/1921 More Arrests Without Warrants by Police San Francisco CA Arthur Ward, one of the SF defendants, has case dismissed due to illegal evidence
12/24/1921 Militant Minority Hold Fort; M.T.W. to Open New Hall San Francisco CA More talk about SF and LA trials getting national attention, MTW opening new hall
12/24/1921 Kansas Coal Miners Battle Against U.M. of A. Machine Kansas City KS Kansas miners' strike continues, criticism of John L. Lewis' leadership of UMW, accusations of him betraying the rank and file
12/24/1921 Our Delegate to Red International Gives Out His Preliminary Report Berlin Germany RILU conference ends, IWW splits from Marxist-Leninists
12/24/1921 G.E.B. Recommends Against Affiliation with R.I.L.U. Chicago IL Following Williams' report, G.E.B. makes split official and declares syndicalism to be incompatible with communism 
12/31/1921 State Militia Restrains Picketing Miners' Women Pittsburg KS Men and women separated in Kansas miners' strike
12/31/1921 Fight for Right to Peddle Papers Tacoma WA Following arrests in Tacoma for selling IW, local declares a free speech fight
12/31/1921 International Solidarity Must be Aim of All Future Action by Labor More condemnation of third international, call for new anarcho-syndicalist international
1/7/1922 President Harding Grants Amnesty to Many Prisoners Washington, DC DC Debs and other socialists are granted amnesty by Harding. Few wobblies released
1/7/1922 Joint Branch Conference for Northwest Completed Northwest locals convene, reaffirm industrial unionism and declare agreement with G.E.B. on RILU