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Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

IWW Yearbook 1923

This is a database of campaigns, strikes, and IWW related events as recorded in the Industrial Worker during 1923. It was researched by Nicholas Lowrey. Start by reading his highlights report. Below that is the database.

Highlights 1923 by Nicholas Lowrey

As reported in Industrial Worker, the events of 1923 can be generally grouped into three categories: strikes for better working conditions, strikes for the release of prisoners, and arrests and trials brought about by charges of criminal syndicalism.

Despite the continued repression facing the organization, the IWW took part in a fair number of strikes throughout the year, mostly around the west coast. Several strikes were undertaken against the Warren Construction Company, with decent success especially in Oregon, earning better hours, pay, and a day off on Sundays.[1] Perhaps the most important set of strikes took place around San Pedro during their “Big Strike” among maritime workers, sailors and longshoremen. The Industrial Worker reported in “General Strike Sweeps on!” (May 2) that 10 to 20 thousand men left work in an attempt to obtain better standards, many of them longshoremen from both coasts, although the focus is on those of San Pedro.[2] The IWW had some initial success with the Marine Transport Workers, although inevitably the strikes failed to accomplish any goals other than disrupting shipping, and the workers returned to “strike on the job”  after mass arrests into the thousands and replacement of labor occurred in the weeks following their protests.[3] Despite the failure, this can be seen as one of the IWW’s most successful rallies of the year, as it organized a substantial base to fight against shipping companies for an extended period of time, signaling the continued significance of the IWW.  Other smaller strikes across the country enjoyed various degrees of success. In March, workers in the Everett Logging Company Camp, met demanding a 50 cent.[4] In English Logging Co. Camp #6 a raise of 50 cents was won, although the organizers were fired despite the protest of numerous camps.[5] Eureka, Montana showed an unconditional win for the IWW in April, as woods and mill men won an 8-hour day along with other smaller concessions.[6] Many other strikes had no clear resolution and were swiftly relegated to back pages of the Industrial Worker, although a loss was seen in Brockton, MA, where 90% of the shoe workers who had been on strike for six weeks voted to return to work in August without their demands met.[7]

[read full report/close report]

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

Article date Article title Place State Event description Source
1/20/1923 I.W.W. Wins Spokane Trial Spokane WA Branch secretary Carl Winkleman and two other fellow workers were released, as the cases against them were dismissed. Possessions were returned, and dismissal seen as strike against the revival of criminal syndicalism law. Industrial Worker
1/20/1923 I.W.W. Leading Warren Strike Fresno CA Strike of General Construction Workers in Warren Construction Co. camps, led by IWW. Caused by unfair discharging of camp cook W.C. Kirster and generally bad conditions. Want political prisoners released, cook reinstated, better conditions and pay, black hall system and price/bonus work abolished. Industrial Worker
2/3/1923 Company Lied to Workers, Refused Them Eight Hours, Men Demand Raise in Pay Friant CA Warren Construction Co struck again. Workers felt that the company would not comply to demands. 200 men quit work, 500 total expected by the following day out of 800. Industrial Worker
2/10/1923 Revolt On In Metal Mines Good Springs NV Workers on strike in two camps. Attempting to avoid longer hours and bad working conditions. Industrial Worker
2/10/1923 All Defend Themselves; Trial of 8 in 4th Week; Judge Rejects Lincoln Los Angeles CA There are two trials underway. Judge Shenek (No. 17) holds a group of 8 in their 4th week, while Judge Avery (No. 19) is beginning a case featuring 22 workers. Cases are being presented, although the substance is believed to be generally irrelevant. Jail conditions are understandably poor. Industrial Worker
2/14/1923 Last Minute Bulletins Sacramento CA Trial of 5 IWW members postponed until Feb 8. Motion to reduce bail denied. 16 more IWW members await trial for criminal syndicalism. Industrial Worker
2/21/1923 Two I.W.W Delegates Arrested in North Bend, ORE., Charged with CS Marshfield, Ore OR Two workers arrested at North Bend for the distribution advertisements for the Elmer Smith meeting on February 11. Following their hearing on the 12th, they were charged with Criminal Syndicalism. Industrial Worker
3/7/1923 I.W.W. Wins Strike On Everett Log Co. Tulalip WA The crew of the Everett Logging Co. camp went on strike in hopes of obtaining a 50 cent raise. The demand was quickly met. Industrial Worker
3/10/1923 Wobs Out of City Jail; Judge Declares Selling I.W.W. Papers Is Legal Seattle WA Nine to ten Wobs have been released after being arrested for distributing IWW papers. The workers released state that the police judge upheld their right to sell papers and defended them from the claims of the court judge, who was adamant about the Wobs being imprisoned or removed from the community. Industrial Worker
3/10/1923 Warren Strike in Oregon is Victory Portland OR After a nearly week long strike, multiple camps won a large number of concessions from their employer, including better pay, hours, working conditions, and having no work on Sunday. Industrial Worker
3/10/1923 65 Men Quit at Paper Co. Camp Portland OR Men walked out of Crown Willamette Paper Company camp in Astoria. All men but one walked out when a list of demands were not met, except one who was thoroughly harassed. Industrial Worker
3/14/1923 Struck Off Indictment In Trial of 22 I.W.W. One More Freed of Vag Los Angeles CA 7 men released from Court 19 in LA. Another was acquitted by a jury trial for vagrancy. Industrial Worker
3/14/1923 High Board Causes Second Strike on Everett Lumber Co. Tulalip WA Following the successful strike in Everett, the company raised meal prices by 5 cents per portion. More demands were created for better food and general condition improvements. No changes seen thus far. Industrial Worker
3/21/1923 Striking in Three English Co. Camps N/A N/A Logging camps 6,7, and 8 are being picketed. A strike in Camp 6 won a 50 cent raise, but caused the organizers to be fired. The picketing is protesting this action. Industrial Worker
3/21/1923 Raymond Asks for Free Speech Fight Raymond WA Two workers taken in on charges of distributing indecent literature, which the writer finds hilarious. The workers denied a lawyer, and are confident in their chances. Industrial Worker
3/21/1923 Seventy Days' Trial Ends; Men Are Taking an Appeal; 15 Defendants Fight Hard Los Angeles CA Eight IWW members were found guilty of criminal syndicalism, with appeals underway immediately after. The article highlights their bravery and the tenacity of those still on trial. Industrial Worker
3/24/1923 Simpson Logging Co Strike Caused by a Poor Grade of Food Shelton WA The camp received a wage raise in conjunction with a raise in board charge. The workers find the food unacceptable, and upon further provocation walk out. An aside in the article defends the cook and asks others to avoid harming those of their own class. Industrial Worker
3/28/1923 I.W.W. Strikes on Pacific Worry the Masters of the Sea S.S. Bohemian Club At sea A meeting between the crew and captain occurred, with the captain complimenting the group on their professionalism and granting all demands. An additional point is made about Aberdeen workers holding up a ship for 24 hours. Industrial Worker
4/4/1923 Tear Gas Bomb Thrown at Seattle I.W.W. Seattle WA A street meeting was hit with a tear gas bomb on March 28. It affected mostly the audience, and a few spectators said it was two policemen in plain clothes who threw it.  Industrial Worker
4/7/2023 Elmer Smith Not Arrested; Whole Community Attends; Police and Mayor Silent Centralia WA Despite previous contempt shown for the advertisements and impending speech, Elmer Smith was allowed to preach free of interference. This is heralded as a triumph for free speech, as previous attempts to speak were met with arrests. Industrial Worker
4/14/1923 Woods and Mill Men out in Eureka, Mont Eureka MT Woods and mill men on strike, averaging nearly 90% of workers, asking for better hours and wages. Hailed for being the first successful strike in the area, and demanding the release of class war prisoners. Industrial Worker
4/25/1923 I.W.W. Win Strike at Eureka, Montana Eureka MT The eight hour day was won by the strikers and IWW propaganda was spread despite efforts by the company to quell the situation. Industrial Worker
5/2/1923 General Strike Sweeps on!: First Day 66 Camps Quit; Klamath Falls District Out; Longshoremen Striking Too Seattle WA A "Big Strike" has been called on the logging industry. Between 10 and 20 thousand men are off work, attempting to gain better conditions universally through cooperative strike. Large walkouts also occurring on the east coast, largely being longshoremen. Industrial Worker
5/9/1923 Striking Marine Transport Workers Tie Up Many Vessels San Pedro CA 62 ships are tied up with only 1 working. Soap boxing is made "hazardous", with speakers being allowed 5 minutes before being arrested. Despite efforts by the police to quell the meeting, the workers defy them and continue to do anything they can to spread their message despite their impending arrest. Industrial Worker
5/9/1923 Gunman Murders I.W.W.  A.F. of L. Unions Uneasy; Construction Jobs Strike Aberdeen  WA Two I.W.W. delegates who left to visit the Simpson's camp have not been heard of, and foul play is suspected. William McKaye was shot May 3rd "by a watchman at the Bay City Lumber mill in South Aberdeen". The murder by watchman Green was witnessed by 25 pickets and he was promptly sent to the city jail. The mill was closed, and the camps are striking in response to the incident. These strikes are presented as having large scale effects on the logging industry in general. Industrial Worker
5/19/1923 Arrest of Pickets Starts Pedro Free Speech Fight; Hundreds Are in Jail Los Angeles CA Hundreds of strikers were arrested, with other news sources stating that 260 IWW members were among them. Public opinion is said to be highly in favor of the strikers, as "a thousand or more" went to the police station insisting on being arrested as well. Industrial Worker
6/2/1923 Preparing for Next Trial of Strength: Many Citizens Favor Strike For Release Of Prisoners. Police Chief Denounced Los Angeles CA Nearly 500 arrests were made within 24 hours of the start of mass arrests supposedly instigated by the Hammond Lumber company. Between this initial wave of arrests and the "average of 50 arrests a day" following, many of the remaining men returned to work. The lowest point of work was around 1% efficiency, which after a week of arrests reached normal levels. Marine Transport Workers still continuing. Industrial Worker
6/6/1923 San Pedro Strike More Successful Than Ever Before San Pedro CA The striking waterfront workers voted to take the strike back to the job and to "boycott and  break the employers' slave market". Over 300 workers who had recently been arrested rejoined the efforts. Industrial Worker
6/13/1923 Brutes in Susanville Rob and Beat Two Men, Leave Them In Desert San Francisco / Susanville CA Two IWW members sought work in Susanville, and after a short work session were told they were unneeded. Upon leaving they were apprehended and brought out to the desert, where they were beaten and left without their possessions. Industrial Worker
6/16/1923 Struggle Goes On Against Vile Law: San Pedro Shipping Masters Had a Lesson in Tactics, Another One Coming San Pedro CA One hundred ships and millions of feet of lumber were held in the harbor for a month during the Marine Transport Workers strike, losing about $4 million in profits. There was no violence despite arrests, and the IWW calls for release of their workers. Industrial Worker
7/18/1923 Twenty-Seven Los Angeles Men Convicted, Transport Workers Call Protest Strike Los Angeles CA 27 on trial in Los Angeles found guilty of criminal syndicalism. Strikes were planned prior and put into motion by several union groups (Marine and Lumber workers especially) following the verdict. Industrial Worker
8/4/1923 San Bernardino County Santa Fe Dominion: Are Citizens of San Bernardino Uncivilized Barbarians? San Bernardino CA This issue forward there would be a series of articles on San Bernardino, particularly on "law enforcement and chain gang conditions". States that the county has awful conditions of work and rampant corruption. Industrial Worker
8/8/1923 Boss Makes a Promise Then Goes Back on it, Men Strike Once More / Snowstorm Ore Miners and Train Crews Strike Kimberley/Troy NV/MT Strikes occurring in these locations after failed results and general unease. Seeking general improvements. Strike preparations occurring in the "woods of northwest". Industrial Worker
8/11/1923 Brockton Slaves Under Yoke Again Brockton MA After 6 weeks of striking, the shoe workers of Brockton return to work on a 900-100 vote. Their union would be preserved and future strikes had potential, but overall it was considered a great loss. Industrial Worker
8/29/1923 The Modern Pontius Pilate Sitting In Sacramento To Force Verdict San Francisco / Sacramento CA 5 witnesses who testified in the case of Homer Stewart, D.C. Driscol, and Pete Wukusich are on trial, charged with criminal syndicalism. 5 other men agreed to serve between 1 and 14 years on their own charges of the same nature after three trials. Meanwhile, 3 other members were released in Scotia, CA after being charged with the same crime. Judge Busick of Sacramento granted an injunction against the IWW on Aug 23. Industrial Worker
9/1/1923 Protest Imprisonment; Whitman County Strike Will Tie Up Farm Work Spokane WA Strike declared by agricultural workers of Whitman county. Seeking the release of Class-War prisoners and members of the IWW. Many in the area blame the IWW for threshing machine explosions from years ago, and general sentiment is not great. Industrial Worker
9/7/1923 Workers Rally to Strike Calls; Biggest Shutdown in Industry is Expected WA Many IWW messengers (9 cars) left Seattle to instigate strikes calling for the release of political and class-war prisoners. Meetings in several areas, definite strikes in Bellingham and Aberdeen Industrial Worker
9/9/1923 Big Cedar Drive Stopped; Astoria Comes Out Strong; Strike Gains Everywhere 100% walkouts in Leavenworth, Astoria. General feeling of improvement in Pasco, Bellingham, and Centralia. Industrial Worker
9/19/1923 Brown's Statement False; Seattle's Police Used to Protect City Bootleggers Seattle WA Seattle Mayor Brown accused of being under the thumb of law breakers, attempting to protect "vice and booze" by working together with a former "stoolpigeon" organization, the Minute Men. Direct accusation of mayor and his willingness to undercut unions, derived from a letter sent by the Minute Men. Industrial Worker
9/22/1923 Hunger Strike in Colfax For Release of Men Held in Jail for Free Speech Colfax WA 12 men on hunger strike in Colfax jail, looking for "release of all prisoners, free speech and free press". Industrial Worker
9/26/1923 New Orleans on Strike New Orleans LA Two thousand longshoremen of all colors are striking, attempting to raise wages from 60 to 80 cents an hour and lower work hours from 48 to 44 per week. The ship owners set an ultimatum of "open shop on the river front unless the men return to work". This was denied, and the men continue on. Industrial Worker
9/29/1923 Over Five Thousand Out; Demand Increased Wages With Shorter Work Week New Orleans LA Strike continues strongly, crew for many ships refusing to work. Five thousand men expected by the end of the week. Industrial Worker
10/13/1923 American Legion at Work, Drives Men into Slavery on Yellowstone Highway Nampa ID Six IWW workers set out to the Yellowstone Highway looking for work. They found camp conditions horrendous and tried to convince some of the "slaves" to follow them away. None would, and when they had moved a few miles away two cars filled with people from the camps arrived and brutally beat them. The author and one other got away, while a third was thrown into the river and the other 3 brought back to work on behalf of the Legion. Industrial Worker
10/20/1923 36 Delegates Jailed in Fargo Fargo ND 36 IWW members jailed for "selling papers without a permit under a local deadletter ordinance". This stemmed from protests against the arrests of other IWW members. Industrial Worker
10/24/1923 Raid on Eureka Branch Follows Redwood Drive Eureka CA Authorities invaded the meeting of the Lumber Workers Industrial Union 120 and arrested several members on counts of criminal syndicalism.  Industrial Worker
10/27/1923 Win 19 C.S. Cases in L.A. Los Angeles CA 19 IWW members have their CS cases dismissed and have injunction served. Seen as a sign of the CS laws in California falling flat. Industrial Worker
10/27/1923 Speeding Caused Quentin Strike San Quentin CA 53 prisoners on strike over a member who overworked in "the speeding up system in vogue in the jute mill". The jute mill as a whole is decried, and all sit in jail/solitary. Industrial Worker
11/7/1923 Octopus Wins in Quincy; Eight Members Convicted of Criminal Syndicalism Quincy CA Eight out of nine IWW members found guilty of CS. Bribery/foul play suspected. Industrial Worker
11/24/1923 Amnesty Campaign in New York City NY The Amnesty by Christmas campaign is approaching full swing, attempting to advocate for the release of political prisoners. This is specifically for the men imprisoned in Sacramento and Centralia, although the government does not see them as political prisoners. Industrial Worker
12/8/1923 Amnesty Campaign in New York City Gaining Support From Many Quarters NY There is a call to boycott all California goods and spread the truth of the Centralia massacre in the town it originated (many there see the IWW as the perpetrators) in hopes of releasing prisoners there. Industrial Worker
12/12/1923 Summers Workers Strike On Good's Whitefish/Olney MT Strike on Henry Good's camps out of Olney. Want standard improvements in addition to a boycott of California goods. Industrial Worker
12/19/1923 Whitefish Strike Gains In Numbers, Most Camps Are Called Out Solidly Whitefish MT 20 camps out with approximately 1% of scabs working. Been at strike over a week against the lumber barons. Industrial Worker
12/26/1923 Gov. Hart Called Down Olympia WA "There will be no blanket order of release of any number of prisoners in our state penitentiary" The IWW prisoners are being held on accounts of their supposed crimes, and are thus unable to receive special treatment no matter what organization they affiliate with. The campaign for amnesty unsurprisingly fails. Industrial Worker