Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

IWW Yearbook: 1924

This is a database of campaigns, strikes, and IWW related events as recorded in the Industrial Worker during 1924. It was researched by Arthur Walker. Start by reading his highlights report. Below that is the database.

Highlights 1924 by Nicholas Arthur Walker

By 1924, the IWW was in a desperate state, even as reported by the Industrial Worker. During this year, the IWW faced court case after court case, very rarely winning. California authorities, using the state’s criminal syndicalism law, did the most damage. The IWW had a substantial presence within California, and state law enforcement officials were intent on destroying the organization. In early March, sixteen members were indicted in Sacramento under the 1919 law, constituting a huge blow to IWW operations there. The Industrial Worker reports that the arrests followed a raid in which a warrant was not produced, and was thus yet another act of class warfare against the proletariat.[1] The list of court case losses goes on and on, from a jury announcing their decision of guilt of an IWW worker in a mere fifteen minutes, to fourteen indictments of striking workers, all of which appeared to be purely motivated by pressure put on the court by their bosses, as reported by the newspaper.[2]

So bleak was the situation in California that the Industrial Worker treated as positive news the fact that prosecutors in December had issued no new indictments, explaining that it was the first time that this had happened since the new law was enacted. This may have been because prosecutors had simply run out of targets, but the Industrial Worker maintained that this was in fact a result of the judiciary at last realizing the error in their ways in their crimes against the proletariat.[3] Optimism in the face of continued defeats was the IWW strategy in 1924.  Victory was always just around the corner, according to the Industrial Worker.[4]

[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
1/2/1924 Rush Trial of Three in Sacramento  Sacramento CA A judge in Sacramento, California, charged three men involved with the IWW, Edward Higgins, E. McCrae, and Sam Oberman, with criminal syndicalism right after the trial of 3 others for the same crime. This is part of an ongoing theme of IWW prosecution in California. Industrial Worker
1/5/1924 General Confederation of Workers Hold Third Congress in City of Mexico  Mexico City A recently formed Congress of various left-wing labor unions and worker organizations is holding its third meeting in Mexico City, and has formed a pact of solidarity with the IWW. The meeting focuses on boycotting certain anti-labor American goods, expropriation of factories, and the creating of a new, anti-political type of worker organization. Industrial Worker
1/10/1924 15,000 Loggers Strike  British Columbia A large strike in British Columbia is initiated and is reported to be a pivotal moment for the IWW, and favorable to the strikers. They demand an eight-hour day, four dollar minimum wage, release of “class-war” prisoners, cessation of censorship, and the cessation of active discrimination against IWW workers. Industrial Worker
1/23/1924 Strike Grows in Power  British Columbia The lumber strike in British Columbia is growing, with management concerned about the repercussions of losing business for so long. No lumber has been processed or cut during the strike, with very little outside interference, and the local legislature appears to be making moves in support of the strike. The strikers claim they can continue indefinitely if need be, and have not changed their original demands. Industrial Worker
1/24/1924 Favorable Ruling by Supreme Court  Bonners Ferry ID The court has overturned the ruling convicting an IWW worker, victory for that organization, despite previous unfavorable rulings by that same court. The IWW vows to march ahead with other cases they are bringing to the court they say are similar to the one just resolved. Industrial Worker
3/5/1924 16 IWW Members are Indicted by the Grand Jury of Sacramento  Sacramento CA 16 members of the local Sacramento IWW chapter were indicted for criminal syndicalism after a raid on their headquarters led to the arrest of 25 members. This came after much uproar that the IWW were operating openly in California, and the IWW were issued an injunction to cease all activity. Industrial Worker
3/6/1924 Lumber Strike at Coos Bay  Coos Bay A lumber strike in sympathy with the striking workers in Canada occurred at Coos Bay, demanding an 8 hour day, $4.50 minimum wage, better working conditions, and release of all class war prisoners. The strike is considerably smaller than the one taking place in British Columbia, and is taking place primarily because of a wage cut. Industrial Worker
3/6/1924 America Boycotts California  Unions across the country and the IWW in particular are participating in a large boycott of goods coming from California in protest of the anti-union criminal syndicalism law that has decimated IWW activity in that state. The IWW is confident that the boycott will prevail and break the lawmakers, and emphasizes the magnitude of the boycott without giving specific statistics on how many people are taking part. Industrial Worker
3/19/1924 Police Use Clubs on 22 Jailed Wobs!  Police entered the cells of 22 IWW members in prison for various union-related charges and proceeded to beat them, in some cases severely. This came after the guards were reportedly agitated that the workers were singing religious songs during the night. The workers were not reported to have many any aggression towards the guards or police, not even in retaliation. Industrial Worker
3/19/1924 Conviction Reversed in California  Los Angeles CA The Second Appellate Court in the LA district reversed the decision to charge multiple IWW workers with criminal syndicalism after a year in prison, a victory for the IWW. It is a blow to the syndicalism law that California has used to great effect to hobble IWW activities in that state. Industrial Worker
3/26/1924 Violence Used By California Bosses  Los Angeles CA The local IWW chapter in Los Angeles was raided by police and some of the worker beaten, as well as critical documents seized. Several members were arrested and the local funds were taken, in a move sanctioned by the new California criminal syndicalism law aimed at crippling local unions. Industrial Worker
3/27/1924 JP Thompson to Speak in Seattle  Seattle WA A fellow worker named JP Thompson will hold a rally in Seattle and talk about his experiences in labor and in prison. The rally is expected to draw large crowds of IWW members, and his speech publicized in local newspapers. Industrial Worker
4/9/1924 IU 310 Tunnel Workers Strike  Del Rey CA IWW workers working on a tunnel in Del Rey, California have struck and demand the immediate release of class prisoners, the repeal of the criminal syndicalism law, a raise of $1 per day, better food, the cessation of all contract work, and the rehiring of those fired during the strike. Industrial Worker
4/23/1924 IWW is in California to Stay!  CA The article details the many court battle the IWW is currently embroiled in as the organization attempts to combat the new and controversial criminal syndicalist law that makes organizing unions incredibly difficult. The IWW is asking its member to send as much money as they can spare, and are currently in dire straits. Industrial Worker
4/24/1924 Strike against Rotten Conditions  Kelso CA A walkout is being orchestrated against Eufula Lumber Company in Washington to protest the terrible conditions that the workers are subjected to on a daily basis, and in order to protest a 50 cent wage cut per hour. Industrial Worker
4/26/1924 Jury Says Guilty after 15 Minutes  The IWW losses another court battle, as one of its members is convicted by the jury in just 15 minutes flat of criminal syndicalism. This follows a trend of convictions for the IWW under the criminal syndicalism law. Industrial Worker
4/26/1924 Trial Intended to Crush Unionism in the Redwoods Starts at Eureka  Eureka CA A pivotal trial begins in which 9 members of the IWW are being tried for criminal syndicalism in Eureka, the capital of the Redwoods. The IWW urges its members to donate to the cause, and opines that the jury seems to be composed of “good and true” men. Industrial Worker
5/5/1924 Cranbrook Trial Set for June 16 British Columbia A trial to determine whether the IWW will pay a hefty fee of over $100,000 dollars and whether leaders of the Cranbook strike in British Columbia will be set for June 16. The strike was clearly a failure, and the judge is reportedly rushing the trial in order to make the defense more difficult for the accused. Industrial Worker
5/7/1924 Eureka Victims go to San Quintin; 107 IWW in California’s Twin Hell  San Quintin CA Nine more men were convicted of criminal syndicalism for striking against the lumber industry, adding to the 107 IWW members in San Quintin. The case was reportedly systematically unfair for the workers and stacked in favor of the lumber industry, and the defense was treated poorly by the courts. Industrial Worker
5/10/1924 700 Sawmill Workers Strike at Raymond  Raymond WA 700 sawmill workers went on strike in Raymond Washington against the management’s decision to lower wages by 60 cents an hour. The strike is reportedly encompassing 90% of the workers and have put a total of 4 mills into a complete standstill. Women were also notable a part of this strike, although the exact number is not mentioned. Industrial Worker
5/10/1924 Kamloops Conference of the IWIU No. 120  British Columbia The small article announces a meeting of delegates in British Columbia for lumber works in that region, on June 16. All members of local unions are requested to send delegates. Industrial Worker
5/12/1924 IWW Prisoner Dies in Jail  San Francisco CA An IWW organizer died of pneumonia while awaiting trial, in a series of events the IWW virulently condemned. The death was caused by poor conditions within the jail, and the defendant was charged with criminal syndicalism. Industrial Worker
5/13/1924 Strike! Leavenworth WA A strike has been called in for workers in the Wenatchee River drive. The workers demand release of all class war prisoners, better food, clean sheets and garments, $7 minimum wage, and 8 hour day, and a boycott to all Californian goods. The situation is reportedly starving the navy of workers. Industrial Worker
5/14/1924 Strike!  Gold Hills NV A strike is occurring in Gold Hills Nevada, in which the miners are demanding better working conditions, release of all class war prisoners, and eight hour day and a four dollar fifty cent minimum wage, routine inspections of mines, and other health and safety regulations. Industrial Worker
5/21/1924 Construction Camp Strikes in Nevada  Golcanda NV The workers at a local construction site decided to go on strike for the standard conditions to be improved, release of all class war prisoners, and eight hour day and a four dollar fifty cent minimum wage, and a California boycott. All of the workers except for 5 are participating. Industrial Worker
5/22/1924 Wenatchee River Strike Situation  Wenatchee WA The workers striking at the Wenatchee mill renegotiated their terms, increasing their pay demanded and upping their demands for better living conditions, as state militia closed in on their positions, but did no fire upon them. The company wishes the union to pay $3000 in damages that the strike has caused the company, and the union is refusing to do so. Industrial Worker
5/24/1924 Silent Strike Aids Hawaiian Workers  Honolulu Hawaii A strike in Honolulu sugar plants against “unbearable” conditions is ongoing. The strikers demand conditions to be improved, release of all class war prisoners, and eight hour day and a four dollar fifty cent minimum wage, overtime pay, recognition of collective bargaining and other union principles, and equal pay for each gender. Industrial Worker
5/25/1924 Woodmen are urged to Complete Survey of Logs in Ponds in Order to Prepare Information Useful for Strikes  British Columbia All IWW member who work in the lumber industry are encouraged to fill out a form listing their personal information and how much lumber is present during the current spring so the union can get a good estimate for striking logistics. Industrial Worker
6/3/1924 All Criminal Syndicalist Cases in Los Angeles County End --- No Reindictments  Los Angeles CA A big win for the IWW, a judge in LA throws out all criminal syndicalist cases and refuses to indict any more workers on the law. The IWW hails this as the beginning of the end for the law they have fought bitterly since the beginning, Industrial Worker
6/4/1924 Two Fine Meetings in Grays Harbor  Grays Harbor WA Two large meetings each with about 500 people took place in Grays Harbor to discuss labor issues, in particular the tragedy that occurred in Centralia that was not elaborated on in the article. The meetings were viewed as a small victory for free speech by the IWW. Industrial Worker
6/7/1924 Elmer Smith in Skidroad Meeting Holds Packed, Sweltering Throng  Skidroad WA Elmer Smith took to the stage to address labor issues and discuss the tragedy of 8 men buried alive in Everest. The fundraiser was able to raise a significant, unnamed amount for the IWW. The event was reportedly packed to the brim on a hot summer’s day, a testament to the devotion of the workers. Industrial Worker
6/7/1924 PI Striker of Printers Causes of Present Conflict in Hearst Office  Seattle WA Every single printer in Seattle walked out in strike in order to protest the attempted busting of the local IWW chapter, after 100 printers were fired. They demand a cessation of class conflict and the rehiring of those arbitrarily fired. Industrial Worker
6/11/1924 86 CS Prisoners in San Quintin as One Man for Fair Play San Quintin CA 86 IWW prisoners in San Quintin charged with criminal syndicalism are refusing to work because of unfair prison practices. It was caused because 2 men were thrown into solitary confinement for being physically unable to perform manual labor, and the 86 prisoners mention decided to unanimously demand solitary confinement with them in solidarity. Industrial Worker
6/12/1924 Archie Sinclair is on Defense Tour  Vancouver WA Archie Sinclair, a famous workers advocate in IWW circles, is going on a nationwide speaking tour in order to raise funds for workers who are being tried for criminal syndicalism in California. The tour kicked off at Vancouver Washington where there was reportedly a huge crowd in attendance. Industrial Worker
6/14/1924 In 2 Years Unions Lose 8,000,000 Men The article details the loss of 8 million men from the union workforce, blaming the change on tough new labor laws such as the criminal syndicalism law in California. The IWW notes that this is affecting them as well. Industrial Worker
7/19/1924 IWW Enters Chile  Chile After a long 35 day strike, the sailor and longshoremen in Chile had taken complete control of the harbors under the leadership of the Marine Transport Workers IU. The MTW has also elected to join the IWW, and the organization takes some credit for the success of the strike. Industrial Worker
8/8/1924 Sugar Plantation Workers on Strike  Honolulu Hawaii Sugar plantation workers associated with the IWW struck in Honolulu in protest of low wages and terrible working conditions. Somewhere between 7000 and 8000 Filipino laborers are taking part in the strike. Industrial Worker
8/9/1924 No Collection in Concrete Meeting  Concrete WA The article details that meetings are taking place regularly in order to organize pro-IWW propaganda in the area. It also details that the job is becoming increasingly difficult because of lack of support and funds from the local populace. Industrial Worker
9/13/1924 Los Angeles Grand Jury Indicts 14 IWW; Looks like Shipowner’s Orders  Los Angeles CA The grand jury in LA convicted 14 IWW members for criminal syndicalism, resuming the fight against the controversial law that had a brief lull. IWW maintain that the shipowners are responsible for pressuring the jury for a conviction in order to make a lesson out of IWW membership. Industrial Worker
9/13/1924 Conviction of 5 Witnesses Upheld  Oakridge OR Rotten food and a constant presence of flies and maggots have caused workers to walk out and strike in a camp near Oakridge, Oregon. The workers demand that the cleanliness and food issues be cleared up at once. Industrial Worker
9/13/1924 Workers Rebel at Rotten Conditions  Star Lake WI Workers at the Strange Lumber Company in Wisconsin have walked out on the job following a feud with management over when and where they can eat their dinner on the job. Industrial Worker
9/15/1924 Patterson Strikers Gain Many Mills  Patterson NJ A strike taking place unaffiliated with the IWW has gained the sympathy of IWW mills in the region and the IWW are now striking with them in solidarity. The workers demand better wages and more sanitary working conditions. Industrial Worker
10/29/1924 Stone and Webster Job Struck  Concrete WA Over 700 men walked out and struck in Concrete, Washington, demanding better pay, better hours, and improved working conditions. Reportedly, only 4 workers remained, and the management could not get and more replacement workers through the picket lines. Industrial Worker
10/30/1924 Official Report of 16th Annual IWW Convention  Chicago IL There is reportedly some difficulty in deciding where the future convention will be held, who will be leading, and exactly what will be discussed due to factional divisions within the IWW. In addition, and injunction by a Chicago court has made it even more difficult to decide on a location even within the city. Industrial Worker
11/12/1924 Smith Speaks at Concrete Strike  Concrete WA Elmer Smith spoke to striking IWW workers in Concrete, Washington to rally their spirits. The speech mostly focused on their employers, Stone and Webster, and their business practices Industrial Worker
11/12/1924 IU 310 Gripped in 2 Strikes  Oakridge OR IWW members are striking in response to 2 workers being let go for not working overtime in the Southern Pacific Railroad company. Workers are striking in solidarity with their fired friends, and demand that the bosses who made the decision be fired themselves, as well as reinstating the workers who were let go. Industrial Worker
11/15/1924 105 Pickets Run Out of Concrete  Concrete WA The sheriff of the Concrete, Washington rounded up over 100 picketing strikers, put them in boxcars, and deported them to a nearby county in an effort to break the strike. The IWW claims that the workers had been completely law-abiding up until the point in which they were raided and deported. Industrial Worker
11/15/1924 Boy, 18, Steals Loaf, Gets 5 Years  Lovelock An 18 year old was sentenced to 5 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread from a local bakery after breaking and entering, a sentence which was highly criticized by the IWW as being completely unfair. He only stole one loaf of bread during the robbery. Industrial Worker
12/3/1924 Concrete Strikers Appeal to Labor  Concrete WA After the strikers returned to work because the local union chapter was worried the state would call in the militia, the strikers are now appealing to the greater world of labor for assistance in order to complete their objectives. The situation appears dire, and the strikers point out that the company, Stone and Weber, owns a vast amount of other sites that workers could strike at in solidarity. Industrial Worker
12/3/1924 C.S. in California has No New Cases California For the first time since the first arrest under the criminal syndicate law in California, there are no new cases pending with defendants being accused of criminal syndicalism. This is being framed as a win for the opponents of the law who have fought bitterly against it since its conception. Industrial Worker