Volume 9, Number 3, May/June 1996
Memorial to 91 miners who died in Idaho's Sunshine
C O N T E N T S
Economic Transition & the Labor Question
1. Mining Wars ..................... 4
2. Spokane's Free Speech Riots ......... 10
3. Reform .............................. 19
4. The Labor Question Revisited
Ficken, Robert E. The Forested Land: A History of
Lumbering in Western Washington. Durham, NC: Forest
History Society and Seattle: University of Washington Press,
Foner, Philip S. History of the Labor Movement in the
United States,Volume 4: The Industrial Workers of the
World 1905-1917. (New York: International Publishers,
Jensen, Vernon H. Heritage of Conflict: Labor
Relations in the Nonferrous Metals Industry up to 1920.
Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1950).
Schwantes, Carlos A. In Mountain Shadows: A History
of Idaho. Univ. of Nebraska Press. 1991
"The Pacific Northwest Working Class and its
Institutions: An Historiographical Essay" in The Changing
Pacific Northwest ed. David H. Stratton & George A.
Frykman WSU Press 1988 pp 117-128.
Radical Heritage: Labor, Socialism, and Reform in
Washington and British Columbia, 1885-1917. Univ. of
Idaho Press, 1994.
Tyler, Robert L. Rebels of the Woods: The I.W.W. in
the Pacific Northwest. (Eugene: University of Oregon
Journal of the IEPLC
The Inland Empire Public Lands Council is a non-profit
organization dedicated to the transition of the greater
Columbia River ecosystem from resource extraction to long
term community and biological sustainability.
- Mailing Address: IEPLC, P.O. Box 2174 · Spokane,
- Office: S. 517 Division · Spokane, WA 99202
· Phone: (509) 838-4912 · Fax: (509)
- all contributions are tax deductible
- Board of Directors
- Matthew Andersen
- Eugene Annis
- Sue Coleman
- Bart Haggin
- Jeff Hedge, DO
- Renee LaRocca
- John Osborn, MD
- Paul Quinnett
- Cynthia Reichelt
- Dick Rivers, MD
- Liz Sedler
- Mark Solomon Executive Director
- Debbie Boswell Office Manager
- Barry Rosenberg Director, Forest Watch
- Sara Folger F.W. Coordinator
- Mike Petersen F.W. Field Representative
- Jeff Juel F.W. Field Representative
- Debbie Sivas Director, Public Lands Legal
- Grace Millay Ott Development
- Sam Mace Outreach
- O. Kaye Hyer Staff Assistant
- Transitions Team
- Easy - Photo Reproduction
- Derrick Jensen - Associate Editor
- Amy Morrison - Layout
CREDITS: For material from The
Spokesman-Review: Permission to reprint is
granted in the interest of public debate and does not
constitute endorsement of any opinions of the Public Lands
Council or any other organization.
ERRATA [Transitions: Get the Lead Out!
March/April, 1996] Page 3. The following is
an editing error: "The value of the minerals taken from the
region is estimated at more than one trillion dollars." The
actual value of minerals from the Coeur d'Alene Mining
District has been estimated at $4.8 billion. [Compiled
by D.C. Springer-Osburn, Idaho, provided by Coeur d'Alene
Mining District Museum-Wallace, Idaho.]
Page 10-11. The source for these data is the
Environmental Working Group, Washington, D.C.-based public
Economic Transition and the Labor Question
By John Osborn, M.D.
The complex relationship between workers, owners, and
government manifests itself most starkly in places and times
of difficult economic transition such as this region today,
such as this region a century ago.
Constructing the transcontinental railroads after the
Civil War employed thousands of workers. After the tracks
were built thousands of workers lost their jobs.
EuroAmericans found themselves pitted against Chinese for
scarce jobs, often leading to vigilante violence.
Desperation sparked class consciousness. Workers began to
organize. The Knights of Labor, formed in 1869, included
over 700,000 members by 1886 but thereafter rapidly declined
because of anti-Chinese activities. Disturbed by the
Knights' approach, trade unionists led by Samuel Gompers
formed the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1886, and
coal miners formed the United Mine Workers in 1890. Miners
conceived of the Federation of Miners (WFM) in 1892 while
under arrest in northern Idaho. In 1905 some unions and
political parties formed the radical Industrial Workers of
the World (I.W.W. or "Wobblies").
At times the labor question erupted into violence such as
the mining wars in the Coeur d'Alenes. In 1892 miners
responded to mine owners' efforts to break the union by
blowing up the Frisco Mill near Wallace, Idaho. In 1899
miners became frustrated by persistent refusals to pay union
wages. They commandeered a train nicknamed the "Dynamite
Express," and 2000 miners headed for the Bunker Hill and
Sullivan concentrator, took it over, and blew it up in the
"Second Battle of Bunker Hill." Idaho governor and former
union member, Frank Steunenberg, ordered federal troops
against the miners.
Steunenberg was assassinated in 1905 outside his home in
Caldwell, Idaho. Assassin Harry Orchard implicated three
labor leaders including "Big Bill" Haywood. The three were
kidnapped in Denver and stood trial in Boise. In the Pacific
Northwest's most famous trial, then-senator William Borah
was the prosecuting attorney and Clarence Darrow argued for
the defense. Darrow prevailed. Haywood, acquitted, went on
to lead the Wobblies and eventually fled the country in
1918. Today Steunenberg's statue faces the capitol building
in Boise, Idaho reminding us of historic and tragic events
and the labor question.
Governments reacted to labor activists, in part, by
passing laws that restricted rights of citizens to speak,
meet, and organize. Wobblies engaged in about 20 "Free
Speech" battles between 1909 and 1913. Perhaps the most
famous occurred in Spokane. On November 2, 1909, the
Wobblies declared "Free Speech Day" in Spokane and took to
the streets violating a newly passed city ordinance
restricting street meetings. Wobblies were arrested by the
hundreds. One Wobblie leader, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn,
chained herself to a lamppost as suffragettes were doing in
London. Hundreds of Wobblies filled Spokane jails where
several died under brutal conditions. City authorities and
the I.W.W. reached a settlement on March 4, 1910.
In September 1917 the federal government arrested and
then imprisoned over a hundred Wobblie leaders. The U.S.
Army, preparing for WWI, created an official company union
called the "4L" (Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen) that
broke the Wobblies' efforts to organize timber workers. The
I.W.W. was supplanted by the AFL.
Workers far more often suffered violence than perpetrated
it, especially considering on-the-job injuries and
During 1909 -1910 a series of fires and explosions killed
hundreds of miners in Colorado and Illinois, adding to the
clamor for labor reform. In 1972, 91 miners died at the
Sunshine Mine in the Coeur d'Alenes, the nation's worst mine
disaster since 1917. Today a miner's statue reminds us of
that horrible disaster and the labor question.
Prompted by the cumulative pressure from industrial
disasters and terrible loss of life, injustice, marches and
strikes, and even pitched battles and riots Congress and
Legislatures eventually established labor bureaus and
enacted labor reforms: worker compensation laws, worker
health and safety laws, the 40 hour work-week and 8-hour
work-day, rights of workers to form unions, and minimum wage
The labor question was prompted by the economic
transition in the decades after the Civil War, a transition
marked by the widening gulf between rich and poor, between
management and workers. Today another economic transition is
underway: Pacific Northwest forests are overcut and
corporations are shifting capital to new timber frontiers
around the world. Then as now, the "labor question" in our
communities ought not go unasked and unanswered.
BUTTE MINERS, OUT, IN UGLY MOOD
More Than a Thousand Surround Workings of
BUTTE, Mont., Sept. 24. Mobs of more than a thousand
miners surrounded the Gagnon mine tonight, apparently with
the view of mobbing the miners there when they came to the
It developed that 28 of the Gagnon miners refused to obey
the order of the miners' union to quit work. They were
rescued from the mob by policemen, who cleared a way through
the mob to the miners' hall, where a committee from the
miners' union interviewed the men.
What transpired is not known, as the patrolmen, with guns
ready for action, would permit no one to enter the building.
In a few minutes Acting President Robert Crane of the
miners' union appeared in a window and, addressing the
people in the street below, advised the miners to disperse
and meet again at the city auditorium at 8 o'clock this
September 25, 1909
Mining Wars spawned powerful labor movement
By Michael Crater
of the Tribune
No miners were in the White House when President Benjamin
Harrison's signature made Idaho a state on July 3, 1890. But
had he known the future, he might have extended an
invitation. Within two years, he'd be extending federal
In 1892 and again in 1899, the miners of northern Idaho
became armies of rebellion using sabotage and outright
warfare in a new kind of militant unionism. When the second
outburst was shattered, its partisans spread out to fan the
fires in Utah and Colorado.
Harry Orchard, who first touched flame to an illicit fuse
in Idaho in 1899, became labor's deadliest dynamite man
until 1905. The seeds of the Western Federation of Miners
and the Industrial Workers of the World ("Wobblies") were
Idaho's miners were of a different sort than most miners
before them. They generally were not born of miners, as in
the old mining regions of the East and of Europe. Instead,
many of them or their parents had been pioneers, farmers,
mountaineers or entrepreneursindependent people who were
nobody's underlings. They came West to be prospectors and
ended up earning wages by the hour.
At $3.50 for a 10-hour day, wages weren't great for the
dangerous work down under the earth 100 years ago. When the
price of silver fell and the freight rates rose in 1892, the
Mine Owners Association demanded wage rollbacks. The miners
refused and the mines were closed Jan. 16, 1892.
Two months later, the railroads backed down on the rate
hike, and the owners offered to reopen the mines, but at the
lower wages. The miners refused again. The owners replied
with a trainload of non-union "scab" workers mostly from
Montana and the Plains states.The first batch arrived at
Burke in April of 1892, but the townspeople massed together
and threw them out.
To protect a second trainload of non-union workers, the
mine owners recruited a force of 54 guards from Lewiston,
Genesee and Moscow. The guards carried weapons and a federal
court injunction against union interference.
The union men met the train and local police, who were
generally sympathetic to the unions, arrested the chief
guard. The remaining guards fled, but they and the imported
workers soon returned, and by June there were about 300 at
work where 4,000 union miners had been.
Fights between the union and non-union workers continued.
Idaho Gov. Norman B. Willey, a mine superintendent by
profession, threatened to impose martial law on the Coeur
d'Alene district, and late in June 1892 he asked for federal
troops. President Benjamin Harrison chose July 4, 1892, to
refuse the request, not seeing evidence of an insurrection
to justify it.
Two days later and far from the Coeur d'Alene district,
steelworkers at Pittsburgh, Pa. formed a private army to
combat an army of Pinkerton guards the steel magnates had
hired against them. The workers seized the steel mills from
the Pinkertons, setting a splendid example the Idaho miners
Then a dirty subterfuge surfaced: On July 9, the
secretary of the Coeur d'Alene miners union was exposed as a
Pinkerton spy. After crawling out of the town of Gem beneath
its boardwalks, Charlie Siringo fled through the mountains
to Montana. The moderate members of the union allied with
him were thrown into disrepute and disarray, and the rank
and file began gathering like a storm cloud at Gem.
On July ll, 1892, they dynamited the Frisco mill, which
was not then in use, and took captive the non-union crew of
the nearby Burke mine. They then swept through the district,
capturing mills and mines, running nonunion workers out of
all the towns and eventually forcing the employers to quit
The sweep met some resistance, particularly at Gem, where
mine guards opened fire after a non-union worker was killed
during a shift change. Townspeople were evacuated to Wallace
while gunfire crackled around town. Three union men were
But the union men outgunned the non-union workers and the
small contingent of guards, and the mine owners knew the
unions could destroy their property with ease. Late in the
afternoon of July 11, 1892, representatives of the owners
signed an unprecedented agreement with representatives of
"the parties engaged in hostilities against the employees of
the Gem mine" - the unionists. The agreement let the
imported workers leave peacefully.
The union men set charges under the Bunker Hill plant and
forced the company to get rid of the non-union workers or
have it blown up. They also seized all the confiscated
weaponry from the sheriff.
Now Harrison sent troops. About 500 were stationed at
Wardner and as many more in various places from Burke to
Wallace. They were commanded by Col. J.F. Curtis, a deputy
to Gov. Willey. The troops deposed the sheriff, a union
sympathizer, and threw about 400 miners virtually any man
they could catchinto America's first bull pen at
Curtis brought the mines under what was essentially
military control. No miner could work without a permit, and
in order to get a permit had to renounce union membership
and promise never to join a union again.
Although local juries refused to convict any miners, 25
were taken to Boise and 16 to Coeur d'Alene to be charged in
federal court with disobeying the injunction. The power of
the unions was destroyed as surely as the Frisco mill had
The mine owners' victory was deceptive. While sitting in
prison on charges later overturned on appeal, the Coeur
d'Alene miners began the organizing that would lead to the
formation of the Western Federation of Miners and eventually
to the second war in the Coeur d'Alene Mining District.
The Western Federation of Miners was created at Butte,
Mont., on May 19, 1893, and quickly began making its
influence felt in the Coeur d'Alenes, as well as in the
burgeoning mining camps of Colorado. Conditions for
organizing were goodwages had not risen with profits, safety
was still a low priority, the permit system kept moderates
out of the unions and there was no job security.
Unionization again swept the district. In 1897, fiery
organizer Edward Boyce called for union men to arm
themselves "so that in two years we can hear the inspiring
music of the martial tread of 25,000 armed men in the ranks
That goal wasn't quite achieved, but by 1899 only the
Bunker Hill and Sullivan Co. was still non-union. Its wages
were lower than the union shops. In April 1899, the union
decided to organize the company and also demanded a pay
raise to prevailing rates. The company refused to allow the
unionization, but raised the pay.
It also raised an army. The army was restricted somewhat
by Shoshone County Sheriff James D. Young, a unionist and
Populist, and miner sympathizers in the county courthouse,
but it was a force to be reckoned with nonetheless.
The miners made their move April 29, 1899, seizing a
train at Burke and loading it with some 400 miners, most
armed and masked. They took it to Frisco and broke into a
warehouse for a supply of dynamite, called "giant powder."
They next went to Gem for another 200 or so miners. Then it
was decided the 40 cases of dynamite on hand might prove
inadequate, so the miners' train rolled back to Frisco for
more. With a total of 90 cases of powder and some 600 men
aboard, the train highballed to Wallace.
There another 600 miners, mostly from Mullan, piled
aboard the train, content to sit atop the boxcars. Sheriff
Young and a deputy got on, too, and most of the townspeople
crowded around to cheer as the train set out for the Bunker
Hill and Sullivan ore concentrator at Wardner.
A tramp miner named Harry Orchard was aboard that train.
Years later he would tell historian Stewart H. Holbrook, "It
all seemed like a gigantic picnic, or a Fourth of July
celebration. I doubt that many of us that day thought we
were breaking the law by stealing a train and forcing its
crew to run us where we wanted to go, regardless of other
trains. I had a loaded revolver in my pocket, like hundreds
of others, but I never thought for a moment that we were
doing anything except the proper and natural thing."
The picnic turned strange quickly after reaching Wardner.
The union gang believed the owners had left guards in the
mine, so after ignoring a pro-forma order to disperse from
sympathetic Sheriff Young, they sent out a group of
The main force of miners delayed, then set out behind the
scouts. The scouts discovered there were no guards, fired a
shot to signal the information back to the commander of the
action, W.F. Davis of Gem, and were promptly enveloped with
gunfire by the main force. One scout was killed. The army of
miners flushed a guard, Jim Cheyne, who was shot in the
Meanwhile, Orchard and 89 others each shouldered a
50-pound case of giant powder and carried them the half-mile
from the train to the concentrator. They were distributed
and wired with differing fuses so they'd go off in a
top-to-bottom sequence ending with a "lifter" charge in the
boiler room at the bottom.
Orchard and another man volunteered to light this charge
and were nearly killed when the boiler room door latched
against them. But they made their way out a window and
watched the blast.
The union men went wild when the explosion, heard 15
miles away at Wallace, reduced the nation's largest
concentrator to the nation's largest rubbish heap. They
burned remaining company buildings and the mine foreman's
The next day, most "boomer" miners the single men who
drifted from camp to camp as whimsy led themleft the
district as federal troops came in.
The troops this time were called by Gov. Frank
Steunenberg. Although he was a Democrat-Populist believed to
side with the unions, Steunenberg couldn't abide the
lawlessness of the Coeur d'Alenes. His own National Guard
was fighting in the Philippines, so he wired for help from
President William McKinley, who sent Brigadier Gen. H.C.
Merriam from Denver. He and Bartlett Sinclair, representing
the governor, declared martial law in the Coeur d'Alenes for
the second time on May 2, 1899.
The next day a trainload of federal troops from Spokane,
Walla Walla and Boise arrived in the Coeur d'Alene district,
rounded up as many miners as they could find and threw them
into bull pens at Burke, Wallace and the ruins of
Merriam commanded a force rumored at 5,000 but actually
smaller than 700. They held as many as 700 miners, but freed
about half as Merriam complained about conditions in the
bull pens. Most of the rest escaped after an officer was
bribed at the Wardner bull pen. The few leaders including
Pau1 Corcoran of Burkewere prosecuted. Corcoran was
convicted of being an accessory in the death of the guard,
Jim Cheyne, and sentenced to 17 years in prison; he served
two before receiving a pardon.
Gov. Steunenberg lost re-election in 1900, partly because
of statewide anger over the permit system in the Coeur
d'Alenes. The new governor, Frank W. Hunt, ended martial law
in the Coeur d'Alene district April 11, 1901.
Again the mine owners and their allies in government had
won an apparent victory. The vast majority of the area's
1,500 union miners had fled, a few were behind bars. The
work permit system stood intact and the Idaho stronghold of
the Western Federation of Miners was in shambles.
But those miners who fled carried bitterness and militant
ideas with them. Many were to become the leaders of the
violent unions of the Cripple Creek district of Colorado and
of the Wobblies, the Industrial Workers of the World.
Seen in the light of history, the Idaho mine wars were
neither more nor less than the noisy labor pains of the
birth of militant unionism in the Northwest. The wild
joyride on the stolen train was but the first leg of a
July 3, 1990
The Bunker Hill and Sullivan ore concentrator near Wardner
was in shambles after the concentrator was blown up April
29, 1899, by miners using more than a ton of
Courtesy of Idaho Historical Society, No.
Miners gather at chow time in the bull pen at Wardner, where
they were detained during the 1899 mining war in the Coeur
d'Alene Mining District.
courtesy of Idaho Historical Society, No. 79-92.34
Idaho Owes Dr. Hugh France Much for Services During
Coeur d'Alene Riots
Bartlett Sinclair, Who Was an Associate, Tells of
Firm Yet Tactful and Sympathetic Course of the Noted Law and
By Bartlett Sinclair.
When the Industrial history of the Coeur d'Alene mining
region is recorded by an impartial and competent hand, Dr.
Hugh France, whose death the papers reported last week, must
be accorded much credit for all the political and social
transformations of that country. He was an invaluable factor
in the sweep from lawlessness to the high moral, law-abiding
conditions that obtained there the last 10 years.
After a period of 20 years Dr. France made his home and
performed in a model way his public and professional duties
in the Coeur d'Alenes, among a large body of hard-working
miners who were misled by a law-defying circle of agitators
until regard for legal restraint became blunted.
No man knew their nature and impulses, their creeds, and
hopes better than he. From the beginning he assumed
leadership of the law and order classes of that wild and
marvelous country and held it, to the hour of his death. In
the innumerable clashes between these factions he was at all
times in the forefront. Surrounded as he was in his daily
walks by the boldest and the most reckless band of
dynamiters of which history makes any record, he preached in
no faltering voice or vacillating action the doctrine of
obedience to law and respect for personal property and
He Commanded Respect.
A more distasteful doctrine to the law breakers of one
more calculated to disrupt their illegal organization and
put them out of business could not be conceived. And yet
these very men always respected him, and with but a single
exception made no attempt to do him bodily violence. They
appreciated his sincerity, his unflinching courage, his
human sympathy, and above all his devotion to the laws of
When Dr. France Became Sheriff.
My first meeting with Dr. France was at Wardner just
after the destruction of the Bunker Hill and Sullivan mill,
by the horde of dynamiters in control of the region at that
time. Upon receipt of the shocking news of the murders and
outrages on that occasion, the late governor, Steunenberg,
then in Boise, requested me to visit the scenes and do what
I could to restore order and secure proper punishment of the
guilty ones. As I left him on a sick bed his last words
were: "See Dr. France and Frank Johnson." Governor
Steunenberg had faith in their judgment in the grievous
affair, and I afterwards learned it was safe at all times in
all subsequent emergencies to accept their views . Danger
had no terrors for either.
Had Sympathy for Erring Men.
I saw Dr. France as soon as I arrived at Wardner and
spent the entire night listening to the tale of horrible
events leading up to the final blow upon the name and
reputation of the state. He knew the men and their criminal
ways. As he recited one after another of the outrages it
sounded like the tragedy of books. Yet there was the
evidence, all over the region of public and private
Throughout the whole narration of bloodshed and crime he
manifested the utmost sympathy for the miners and blamed
condition rather than perversity of hearts. While he
expressed his hatred of their crimes and he never forgot
that they were human beings, he uttered than a pathetic
belief that with the removal of the causes and the means,
for the commission of crimes the Coeur d'Alene miners would
become as law abiding as any of our people. He lived to see
the truth of this and rejoiced in it.
Removal of Sheriff Young.
At this time Dr. France was coroner of Shoshone county.
Ed Young was sheriff of the county. Young's inefficiency and
cowardice seemed to make it imperative, in order to
accomplish results, that he be deposed. I made this clear to
him, but he refused to act. The law provides that the
coroner shall become sheriff when that office is vacant. Dr.
France, therefore, was duly sworn in as sheriff and
henceforward till martial law was terminated in the Coeur
d'Alenes was my fearless and trusted colleague.
The dynamiters realized in an incredibly short time that
the state had become finally master of the situation and
meant business. They saw that the political futures which
had so often intervened to frustrate the efforts of the law
were not counting for much. This condition was equally clear
to the affrighted law and order people, all of whom had
returned from across the mountains to their firesides.
I now found a new difficulty. Up to this time I had, with
the able assistance of Dr. France, bent every nerve to
capture all the criminals who had had part or parcel in the
crimes. Gathering courage from this course, the law and
order men demanded and sought speedy vengeance upon their
It was here that Dr. France stepped in and counseled and
enforced restraint. He had unbounded influence with this
latter class of good citizens, burning as they were under
the remembrance of past indignities, and through him more
than any one else another class of crimes was prevented.
No Feeling of Resentment.
In all he did in those most vexatious times Dr. France
had no feeling of resentment or unkindness for the
lawbreakers. He often told me he was ready to take any
chance in order to establish the same orderly conditions in
the Coeur d'Alenes that prevailed elsewhere in Idaho. That
was his home and he loved it. I do not think he knew what
personal fears was, and his moral courage was sublime.
Favorite of the Prisoners.
His kindness and solicitude for the prisoners confined in
the Wardner jail often brought him into the most violent
conflict, with the state guards and keepers. His profound
knowledge of medicine and sanitation in this respect made
his supervision of this department of martial law government
indispensable. The inmates of the prison all seemed to like
him and he was always civil and most respectful to them. It
was a source of great pain to Dr. France, whose nature was
most sensitive, to hear the tales of cruelty about the
prison and hospital administration, as they were
manufactured and sent broadcast. As soon as I had discovered
that these stories were the necessary incident of the
state's interference, I urged him to pay no attention to
them, as I had ceased to do from the first, but even though
he realized the public took no stock in them and that they
were repeated for political effect, their repetition
continued offensive to him.
Most Companionable Man.
Personally Dr. France was a most companionable man. His
affections were comprehensive and well placed. His medical
and surgical skill should place him amongst the foremost of
his professional associates of the northwest. As director of
our two leading state hospitals, at Wardner and Wallace he
had great success. But I think with Dr. France as with his
friend and admirer Governor Steunenberg it is as a friend
and advocate of law and order the state is his greatest
October 31, 1909
Post image of the site of the assassination of former
Gov. Stuenenberg on Dec. 30, 1905.
Post Register photo archives Reprinted in the Coeur d'Alene
Press, April 9, 1995
From left, George Pettibone, William Haywood and
Charles Moyer await their 1907 murder conspiracy trial in
Boise. Haywood was acquitted and went on to lead the
International Workers of the World, known as the
Idaho Historical Society Reprinted in the Post
Register March 26, 1995
Spokane's Free Speech Riots
I.W.W. MEMBERS NOW FILL CITY JAIL
About 40 Followers of the Red Flag Confined on Bread
STILL DEFY ORDINANCE
Twenty-Seven Arraigned in Police Court & Fined
$100 & costs & 30 Days' Imprisonment
Nine I.W.W. members were arrested yesterday following
attempts to hold street meetings. The attempts were all made
between 1 and 1:30 o'clock before small crowds in the lower
Stevens street and Main and Front avenue districts. One
speaker appeared at Washington street and Riverside
Later in the afternoon James Wilson, formerly secretary
of the I.W.W., was arrested by Special Officer Richards on
the charge of disorderly conduct. According to the officer
Wilson jabbed him with his elbow as he was passing him on
No attempts at street speaking were made last night.
A fine of $100 and costs and 30 days on the rock pile was
imposed by Police Justice Mann upon the 27 I.W.W. members
who appeared for trial in his court yesterday afternoon,
charged with violating the street speaking ordinance. The
men, who were brought into court in a body and lined up in
front of the judge's desk, crowded
the space within the railing. Without comment Justice Mann
pronounced sentence upon them and they were led back to
their cells, where the greater part of them will serve out
their sentence on a diet of bread and water, which is
prescribed by city ordinance for prisoners who refuse to
work in the chain gang.
The men arrested were George Moss Morris, George M.
Bride, Thomas Burbank, Sam Kipling, Sam Pierce, Emil Sell,
W.J. Danforth, William Stauffer, Tom Lamb and Tom
Those fined in police court were: Vitus Potmaker, Pierce
Wise, Andrew Boling, Jack Miller, T.H. Dixon, Fred Fisher,
M. Halleweider, Albert Hehoult, Albert V. Roe, George
Tallman, John Ott, John Barry, Barney Hoffman, S. Nelson,
John Foss, Rudolph Leng, Harry Spencer, H.L. Hudson, John
Jennings, C. Youse, Peter Effertz, John Reese, Theodore
Bissorka, Elof Wickscorn, John Muron, Oscar Morbi and W.D.
March 9. 1909
I.W.W. DEFYING MISSOULA POLICE
Futile Efforts of Authorities to Stop Incendiary
Speeches on Streets.
HURL STONES AT OFFICERS
Spokane Woman Arrested, but Case Against Her Is
Dismissed in Court.
MISSOULA, Mont., Oct. 6 Attempts on the part of the
police to quall the incendiary speeches of the members of
the I.W.W. on the public streets have thus far proven
utterly unavailing and the situation becomes daily more
tense, with the authorities seemingly unable to cope
successfully with the conditions.
Tonight the police were kept busy for two hours arresting
and escorting I.W.W. orators to jail and when the 35th man
had been taken in charge the multitude surrounded the
authorities and jostled them all the way to the jail.
Mrs. Charles Fernette, a Spokane woman member of the
I.W.W. and a member of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Jones'
advisory board, was arrested last night and while being
escorted to the station the multitude which followed threw
stones at the police, severely injuring Officer Hoel about
An attempt was made to hold a trial today, but the
attorney for the prosecution dismissed the case and the
woman was turned loose.
October 7, 1909
TRANSITIONS May - June 1996
May - June 1996 TRANSITIONS
SOCIALISTS AND CLUB WOMEN
BACK UP I.W.W.
Announce "Free Speech" Mass meeting for Tomorrow
Night at Masonic Temple.
New York Man Wired Come
Telegrams Sent East and Throughout Northwest Urge
Agitators to Hurry to Spokane to Assist in Fight
Fire Department to Aid Police
Fire Commissioner George W. Armstrong yesterday addressed
the following order to Fire Chief A. H. Myers in connection
with the I.W.W. "free speech" fight.
"In view of the exigencies now apparent in this city and
in which the police are involved in the struggle for
maintenance of law and in which it is apparent that an
emergency is with us, I hereby direct that you, with your
department, respond to the call of Acting Chief of Police
John Sullivan, subject to this order until further notice
from this board.
"Hurry up" messages to socialist leaders all over the
northwest and to a free speech leader in New York, with a
200-word dispatch of this city marked the enlistment of that
party with the Industrial Workers of the World in the
campaign to swamp the city authorities and break down the
ordinance against street speaking.
Socialist leaders met last night in room 312 of the
Columbia building and decided on this action. They also
announced that a "free speech" mass meeting will be held
Thursday night in the Masonic Temple, when addresses will be
given by Mrs. Z.W. Commerford of the college Women's Equal
Suffrage club, Mrs. Rose B. Moore, chairman of the social
economics department of the Woman's club, and by a clergyman
whose name would not be given.
"Big free speech fight on in Spokane. Come yourself if
possible and bring the boys with you," was the substance of
the messages sent to socialist leaders at Everett, North
Yakima, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and Chicago.
E. J. Foote, I.W.W. organizer at Portland, arrived last
night to take the place of James Wilson as editor of the
local I.W.W. publication. "It is altogether up to the men,"
was his answer to a question as to what today's program of
demonstration against the authorities would be. "We have no
leaders and the members themselves must decide whether they
will go to jail. I have retained as counsel for Mr. Wilson
Colonel C.E.S. Wood, who has advised me that the best thing
for us to do is to have our men deliberately violate the
ordinance they are fighting. Colonel Wood will defend Mr.
Wilson when he is tried for criminal conspiracy."
Speakers who escaped incarceration in yesterday's
rounduup addressed a big crowd in the I.W.W. hall last
night. Every one entering the hall was searched for weapons
but none was reported found. Agnes Fair, a slim girl in a
black waist with a flaming red scarf, told the crowd that
she probably would be in jail inside of 24 hours, but that
she wished to say - and she said so for half an hour. She
received loud applause when she advocated wages of $8 a day
for four hours' work. The temporary chairman of the meeting
announced, to the accompaniment of more cheers, that 45 new
members had been received, at $1 per member since 4 o'clock.
He called for volunteers to the ranks of the imprisoned
enthusiasts, the response being hardly tumultuous.
Police Arrest 103 Speakers
Just 103 of the proletariat - it tickles the I.W.W. to be
called the proletariat - spent the night in the city jail.
They can not be said to have spent a quiet evening. In the
"tank" which is the abode of the greater part of the unkempt
army, the right of free speech was spread all over the
place, and speeches were made simultaneously in six
different languages. When the speeches ran short, the
inmates shouted at the top of their voice, and by midnight
the celebration had toned down to singing and whistling,
which was said by the jailers to be an improvement over the
The last arrest was that of Peter Canaher, who was
distributing I.W.W. literature and giving speeches free with
each sale. He was the 103d, the rush at the booking window
having ceased by 4 o'clock, the last arrest being made at
With the leaders in jail, Chief Sullivan was confident
that the backbone of the trouble had been broken. Wilson
Thompson and the rest, who were arrested in the raid on the
I.W.W. hall, are recognized as the "brains" of the
organization and are believed to have directed the details
of yesterday's fight.
Feeding time in the jail was about 10 o'clock last night,
the imprisoned "free speechers' being given one of their two
daily meals. Four men served the repast which found the
prisoners in a hilarious mood.
Situation Well in Hand
Reports current during the afternoon that the militia and
probably the regulars at Fort Wright would be called out to
clear the streets, proved unfounded. The police had no
trouble in handling the crowds, loiterers being kept on the
move and would-be speakers disposed of with neatness and
In accordance with their agreement not to make any
demonstrations after nightfall, the Industrial Workers kept
off the streets last night when their meeting was over. The
lower part of the town, however, was well policed until
The police station blotter shows that M. Anbach, escorted
by Officer Berto, was the first free speech martyr to
surrender his valuables at the booking window. Following
close came Jack Mosby, with Officer McLeod as his host, and
Richard Brazier, in tow of Officer Dugger.
System of Handling Prisoners
From 1 o'clock, when the first man was brought in, until
after 4, Desk Officer Martin V. Pitts, and the receiving
line of "cops" at the window did nothing but welcome and
register Industrial Workers. As fast as they came they were
lined up at the window, where their names were taken by
Officer Pitts and their valuables by Officer Jellset. The
valuables were put in a paper sack and bound with a linen
cord by Officer Sanborn and the prisoners were then escorted
to their cells by Officers Bucholz and Peabody. Patrol
Driver Walter Lawson was master of ceremonies. When the line
had passed there was a stack of paper sacks on the desk that
resembled a Salvation Army Christmas celebration, and the
floor was strewn with matches, tobacco and stray scraps of
One red-badged orator had what the police called
"fighting jag." He clasped his money in a powerful right
fist and dared the officers to take it away from him. This
was just what the patrolmen were waiting for, and a little
jiu jitsu brought the coins rolling onto the desk.
The police again today will receive the assistance of
Sheriff McK. Pugh and his deputies, who were active
yesterday. Members of private detective agencies were in the
crowd of officials yesterday, but took little part in the
October 7, 1909
GIRL AT I. W. W. HELM
TAKES CHARGE OF ATTACK ON LAW AND ORDER
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, the young I. W. W. organizer and
orator, who arrived from Missoula early in the week, has
taken charge of the forces of "Industrial Workers" here, and
is now editing the organization's weekly journal besides
making most of the speeches to encourage the antagonists of
authority. Miss Flynn was the principal speaker for the I.
W. W. before the city council Wednesday.
The last issue of the "Industrial Worker" paper is
devoted principally to uncomplimentary allusions to the
mayor, police officials, magistrates, daily newspapers, the
American Federation of Labor and all who have not joined the
"free speech" fight. Justice Mann is referred to as "lackey
of the parasites" and "almost illiterate." Chief Sullivan is
described as "a long, lean, lank, fishy-eyed individual" and
the police are referred to as "hired thugs," "Cossacks,"
"fat-jowled Hibernians" and "hired clubbers." The A. F. L.
is accused of being "craven, contemptible, yellow, lacking
in the first rudiments of manhood," and so forth.
A letter from James Wilson, a picture of whom eating
breakfast was printed in The Spokesman-Review, is published
in the paper of which he was formerly editor. He denies that
he or his companion leaders have eaten anything for a
November 12, 1909
MISS FLYNN TO APPEAL
I.W. W. ORGANIZER GIVES BOND OF $5000.
Convicted of Conspiracy, She Will Ask Supreme Court
to Pass on Case.
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, national organizer for the I. W.
W., convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to three months in
jail, will appeal her case to the supreme court. Bonds in
the sum of $5000 were given yesterday afternoon and the case
will be placed on the January calendar of the criminal
branch of the superior court.
Fred W. Moore, attorney for the defendant, appealed in
Justice Stocker's court yesterday to arrange for the bond.
He said the case will be carried up. The same sized bond as
given before the justice court trial was offered. The
bondsmen who signed the first bond were Mrs. Philip P.
Stalford, Mrs. A. E. House and A. E. House, and Mr. Moore
stated they were willing to renew the bond.
The next I. W. W. conspiracy case to be tried before
Justice G. W. Stocker will probably be that against A. B.
Rowe. The case will not come up until next Wednesday as
Justice Stocker has some civil matters to hear first.
November 11, 1909
E. GURLEY FLYNN
AS NEW YORK GIRL
Four Years Ago She Attended High School in Bronx and
Lived With Parents.
NEW YORK, Dec. 11. When news was received here of the
conviction of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, national organizer of
the I. W. W. , on a charge of conspiracy to incite a
violation of the laws of Spokane and her sentence to three
months in the county jail in that city, local labor leaders
met and decided to raise funds and assist Miss Flynn in
every way possible. It is believed that an appeal will be
taken to a higher court from the conviction, and the best
lefal talent will be employed in her behalf in an effort to
secure her release. Four years Miss Flynn was a high school
girl in the Bronx, living quietly with her parents. She had
a bright mind and a fluent command of language. She became
interested in socialistic doctrines, read much and finally
began to make speeches at public meetings. She was sometimes
called New York's Joan of Arc. She took great interest in
labor meetings and became associated with the I. W. W. Two
years ago she married John A. Jones, one of the leaders of
labor, and went to live in Missoula.
December 12, 1909
SAYS B.C. MINERS SUPPORT I.W.W.
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Tells of Trip Through State
GIVE CASH, SHE DECLARES
Speaker Urges Organization and Financial Help in
Promoting "Free Speech"
"There is a world of encouragement in knowing that men of
the type of the British Columbia contingent of the Western
Federation is in sympathy with us, hand, soul, and
pocketbook," said Elizabeth Gurley Flynn last night at the
meeting of the Industrial Workers of the World at Turner
hall before a large and enthusiastic audience. Miss Flynn
recently returned from an extended trip through Washington
and British Columbia, where she spoke on the free speech
situation in Spokane.
"When I visited miners in the strike district of British
Columbia I was as enthusiastically welcomed as I have been
here tonight. The free speech question up there and the
situation here is as much of a burning question with them as
it was here two months ago and as it will be here in two
months more if my fellow workers organize! organize!
organize! They gave me the use of their halls, and they
followed that up by turning out in full force every time I
spoke, and the greatest thing of all happened when they dug
deep into their pockets and produced the substance in the
form of abundant silver to carry on the fight in
Takes shot at Prosecutor.
"In a recent trial in the superior court Prosecuting
Attorney Fred Pugh sneeringly remarked that the labor
movement was involved in a certain case. He said 'the labor
movement,' whatever that is! My fellow workers, it makes
little difference whether Prosecutor Pugh knows what it is.
Just see to it that you know," and the girl orator continued
to harangue her audience, referring but little to her coming
trial on the charge of conspiracy.
The other speaker on the program was Fred H. Moore, I. W.
The next meeting and the last regular meeting before the
trial of Miss Flynn will be held Sunday evening in Turner
hall. The speakers have not yet been chosen.
February 3, 1910
The Coeur d'Alene's
MINERS FOR I. W. W. BUT NO BOYCOTT
Burke Union Leaders Deny Talk of Action Against Butte
RESOLUTIONS TO SPOKANE
Extend Sympathy to "Workers" in Power City Clamoring
for Privilege of Free Speech.
WALLACE, Idaho. Nov. 15. The Burke union of the Western
Federation of Miners has passed resolution extending their
sympathy to the I. W. W. in their struggle in Spokane, a
copy of the resolutions being sent to Spokane.
While there has been much talk that the Burke union has
boycotted Spokane and Butte, the officers of the local at
Burke deny there has been talk of boycott and assert there
has been no action of the sort taken.
Novemer 16, 1909
In Justice to Labor
In justice to organized labor, as pointed out by
President C. R. Case of the State Federation of Labor, the
so-called "Industrial Workers of the World" should not be
confounded with reputable and law-respecting labor unions.
President Case points out that "organized labor has its
meetings all over the state, and freely discusses its
affairs and the problems met by labor. Free speech is
enjoyed by these regularly organized workingmen."
The distinction is obvious. The so-called Industrial
Workers are an anarchistic organization, composed largely of
hoboes and loafers. Their fundamental doctrine is the
repudiation of law and all human authority, and their
purpose is to annoy and harass officers of the law and
interfere, so far as they can, with the performance of
As President Case well says, there is no issue of the
right of free speech between organized labor and the public.
Labor unions enjoy in that respect precisely the same rights
that are enjoyed by other citizens and other organizations.
The right to hold orderly public meetings on Spokane
streets, outside of the fire limits, extends to all citizens
and all organizations alike, and the prohibition against
public meetings on streets within the fire limits is general
against everybody. Under the law no body of men has a right
to engage in disorderly meetings anywhere within the
The disorderly, stubborn and contentious men who have
drifted in here in an avowed conspiracy to violate the
ordinances and defy the officers of the law, are demanding
privileges that are not asked by lawful, reputable labor
organizations. Most of these defiant men and vagrants who
will not work at honest labor, and are attempting to
obstruct traffic, retard industry and interfere with the
business and occupation of the citizens of Spokane.
November 7, 1909
November 3, 1909
They Libel Spokane
"Shame on your town!" writes L. H. Gibbs of Scranton,
Pa., who has been reading the false reports of the I. W. W.
agitation sent out from Spokane by socialistic sympathizers.
This Scranton man declares a belief that socialism "is
sweeping the land like a tidal wave," and adds that
Spokane's treatment of the I. W. W. conspirators is helping
This indicates the motive behind the dissemination by
Spokane socialists of false statements that have been
eagerly seized upon by socialist newspapers. They want a
grievance and are unscrupulous in the manufacture of it. The
Scranton writer has swallowed, without question, all the
scurrilous falsehoods about police persecution, "black
holes" and "steam-tortured victims," and wants to know if it
is true that the police of Spokane have been subjecting to
felonious assault "unfortunate women who fell into their
It is not true, and the Spokesman-Review feels like
apologizing to the police of this city for dignifying the
villainous libel with a denial.
There was not the slightest justification for the
conspiracy between the I. W. W. and socialist agitators to
annoy the industrious people of Spokane, violate their laws
and scatter broadcast falsehoods with which they have
attempted to bolster up their conspiracy.
The men who were drawn here from all parts of the United
States to fill the jails are notoriously and avowedly bums
and hoboes. They did not come here seeking work, but to live
off the industry of others. They never had a real grievance,
nor anything approaching a grievance.
There has been no abridgment of the right of free speech
in Spokane. The ordinance regulating street speaking in the
business district is reasonable and has been pronounced
constitutional by the courts of this state. It is the law,
and men who conspire to break it are lawbreakers. Our own
citizens obey it, and it is preposterous to demand that
disorderly vagabonds, drawn in here from distant places,
shall be allowed to put themselves above the law and dictate
to Spokane citizens what ordinances shall be repealed and
December 19, 1909
Hard at Work on New County Rockpile Getting Out Rock
for Monroe Street Bridge.
I.W.W. MEN ARE FAST ON
Clean Up All Loose Stone and
Render It Necessary to Blast
Charges will be Touched Off
Material to Be Used for Roads.
Industrial Workers of the World on county rockpile have
done such good work during the last month that all the loose
rock has been cleared up and placed in one huge heap. Now it
is necessary to blast and loosen more rock from the main
Sheriff Pugh has had 13 holes drilled for blasting.
Officer Jacob Warner of the police force probably will touch
off the blasts today and the chain gang can then go on with
its work of gathering the small rock and breaking up the
The average number of prisoners on the rockpile lately
has been 28. That makes a good working force that has
accomplished considerable toward the destruction of the
unsightly mass and the preparation of crushed stone for road
December 24, 1909
PLENTY OF ROCK TO BREAK.
I.W.W. agitators who threaten to renew their shattered
conspiracy to violate the laws and defy the courts will find
cold comfort in a statement made yesterday by Captain of
Police Martin J. Burns:
Since it is finally determined that the Monroe street
bridge is to be built by day labor all of the crushed rock
needed can be furnished from the city rockpile. We have two
rock crushers on the ground and three more are on the way.
We have comfortable quarters for 1000 laborers and all we
need is "men" in order to supply the vast amount of crushed
rock that will be needed for the big bridge.
The people of Spokane prefer to have crushed rock for the
Monroe street bridge supplied by honest and respectable
labor, employed at good wages. But if the I.W.W. agitators
insist on their foolish scheme of filling the jails and the
city's rock piles the authorities will have to accommodate
them. In that way the cost of building the Monroe street
bridge may be materially reduced, and the saving thus made
can be turned into other public improvements, and thus as
much employment be given to honest labor as it would have
had if the I.W.W. rockbreakers had kept away from
February 11, 1910
MAILED FROM SEATTLE, BUT AUTHORITIES TAKE
First Copies to Reach Spokane Will Be Carefully
Scrutinized by Postal Men.
Blocked by the city and county authorities in their
attempts to publish the "Industrial Worker," the official
organ of the I.W.W. in this city, leaders of the "free
speech" movement, still ignoring the official surrender of a
week ago, are issuing a Spokane edition of the paper in
Seattle and mailing it to subscribers and supporters in this
city and the Inland Empire. The first copies of the paper
under the new order reached this city yesterday afternoon
and were distributed in the local post-office.
Attention of the local postal authorities and at
Washington, D.C., will be called to the issue in case any of
the articles are of an incendiary, inflammatory or grossly
libelous nature, as in the past. Copies of the paper are,
according to reports, as scarce as white elephants, none up
to last night falling into the hands of the authorities.
December 24, 1909
FILIGNO IS FOUND GUILTY,
GURLEY FLYNN ACQUITTED
After Seventeen Hours' Deliberation
Jury Returns Verdict in
GIRL AGITATOR FROWNS
Bites Lip, Then Scowls as Announcement is
Codefendant Returns to Cell Apparently
New Trial Will Be Asked
February 25, 1910
I.W.W. PROMISE TO STOP RIOTING
Committee Meets City Officials and Enters Into Hard
and Fast Agreement.
STREET SPEAKING BARRED
Paper may Resume, but Must be Careful What It
An important conference, which is expected to put an end
to the I.W.W. disturbances in Spokane, was held between
Mayor N. S. Pratt, Chief of Police John T. Sullivan,
Prosecuting Attorney Fred Pugh and Assistant Corporation
Attorney John E. Blair, representing the city and J. J.
McKelvey, J. J. Stark, D. J. Gillispie and William Z. Foster
for the I.W.W. yesterday afternoon and evening at the
courthouse in Coeur d'Alene.
This committee waited on the mayor Monday, with a view to
bringing about a settlement, but it developed that it had no
authority to bind the I.W.W. to any agreement and the
authorities declined to deal father with it until it could
produce credentials showing a right to make a binding
At the meeting yesterday the necessary documents were
forthcoming and a basis of settlement was agreed upon. The
city officials agreed to grant the following privileges:
The I. W. W. hall may be maintained, meetings held and
public speaking conducted therein, without interference on
the part of the police, provided that everything is run as
it was prior to the disturbance November 2.
Paper May Be Published.
The publication of the organization paper, the Industrial
Worker, is to be permitted as long as it does not contain
any matter which is in violation of the law.
All I.W.W. prisoners now in jail will be released at the
end of the 90 days, if there is no further demonstrations;
otherwise all will have to serve their full sentences.
The committee agreed, for the I.W.W. to call off the
fight with the police and abide by the street-speaking
ordinance. Considerable discussion arose over the latter
part of this provision, the I.W.W. committee wishing the
representatives of the city government to agree to a change
in this ordinance, which would allow free public
Mayor Pratt said that while he could not make any promise
that would bind the council to any such action, he would use
his personal influence in favor of the change and would
favor an ordinance which will allow public speaking under
The surrender of Heslewood to the city of Spokane under
extradition was insisted upon, but the I.W.W. committee
claimed to have no authority to compel this. The matter went
over until this evening, when it was agreed that Heslewood
should return to Spokane under $2000 bond and that if no
further disturbances occurred within 90 days, he would be
released from bail.
The habeas corpus proceedings brought by Attorney Fred H.
Moore and E. V. Boughton to secure Heslewood's release were
Charges of perjury brought by Mrs. Heslewood against
Detective Martin J. Burns will be withdrawn this morning at
the session of Justice Chambers' court. No appeal is to be
taken by the defendant in the Filigno case.
March 4, 1910
Mess call in 1915, Lumber Camp
Betty M. Ferr [Spokane Public
LUMBER CAMPS GIVE MANY WORK
Labor Conditions Much Better Than Last Year, Say
Labor conditions are better than last year at this
season, according to statements made by employment agents.
At any rate there are not so many idle men in the city. It
will be remembered that a year ago hundreds of men were
penniless and were glad to be granted permission to sleep on
the ground or on the benches in the Bill Sunday
"There is little demand for railroad help at this season,
but we are finding employment for about 50 men each day in
the lumber camps," said J. J. Macho of the Macho employment
bureau. "There are many men in the city who are idle, but it
is not as it was last year at this season.
We had men coming to us every day then who had been
depending on us for 10 or 12 years to find them a job when
they wanted work. We knew they would make good, but we
simply could not locate anything for them. There are jobs
this year for all who are willing to work."
Another agency which deals with railroad contractors
exclusively explained that since the cold weather had set in
most of the dirt work had been suspended and that some of
the work which would have been opened up earlier would not
be ready before the first of the year, as the strike in two
or three cases has delayed the transportation of
December 17, 1909
KILLED IN COLORADO MINE, 149
Bodies of 79 Found in a Heap at Foot of Air
FANS ARE SHATTERED
Rescuers Working Desperately to Reach Entombed
DEAD BLOWN TO PIECES
Explosion at Primero Said to Be Worst Disaster in
History of Western Coal Mining.
PRIMERO, Col., Feb. 1.Seventy-nine bodies of the victims
of an explosion in the Primero mine of the Colorado Fuel
company were found piled in a mass at the foot of the air
shaft shortly after midnight. When the explosion occurred at
4:30 Monday afternoon the men evidently made a rush to
escape through the air shaft and were suffocated as they
battled with one another for freedom.
It has been shown by the timekeepers' records that there
were 149 men in the mine at the time of the explosion. None
is thought to be alive. The main shaft of the mine is
Both fans with which the mine is equipped were shattered,
but were in working order until 7:30 o'clock tonight.
Main Shaft Blocked.
As soon as the fans were reported out of order General
Superintendent J. F. Thompson and a rescue party entered by
the main air shaft, but were unable to reach the main shaft,
which is completely blocked. The party returned to the
surface after securing five bodies, which were badly
A party equipped with oxygen helmets replaced them in the
workings reached through the air shaft, searching for more
bodies. Miners were rushed to Primero from Trinidad, Saundo,
Starkville, Sopris and Cokeville and are laboring
frantically to clear the main shaft relieving each other
every few minutes. It is impossible to determine how far the
main shaft has caved in and it may be days before the shaft
is cleared and the total death list known.
There is little hope that any of the men in the mine are
Most of the victims are Slavs and Hungarians, although
Electrician Wilhelm is known to be among the missing.
Scene of Horror.
The camp is a scene of indescribable horror tonight.
While every able-bodied man is taking his turn with pick and
shovel to clear the shaft, the women and children, kept back
by ropes, have gathered about the shaft, weeping and calling
wildly upon their loved ones who have not been found.
Experts from all the coal companies of the state have
gathered to assist Superintendent Thompson. A. C. French,
superintendent of the Wollen mines, and J. E. Miley, mine
inspector, will head another rescue party as soon as
batteries for electric lighting arrive by special train.
Members of the rescue party say that the effect of the
explosion underground is indescribable. The bodies recovered
were horribly burned and unrecognizable. One body was
impaled on broken timbers.
Bodies Blown to Pieces.
At 10 o'clock last night 15 bodies were recovered from
one of the main slopes. The bodies were literally blown to
pieces and were unrecognizable.
A special train carrying six physicians and Coroner
Gilfoyle arrived at 9:45.
Officials of the company state the disaster is the worst
in the history of western mining. A similar explosion in
which 234 were killed occurred in the same property on
January 23, 1907. The bodies were not recovered for
The mine authorities telegraphed an order to Denver early
this morning for 80 coffins. One man only has been found
alive. He is badly injured and has not been identified.
February 1, 1910
RESCUERS GO 12,000 FEET INTO MINE WHERE HUNDRED MEN
Women Watching on Hillsides Disappointed as Last
Party Emerges Empty-Handed After Long Search in Wrecked
Stopes Filled with Afterdamp.
STARKVILLE, Col., Oct. 10.As darkness settled tonight
over the entrance to the Starkville mine, the hope that had
been entertained by the watchers at the pit mouth throughout
the day that some, at least, of those entombed would be
found alive grew faint and discouragement settled over the
This morning the expert miners at the head of the rescue
party were confident that a portion of the men might be
rescued. They hoped the portable fan forcing pure air into
workings would keep the men in the extreme southern portion
of the mine alive until they could be reached, but as the
rescue party stumbled slowly out of the slope tonight, one
glance at their weary, dust-grimed faces told the watchers
that hope was almost extinguished. After a day of arduous
work in the face of constant peril, the rescue party had
penetrated the mine nearly 12,000 feet, or within 900 feet
of the men imprisoned nearest the main entrance. Instead of
finding the mine clear of debris and afterdamp at this
point, the workings were found to be wrecked and poisonous
air was present in quantities.
Force of Explosion Great.
The leaders would not consent of the rescuers going
further. Ten thousand feet from the entrance the spot where
a fan had been operated before the explosion was badly
damaged. The fan was found torn to pieces and scattered
hundreds of feet. The 1200-pound motor had been thrown 50
feet and bent and broken. The party was compelled to stop
and make repairs. Considerable bratticing was done, and in
the meantime a dog which had accompanied the party wandered
aimlessly ahead. It was found later lying stretched upon the
floor, overcome by afterdamp.
When the rescue party resumed its journey inward it
branched off for a short distance and then took a southern
course toward the spot where the men were supposed to have
been working Saturday night. The dog's experience proved
valuable and reconnoitering parties of two or three men,
selected from the 16 forming the main party, were sent ahead
to test the air. These scouting parties reported afterdamp
was noticeable in more or less quantities in all of the
short cuts and also in the main slope. General Manager
Weitzel was then communicated with by portable telephone and
told the conditions. He ordered the men out of the mine
until the air could be improved.
Increase Air Circulation.
While the night shift was waiting to be sent inside, a
gang was also put to work installing a blower at the mouth
of the airshaft. This is an emergency measure to prevent the
sudden stoppage of air supply by the failure of the portable
fan. This was one of the dangers that threatened the rescue
men throughout the day.
All day long the hills facing the mine were dotted with
groups of women and children, relatives and friends of the
entombed men. With the appearance of each dust-begrimed
miner the women would press forward anxiously questioning
him for news. Mothers, unwilling to leave their children at
home, and many carrying babies, stood stolidly within sight
of the portal for hours.
Expect to Find Bodies Soon.
State Mine Inspector John G. Jones was the last of the
rescue party to come out. He said he felt sure that the
night shift would come upon bodies tonight. He explained
that the terrific force of the explosion, as indicated by
the damage, makes it almost certain that the men are
Report Seven Bodies Found.
Reports emanating from Trinidad tonight state that 13
bodies had been found late this afternoon and had been taken
to within several hundred feet of the portal of the new
stope and left until the crowds outside the mine had
The report had it that the plan is to bring out the
bodies after every one but company men has left the mine,
thereby preventing harrowing scenes customary on such
Although company officers deny that any bodies had yet
been found, they state that it is expected that by midnight
some would be located.
October 11, 1910
DEMANDING BUREAU OF MINES
Insistent Pressure to Be Brought Upon Congress
Official of United Mine Workers Severe in Criticism of
Methods at Cherry DisasterGreat Loss of Life.
CHICAGO, Jan. 8.Duncan McDonald, president of the United
Mine Workers of Illinois, who is here to take up the work of
compiling the evidence against the St. Paul Mining company
in the Cherry mine disaster, said tonight that when the
convention of the United Mine Workers of America convenes in
Indianapolis for a two weeks' session, beginning January 18,
steps will be taken to force the federal government to
establish a bureau of mines and make the mining laws of the
various states uniform.
The miners' president said the mining regulations would
be the principal thing taken up at the Indianapolis meeting,
and that if necessary political action would be taken to
defeat the lawmakers who refused to use their offices in
securing the passage of better laws.
McDonald declares that since the Cherry disaster the
members of both houses are making a great fuss over the
establishment of rescue stations and overlooking laws which
would protect the workers before they enter the mine.
McDonald is bitter in his denunciation of the rescue work
at the Cherry mine and says that if there had been a few
practical miners on the work instead of "book learned
theorists," as he terms the federal mining experts, there
would have been at least a dozen more men taken out of the
second vein alive.
Demands for Safety.
Some of the things that miners in convention will demand
are: That more practical miners be appointed as mine
inspectors; that all shafts shall not be less than 300 feet
from the main shaft and that all shafts be fire-proof; that
the examination of men who say they are miners be more rigid
and that the employers liability law and general
workingman's compensation law be enacted.
McDonald, in discussing the class of men who are sent
down in mines, said: "The miners of today are chosen as a
result of their cheapness, whether they are fit for the work
or not. If there had been a few more experienced miners in
the Cherry pit there would not be 210 dead bodies down there
now. The twenty-one who were saved owe their lives to one
old miner who was in the group."
Trees or Lives?
Attorney Seymour Stedman, counsel for the miners in the
Cherry disaster, produced some figures today which showed
that the United States is spending millions of dollars
yearly in research and experimenting with natural resources
while only $150,000 was expended for the benefit of miners,
who added $200,000,000 to the wealth of the country during
the last fiscal year.
"In the last 10 years 18,138 miners have been killed in
mine accidents," said Stedman today. "Is it more important
that the trees be saved from rotting or that these terrible
accidents be prevented?"
Stedman alleges that the state mining laws were violated
by the St. Paul Mining company. Some of the violations he
charges are: That there was no escapment shaft in the
meaning of the mining statute; that the men were not told
where the fire-fighting apparatus was located in the pit;
that kerosene and cheaper grades of oil were used instead of
animal or vegetable oils; that boys under the legal age, 16
years, were employed.
Duncan McDonald, when shown a table giving the loss of
life in American and European mines which will be presented
at the Indianapolis convention, said: "The table will be
much larger next year if the American people do not force
congress and the various legislatures to enact better mining
The loss of life in America is far greater than in most
countries as the tables demonstrate. North America's loss of
life per 1000 miners employed in 1907 was 4.17, Belgium, 1;
France, .91; Great Britain, 1.28; Prussia, 2.06.
January 9, 1910
"LABOR SUNDAY" PLAN PRESENTED
Invite Churches Once a Year to Give Special
to Wage Workers.
SOCIALISM IS COMING UP
This Week in American Federation Meeting Promises
some Lively Discussions.
TORONTO, Can., Nov. 13."Labor Sunday" is a suggestion
laid before the American Federation of Labor in a resolution
introduced today by Secretary Frank Morrison. The resolution
would designate the first Sunday in September of each year
as an occasion when the churches of America devote some part
of the day to a presentation of the labor question.
A resolution offered by the American Federation of
Musicians asks that the American Federation of Labor
petition congress to appoint a special committee to
investigate the methods employed by the steel industry.
Following the arrival from New York of John Spurge and
Robert Hunter, well-known workers in the socialists field,
Frank Hayes, a delegate of the United Mine Workers,
introduced a resolution declaring for the socialistic
The convention went on record in favor of securing an
extension of the eight-hour law to cover all government
The second week's session of the convention of the
American Federation of Labor, beginning Monday, will develop
the real work. This week's meetings have been largely
preparatory. The coming week, however, will open with the
discussion of the committee reports and then the real tossle
The law committee has completed its investigation of the
electrical workers fight and will report early. It is hinted
tonight that the "regulars" may not have all their demands
granted, though whether the "insurgents" will be placated
sufficiently to bring them back into the fold is
A bitter discussion is sure to follow the demand for an
investigation of the boot and shoe workers in granting the
union stamp to the Cass & Doley factory, at Salem,
Mass., when according to the United Shoe Workers' Union, an
outlaw organization, the wage discussion at the factory was
The features of today's sessions were the defeat of the
per capita tax for the strike defense fund and the adoption
of a resolution calling for American citizenship for Porto
Tonight most of the delegates attended a band concert in
Massey hall and for tomorrow Toronto's 170 churches have all
put in bids for the delegates. Many of the leaders left
tonight for neighboring towns to made addresses.
November 14, 1909
Loved ones remember mine victims
200 gather at memorial for Sunshine workers
By Susan Drumheller
OSBURN, Idaho - Miners who survived the Sunshine Mine
disaster 20 years ago and the loved ones of those who died
gathered at the Miners' Memorial near Big Creek Saturday to
remember May 2, 1972.
Almost 200 people attended the special service that
featured prayer, the ROTC color guard, speakers and
But many in attendance said they visit the bronze statue
memorial regularly to read over the 91 names of men who died
in the nation's worst mine disaster since 1917.
"We visit it two or three times a year," said 18-year-old
Greg Findley, whose father, Roger Findley, narrowly escaped
the silver mine that day. The teenager's uncle, Lyle
Findley, was not so fortunate, and became one of the 91
Roger Findley was only 19 and working 3,600 feet
underground when fire broke out in the mine.
Findley took a "skip," a mine elevator, to the 3,100-foot
level, where he offered to stay and count the number of
workers going up to the surface. Workers began collapsing
around him and Findley decided it was time to go.
"I had to step over a few bodies on the way out," he
said. Findley believes he was the last person to escape that
One skip operator died at the controls, while many men
waited below - trapped. Two trapped men found an air space
and stayed there until they were rescued eight days later.
They were the only men found alive in the mine.
Findley went back down on the fourth day to help retrieve
equipment while the fire still burned in the mine shafts.
But after that, he never returned underground.
Several workers went back into the smoky shafts to save
their co-workers, who in many cases were family members.
Some never returned.
It still pains Dorothy Johnson to think back on the day
she lost her husband to the mine.
"He pulled somebody out and went back in," she said,
fighting back tears at the memorial service. "He always
helped anyone he could. That's the kind of person he
May 3, 1992
Copyright 1992, The Spokesman Review
Used with permission of The Spokesman Review
Tammye Poulson hugs her daughter Nicki, 7, and tells
her about a friend who died in the Sunshine Mine accident 20
years ago. Poulson joined many others who gathered at a
memorial dedicated to those killed in the disaster.
Photo by: Jesse Tinsley
May 3, 1992
Copyright 1992, The Spokesman Review. Used with
permission of The Spokesman
January 15, 1910
Kathie Lee goes to war against the sweat shop
All the kidding aside about perky Kathie Lee Gifford and
her perky line of Wal-Mart clothes made in not-so-perky
child-labor sweat shops. Those sweat shop owners may have
crossed the wrong perky person. After discovering what was
going on, she has taken the bull by the horns and declared a
sincere, perky war on those creeps.
The comedians are having a field day with the discovery
that clothing made under the name of such a celebrated Goody
Two Shoes was being manufactured in grim places exploiting
their workers. But it's time to put the chuckles aside. A
bit of a victim herself in this matter, Gifford has blood in
her eye. She is determined to do something, not just about
the people making her line of clothing, but about all such
Because of Gifford, Labor Secretary Robert Reich has
called an industry summit meeting of retailers,
manufacturers and factory sponsors.
"All of us must demand that the industry accept the moral
responsibility for ending Third World working conditions in
the most prosperous nation on earth," Reich said. "Kathie
Lee Gifford and every other celebrity can protect their good
names by making sure they don't put it on sweatshop-made
Gifford pledged that she will work for change. However,
if she and her husband, football announcer Frank Gifford,
don't see sufficient reform, she insists she'll get out of
the clothing business.
If other American celebrities take the same standno
matter where the clothes and shoes they endorse are
manufactured it could do wonders for wages and working
conditions in that industry here and abroad.
Good for Kathie Lee Gifford. She's not only perky but
June 13, 1996
Bunker Hill men at risk from lead
By Cynthia Taggart
COEUR d'ALENEMen who worked in the Bunker Hill Mining
Co.'s lead smelter are far more likely to die of kidney
disease, cancer and strokes than other men their age, a
study by a national agency shows.
Deaths from kidney disease among 1,990 men who worked at
the smelter between 1940 and 1965 were four times higher
than expected based on U.S. death rates. Deaths from kidney
cancer were nearly double, and deaths from strokes were
one-and-a-half times higher than expected.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
conducted the health survey in 1985 and updated it in 1988.
The agency now is compiling the information in letter form
for the 800 or so workers still alive.
"We're notifying them based on their right to know," said
Linda Goldenhar, a doctorate-level behavioral scientist with
the agency. "We want to give them the information in a way
that's understandable, and we'll provide
But for most lead smelter workers, the information is
"I could've told them those results a long time ago,"
said retired smelter worker Pete Piekarski. "Why didn't they
do something about it when I was working there?"
Piekarski, who lives in Pinehurst, Idaho, spent 27 years
in the smelter. For 10 of those years, he said, he fought
Bunker to replace removed warning signs about the dangers of
lead. The company had removed the signs from the men's
changing room when it painted the room.
As a member of the smelter's safety committee in the
1970s, Piekarski said he tried to get NIOSH to do something
about the lead dust control.
"They'd run tests on people, but we could never get them
to do anything about the dust," he said. "They're just
covering their own rear ends now."
Piekarski didn't need NIOSH to tell him about the high
rate of kidney disease and strokes in smelter workers. He's
attended plenty of funerals since his retirement in 1978 and
has kidney problems himself.
"Friends have died of strokes. There's a high rate of
kidney failure among my friends, neighbors, acquaintances,"
he said. "You get hardened. We knew we were working in a
While the study won't do much more than warn former
smelter workers of their health risks, it could help future
Steve West, who is in charge of the state's environmental
health activities at the Bunker Hill Superfund site, said
scientists haven't known much about lead's dangerous health
effects until recently.
"As we learn more, people can adjust their practices to
incorporate the new knowledge," he said.
Barbara Miller, director of the Silver Valley People's
Action Coalition, said she hopes the NIOSH study will help
loosen the purse strings of federal agencies. Her group has
fought for years for money to help families poisoned by lead
from the smelter get medical help.
"If people could get help instead of waiting until
they're actually dying, it would be nice," she said. "I
think the study will make a difference. It goes hand in hand
with why we have the cleanup: Toxic waste has ruined
For the NIOSH study, researchers examined the personnel
records of nearly 2,000 smelter workers. They also looked at
Social Security records and the National Death Index,
The workers were not contacted and did not undergo any
medical exams for the study. Of the 1,028 workers who died
by the time of the study, nine died from kidney cancer, four
from kidney disease and 26 from strokes. Other cancers,
heart disease, lung disease and accidents claimed the
Forty men died from lung disease twice the expected
number. But most of those men also worked in underground
mines. NIOSH blames the deaths on the mining rather than
The study found that death from strokes was more common
in men who had been exposed to lead over a long
timetypically more than 20 years.
Piekarski said he watched many friends work in the
smelter until retirement at 65 and die within a year or two.
He retired at 61.
"The older they got, the less their bodies could handle
it," he said. "I retired early and I'm still alive 16 years
Steve Brown, the valley's representative to the United
Steelworkers Union, said he expects workers to take their
warning letters from NIOSH to their doctors and lawyers.
The smelter workers are covered by health insurance now,
but money could run out at any time. The company that owned
the site Pintlar Corp., the Kellogg subsidiary of Gulf USA
Corp.is in bankruptcy.
"The federal government subsidized the development of
lead, silver and zinc for about 20 years," Brown said.
"Maybe there's some liability there. I don't know whether
anyone can be held accountable."
May 21, 1994
Copyright 1994, The Spokesman Review
Used with permission of The Spokesman Review
May 31, 1996
A new study highlights the economic dilemma facing
many Spokane residents, Frank Bartel says.
Paltry wages, higher living costs drive up poverty
levels in Spokane
As a percentage of total jobs, Spokane employment in
manufacturing, which pays way higher wages and better
benefits than other job sectors, lags behind the rest of the
nation by nearly a third.
But even in manufacturing, wages in Spokane fall far
below state and national industry averages.
Not surprisingly then, family and per capita income are
way below the state and the country as a whole.
What is surprising to outside observers is that,
considering the poor pay and worker benefits fare still
worse by comparison, anecdotal evidence suggests Spokane is
an expensive place to live. Living costs exceed the national
average by 7 percent.
Is it any wonder poverty and welfare rates in Spokane run
about double the rate for the state and far above the rest
This is the shocking picture of poor jobs, low wages,
scant benefits and widespread poverty sketched in
preliminary findings of a new economic study by national
The Pace Group of Tupelo, Miss., is conducting the
research for the Spokane Area Economic Development Council.
The EDC wants to know how it can better organize its efforts
to recruit employers who pay higher wages and more benefits.
Or at least a paycheck and benefits which beat welfare,
which so much work here doesn't.
That's not a statement of opinion.
It's an irrefutable fact.
And there is growing recognition that the business
community must change this equation, if the community is to
succeed and prosper in the future. Worker wages can be swept
under the rug only so long before economic and business
John Lovorn, chief executive of The Pace Group, is
scheduled to present a peek at preliminary results of
research at the EDC's semi-annual meeting today. I don't
know what he'll say.
This column is based on a written "interim report" by the
consulting group's on-the-spot researcher. Senior Vice
President Steve Jenkins characterizes his conclusions as
"initial subjective analysis" of a first round of interviews
and data gathering.
The final objective is to target the kinds of industries
and companies that will thrive and pay their workers well in
Spokane. Then the EDC will set out to get these valuable
companies to come, rather than continuing the present
scattershot approach to growth.
Jenkins says flat out what many have been trying to
ignore for years: The Spokane workforce is
Here's the evidence in terms of median household income,
followed by per capita income:
Spokane $22,192 and $12,375.
Washington $31,183 and $14,923.
Northwest $27,897 and $13,266.
West $32,270 and $15,245.
United States $30,270 and $14,420.
"Spokane lags far behind the state, the region and the
nation relative to incomes, thus reflecting some of the
causes for the community's poverty levels," says
"Spokane also experiences one of the highest levels of
households on public assistance. Eleven percent of Spokane's
households receive some form of public assistance compared
with 6.7 for the state."
In some cities, says Jenkins, "Lower incomes may be
tempered by lower costs of living. In Spokane, this is not
the case. Recent cost of living data from the American
Chamber of Commerce Research Association indicates that
Spokane is a moderate to high cost community in which to
live." Overall, living costs here are 106.7 percent of the
Spokane has just 13.8 percent of its work force employed
in manufacturing, vs. 18.6 for the state and 19.6 for the
nation. We beat the state and nation in employment in
low-wage job sectors such as retail and services.
Even then, retailing and services tend to pay less here
than elsewhere, probably, I surmise, because the low-income
job poolsuppresses wage levels and benefits.
Even in a top paying sector such as manufacturing,
Spokane pay is subpar $28,334 vs. the state average of
$34,280 and U.S. average of $32,103.
"Retail trade and services, with (higher paying) health
services factored out, represent 45 percent of the
employment in Spokane, with a combined average annual wage
of $13,918!" (Exclamation point his.)
But it is Spokane's poverty statistics that are most
In Spokane, the figures for families living below the
poverty level are 12.5 percent vs. just 7.8 percent for the
state as a whole, 8.7 percent for the Northwest, 9.3 percent
in the West, and 10 percent in the nation.
Researcher Jenkins sums up, "Spokane exceeds the poverty
levels for families, persons and children in comparison with
the state, the Northwest, the West and the nation."
July 26, 1995
Copyright 1995, The Spokesman Review
Used with permission of The Spokesman Review
'Work, or else' policy could restore the American
way, says Frank Bartel
Livable minimum wage could help eliminate the
The poverty rate in America is the highest in 10 years. A
recent report shows a wider gap between the rich and poor
than in any other industrialized nation.
"People are working harder and not making it," laments
U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich. "There are growing
legions of working poor in this country."
In Spokane, the 3rd Legislative District has the highest
welfare rate in the state.
In the nation's capital, Washington Post columnist David
Broder decries "compensation policies that have enriched the
top percent of Americans mightily in the last 20 years,
while the earnings of most working class and middle class
workers have stagnated or declined."
Growing numbers of Americans work two or three jobs.
Others turn to welfare. It pays better.
At the same time, Secretary Reich observes, "We are
engaged in a great debate of how to get people off welfare
and into work. And Americans are starting to disbelieve the
What to do?
The consensus is that expanded education and retraining
will enable the nation's work force to compete more
effectively for better-paying jobs in the global economy.
But this is long term.
In the meantime, says labor's Reich, "We've got to raise
the minimum wage. Not by $10 an hour. By 90 cents over two
years. From $4.25 to $5.15."
But the extra pennies hardly seem sufficient to lift
working families stuck on the bottom rung of the pay scale
out of poverty or liberate unwed mothers from the stubborn
clutches of the welfare system.
A better solution, it seems obvious, would be to rise the
minimum wage to a truly livable level that enables everyone
capable of working to earn enough for all their needs.
That includes health care. Child care. Shelter. And the
many other family services now available through endless
social programs so costly to taxpayers and destructive of
the human spirit that the damage to the fabric of American
society is beyond estimation.
Even so, any suggestion of a truly livable minimum wage
will be viewed as unpatriotic, anti-business, and obscene by
defenders of the existing convoluted and wasteful system of
tax collection and wealth redistribution.
Public employees unions, government officialdom and the
National Federal of Independent Businesses lobby will
automatically protest it can't be done. Could it be their
mutual interests are best served by an unskilled labor force
cast into perpetual bondage by low-paying jobs and a giant
web of grossly cost-inefficient programs?
Granted, adapting to a livable minimum wage would be
scary and extremely challenging. It very well may be
impossible. Or impractical.
But maybe not.
On the surface at least, the idea embodies exciting
potential for reversing America's economic and social
decline. In concept, a livable minimum wage could:
· Cut government down to size.
· Put everyone back to work.
· Curb socialism creep.
· Strengthen and reward the private enterprise
· Renew the work ethic.
· And require a best effort by all Americans to earn
their keep instead of living off others and resenting those
who work harder and smarter.
The savings to businesses and taxpayers of slashing
traditional social services to the bond should easily
outweigh the costs.
Entry-level wage minimums could be lower so that
beginning workers are required to gain experience and earn
their spurs in the workplace.
Similarly, levels of minimum pay might be pegged to
classroom training, thus rewarding and encouraging the
pursuit of education and skills.
Any unable to secure employment in the private sector
would be found work in the public sector running a computer,
sweeping the floor, or mowing the grass for taxpayers.
The goal would be elimination of the dole, except for a
relative few medically determined unable to work. Otherwise,
no exceptions. Work, or else.
Drastic steps, yes, but the present uncaring manner in
which America treats its disenfranchised, most of whom truly
do want to work if they can make a living at it, is an
Earning a living wage used to be the American way of
life. Restoring it might be worth a shot.
July 9, 1995
Copyright 1995, The Spokesman Review
Used with permission of The Spokesman Review
Council president proposes
By Sherry Jones
of the Missoulian
Companies who get tax breaks or other financial help from
the City of Missoula should have to pay their employees at
least $7.50 an hour, City Council President Craig Sweet
That's the federal poverty level wage for a family of
four, and it's the minimum wage businesses getting city
assistance or landing city contracts might have to pay under
a "living wage" ordinance making the rounds at City
"It's mostly aimed at people who are coming to the city,
asking for something from the city," Sweet said. "We are
talking about paying somebody a poverty-level wage."
Sweet's proposal, in tentative draft form, is patterned
after a similar ordinance under consideration in St. Paul,
Minn., he said. According to New Party national organizer
Dan Cantor, St. Paul is one of a growing number of cities
with living-wage laws either on the books or being
"It's a deeply popular issue," Cantor said. "All but the
most conservative or mean-spirited think people deserve a
The New Party, an organization committed to progressive
issues and political candidates, endorses the living wage
concept, Cantor said. Organized labor, too, is working to
get living wage ordinances adopted across the U.S., he
Milwaukee and Baltimore are the largest cities with
living wage ordinances, he said.
The issue sparks controversy wherever it's raised and
rankles chambers of commerce in particular, Cantor said.
That's because living-wage ordinances hurt the very
people they're purported to help, said Mary Jo Paque,
director of government affairs for the Metropolitan
Milwaukee Association of Commerce. The ordinance is too new
for her to gauge its effects, she said, but she doesn't
think it will bode well for Milwaukee.
"The argument is being made that it's for the good of the
lowest paid workers," she said, "that it'll help them get a
decent wage. It's being sold as a benefit for the very
"It's being portrayed in a deceptive manner."
But Paque suspects many businesses contracting with the
city will have to lay off workers because of the
What's more, she said, those that do raise their wages
will pass along those costs by charging more for their goods
and services. That could mean higher taxes to foot those
bills, she said.
"Somebody's got to pay for it," Paque said.
The Missoula Chamber of Commerce, which hasn't been given
a copy of the ordinance yet, no doubt will have similar
arguments, Sweet predicted.
"They're going to make it to be the big horror of
horrors," he said. "They're opposed to raising the minimum
wage. I can't think of anything more un-Christian than to
pay a sub-poverty wage. It's a joke. It's a greed factor for
some of these people."
Sweet, a small business owner who is a member of the New
Party, pays his three part-time employees $6.50 an hour -
more than the $4.25 minimum but less than the proposed
"living wage." One of his workers may become a full-timer,
he said; if so, she "would easily make a living wage."
The city's budget shows all full-time employees earn at
least the living wage, but some part-timers are paid a lower
The Missoulian's lowest wage is $5 an hour.
Sweet's draft ordinance would require employers with
contracts, tax breaks, revenue bonds or other city
assistance worth $10,000 or more to pay the living wage to
their workers. Some tinkering is likely before the document
appears before a council committee, he said. Nonprofit
agencies might be exempt, for instance, as might seasonal
Even under the draft ordinance, though, few businesses
would be adversely affected, Sweet asserted.
"I would imagine the people we contract with, the bulk of
them pay a living wage," he said.
June 7, 1996
Governor Steunenberg's memorial faces the Idaho
Photo by Gary Richardson
Memorial to Frank Steunenberg, former Idaho
governor and union member, who was assassinated during
Idaho's "mining wars". The statue stands in front of the
Idaho state Capitol building.