Subversive Historian – 06/03/09

The Iron Range Strike

Back in the day on June 3rd, 1916 the Iron Range Strike in Minnesota gained momentum when forty miners walked off the job. The largely unorganized European immigrant workers in the iron-rich mines of Mesabi were tired of the poor wages and long hours offered by employers like the Oliver Iron Mining Company. Unlike the previous strike in Mesabi in 1907, the striking workers this time were not assisted in their efforts by the Western Federation of Miners. Looking for help, they soon turned to the Industrial Workers of the World. Wobbly leader Big Bill Haywood, drew up a list of demands in the labor dispute of the miners that called for better pay, an 8-hour day, and the abolition of contract labor. The Duluth New Tribune maligned the involvement of the Wobblies writing, “the I.W.W. is not a labor union and the condition faced on the range is not a labor strike. What is faced on the ranges and threatened in Duluth is revolution, just that and nothing less.”

With that kind of a mindset, private mine guards were employed to violently repress the striking workers and as a result the strike was called off by mid-September.

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