‘News From Lumber Workers’ Strike’ by John Martin from The International Socialist Review. Vol. 18 No 3. September, 1917.
THE general strike in the Lumber Industry as called by the L.W.I.U., No. 500, of the I.W.W. has spread practically to every camp and mill of the entire northwest. Not a wheel is turning, no more is to be heard the sound of the woodman’s axe. Quiet reigns all over.
At the General Convention of the L.W.I.U. held in Spokane last spring it was decided to call a strike in the latter part of the summer, so as to obtain better working conditions thruout the Lumbering Industry. But things were so unbearable that they forced the men out on strike before they really intended to go. Out of the woods and mills they came by the thousands, determined that they would not return until their demands, an eight-hour day with no reduction in pay, were granted. And today these sturdy sons of the forests stand as a solid wall, which the lumber barons are unable to break down. Many brutal methods by the authorities have been used against them. Many of our members have been jailed, and are now being held in bull-pens and stockades, incommunicado, thruout the country, and are being treated like they are a bunch of wild animals.
In many instances lawyers have been refused by town authorities to see those in prison. At Klamath Falls, Oregon, the lawyer sent there by the organization to look after the men in jail, was deported out of town at the point of a gun after he was told by the gunmen that they would hang half of the men in jail and throw the rest of them in the river. Many of our halls have been raided, literature and supplies stolen by the tools of the lumber companies. On several occasions our delegates have been arrested by soldiers and their supplies taken away from them, and inquiries to United States attorneys in regards to returning these supplies do not even meet with a reply, but with all their dirty tactics and high-handed methods, they have not been able to break the strike.
The solidarity displayed by the striking lumber workers is wonderful, and especially as hardly any organization existed among them up to last fall, when the delegates started to make the drive for members. The lumber workers, recalling the hard times existing in previous years and the need of organization, joined by the score, and today they control the situation of the biggest strike ever called in the Lumber Industry. Wherever you go you will meet the wobbly picket. He is on the job day and night, always on the lookout for scabs, but very few have the lumber barons been able to get so far. The lumber jacks and mill workers realize more and more that “An injury to one is an injury to all,” and are staying away from the camps and mills.
The situation in general looks very promising. Idaho has been the storm center, and it is the most solidly organized section of the strike area. The Governor of Idaho has practically admitted that he has failed to break the strike, and that the only thing left to do is to get the men back to work. He wants to arrange a conference with our “leaders,” and he has been informed that there are about fifty thousand leaders in this strike. The Organization Committee in Spokane told him that every hall that has been closed will have to be opened again, every picket who has been arrested will have to be released, our demands granted, our right to organize respected, and a stop put to the Cossack-like tactics of “Officers of the Law” who have grown so arrogant that a Russian secret service man of the Czar’s regime would be lost in admiration of them. There will no doubt be a conference of lumber barons to consider the proposition before long, and they may try to run a bluff on us. But anyone with half an eye can see that we have them in the hollow of our hands. All we have to do now is to “HOLD THE FORT,” and the victory will be ours.
Many of these pickets have been arrested for no reason whatsoever. But a new squad appears on the job the next day, always realizing that we are in this fight to win, and win we will, if the outside workers give us a helping hand. Many of our members are married and have children. These rebel women and kids must be taken care of. Remember, if this strike is won it will mean one of the greatest victories for labor. Funds are urgently needed, so donate what- ever you can, and do it now. Send all funds to John Martin, Room 40, Union Black, Seattle, Washington.
The International Socialist Review (ISR) was published monthly in Chicago from 1900 until 1918 by Charles H. Kerr and critically loyal to the Socialist Party of America. It is one of the essential publications in U.S. left history. During the editorship of A.M. Simons it was largely theoretical and moderate. In 1908, Charles H. Kerr took over as editor with strong influence from Mary E Marcy. The magazine became the foremost proponent of the SP’s left wing growing to tens of thousands of subscribers. It remained revolutionary in outlook and anti-militarist during World War One. It liberally used photographs and images, with news, theory, arts and organizing in its pages. It articles, reports and essays are an invaluable record of the U.S. class struggle and the development of Marxism in the decades before the Soviet experience. It was closed down in government repression in 1918.
PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/isr/v18n03-sep-1917-ISR-riaz-ocr.pdf