‘Vincent St. John in Chicago’ from the Industrial Union Bulletin. Vol. 1 No. 23. August 3, 1907.

‘Vincent St. John in Chicago’ from the Industrial Union Bulletin. Vol. 1 No. 23. August 3, 1907.

The announcement that Vincent St. John would speak in Uhlich’s Hall, Chicago, last Saturday night, drew together a large crowd anxious to hear, but owing to his not being able to reach the city before Sunday morning, they were for the time being disappointed. In his absence, the Saturday night gathering was addressed by General Secretary Trautmann on the form of organization and principles of the Industrial Workers of the World. This meeting was presided over by Henry Jager. On Sunday afternoon, at 2:30, Uhlich’s Hall was comfortably filled. The chairman, A.S. Edwards, referred to the verdict rendered in the trial of Wm. D. Haywood and presented the following message, which, amid enthusiastic cheers, was ordered sent to Boise, Idaho:

“July 28, 1907. Wm. D. Haywood, Boise, Idaho:

“Meeting of Chicago workingmen and working women, under auspices of the I.W.W., and addressed by Vincent St. John, this afternoon, in Uhlich’s Hall, where, on March 13, 1906, the first Moyer-Haywood conference was held to protest and take concerted action in the matter of your arrest, sends greetings and congratulations on your complete vindication and escape from a foul conspiracy of the capitalists of Colorado and Idaho.”

The chairman then briefly referred to the coming labor congress at Stuttgart, Germany, stating that the rank and file of the I.W.W. had elected Fellow Worker St. John as their delegate to that congress. Owing to the fact, however, that St. John was under bonds of $10,000 in connection with the trouble arising out of the struggle at Goldfield, and the refusal of the state’s officers to consent to his leaving the country (although they were willing to let him go scot free provided he would leave the state and never return, which he declined to do), it would be impossible for him to go. His place would be filled by Fred W. Heslewood, who had received the second largest number of votes.

Vincent St. John was then called upon, and spoke for nearly two hours. He expressed great pleasure in being able to join in celebrating the release of Wm. D. Haywood, and immediately took up a discussion of the principles of the I.W.W., showing that if the A.F. of L. correctly represented the working class there would be no need of the I.W.W., or any other labor organization. The I.W.W. is opposed to the policy of the A.F. of L., which claimed there was an identity of interest between the employer and the employe. The I.W.W. was also opposed to the form of organization of the A.F. of L. on craft lines in special operations of industry. Still further is the I.W.W. opposed to the A.F. of L. for its justification of the “sacred contract,” the allowing of working people who perform different operations in different industries and enter into contracts irrespective of the interests of their fellow workers in other operations of the same industry.

Bitter experience had shown that the officials of the A.F. of L. took advantage of the craft form of organization in order to betray the workers to the employers. St. John showed that because the United Brewery Workers refused to allow themselves to be divided up into crafts, they were compelled not only to fight the employers, but also the paid agents of the A.F. of L.

Referring to the recent trouble in Goldfield, Nevada, the speaker said the agents of the A.F. of L. were placed squarely before the working class as the paid agents of the capitalist class. Profiting by the experience of the past, an attempt was made to build an organization that would withstand the assaults of the employers. They had organized under the W.F. of M. and the I.W.W. The camp was organized from one end to the other, but the employers were not asleep and the usual efforts to combat the workers were begun. The Tonopah Sun was especially chosen to slander the organization. The paper was placed on the unfair list and the mine owners responded with a lockout, giving the men to understand that as soon as they withdrew the boycott the mines would reopen.

Uhlich’s Hall, center left, was a fixture of working class Chicago and home to meetings of Debs’ ARU, the American Labor Union, and many I.W.W. gatherings.

The mine owners reasoned that the I.W.W. was the more radical organization and traced every step of progress that had been made to them. They used the carpenters’ union of the A.F. of L. to precipitate trouble. The carpenters’ union was officered by contracting carpenters and was a pliant tool. St. John then rapidly passed in review the conspiracy as he had already written it for The Bulletin. He showed how M. Grant Hamilton, an organizer of the A.F. of L., was called in and given the use of the rooms of the swell club of Goldfield, the meeting place of all the parasites that infest the mining camp. Hamilton’s meetings at first were open, but afterwards became select, and the men who dared to open their mouths or to question anything said by the capitalist agent in the employ of the A.F. of L were thrown out.

Lesser “lights” followed Hamilton to the number of a score, but in spite of all they could do there was no result to show that benefited the workers. Industry workers, who under the I.W.W regime, received $4.50 per day, dropped down to $3.

“The Industrial Workers of the World recognizes that there is no middle ground m this conflict, and is going ahead on the principles it has espoused until it is able to overthrow the cause of the class struggle. If there is an identity of interest between the employer and the employed, then a labor organization has no right to exist. The fact of there being; an identity of interest would make It necessary for both employer and employed to be in one organization, and we better all join the Civic Federation and have done with it. The principle on which the A.F of L. was founded fits it to be an essential part of the Civic Federation. In spite of all the obstacles that were put in the way of the I.W.W and the slanders that are continually circulated against it, this organization is forging ahead. It is not teaching that we can get a glorious social system for our children or for our grandchildren, but that by working together we can get what we want for ourselves. Being now relieved of the demands made to satisfy the hungry maw of lawyers, the workers can give more their time and means to propagate the doctrines of the I.W.W. The future calls for courage and determination, and the victory of our class is in sight in our time.”

The Industrial Union Bulletin, and the Industrial Worker were newspapers published by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) from 1907 until 1913. First printed in Joliet, Illinois, IUB incorporated The Voice of Labor, the newspaper of the American Labor Union which had joined the IWW, and another IWW affiliate, International Metal Worker.The Trautmann-DeLeon faction issued its weekly from March 1907. Soon after, De Leon would be expelled and Trautmann would continue IUB until March 1909. It was edited by A. S. Edwards. 1909, production moved to Spokane, Washington and became The Industrial Worker, “the voice of revolutionary industrial unionism.”

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/industrialworker/iub/v1n23-aug-03-1907-iub.pdf

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