Duluth IWW editorial from 1913

Men outside IWW headquarters in Duluth
Men outside IWW headquarters in Duluth

An 1913 editorial from the Industrial Worker on a dockworkers strike on Duluth, Minnesota.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on June 3, 2012

While doing research for a school project, I came across an archived collection of the Industrial Worker in the basement of Wilson Library at the University of Minnesota. The microfilm collection dates from 1905 to around 1945, with some selected years missing (mostly from the years when the IWW was most suppressed). I have since spent hours down in that basement reading articles about our union, and I have been surprised to find how relevant so many of these topics are to us today. I think it is important to share these stories from our union’s past. While it is necessary for us to look forward to the future, we cannot neglect to remember the struggles and celebrations of our fellow workers in history.

This editorial from 1913 attacks the capitalist press in Duluth for their biased coverage of the Dockworkers’ strike. The workers were striking for safety equipment following the death of two ore-handlers, who were crushed by machinery on the job. Over 500 workers participated in the strike.

-Grace Parker

Thursday, August 21, 1913

The strike of dockworkers and ore handlers in Duluth has so riled the mental prostitutes of the master class that these so-called editors of Free and Independent papers are beside themselves with rage and are spending tons of ink and miles of paper in their frenzied effort to stop the growth of the Industrial Union among the ore workers. The following is a small part of a lengthy editorial which appeared in the Duluth News-Tribune:

“No greater calamity can come to any community than to have the I.W.W. fastened upon it. It should be fought with every peaceful weapon. It should be met with counter appeals, with the wisdom of common sense and should not have a monopoly of either the street or ball as a debating ground.

Men are all by nature honest, inherently none want in moral sense and what is right and honest will prevail when the issue is squarely presented and courageously, frankly and openly presented.”

Who ever heard of a capitalist or any of their agents fighting any one who got in their way with “Peaceful Weapons”? It was a “peaceful weapon” used when a bunch of steel trust thugs captured Fellow Worker Frank Little and hid him away under guard in a farm house 35 miles from town. It is “peaceful weapons” that are being used in the clubbing of harvest hands in Minot and other places because they refuse to be gulled in by some more mental prostitutes who are offering on paper free rides about the city, ice cream guzzles, dances and bands of music, etc. All this for slaves who are wanted to work for their board. It was “peaceful weapons” that the masters used against the I.W.W. in San Diego, Fresno, Spokane and a thousand other places. Bah! It’s to laugh. Peaceful Hell! No capitalist believes in peaceful methods. He believes in any method that will save his ill-gotten gains. He believes in any method that will close the mouth of the worker who insists on telling his fellow workers of the injustice of capitalism and shows them the way to organize so that some day they may come into their own.

“Men are all by nature honest.” What rot is this? The babies are honest because they are not old enough to steal and scheme and live from the toil of others. What cares the downtrodden slave whether some capitalist was born honest or a criminal? We know we are up against a criminal system that starves the workers, debauches the home and throws the child into the factory that profits may be wrung from its little hide. No one wants a monopoly of the street or the halls and we are here to say to this mental prostitute that he would last about as long as a snowball in hell anytime an I.W.W. meets him squarely to his face before the working class of Duluth or any other slave pen. The mental prostitute that penned the above is the hired slave who peddles the “Peace” talk while his cohorts are out with bludgeons, beating the workers to death because they dare to rebel against the rule of the master class of so-called FREE AMERICA. It’s a joke! Cut it out!

Originally posted: April 15, 2012 at The Organizer