The Industrial Workers of the World—or “Wobblies,” as they were known—included legendary figures from U.S. labor history. Joe Hill, “Big Bill” Haywood, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn have become a part of American popular folklore. In this book, author Eric T. Chester shows just how dynamic a force the IWW was during its heyday during World War I, and how determined the federal government was to crush this union—a campaign of repression that remains unique in U.S. history. This work utilizes a wide array of archival sources, many of them never used before, thereby giving readers a clearer view and better understanding of what actually happened.
The book leads with an examination of the three key events in the history of the IWW: the Wheatfield, CA, confrontation; the Bisbee, AZ, deportation; and the strike of copper miners in Butte, MT. The second part of the book deconstructs the IWW’s responses to World War I, the coordinated attack by the federal government upon the union, and how the union unraveled under this attack.
- Offers an accurate portrayal of the Wobblies as a group of dedicated radicals who viewed workplace organizing as one aspect of a broader movement to bring about fundamental social change
- Presents information drawn from a wide range of documents held in the National Archives that were kept closed to the public for many decades after the World War I era
- Provides a unique case study of the profound impact that World War I had on those who remained at home and how the federal government stifled dissent to quell popular discontent
- Represents the only modern, in-depth, and scholarly examination of the IWW in its heyday