Franklin Henry Little (1878–1917), an organizer for the Western Federation of Miners and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), fought in some of the early twentieth century’s most contentious labor and free-speech struggles. Following his lynching in Butte, Montana, his life and legacy became shrouded in tragedy and family secrets. In Frank Little and the IWW, author Jane Little Botkin chronicles her great-granduncle’s fascinating life and reveals its connections to the history of American labor and the first Red Scare. Beginning with Little’s childhood in Missouri and territorial Oklahoma, Botkin recounts his evolution as a renowned organizer and agitator on behalf of workers in corporate agriculture, oil, logging, and mining. Frank Little traveled the West and Midwest to gather workers beneath the banner of the Wobblies (as IWW members were known), making soapbox speeches on city street corners, organizing strikes, and writing polemics against unfair labor practices. His brother and sister-in-law also joined the fight for labor, but it was Frank who led the charge—and who was regularly threatened, incarcerated, and assaulted for his efforts. In his final battles in Arizona and Montana, Botkin shows, Little and the IWW leadership faced their strongest opponent yet as powerful copper magnates countered union efforts with deep-laid networks of spies and gunmen, an antilabor press, and local vigilantes. For a time, Frank Little’s murder became a rallying cry for the IWW. But after the United States entered the Great War and Congress passed the Sedition Act (1918) to ensure support for the war effort, many politicians and corporations used the act to target labor “radicals,” squelch dissent, and inspire vigilantism. Like other wage-working families smeared with the traitor label, the Little family endured raids, arrests, and indictments in IWW trials. Having scoured the West for firsthand sources in family, library, and museum collections, Botkin melds the personal narrative of an American family with the story of the labor movements that once shook the nation to its core. In doing so, she throws into sharp relief the lingering consequences of political repression.
To celebrate the centenary of the most radical union in North America - The Industrial Workers of the World - this collection examines radical economics and the labor movement in the 20th Century. The union advocates direct action to raise wages and increase job control, and it envisions the eventual abolition of capitalism and the wage system through the general strike. The contributors to this volume speak both to economists and to those in the labor movement, and point to fruitful ways in which these radical heterodox traditions have engaged and continue to engage each other and with the labor movement. In view of the current crisis of organized labor and the beleaguered state of the working class—phenomena which are global in scope—the book is both timely and important. Representing a significant contribution to the non-mainstream literature on labor economics, the book reactivates a marginalized analytical tradition which can shed a great deal of light on the origins and evolution of the difficulties confronting workers throughout the world. This volume will be of most interest to students and scholars of heterodox economics, those involved with or researching The Industrial Workers of the World, as well as anyone interested in the more radical side of unions, anarchism and labor organizations in an economic context.
Millions of Americans enjoy liberties off and on the job that were pioneered by a working class organization that few of them are familiar with--the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). The standard of living for most working Americans was grim when the IWW was founded in 1905. Wages were low, housing squalid, civil liberties limited, safety regulations nonexistent, and job security tenuous. Employers routinely denied their workers the right to unionize, much less to strike or picket. Few major labor disputes ended without death playing a hand. In Solidarity Forever, a score of IWWs tell how they fought against these injustices while advocating a new economic system in which production would be geared for the public good rather than for private profit. They speak at length of the life and culture of a modern working class during its formative years, often touching on historic labor struggles as well as more humble local conflicts. Told with vigor and humor, these first-hand accounts attest to the IWW passion for mass education, popular culture, and grass roots democracy, and they reveal an IWW far more ideologically sophisticated than is generally acknowledged. Historical essays preface these personal stories and place them in the context of the IWW commitment to civil liberties, women's rights, organizing the unorganized, and racial equality. An oral history based on interviews done for the award-winning documentary, The Wobblies, by filmmakers Stewart Bird and academy-award-winning director Deborah Shaffer, with historical introductions to each section of interviews by labor historian Dan Georgakas, co-editor of the monumental Encyclopedia of the American Left.
The history of the I.W.W. from 1917 to 1931, supplementing and continuing the history written by P. F. Brissenden and published in 1919 under title, "The I.W.W., a study of American syndicalism." cf. Pref., p. 5.
One of the best and move informative books concerning the IWW. First published in London in 1930, this is, astonishingly, the first American edition. Soapboxer, writer, poet, agitator, and publicist, the British-born Ashleigh was active in the IWW from 1912 until his deportation 9 years later. As a first-hand account of the Wobbly way of life in the 1910s, The Rambling Kid was few equals. "Charles Ashleigh's semi-autobiographical novel fills a void in the record of the events that led to the federal government's brutal attempts to suppress the 'One Big Union' during World War 1. Ashleigh's characters ride alongside IWW job delegates, bindle-stiffs, and gandy dancers as they crisscross the country hopping freight trains en route to jobs and strikes and everything in between. .....an intimate glimpse into pre-World War 1 workers' culture on the eve of the Russian Revolution. Steve Kellerman's superb introduction provides the critical and biographical context for understanding the importance of Ashleigh's work and the historical forces that produced The Rambling Kid" [Salvatore Salerno]