STRIKE (DOC) by welcomegong2

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									                              Teacher Developed Activity, T-DA!
                                      Michelle Matson

Activity Name: Strike!
Grade Ban: 6-12
For use with lessons about: Mining in Minnesota, Labor Unions, Strikes
Time Needed: 2-3 class periods

Materials :
       Stage 1, 2, 3 documents – printed, cut apart, laminated (optional) 1 set for each 2-3
       Strike journals (students may also use normal notebook paper)
       Flag Football belts
       Bell (or something else to signal the stages of the simulation)

This activity is designed to help students understand the multiple perspectives of labor issues
on the Iron Range. Students will participate in a simulation of the Mesabi Range Strike during
the summer of 1916 in three stages of increasing labor unrest.

Essential question: How did the actions of the mine companies and the striking workers
escalate the discontent and violence during the Mesabi strike of 1916?

Outcomes :
   Students will be able to explain the motivation and goals of the striking mine workers.

        Students will be able to explain the actions taken by mining companies to discourage the
         formation of unions and to break the strike.

Activity steps:

         1. Pre-reading activity (students will participate in a “key point” activity). Using a
         general description of the strike timeline such as in “Workers Struggle for Recognition”
         (Handouts and Readings). During a key point activity students use the round robin
         reading strategy with a twist. If a student believes that the text has an important piece of
         information he/she shouts out “Key point!” Anyone can call out a key point and it is okay
         to interrupt the reader in this activity. The student repeats what was important to make a
         note of and why it is important. The teacher writes these notes on the board (making a
         large list). After the reading out loud is complete the class refines/combines/eliminates
         information from the list on the board. When this is complete, allow 10-15 minutes for
         the students to write down the notes. For longer reading excerpts, it may be helpful to
         provide students with a graphic organizer or category headings.

Minnesota Humanities Center                                                                         1
         2. Divide the class into two groups, one larger (representing the striking workers) and one
         smaller (representing the strike breakers). The teacher will be representing the mining
         company. After students have divided into their respective groups, the teacher (acting as
         Oliver Mining Company president) will make a general announcement on the conditions
         in the mining community. This sets the stage for the beginning of the conflict and helps
         the students to understand more about what has led to the tension on the Range.

         3. Distribute the first primary source packets to the students. In pairs, students should
         read through the documents and then discuss what this means for their “cause” (either
         strikers or strike breakers). The main points of their discussion, as well as individual
         reflection should be recorded in strike journal.

         4. This is when the simulation truly begins. The striking students need to try to go and
         discuss the situation and what actions need to be taken without arousing the suspicion of
         the strike breakers. This represents the early stages of the strike when unionist meetings
         were being broken up and there was a minor attempt at intimidation. While the striking
         students are attempting to communicate, the strike breaking students are walking around
         the room, trying to catch students talking or behaving in a „disruptive‟ manner. If
         union/labor agitator behavior is proven, groups of students can be broken up and word
         sent to the Oliver company president. Students will have time to reflect/observe in their

         5. The teacher distributes the second set of documents. The striking students now need to
         determine what their demands are going to be as a group (they can use the demands from
         previous reading or excerpt if needed). They then break into smaller groups to create
         union and pro-strike posters/pamphlets. They must be small so that they can be placed
         about the room without showing who is a “labor agitator” versus the average workers
         who are on strike. The students are then directed (through a secret message from leaders
         of the IWW) to begin a peaceful march as a show of worker solidarity. No violence must
         be used during the march because it would fuel ideas that the strikers are a threat to the
         mining towns. The strike breakers have been given orders from the mining company
         president – they are to remove any evidence of union activity. They have not yet been
         given authorization to use any form of violence, but they are able to use intimidation to
         try to break the march and the strike efforts. Students will have time to reflect/observe in
         their journals.

         6. The teacher distributes the third set of documents. The striking students read about the
         increased violence level of the strike breakers and decide how to retaliate. Their
         instructions have changed slightly; they are now instructed not to use violence unless
         they feel their lives are threatened. The strike breakers are given orders from the governor
         to use whatever means necessary to put down the strike. This will require the use of the
         flag football belts – each belt represents an injury (I don‟t like to get too specific about
         the injury because it changes the focus from the purpose of the two sides to the actions of
         a few). The striking students are instructed to hold a public march in honor of a killed
         worker, while the strike breakers are ordered to break up and arrest any participants in
         this action. After the march has devolved into a melee of sorts, the teacher calls „time‟ on

Minnesota Humanities Center                                                                           2
         the simulation. The class discusses the actions of groups and individuals with a focus on
         the essential question. Students will have time to reflect/observe in their journals.

Blackline masters: Journal (attached)
Handout: Stage 1, 2, 3 information packets - the source attachments are coded with numbers to
reflect this; all information is from bibliography sources. Sources are directly quoted or
paraphrased, though some have been labeled with fictitious newspaper names

Optional Handout: Use the Iron Range Research Center link for photographs to include in the

Background Information: (Excerpted from Iron Range Country)

 “In June, 1916, a miner [Joe Greeni] quit work at the St. James Mine near Aurora in anger over
a smaller paycheck than he had expected. The rest of the miners at the mine followed him; the
strike of 1916 had begun. Hoping to stop the strike from spreading, sheriff‟s deputies guarded all
the roads from Aurora, but a miner managed to evade the guards, running to Virginia to tell
fellow workers of the strike. Three days later the strike had spread to Biwabik, and the
International Workers of the World, or the IWW, began to assist in organizing the strikers.
Gaining momentum, the strike had paralyzed the entire range by June 15, 1916, closing the
mines, stopping the trains, and bringing the area to a standstill. Violence marred the strike. On
July 3, deputies went to the Chicago addition near Biwabik to arrest several men. A fight ensued
and a soda pop vendor who was walking across the yard was killed by a deputy. Every method
was used by the companies to stop the strike. At first, the sheriff brought in 800 deputies to guard
the mines and company property. IWW leaders were arrested on trumped-up charges in order to
have them sent from the range. Force could not kill the strike. For ninety days, the strikers, with
support from the IWW, held the companies in check. In the end the men went back to work and
the strike officially ended on September 16, 1916.”

Rubric/Assessment tool:
       The students keep a reflection journal of the three stages of the strike. It is up to
         teacher discretion if these journal entries should be structured with specific questions.
       The students use their reading, notes, and journals to write a newspaper editorial
         covering the whole three months of the strike. Students can choose to write in support
         or against either side of the strike.

Additional resources:
        Cothren, Marion. “When Strike-Breakers Strike: The Demands of the Miners on the
          Mesaba Range.” The Survey V36 (April 1916-September 1916): pp 535-536.
        “The Mining Strike in Minnesota.” The Outlook 30 August, 1916.
        Olila, Douglas, Jr. “Ethnic Radicalism and the 1916 Mesabi Range Strike.” Range
          History V3(N4): pp1-10.
        West, George. “The Strike of the Iron Miners of Minnesota.” United Mine
          Workers‟ Journal August, 1916: pp 12-14.
        Thompson, P., et all. “Iron Range Country.” Eveleth, Minnesota: The Iron Range
          Resources and Rehabilitation Board and the State of Minnesota, 1979.

Minnesota Humanities Center                                                                          3
                          United Mine Workers‟ Journal

    More than 1,000 men, according to Sheriff John R. Meining of
Duluth, have been deputized and armed with carbines, revolvers,
and riot sticks. Clothed by the sheriff with the state authority,
they have been placed in brutal and tyrannical control of a district
comprising at least 100 square miles and 75,000 people. The
slums of Duluth and other cities have been combed to recruit this
army of gunmen and Sheriff Meining admitted that he deputized
the company guards without investigating their records or
character. In fact, he specifically stated that some of the men
employed by the company and deputized by him “might possibly
be” men of the character suggested when the write told Sheriff
Meining that they looked like thugs.

                          United Mine Workers‟ Journal

     The principal towns on the Iron Range - a narrow strip of the
richest iron ore on the continent – are Hibbing with 15,000
people, Virginia with 15,000 people, and Chisholm with 9,000
people. Their mayors, with a majority of their councilmen, stand
squarely for the rights of the miners. Mayor Victor Power of
Hibbing, Mayor Michael Boylan of Virginia, Mayor E. E. Webber of
Chisholm, and officials of several lesser municipalities have done
all within their power as officials or as men to protest against the
mining companies. This protest even took the form of a resolution
adopted at a conference of officials of the range denouncing the
unfairness of Governor Burnquist‟s personal agent.

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                          United Mine Workers‟ Journal

     In what should have been the happiest, most prosperous
communities in the world, the steel corporation has precipitated
one of the most bitter, spontaneous, and unorganized industrial
revolts of recent history. It has done this by its policy of treating
the men like serfs, denying them any voice, herding them with
the aid of a permanent force of private police, and driving them
at top speed by a vicious piece rate system of payment. This
contract system leaves the door open for favoritism, injustice,
and the extortion of bribes by the scheming bosses who assign
favorable or unfavorable working places

                          United Mine Workers‟ Journal

These are the miners‟ demands
1. An eight-hour day.
2. A minimum wage of $3.00 in the underground mines, and 3.
$3.50 in the underground mines in wet places, and $2.75
   on the surface for eight-hours labor.
4. Abolishment of the contract labor system
5. Pay day twice a month

                          United Mine Workers‟ Journal

One miner, who asked that his name not be used, stated to the
reporter, “Pit bosses and foremen extract bribes for awarding
favorable ground in the mine to the men. Also, no miner gets a
working place where $3.00 per day or more can be earned unless
he has first won the good will of the shift boss or foreman.”
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                          United Mine Workers‟ Journal

     Says M. Shusterich, “Those fellows who are making $3.00
and $4.00, what do they do? I can bring proofs from the fellows
at Chisholm that any miner there who makes over $3.00 there,
he had to tip the captain. I know certain captains there – if
necessary I will name them and bring proofs – where they are
making tips of $5.00 and $10.00 from fellows. Any miner who is
working ten or fifteen years at contract – this speeding system –
I tell you if a miner makes up to $3.00 he works like a mule, and
all his power and everything in him pushed he can make $5.00 or
so. Then, if they see he makes more money they cut him down,
and he has to work harder. I challenge anybody to say that any
miner who works in these mines at contract for ten years is fit for
any labor after he gets to be thirty-five or forty years.”

                          United Mine Workers‟ Journal

     M. Stark states, “I am a miner for fourteen years. I have
eight children, seven living and one dead. I work now for the last
three years [in Chisholm]. I get $59.00 a month, $61.00, $62.00,
$63.00, $67.00, and up to $70.00 a month. I send four kids to
the school and the teacher would like to have the children
dressed and clean and everything like that. And the children go to
church, and the priest likes to see that the wife is dressed nice
like the American ladies, and the children dressed like the
American children. I like that too, but I can‟t.”

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                          United Mine Workers‟ Journal

    Matt Mattson states, “I worked in the mine thirteen years
around Virginia, all the time, any mine here. Last I worked as
Alpena. I want to say something about the contract system. You
get place to work on contract and make $2.00, and you make it
run up to $3.00, he [foreman] cuts [rate adjustment] you in the
middle of the month. A man can‟t work through the month, he
cuts [rate adjustment] him. You say something and the captain
says, „I can‟t help it. You make too much. If you don‟t like your
job – quit.‟”

                          United Mine Workers‟ Journal

    Fulvio Pettinello states, “I should tell her [his wife], „this
month don‟t order meat or anything. I only get $1.97 [a day].‟ I
should only pay rent of the house, insurance, and such things?
That month when I worked under contract and strike a bad place
we haven‟t enough to eat. I worked in some other places in
Alpena for $2.17. What do you think of that? Got $45.00 or
$50.00. I should have paid $12.00 for the rent of the house. I
should pay $5.00 or $6.00 for meat and $30.00 for a grocery bill.
What will be left? Nothing. If we eat, we don‟t dress. If we dress,
we don‟t eat. That is a fact.”

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                          United Mine Workers‟ Journal

    Peter Shragal states, “At the Bangor mine there are places
you wouldn‟t stay. I was working in a drift at the bottom level
where the water was this high [indicating three inches above the
knees] all day long. The water is coming down same as rain. I
have to have two or three coats and rubber boots, and three
hats, and then you get wet all through. They have to carry
timbers nearly a quarter of a mile under a place like this
[indicating the height of a table]. It isn‟t for a dog. But man have
to go long through it pulling timbers by his side for a quarter of a
mile. I have seen lots of these places.”

         30 June, 1916

         Sheriff Meining

         Arrest forthwith and take before Judge, preferably at Duluth, all
         persons who have participated in or are participating in riots in your
         county and make complaints against them

         Prevent further breaches of the peace, riots, and unlawful assemblies
         Use all your powers for the preservation of life and property

         Gov. Burnquist

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                              Virginia Tribune

22 July, 1916

  The governor accepted without question the word of the mining
companies that the law was being violated on the ranges by the
striking miners, that riot and bloodshed was rampant, and life
and property were in danger of destruction from the mob. The
governor made no effort, it appears, to determine the truth or
falsity of the statement made to him by the mining companies –
he acted blindly.
  Had the governor made a proper, or half proper, investigation
he would have learned that nearly all of the law violation that
followed the strike was that of the armed thugs employed by the
mining companies – or inspired by them.

Sheriff Meining,                                                      (2)

    There have been disturbing reports about the activities in towns along the
Mesabi Iron Range. This disruption of Oliver Mining Company business
cannot continue. The company is losing money rapidly, thus having a
negative effect on the state of Minnesota. It is your job to set those agitators in
their place and restore order. I have authorized you to use any means necessary
to accomplish this task. If there are suspicious groups of men anywhere, you are
authorized to search their pockets. You are authorized to enter into a home
without permission of the owner to search it. You are authorized to use force and
arrest to put down any resistance. Through these means, you will be able to get
those agitators who are causing such trouble in the region.

Gov. Burnquist

Minnesota Humanities Center                                                       9
7 July, 1916

Urgent Message!

I.W.W. organizers Carlo Tresca, Sam Scarlett, and Joseph Schmidt have been
arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of deputy
James Myron

Basis for the charges seems to be that the speeches given by the I.W.W.
incendiary and inciting violence

Witnesses to speeches state that organizers advised strikers not to use violence
unless the life of one of the strikers was taken by a guard

Advise strikers to proceed with caution

I.W.W. Strike Committee

June, 1916

Members of the Industrial Workers of the World will be arriving soon to help in your struggle
against the Oliver Mining Giant. Expect Carlo Tresca, Sam Scarlett, Frank Little, Joseph
Schmidt, Joseph Ettor, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn in the next couple of days. Please welcome
them and assist them in whatever they need to organize the strike.

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                              Duluth Courier       (1)
4 June, 1916

On the 2nd of July, miners at the St. James mine near Aurora, MN
walked off the job. This strike is spreading throughout the Iron
Range. If this wave of strikes continues it may cause the production
of iron or to slow or even come to a stop! This is no doubt due to
that vile group called the Industrial Workers of the World. They
have infiltrated local organizations and have spread inflammatory
propaganda among the workers. Thus the workers have been driven
to leave the jobs that support their families by a group that
promotes the downfall of American businesses. This must not
stand! This editor calls on the government of Minnesota and the
United States to resolve this most grievous labor issue.

                               Hibbing Telegraph

25 June, 1916

On June 22 violence erupted when mine guards opened fire on
parading miners after they resisted harassment. Sadly, John Alar
was shot and killed. Alar’s funeral was attended by 3,000 mourners
who listened to John Saltus (a Minneapolis socialist), and to Carlo
Tresca who now vowed an “eye for an eye” policy from the striking
miners. The mining companies have turned to Minnesota Governor
Burnquist to complain about the lawlessness of the miners.

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June, 1916                                                                    (1)

   The situation developing on the Iron Range must be stopped. The strikers’
demands are ridiculous and unheard of in the business world. We have
imported 1,000 of you strike breakers to keep the picket lines open and the iron
business running smoothly. You should have all been deputized by now and we
expect the other small mining companies in the area to follow our example. Be
reminded that the company property must not be damaged in any way. You
have authority to arrest those suspected of damaging company property, as well
as trespassing.
   The situation now is different from the strike of 1907 – there is no longer a
sizeable foreign labor force available to fill the jobs of the striking miners. You
will need to address the small businesses in these towns. They seem to
sympathize with the miners and are extending their credit. Try to be very
persuasive in changing their minds. Oliver Company representatives have
persuaded the wholesale warehouses in Duluth to deny credit to these retailers on
the Iron Range.

Oliver Mining Company

Dear Editor,                                                                     (2)

  I am a mining superintendent’s assistant and I would like to speak in defense of the Oliver
Mining Company. The company prefers to deal with the men individually, inviting each man
when he has a grievance, to come to the office and state it. Many of the superintendents and their
assistants pride themselves on our alertness to maintaining good relationships with each
employee. We are generally opposed to labor-unionism because it interferes with the relationship
between miner and superintendent. The strike is not a spontaneous strike of the employees, but
has been stirred up from outside by Industrial Workers of the World agitators. No committee of
the striking employees has ever presented (formally or informally) the strikers’ grievances. This
strike has been managed entirely by the I.W.W., whom Oliver Mining Company refuses to deal

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                  United Mine Workers‟ Journal        (2)

July 6, 1916
This shocking report has just been received:

On July 3 a notorious character named Nick Dillon, a gunman in
the employ of one of the companies, stormed into the home of
Philip Masonovich, a striker at Biwabik without knocking, armed
with a revolver, and followed by three sheriffs. This invasion of a
workingman‟s home was supposed to be for the purpose of
serving an arrest warrant for the illegal sale of liquor. Surrounded
by his wife, children, and several miners who boarded with him,
the miner resented the intrusion of the company guard. A fight
ensued in which one deputy sheriff and a peddler friendly to the
miners were killed and a miner was shot twice through the thigh.
Masonovich and four of his friends were arrested, taken to
Duluth, and jailed for first degree murder.

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                              Duluth Courier                                 (1)

Editorial: Mesabi Range Strike

   The Oliver Mining Corporation is holding to the ten hour day
requirement except for the underground miners, who had been given the
eight-hour day two years before. I talked with many officials about the
matter. There was nothing new in their defense of the policy. They simply
believed that the ten hours is not too much for a day’s work.
   Although the Oliver Mining Company was paying wages as high as the
highest, and higher than many of the independent companies, I questioned
whether any of the wage schedules sufficiently took into account the fact
that the industry is seasonal, slacking in the winter, and the further fact
that year in and year out iron-mining fluctuates with the changes in general
business conditions. While common labor was receiving at that time $2.25
a day, they could not count on three hundred times that for a year’s work.
The officials pointed out, in reply, that the Corporation’s wages have moved
only one way – upward. They have never been reduced in hard times.
Furthermore, the Oliver Company makes special effort to provide
employment for all its employees with families when that is necessary to
carry them over the slow season.
   I talked with many men about the once-a-month payroll. They did not
feel that a more frequent pay-day was necessary. It would simply mean
more bookkeeping labor without any further advantages to the men.

Company response: Miners’ Demands                                      (3)
    This contract system affects about twenty-three percent of the employees of
the Oliver Mining Company. It is a piece-rate system of so much per unit for the
ore mined. Oliver Mining Company maintains that because of its elasticity it
helps keep up the mine efficiency, since the work varies in the degree of its
difficulty with the character of the ground in which the ore is being mined. This
system is necessary in the underground mines because of the difficulty in
supervising the men. Furthermore, the rates are not fixed so that the average
miner can usually earn more than under other systems. Thus, the Oliver
Mining Company will continue to use the contract system because it works best
for the industry.

Minnesota Humanities Center                                                    14
                               Hibbing Telegraph

On the contract system, one miner states:

“At the end of the month the miner receives his pay, less the cost of
the powder he has used at $7.00 a box, of fuses at $1.00 per
hundred, and caps at $1.00 per box. In the Mesabi iron mines, the
due bill simply states the total amount paid without showing the
varying rates or the deductions for supplies. This is why the miners
complain that these total amounts are often much less than they
had expected. Miners often figure on from three to four dollars per
day, but open their pay envelope to find it is less than $3.00 and
sometimes less than $2.00. This is why the pay and the bill due
system are not good for the miners. It robs us of our just wages.”

                              Hibbing Telegraph          (1)

   This statement has just been released:
“Our company employs three-fourths of the men on the Iron Range.
I have personally authorized the expenditure of $2,000 to discover
corruption among the mine captains and bosses and have found
none. Furthermore, I would like to comment on the contract
system. It is the only feasible one because work in the day plan had
no incentive. It has been suggested that, in that case, the company
might fire workers who are “laying down on their jobs”. This would
not be effective in the remote region of the Iron Rage. Besides, the
men want the contract system”
- Pentecost Mitchell, vice-president of Oliver Mining Company

Minnesota Humanities Center                                         15

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