I want to share the story of a very interesting Thanksgiving had by 46 members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in Washington State. Having been arrested in North Yakima during a large street meeting intended to persuade apple pickers to ask for a better wage, they were taken to the decrepit Yakima City Jail, which was crawling with lice. The incarcerated men, apparently believers in due process, first voted to condemn the jail before proceeding to demolish it from the inside out.
In response, a vigilante squad composed of 200 local businessmen armed themselves with pick and ax handles, and marched in a body to the city jail. They herded the strikers (who all were soaking wet, having gotten the business end of the local firefighters’ hoses) through the freezing winter cold to the train depot. At the depot they forced the strikers into two refrigerated railcars and ordered the train crew to remove them from town. The train crew refused.
The impasse was ultimately solved when a representative of the State Labor Council, Edward Maurer, noted that if the IWW were prevented from organizing, then other unions (those he represented, for example) wouldn’t be able to organize either. And so, Wobbly organizing among agricultural laborers continued in the Yakima valley, with a fair amount of success, though the one big union never obtained control of area industry.
But the end of the story for the 46 strikers was that the IWW hall, which had been closed by police, reopened in time for a Thanksgiving Day feast to be served. The repast included Direct Action Duck, Chicken a la Sabotage, Rebel Cranberries, and Liber-Tea.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!