WE KNEW DIFFERENT

THE
MICHIGAN TIMBER WORKERS' STRIKE
OF 1937

by

 

Debra E. Bernhardt


Mid-Peninsula Library Cooperative
1979

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CONTENTS



FOREWORD

BALLAD OF A LUMBERJACK

PART I                                                                 1

PART II                                                              17

PART III                                                             41

PART IV                                                             55

FOOTNOTES                                                     73

SOURCES CONSULTED                                   89

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FOREWORD

        It seemed natural that I should come to this study of the woods and the men who worked there.

        Several years ago in an attempt to understand the community I come from and myself through it, I listened to the words of iron ore miners. It was time to turn to the woodsmen. For this land now nearly depleted of both the iron and the pine holds great wealth in the memories of its people.

        But lest I become too ethereal, I recall for you the comment of a retired IWA organizer. "So you're writing a history of organized labor in the boondocks?" he said.

        This second study deals with a single event rather than with the truth of an individual multiplied from subjective experience to the collective reality of a community. I have been painfully conscious of my role--and my voice--as I play synthesizer of what is fragmented, imperfectly known, imperfectly remembered, and value-laden. For that reason I rely heavily on the words of participants, one remarkably articulate "veteran struggler" in particular.

        But in the end it is I, having collected such bits as they are wrenched from their context in time, who must take responsibility for placing them in an order which I have tried to make a fair and balanced and true representation of what occurred forty years ago.

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        I am obligated to tell you who I am in relationship to this corpus I have brought together. I choose to do so through the word "communist" because it is so volatile a word and so important to this narrative. When I began this project half a year ago, I knew only one "communist", in the person of a grandmotherly neighbor, a Finnish woman whose wrath over social injustice and support for the causes I thought right made of me as much an admiring grand daughter as a political ally. Since then I have come to know many "communist" faces. Arriving at some sort of political awareness as I did after the Cold War, I knew "communist" not as the object of fear and loathing, but rather, as a phenomenon I grouped on a nostalgic plane with Eugene V. Debs, the Kennedy martyrs, and McGovern's campaign--embodiments of pure and vaguely rebellious strivings sweetened because they seemed doomed to failure.

        Now I know less vaguely about the strivings of "communists" in a nearly forgotten struggle, one which was the product of great social forces, overshadowed by other manifestations of them.

        I offer that knowledge to you.

                             Debra E. Bernhardt
                             Iron River, Michigan
                            October, 1977

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BALLAD OF A LUMBERJACK
by
"Calamity Jane"


We told 'em the blankets were crumby,
And they said that we like 'em that way.
We told 'em skunks couldn't smell our bunks,
But they said that our bunks were okay.

We told 'em we wanted a pillow, 
And a mattress and maybe a sheet, 
And they said, where's your guts? Going
        soft? Are you nuts?
That hay on your bunks is a treat.

We told 'em we wanted some water
And a tub into which it could squirt.
And they said, why wash clothes? Wanna 
        smell like a rose?
Why, it's healthy to wallow in dirt.

We said that we wanted some windows, 
And we wanted a little more space, 
Cause, we said, it was punk sleepin' two
        in a bunk
With a guy snorin' booze in your face.

We said that we wanted some money,
We hadn't enough to get by.
A month in the wood, ten bucks to the good--
But they promised us pie in the sky.

But one day we all got together,
And we put the old boys on the spot, 
We laid the axe down and we tramped
        into town
And we left their old timber to rot.

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The bosses they crawled on their bellies, 
And they wept that they couldn't get by, 
So we melted with pity and passed out a
        kitty
To buy the boys pie in the sky.


        This poem by Irene Paull first appeared in a mimeographed strike bulletin distributed to lumberjacks in Duluth's skid row, December, 1936.

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Part I

        In the spring of 1937 the eyes of the country were following Amelia Earhart's ill-fated world flight and Wally Simpson's romance with royalty, and the disposition of John D. Rockefeller's will; or perhaps, the offensives of John L. Lewis or Franco or Hitler. They were most certainly not following the May 18 walkout of lumberjacks at Bonifas Camp No. 2 near Marenisco, Michigan, though it would mark the beginning of a general strike of Upper Peninsula woodsmen lasting sixteen weeks and idling an estimated six thousand men. It would mark the beginning of the end of a lumbering era, as well.

        The condition of the lumber industry at the outbreak of the strike could not be termed healthy. Nation-wide the industry was beginning to recover from a period of stagnation that began as early as 1925. But the signs were not boding well. Lumber consumption had been falling since 1906 as the period of agricultural expansion came to an end. Substitutes were relentlessly encroaching on the wood products market. In addition, the lumber industry, slow to follow the trend of consolidation, had no organization that was able to cope with problems of over production. Overhead costs were mounting, and so was unemployment.

        Then there was the problem of raw materials. In the Upper Peninsula the white pine era was three decades past and already many of the prime hardwood and hemlock reserves were depleted. Logging had always been a risky business, and loggers had always been willing to face the risks. 

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        Among the major lumber concerns who were operating that spring was Henry Ford. He was the largest single operator in the Upper Peninsula at that time, having purchased 313,447 acres of timber and mining lands in 1920. He built a mammoth complex in Iron Mountain which produced the hardwood components for the cars he manufactured there, paints and finishes, charcoal briquettes and chemicals. He owned logging camps and sawmills in Sidnaw, Alberta, and Pequaming.Cleveland Cliffs, an iron mining company, also carried on extensive timber operations. Chemical wood, sawlogs, pulpwood, mining timbers, railroad ties and raw materials for its subsidiary, Piqua-Munising Wood Products, manufacturer of household utensils, were produced by some three hundred lumberjacks in three camps near Munising.3  Newberry Lumber and Chemical Company, the last of the Upper Peninsula charcoal smelters, produced pig iron, methanol, acetate of lime, and lumber at its Newberry plant where 325 were employed, not including those employed at the camps it maintained in Alger, Schoolcraft, Chippewa, and Luce counties.4  Connor Lumber and Land Company, based in Laona, Wisconsin, manufactured furniture and wood flooring. Its Connorville sawmill employed approximately two hundred men; another two hundred worked its Gogebic County lumber camps. The William Bonifas Company supplied pulpwood to Kimberly-Clark, a paper company of which it was a subsidiary, as well as providing sawlogs for its mill in Marenisco.5 There were, of course, many other operators and mills. But to a large extent, it was upon these five companies that the outcome of the Timber Workers' strike hinged.

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        The lumber concerns mentioned above were unusual in that they continued to operate their own camps. The trend was for companies holding large tracks of timberlands to subcontract stumpage to jobbers who hired, housed, and handled the crews themselves, supplying the logs as called for. The arrangement was convenient and less risky. The crews were smaller. Logs could also be acquired from the "haywire" or "packsack" jobbers who worked, in general, independently of large holders, buying stumpage from private owners or, later, from government lands. They were called "haywire" because they used the wire from baled hay for quick repairs in an attempt to economize. These small-scale, narrow-margin operations employed fewer than a dozen men. Then there were the small "family" operators-- a father, his sons, and a neighbor or two, who worked as a partnership to supplement their incomes as, perhaps, farmers on cut-over land.6

        As for labor in the woods, unionism was slow to take hold. Forest historian Vernon Jensen lists the deterrents to organization:7

So it was in the Michigan woods. Before the strike in 1937 there were few attempts to organize Upper Peninsula lumberworkers and those attempts met with little success. The AFL through the International Timber Workers' Union called a strike for the eight-hour day in 1920 but after nearly two months millworkers and lumberjacks returned to work having gained nothing.The Twenties were years as lean for unionism as for the industry itself. In the early Thirties the National Lumber Workers Union sent organizers and locals were readied by Finnish Workers or their cooperatives, but again, little came of their efforts.9 Though scarcely more successful, the I.W.W. Lumber Workers Industrial Union 120 deserves more attention because of its place within the Finnish working class movement--without which the organization of Upper Peninsula timberworkers may not have achieved the gains it did.

        The phenomenon of Finnish radicalism is credited by one historian to the Finns' inherent "love of freedom and courageous opposition against the oppressors, whether a Russian cossak, a White Guard, or a gunman in an American mining town."10 Another analyzes it in terms of "proletarianizing" and "preradicalizing":  radicalism was the response of segments of the Finnish population to the traumas of industrialization and czarist repression combined with nascent nationalism and the socialist labor movement." Whatever the origins of Finnish radicalism, it flourished for a time in the United States. In 1906 the Finnish Socialist Federation was founded to unite Finns in a Marxist, class

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conscious organization. The largest of the foreign language federations within the Socialist Party, it boasted nearly 11,000 members and 225 local chapters in its golden year, 1912. The Finnish Socialist hall became the center of community life for well over ten percent of the Finns in America with its variety of cultural and social functions including bands, choruses, dramatic clubs, sewing circles, sports, socialist "Sunday School", and the often overlooked "agitation" committees. In 1914 a schism developed between the "yellow" parliamentary socialists and the proponents of syndicalism and "revolutionary industrial unionism." The latter group left the Federation to join the Industrial Workers of the World, taking with them control of the Work Peoples' College and the Finnish language newspaper, the Socialisti soon aptly renamed the Industrialisti.12

        The Finns who left the Socialist Party of the I.W.W. did so, in part, to renew the militant class consciousness they felt had been lost in the comfortable congeniality of "hall socialism". However, I.W.W. Finns maintained the hall tradition in Marquette, Ishpeming, Rock, Iron River, Crystal Falls, Covington, and Bessemer, to name a few of the Upper Peninsula enclaves. Through such halls, some success was made in organizing I.W.W. miners' locals. But to a large extent attempts to organize timberworkers were limited to individual "traveling delegates" who went from camp to camp "educating the wage slave", distributing I.W.W. literature, and selling subscriptions to the Industrialisti and the Industrial Worker. The Wobblies were often

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credited with "enlivening" labor relations in the district through acts of sabotage. Not until 1936, however, did the I.W.W. make a concerted effort to organize UP timberworkers.13

        When the National Industrial Recovery Administration code for the lumber industry was adopted in 1933, not a single labor organization was listed anywhere in the Great Lakes region.14

        Prospects for organizing timberworkers began to brighten as the labor movement of the Thirties gathered momentum. The axe-wielding forgotten men became restless for their New Deal as news of labor's gains filtered into the woods. The President was behind them, they knew. And so was the Supreme Court which had ruled in April of 1937 that the Wagner Labor Act was constitutional; now it was their right to "bargain collectively through unions of their choice." John L. Lewis and his fledgling Congress of Industrial Organizations showed them the way to put the fear of the laborer in the hearts of the Steel Trust; now he was taking on Little Steel. His Buicks even then could be seen plying the roads of the Upper Peninsula iron ranges. Down state the auto industry was a flurry of sit-down strikes. Big changes, they knew, were ready to take place in the timber industry.

        On the West Coast, the Lumber and Sawmill Workers Union, formed in 1930 with the assistance of the Workers' Unity League, had fallen under the control of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and

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Joiners.15 As a non-beneficial affiliate of the Carpenters and Joiners, the LSWU paid dues to the American Federation of Labor without the right to speak or vote at conventions, an arrangement rankling to a membership which had fiercely guarded rank and file control. Friction between the LSWU and the Carpenters mounted after the CIO parted ways with the AFL, and representatives of the West Coast district councils of the LSWU formed the unsanctioned Federation of Woodworkers. The Federation voted to remain in the Carpenters and Joiners, but it supported the reinstatement of those national unions suspended by the AFL for their connection with the CIO, a position which did nothing to improve relations with the mother union. The LSWU sent delegates to John L. Lewis and John Brophy who listened sympathetically to their complaints, but informed them that the CIO was set up to organize the unorganized, not to raid the AFL. By July 19, 1937, however, results of a referendum on the question of CIO affiliation having demonstrated an overwhelming rejection of the part of the membership, of the AFL, the CIO granted a charter to the Federation of Woodworkers. Harold Pritchett, timberworker activist from British Columbia, was elected president of the new organization which adopted the name, the International Woodworkers of America.16

        Michigan lumberjacks watched West Coast developments with interest. They knew about the "Great Strike of 1935" in Oregon where the Federal Mediation Board had played an important role in achieving

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what seemed to them an unattainable settlement: the eight-hour day and forty- hour week with a base rate of fifty cents an hour. Nearer geographically and more influential in the events that would unfold in the Upper Peninsula woods, was a strike which broke out in the camps of northern Minnesota in January of 1937.

        "The general strike of woods workers has justly called attention to the plight of a neglected group of workers," was Farmer Labor Governor Elmer Benson's response to detractors who said the strike was caused by "a handful of outside agitators" and "non-voting, floating racketeers who do not own property in this state". He continued, "The strike /is/ only a natural consequence of working conditions and a depressed wage scale characteristic of an unhealthy industry." Benson and the Minnesota Farmer Labor Party supported the strike with more than rhetoric. He ordered the Duluth national guard armory heated as sleeping quarters for homeless jacks, furnished blankets to strikers at state camps set up for relief clients, and set up soup kitchens financed by state relief funds in Duluth, Virginia, Gheen, Cloquet, and International Falls. In addition, Benson assigned sufficient highway patrolmen for the unprecedented purpose of protecting the strikers and keeping logging trucks off the roads until the strike was settled. The settlement was made largely through Benson's appointment of a special committee of liberal local legislators and labor representatives who investigated camp conditions and published their findings. The settlement granted

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full recognition to the union and a six month contract stipulating much improved conditions and wages.17 In the weeks that followed the outbreak of the Michigan strike, the role of Michigan Governor Murphy would often be compared to that of Benson, unfavorably.

        Minnesota Local 2776 of the Timber and Sawmill Workers,18 United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, ended the strike having negotiated an industry-wide contract with 192 logging operations. It boasted a membership of over 5,000. Its official organ, the Timber Worker, would soon be printing on a weekly basis. From its headquarters in Duluth, it planned a campaign to organize "all workers employed in and about the pulp, logging, and woodworking industry in camps, mills and other enterprises"--from stump to finished product in the Tri-State timber belt. Among the resolutions passed at its first convention were one which permitted open transfer of membership between the three states, and another which extended moral and material support to sister locals in Michigan and Wisconsin.19

        One such sister local had been established in Ironwood on March 14, 1937.20  The circumstances leading to its founding are related by George Rahkonen, who served as secretary-treasurer of the local during the strike:

        In order to place the Communists and Finnish Workers into context and to explain the relationship between them, it is necessary to return to the Finnish Socialist Federation. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the Federation had undergone a second, and debilitating, doctrinal split. In the spring of 1921 the majority of those members who remained after the I.W.W. schism, left to form an independent organization sympathetic to communism. This independent organization joined the Workers' (Communist) Party of America in December of that year, the largest language federation to do so with seven thousand, or about forty percent of the Party's membership. In 1925 when the Party attempted to abolish the language federations in favor of "Americanized" cell units, the Finns resisted, refusing to disband their hall organizations. Fewer that two thousand Finns joined cells. In an effort to shore up its losses the Party mandated the Center of Finnish Workers' Clubs which permitted the continued existence of Finnish workers' halls with social and cultural life unimpaired.22  "When I took over the district, Party membership was overwhelmingly the same as Finnish Federation local clubs membership,"

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writes John Wiita, who under the name of Henry Pure served as district organizer of the Communist Party in the Upper Peninsula from 1935 to 1938.23

        The contact with Minnesota Local 2776 having been established, the Communist Party in Ironwood decided, and George Rahkonen continues:

        Why did the Communist Party adopt the conservative, craft rather than industrial union oriented American Federation of Labor as a vehicle for organizing in the Upper Peninsula? In part, the answer lies in the fact that early in 1937 the Lumber and Sawmill Workers had yet to break with the Carpenters and Joiners and the CIO at that time was making no effort to organize timberworkers. Moreover, since 1934 when Stalin, threatened by the rise of fascism in Europe, had ordered the world Communist movement to shift from an independent to

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the "Popular Front" strategy, the Trade Union Unity League and its affiliated unions, among them the National Lumber Workers Union, had been abandoned. Jack Stachel, labor spokesman for the Communist Party USA summed up the change in line when he said, "Our basic task is to win these millions within the AF of L." The task of the Ironwood local was even more basic: to bring the estimated ten to fifteen thousand timberworkers of the Upper Peninsula into any organization. Incompatibility between the communist philosophy and strategy and that of syndicalism ruled out cooperation with the I.W.W. As the Minnesota local had determined earlier, the only viable alternative was the AFL.

        Notable strides in organization did not occur in the two months after the founding of Local 2530. Unemployment was high in the Michigan camps, partly because of the seasonal layoffs that came with "spring break-up." Local 2530 was hampered by a lack of funds which prevented sending organizers into camps. Some contacts were made through the Party and through coops, but Frank Arvola, state president of the Michigan Timber Workers Local 2530, as he was billed by the Timber Worker, had little to report in an interview May 11. He expressed a limited optomism about the possibilities for organizing the lumberjacks in the state. Camps were beginning to reopen. Most organizing to that time had been carried on with sawmill workers in Gogebic County. The work was bound to be slow because, with the exception of the Workers' Alliance, no organization had been

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accomplished in the county. Mass meetings had been arranged for the sawmill workers in Marenisco and Ironwood, however, and Arvola expected good results.25

        Local 2530 was nothing more than an "AFL committee--it was no union. All it had was this charter and it wasn't really representing anything... "26 when in mid-May the Minnesota local sent an organizer to assist Ironwood. That organizer was Joe Liss.

        Reported to have been active in the Western timber workers' strike activity, Joe Liss was characterized by an officer of the Minnesota local as the "yeast" of the Minnesota strike. He is said to have precipitated the wildcat strike of Gheen in the fall of 1935, which though unsuccessful, led to the formation of Local 2776. During the strike in January of 1937, Liss founded and singlehandedly put out the first six issues of the Timber Worker paper from his Duluth hotel room.27 Those who saw him in action described him variously as "a firebrand", "a professional trouble maker", "an enigma", "an old Wobblie", "a good man, but...a little bit out of his head". Martin Kuusisto perhaps most accurately sums him up:

Liss' reputation preceded him. His reception in Ironwood is related by George Rahkonen:

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        If Joe Liss were the firebrand, conditions in the Michigan camps provided him with a goodly supply of easily ignited timber. Commonly heard complaints centered on the long working day, low wages, monotony and quality of food, and lack of sanitation and washing facilities in the bunk houses. Men worked nine or ten hours a day at the rate of twenty-seven to thirty-three cents an hour for unskilled labor and slightly higher for skilled labor.30 From the daily wage eighty cents to a dollar was deducted for board. "In the three years that I have been employed by this company," writes an employee of Cleveland Cliffs Camp No. 7 near Munising, "I saw fresh fruit only once, and that was when they served apples." He goes on to say that he was "bawled out for taking wood to heat water for washing clothes." There was no bath house and the crew bathed only when they went to town- - after three or more months had elapsed.31 The story of the jack who left his undershirt on a chair, awaking in the middle of the night to see it heading for the door is one

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of the tall tales the jacks told about the feats of the vermin which infested many bunk houses. Matt Savola, strike leader credited with the rallying cry paraphrasing Marx, "Lumberjacks, unite! All you've got to lose is your bedbugs!" sums up conditions in the camps:

Symptomatic of the general dissatisfaction with conditions was the walkout of half the crew at Bonifas Camp No. 2 which occurred on May 11. Even the Ironwood Daily Globe whose editorial policy was not generally sympathetic to labor admitted that the strikers had hit a "vulnerable spot.. .for conditions at that camp left much to be complained about. 33

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Part II

        On the same day as the walkout, Local 2530 staged a mass meeting at the Marenisco Town Hall. John Maki, a lumber piler at the Bonifas Lumber Company mill, the single industry of the small company town, "talked organization" to the employees. The following Saturday he was fired. The foreman reportedly told him, "There's nothing wrong with your work...but you are trying to start a Communist organization in this town.Liss had arrived in Marenisco and on Monday morning, May 17, he headed a committee that went to see General Manager Lyons with the demand that Maki be reinstated. By the account of the Ironwood Daily Globe, Lyons refused to rehire Maki; by that of the Timber Worker, Lyons offered Maki, who had a high school education, a job as clerk on the condition that he would quit the union. In either case, Maki was not rehired. Joe Liss, a veteran organizer, had a cause celebre and he made use of it.

        "One-eyed" Nick Wancash, a salty Yugoslav who would later work as the union representative, tells what Joe Liss proceeded to do:

        Liss and those who helped him spread the walkout distributed leaflets which listed strike demands. Both the leaflet and the demands were what the Minnesota local had used. The demands included a wage increase to fifty-five cents an hour, the forty-hour week, single rather than two-man bunks, shower baths, union recognition and camp (grievance) committees, and free meals for men looking for work. In response to the last demand the Ironwood paper quoted a jobber who viewed it as a joke. "In the Upper Peninsula are several hundred 'camp inspectors'," he said, "who won't work, but go from camp to camp for free grub."3 Most of the demands, however, were considered just. It was not the demands that would be attacked.

        By Wednesday, May 19, two to three hundred striking lumberjacks had converged on Marenisco. An attempt that morning to get sawmill employees to walk out was reportedly repulsed, but the next morning the mill, normally employing 163, would close for lack of logs.4

In high spirits, the lumberjacks attended a rally that night. Speakers were Joe Liss, John Maki, and business manager

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of the Timber Worker, Ernest Tomberg. Tomberg outlined the achievements of Local 2776 and explained the concessions won by sawmill workers at International Falls, Minnesota after their recent strike. The concessions they won were what the Michigan jacks were demanding. Another of the speakers to give "encouraging talks" that night was George Rahkonen:

        Newspaper photographs show him youthful and handsome as a Hollywood film star, with

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blonde hair and blue eyes capable of expressing humour, anger, and icy indignation. At 29 years of age, Matt Savola had run the gamut of Finnish working class movement experience, an involvement he attributes not to reading Marx or Lenin but to, "...the way we lived our lives, our environment, the way we were treated...and the experience I had in my family." One such childhood experience occurred when his father who was working as a mill hand in Phelps, Wisconsin, was seriously injured in a sawmill accident. The elder Savola, a Finnish immigrant and one-time member of the Western Federation of Miners, Socialists and the IWW, brought suit against the company for compensation. The company fired him and forced the family out of the company house. The family moved to Iron River, Michigan where the father worked as an iron ore miner until 1920 when he was arrested as a "radical alien" during the Palmer Raids, substantially diminishing his chances for employment in the area. When his father left them to seek work elsewhere, Matt, about to enter high school, regretfully dropped out of school to help support the family. He worked at odd jobs until at the age of seventeen he began to work underground at the Davidson Iron Mine. As a member of IWW miners' local and what amounted to its successor, the National Miners Union, Savola participated in attempts to organize at the Davidson. He was blacklisted and found work in the woods. A member of the Young Communist League, since 1930, when he was employed by WPA he actively and vocally furthered the

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organization of the Workers' Alliance. "I worked eleven days a month. I had plenty of time to carry on organization work," he recalls. Iron River residents remember his soapbox orations and his bravado in preventing evictions. In 1937 when the Timberworkers strike broke out in Gobegic County, "Some people came down and asked me if I would work with the strike...because I was working in the pulp woods near Amasa." They were Frank Walli, former National Mine Workers Union organizer in the Peninsula involved at that time with the Workers' Alliance, Raymond Garvey, Ironwood city councilman whom Wiita claimed as a product of his "Bolshevization" program, and John Wiita, himself, Communist Party District Organizer.6 As Wiita remembers it:

        Matt Savola's Relief Committee, charged with housing and feeding the ever increasing numbers of strikers, was one of several committees established at the meeting held

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at the Marenisco Town Hall. A broad strike committee of thirty-five was elected to carry out the decision of the body to spread the strike, "pull out the whole works--all the camps in the Upper Peninsula!" Elected the first president of Local 2530 was Marenisco lumberjack, Luke Raik. Born Louis Rajkovich, the tall, thin Austrian was a former Wobblie who had come to Michigan from the woods of Maine. He had no party affiliation at the time of his election but, Rahkonen explains, "We recruited him. A lot of timberworkers were recruited into the Communist Party." Other local officers Elmer Marks, vice president; George Rahkonen, treasurer; Lawrence Pennock, vice treasurer; John W. Maki, assistant secretary; Arnold Starkweather, vice secretary.   Seven trustees were elected:  Dick Pearson, Joe Liss, Paul Moran, John Ziegler, Raymond Verboe, Oakie Whitley and Jack Wilson.8

        The Strike Committee set to work immediately, procuring vehicles from sympathizers they headed out for camps across the Peninsula. George Rahkonen was a member of the Strike Committee:

        The progress of the Committee was reported in local newspapers. In Gogebic County the strike had spread from Bonifas to all the camps operated by jobbers for Marathon Paper Company, John McNicholas, William (Cedar Pole) Smith, and Victor and Arvey Ahonen; the Connor mill halted operations and five hundred strikers were reported in the area east of Marenisco.10   In Iron County 125 woodsmen walked out of two Von Platen-Fox Company camps joined by jacks from the camps of the Lindhal Brothers and Joe Carlson. Iron River was said to be "filled with idle jacks" although little lumbering activity was going on in the county and camps were working with skeleton crews because of poor road conditions.11  In Alger County 250 men employed in three Cleveland Cliffs camps walked out. In

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Baraga County another three hundred lumberjacks went out from four camps of the Lake Superior Lumber Corporation. Superintendent Walter T. Gorman, referring to the corporation sawmill in Ontonagon about to close for lack of logs, declared, "We can close this plant down--permanently, if necessary." He added that the company had planned to raise the minimum wage for men in the woods from 38.5 cents to 40 cents per hour. In Baraga County six camps, four of which were owned by Ford Motor Company were reported closed. Attempts to spread the strike to Ford sawmill workers at the model logging community Ford was constructing at Alberta, were ended when strikers were "ejected by the company's service department (police) without violence." In Delta County men quit work at the camps of Bay de Noquet Company and the I. Stephenson Company sawmill at Wells halted operations when loading crews of company jobbers north of Escanaba were "prevented by union organizers from loading into cars along the Chicago and North Western railway's main line."12 Eight strike headquarters had been established and the Timber Worker tally included some four thousand strikers on June 4, when events came to a head on the eastern strike front.

        "You undoubtedly have had some information in the last few days," wrote Munising attorney R. W. Nebel to Governor Murphy's executive secretary, "about the group of agitators who claim to be from Ironwood, Michigan, and who claim to represent the Carpenters and Jointers (sic) Union with no other proven affiliation".

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The leading citizen continued, "They have shut down the Munising Woodenware-Piqua Products Company. They have closed the sawmill yards of both the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company and Jackson & Tindle. They have closed down all major lumber operations in this county and apparently are making Munising their headquarters for raids on other counties, such as Luce, Schoolcraft, Marquette, Delta, etc." Citing the "Communistic leanings" and "subversive threats and actions" of the principle agitators, Nebel cautions, "You know that the average man that works in the woods is not fortified against the future. He is usually a single man and lives up pretty close to what he receives. In other words, very shortly, a large number of men, approximately 1200, will be hungry with no one to take care of them. That will mean trouble . "13

        Only the night before at a "peace conference" between Cleveland Cliffs executives and a delegation of thirteen union men which Munising Mayor John Hannah and a committee of businessmen had arranged, Joe Liss had reportedly threatened that if relief funds of 60 cents a day for each striker were not forthcoming the strikers would hold a general U.P. wide strike meeting in their fair city, picket the only major wood products industry still operating--the Munising Paper Company 411, and march on Lansing to demand relief.14 For three days lumberjacks of Luce and Alger counties had been inundating Munising. The union had brazenly, citizens felt, opened an office in a vacant store on the main street of town. Committees were

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appointed to actively dun food from local merchants and farmers. Vacant buildings were appropriated for sleeping quarters though many of the jacks camped in the woods on the edge of town. Union funds, raised through memberships, were used to set up a commissary at the Finnish Labor Hall. Daily rallies and marches were held, picket lines maintained and the hauling of logs prevented, all adding to the apprehensiveness of Munising' s citizenry. "The public didn't know what it was all about," recalls Charles Symon, reporter for the Marquette Mining Journal who covered the strike for the Marquette Mining Journal who covered the strike for the Associated Press wire service. "These men with their rough clothes and rough talk came to town--not to one town, but all these towns--and put out their demands. 'What are we going to do with them?' these people said. 'They'll take over our homes, they'll attack our women, they'll march on the courthouse.' They were very much concerned and they were on the side of law and order."15  Mayor Hanna wired Governor Murphy that the strike was assuming "dangerous proportions" and appealed for help to "maintain peace and order in the city".16 Help was soon to come.

        In Munising as elsewhere, there was little public criticism of the strikers' demands. The criticism, rather, was directed at the strike leadership for the manner in which the strike was being conducted. The walkout was unfair, maintained John M. Bush, head of Cleveland-Cliff s Lumber Department, because the union had not conferred with the company or

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presented its demands prior to striking.17 The bravado and martial displays of Joe Liss were thought uncharacteristic of the AEL. Alger County Sheriff Louis Pelletier wired William Green, president of the AFL asking the status of the man who "claimed to be an organizer of the AFL...called several hundred men out on strike without completing organization or electing officers or without conferring with employers. Believe he is an imposter... Believe this is not AF of L tactics.. ."18 Green's answer was inconclusive, but Peter Martel, painters' union member since 1907 and AEL organizer, was brought from Marquette. The Mining Journal reported:

If Martel were satisfied, public opinion was perhaps more closely approximated by the resident who said, "If these guys that came here to start a strike are affiliated

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Book Page 29

 

with the AFL, what in hell are they doing sleeping in a hall where Stalin's picture hung on the wall?"19

        In response to numerous requests for aid, Governor Murphy called upon Oscar Olander, State Police Commissioner, and George A. Krogstad, State Director of Labor and Industry, to investigate the strike situation in an effort to preserve order and hasten settlement negotiations. Olander sent State Police reinforcements. Krogstad conferred by phone with representatives of each side, suggesting that a committee of five workers and five employers be named to try to reach a temporary agreement and resume work until a settlement could be reached. A meeting was scheduled for Friday, June 4, to be presided over by Krogstad's representative, Joseph Ashmore. Another longtime member of the AFL Painters' Union, Ashmore had served as president of the Jackson Federation of Labor and as deputy labor commissioner before Murphy promoted him to Secretary of the State Department of Labor and Industry in June of 1937. Attending the conference representing employers were Ralph Beir for the Newberry Lumber and Chemical Company, George N. Harder for the I. Stephenson Company,
G. Harold Earle for Wisconsin Land and Lumber, and John M. Bush for Cleveland Cliffs. Representing the Lumber and Sawmill Workers Local 2530 were its president, Luke Raik, Vice President Elmer Marks of Ironwood, Jay Speilmacher, a Munising Woodenware employee, and Joe Liss--who arrived a dramatic hour and forty minutes after the session began.

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Ashmore convened the meeting by submitting a proposal by which men would return to work pending negotiations. The plan was immediately endorsed by the employers, but Raik and the union representatives did not care to "Take the responsibility of negotiating in Liss' absence." A few minutes after Liss arrived, however, he led the union delegation out of the building declaring that his action was in protest of what took place in Newberry earlier that day. "Since the government permitted attacks such as that which occurred this morning," he reportedly said in parting, "the government cannot be trusted." Ashmore concluded that the conference was "not particularly resultful."20

    formation of the Upper Michigan Woodworkers Association, an "independent" union which claimed 1,500 members in Gogebic and Ontonagon counties.31 Denying that the Association was a company union, H. A. Savage, president stated:


    The Timber Worker interpreted this "spontaneous expression" as the chicanery
    of the Timber Barons, a company union "which has all the earmarks of being a budding vigilante outfit with exclusion on non-citizens."33

            Local 2530 had other independent unions to contend with. In Newberry where organization attempts had resumed subrosa, the Independent Industrial Union of Newberry was formed, the NLRB was to determine, with the ba cking of the Lumber and Chemical Company. Striking employees of Connor Land and Lumber Company formed the Wakefield Township Timber Union and voted to return to work at the Connorville mill near Thomaston after the company offered them an increase in pay.35 In the subsequent trial on charges of unfair labor practices the NLRB ruled that the company had

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    Book Page 67

     

    "interfered with the administration" of the union, ordered Connor to cease and desist and reinstate with back pay Ed Evans, who had been fired for his activity on behalf of Local 2530.36

    Competition with the I.W.W. had been settled to Local 2530's satisfaction. In 1936 I.U. 120 had launched an organizing drive in response to the inroads being made by the AFL and CIO, both of which the I.W.W. criticized as "class Collaborationist" and because they lacked control by the rank and file.37 Early in 1937 a branch office was established in Iron River after some difficulty in getting together the requisite twenty members for the charter.38 Through the efforts of Wayne and Eli Hill and Nels Kanerva of Iron River, and Bill Hill of Marquette, several camps were almost completely organized around the "One Big Union" demands of the eight-hour day camp to camp, wages at not less than four dollars a day, living and working conditions on a par with those gained by the I.W.W. on the West Coast, union "job committees" and "job action".39 When the Timber Workers' Strike began in May, the Wobblies supported it and in July closed their office in Iron River. With the assistance of the NLRB they might have preserved their jurisdiction over camps they had organized, but when an appeal to the NLRB was suggested to Eli Hill, he responded in characteristic Wobblie fashion: "We don't want to mess around with politicians...If we have to join the AFL we will, but we'll still act like Wobblies."40

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    Book Page 68

     

            To complicate jurisdictional matters further, Peter Martel, AFL organizer from Marquette, came to Gogebic County and on August 5 claimed to have organized several Ironwood area camps to be chartered by the AFL. The formation of the International Woodworkers of America some two weeks earlier accounts in part for Martel's efforts to establish a dual union. His one-time qualified support of Joe Liss and Local 2530 in Munising had become an unqualified condemnation. Now he called the local a "bogus outfit...not a responsible bargaining agent because it has no head."41 Ostensibly Local 2530 was still an AFL affiliate; it had not relinquished its Lumber and Sawmill Workers charter. But the "unexplained strike contributions" from Harry Bridges' Longshoremen and the UAW and the Federation of Woodworkers and other unions which had broken or soon would break with the AFL, the speeches supporting timberworkers made by SWOC organizers in the district, and the election of several Local 2530 members to leadership positions of the newly forme d CIO District Council of Woodworkers,42 cast further doubt on the AFL orthodoxy of a union whose origins were viewed as dubious from the start. Not until August 19, however, did Luke Raik announce that the rank and file of Local 2530 voted to affiliate with the CIO.43 Local 2530 of the Lumber and Sawmill Workers became Local 15 of the International Woodworkers of America.

            The strike dragged on into its sixteenth week. The list of small jobbers which had made settlements with the union grew to seventy-seven, but there was no

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    response from the larger operators. Without the resources to hold on much longer, the strikers at all headquarters voted to end the strike on August 29. George Rahkonen offers the rationale:

    In its statement to the press IWA Local 15 listed its accomplishments. For the first

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    time trade unionism had established a firm foothold in the Upper Peninsula; an estimated one-third of the timberworkers in the Peninsula were organized into a union of their own.45 Though the 77 jobbers who had signed union contracts were not the large ones, operators throughout the region had been forced into paying higher wages, cleaning up camps, establishing the eight-hour day and improving food. "You bet things are better since the strike in the Cleveland Cliffs camp," a Munising jack was quoted. After ennumerating the ways conditions had changed for the better, he said, "And best of all, they treat us with some respect".46

            As determined and optomistic as the union leaders were that they would establish "unionism l00% through the Upper Peninsula", the Michigan Timber Workers would never attain the strength of their Minnesota and West Coast counterparts. Opposition to labor organization continued with unabated intensity. Locals subsequently established in Newberry, Ontonagon and Phelps were short-lived and weak, due in part to lack of funds. The union was never to fully recover from the estimated $40,000 dollar debt accrued during the strike. As a consequence of the failure to obtain an industry-wide settlement, the basic unit of organization was the camp. The trend of large timber holders to divest themselves of large camps by subcontracting to jobbers, was hastened, many maintain, by their unwillingness to deal with the union and their desire to avoid the strictures of labor legislation. Camp crews continued to have a high rate of turnover which made

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    necessary constant reorganization and close attention by a union field staff that was all too limited.47

             There were a few victories. The National Labor Relations Board ruled favorably in cases against Cleveland Cliffs Iron Mining Company, Connor Land and Lumber, and Newberry Lumber and Chemical, ordered disestablishment of company unions and reinstatement with back pay of some sixty blacklisted lumberworkers.48  In 1941 aided by UAW organizers and heartened by the recent Rouge Plant triumph, Local 15 won closed shop contracts providing for dues check-off, seniority, and union camp conditions with fourteen Ford jobbers.49 World War II, tightening as it did the labor market and expanding the market for forest products, placed the union in a strong bargaining position. But the war was only an artificial stimulus which prolonged the industry and the union for a few more years.

            For the age of the lumber camp and the lumberjack came to an end in the early Fifties. The one-man power saw, replacing its bulky two-man predecessor first used as early as 1937, gained wide-spread acceptance. The new woodsman drove to work in his own car and lived in his house with a family of his own. Where did the others go? Joe Liss, who felt that he had done what he came to do, left to organize lumberworkers in Maine. No one in Michigan knows what became of him. George Rahkonen and Matt Savola found places in the Party and the Finnish cooperatives. Henry Paull went to an early death. And the old breed

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    lumberjack? He shouldered his "turkey" to follow the timber west or lingered in a tar paper shanty, transcient camp, or the skid row of a dying mill town surrounded by cut-over lands. And when he thought back to the "Big One", the Timber Workers' strike of 1937, perhaps he knew it as George Rahkonen does to this day:

FOOTNOTES

Part I

1    Vernon H. Jensen, Lumber and Labor (New York, N.Y., Farrar & Rinehart, Inc. 1945), pp. 151-152.

 

2     Ken Hafeli, "Henry Ford's Timber Operations in the Upper Peninsula", MS. Dr. Larry Rakestraw, March 3, 1976.

 

3     National Labor Relations Board, Decisions and Orders. (Washington D.C.Government Printing Office, 1936 printed periodically), Vol. XXX, March 1941, p. 1098.

 

4     National Labor Relations Board, op. cit., Vol. XVII, Nov. 1939, p. 796.

 

5     National Labor Relations Board, op. cit., Vol. IX, Oct., 1938, p. 1288.

 

6     Vernon Jensen, Lumber and Labor, pp. 65-66.

 

7     Vernon Jensen, Lumber and Labor, pp. 58-59.

 

8     The Lumber Industry and Its Workers (Chicago: IWW Publisher, 3rd ed., n.d.) IWW Collection, Box 165, Walter Reuther Library, Detroit, Michigan, p. 83.

 

9     George Rahkonen, untranscribed interview, Phelps, Wisconsin, August 18, 1977.

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Book Page 74

10    Arne Halonen, "The Role of Finnish- Americans in the Political Labor Movement" (M.A. thesis, University of Minnesota. 1945), p. 17.

 

11    Al Gedicks, "The Social Origins of Radicalism Among Finnish Immigrants in Midwst Mining Communities", Review of Radical Political Economics, 8-3 (Fall 1976) 1-31.

 

12    Douglas Ollila, Jr., "From Socialism to Industrial Unionism (IWW): Social Factors in the Emergence of the Left- labor Radicalism among Finnish Workers in the Mesabi, 1911-19", Michael G. Karni, et. al. The Finnish Experience in the Western Great Lakes Region: New Perspectives (Vammala, Finland: Institute for Migration, Turku University, 1975), pp. 156-71.

 

13    While it is not within the scope of this essay to do more than summerize I.W.W. activity in the Peninsula, future researchers should explore more thoroughly its role in organizing timber workers, aided by the archives of I.U. 120 in Thunder Bay, Ontario. This paragraph was pieced together from conversations with several Wobblies, including Hannah Vireen and Fred Thompson, correspondence with Sulo Peltola, and letters translated from the Finnish in Box 18, Folder 9, IWW Collection, Walter Reuther Library.

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Book Page 75

14   Cited by George B. Engberg, "Collective Bargaining in the Lumber Industry of the Great Lakes Region", Agricultural History 24 (October 1950) 205-11, p. 210.

 

15   Denis Ottewell, "The I.W.A.", Labour History PSA, 1-1 (March 1977) , p.6.

 

16   Vernon Jensen, Lumber and Labor, chap. 11, passim.

 

17   Vernon Jensen, Lumber and Labor, p. 190, and James M. Shields, "The Amazing Timberworkers", North Country Anvil, n.d., p. 22.

 

18   Timber and Sawmill Workers, Sawmill and Lumber Workers, and Timber Workers are used interchangeably to denote the affiliate of the Carpenters and Joiners.

 

19   Duluth Timber Worker, 2 April 1937. Listed as fraternal delegates from the Lumber and Sawmill Workers Union Local 2530 at Local 2776's founding convention are William Johnson, Roy Johnson, Robert Salo, Sulo Kaari, John W. Maki, and Onni Kangas. Brother Salo, representing the Michigan delegation is quoted: "We can learn a lot from this convention for our work among the lumberjacks and sawmill workers in Michigan. The strike here aroused interest among lumber workers in Upper Michigan. The Michigan workers will join with the Minnesota workers when the agreement with the bosses terminates September 1, to renew the agreement. The conditions in our camps prompted organization there."

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Book Page 76

 

20   Duluth Timber Worker, 2 April 1937.

 

21   George Rahkonen, interview, July 29,1977, Phelps, Wisconsin, p. 2.

 

22    Auvo Kostiainen, "The Finns and the Crisis over 'Bolshevization' in the Workers' Party 1924-25", Michael G. Karni. et. al. The Finnish Experience in the Western Great Lakes: New Perspectives, passim.

 

23   John Wiita, "Some Experiences of My Work at Upper Michigan as Communist Party District Secretary" Memoir, Immigration Hi story Re search Center, St. Paul, Minn.

 

24   George Rahkonen, interview, July 29, 1977, p. 3.

 

25   Duluth Timber Worker, 14 May 1937. Frank Arvola, a "progressive" was soon to leave for Spain joining the ranks of the Lincoln Brigade with some two hundred lumberjacks from the tri state area.

 

26   George Rahkonen, interview with Al Gedicks, Mesaba Park, Minnesota, June 29, 1975, p.4.

 

27   Martin Kuusisto, interview conducted by Irene Paull, October 1968, Audiovisual Library, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota, passim; Also, Timber Worker 2 April 1937 quoted Liss, "I happened to be the editor, distributor, manager, all except printer /It was

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Book Page 77

 

       printed in the Tyomies shop in Supenior/. It can't be put out by one man but will be the duty of every lumberjack in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin."

 

28   Martin Kuusisto, interview, p.6.

 

29   George Rahkonen, interview, p.4.

 

30   Charles Symon, draft of Green Bay Press Gazette feature article, 28 May
1977.

 

31   Duluth Timber Worker, 2 April 1937.

 

32   Matt Savola, interview, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 30, 1977, p,6.

 

33   Tyomies, 21 May 1937; Timber Worker, 21 May 1937; Ironwood Daily Globe, 21 May 1937. They are quick to add, "Camp Two was to be operated only two weeks more, however, said Robert Lyons, general manager for the company at Marenisco. All new camps, he said, are a decided improvement over Camp Two."

 

Part II

 

1     Timber Worker, 28 May 1937.

 

2     Nick Wancash, interview, Wakefield, Michigan, August 23, 1977.

 

3     Ironwood Daily Globe, 21 May 1937.

 

4     Ironwood Daily Globe, 21 May 1937; Timber Worker, 21 May 1937.

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Book Page 78

5     George Rahkonen, interview, p. 4.

 

6     Matt Savola, interview, Minneapolis, June 30, 1977 pp. 1-5.

 

7     John Wiita, "Some Experiences of My Work at Upper Michigan as Communist District Secretary," p. 5.

 

8     George Rahkonen, interview, p. 6; Timber Worker, 4 June 1937; Tyomies, 25 May 1937.

 

9     George Rahkonen, interview, p. 7.

 

10   Ironwood Party Globe, 21 May 1977.

 

11   Iron River Reporter, 28 May 1977.

 

12   Marquette Mining Journal, 24, 31 May 1937; 4 June 1937.

 

13   Letter, R. W. Nebel to Norman Hill, May 28, 1937, Frank Murphy Collection, Box 17, Folder 14, Michigan Historical Collections, Bentley Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

 

14   Marquette Mining Journal, 27 May 1937.

 

15   Charles Symon, untranscribed interview, Gladstone, Michigan, September 21, 1977.

 

16   Telegram from John W. Hannah to Governor Murphy, May 28, 1937, The Frank Murphy Papers: Box 17, Folder 40, Bentley Library.

 

17   Marquette Mining Journal, 24 May 1937.

 

18   Marquette Mining Journal, 31 May 1937.

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Book Page 79

 

19    Marquette Mining Journal, 1 June 1937.

 

20   Ibid.

 

21   Timber Worker, 11 June 1937. A courageous, colorful and talented woman, Irene Paull is deserving of more than a footnote. She first became active with the Timber Workers in December, 1936 when Joe Liss enlisted her. As she recalls, "I was working for Hank as his secretary. He came up to the office and said to me, "What are you doing up here working in an office when we need you down in strike headquarters?" (I had never met the man before.) He said, "Would Anna Louise Strong do that?" (p. 5, Martin Kuusisto interview)

 

22   National Labor Relations Board, Decisions and Orders, Vol. XVII, Nov. 1939, pp. 799800.

 

23   U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 6th District, Transcript of Record, NLRB vs. Newberry Lumber and Chemical Company, January 13, 1941, passim.

 

24   Newberry News, 11 June 1937.

 

25   Norman Barry, untranscribed interview, Newberry, Michigan, September 20, 1977.

 

26   Newberry News, 11 June 1937. Two apocryphal anecdotes repeated again and again by union sympathizers about Newberry bear recounting: The first, as a new piano at the Finnish Workers Hall was being hacked to pieces, a

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Book Page 80

 

       townsman with a crowbar is said to have shouted, "It's the Internationale I'm playing. How do you like it?" The second, after the attack on the strikers' delegation one striker is reported to have commented, "There's an insane asylum and all the crazy people were let loose."

 

27   "There isn't much against him /Liss/ here from a legal standpoint," admitted Attorney Nebel in a follow-up letter to the governor's executive secretary two weeks later. "The chances are he will be permitted or invited to leave the county. Perhaps both." Murphy Papers, Box 17, Folder 49.

 

28   Milwaukee Journal, 6 June 1937 The Daily Globe quoted an operator of 25 years who said that talk of 'Wives and children in distress" was so much nonsense. He said that in all of his years in the woods, the only married men he employed were cooks and foremen. The real distress, he said lay with the married mill employees who were forced out of work by the strike. His point is supported by the sample of 910 strikers who applied for relief in Gogebic County: 793 were single men, 77 were married, 21 widowed and 19 divorced.

 

29   Marquette Mining Journal, 4 June 1937; Iron River Reporter, June 1937, quotes Walter Berry, Field Representative for the ERA: "If we feed them, we will be accused of being in sympathy with the strikers, and if we do not, they will

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Book Page 81

 

       say we favor the logging operators... We will have to regard these men as any other unemployed individuals. We are interested in them not as strikers, but as needy persons."

 

30   Telegram of Raik, Lincoln to Murphy, June 2, 1937, Murphy Papers: Box 17, Folder 42, Bentley Library.

 

31   Memorandum, Oscar Olander to Governor Murphy, June 2, 1937, Murphy Papers: Box 17, Folder 42.

 

32   University of Michigan Alumni Records Office; Marquette Mining Journal, 6 June 1937.

 

33   Irene Paull, "Farewell, Sweet Warrior, To my husband, Henry Paull, Attorney for the People," May 1944. Irene Paull Collection, unprocessed, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.

 

34   Milwaukee Journal, 6 June 1937; The Daily Globe stated that the Munising jacks voted to accept the AFL plan of organization and Peter Martel was to meet with them to organize the union under a new charter. June 9, 1937.

 

35   Telegram of Luke Raik to Murphy, June 7, 1937, Murphy Papers: Box 17, Folder 44.

 

36   Milwaukee Journal, 6 June 1937.

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Book Page 82

 

Part III

 

1     Ironwood Daily Globe, 5 June 1937.

 

2     Timber Worker, 18 June 1937; Ironwood Daily Globe, 15 June 1937.

 

3     George Corrigan. untranscribed interview, Saxon, Wisconsin, October 7, 1977.

 

4     George Rahkonen, interview, p. 11.

 

5     George Corrigan, jobber, admits, "Some of us did put on a few men... We put them back in the woods quite a ways, let them alone, figure by the cord /doing piece work/. They'd come in for supper but if there'd be any strangers in the camp, why somebody would go out then and tell them to wait till the strangers left. We had about ten farmer boys from down around Wausau." Interview, October 7. The Timber Worker distainfully dismissed what scabbing was done as the puerile efforts of farmboys and college kids.

 

6     Ironwood Daily Globe, 19 June 1937.  The membership of the strikers' committee was left with Henry Paull, Luke Raik, Matt Savola, George Rahkonen, John "Murphy" McMonagle, Bill Toomey, Arnold Starkweather, and James Rogers, the Vice President of Minnesota Local 2776.

 

7     Ironwood Daily Globe, 23 June 1937.

 

8     Timber Worker, 25 June 1937.

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Book Page 83

9     When the State Health Commissioner sent an inspector to Marenisco at the behest of John McNicholas, township supervisor and incidentally, a jobber, who feared "an epidemic" about the strike headquar ters, the Sanitary Officer reported, "The lumberjacks are cooperative in matters of sanitation; no serious health problem exists in the village." Ironwood Daily Globe, 19 June 1937.

 

10   Timber Worker, 18 June 1937.

 

11   James M. Shields, "The Amazing Timberworkers", North Country Anvil.

 

12   Matt Savola, interview, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 29, 1977, p. 14.

 

13   Telegram of Luke Raik to Governor Murphy, June 11, 1937, Murphy Papers, Box 17, Folder 44.

 

14   Timber Worker, 18 June 1937.

 

15   Ironwood Daily Globe, 30 June 1937; George Rahkcnen, interview, p. 11.

 

16   Governor's Strike Committee, transcript of July 8, 1937, hearing held at Marenisco. Murphy Papers: Box 56,Folder 25.

 

17   Ibid.

 

18   Ironwood Rotary Club resolution to Governor Murphy, June 30, 1937, Murphy Papers: Box 56, Folder 25.

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Book Page 84

 

19   Governor's Strike Committee, proceedings of June 17, 1937. Murphy Papers: Box 56, Folder 25.

 

20   Matt Savola, interview, p. 15.

 

21   Letter of Henry Paull to Nathaniel Clark, July 4, 1937. Murphy Papers:  Box 18, folder 2.

 

22   International Woodworkers of America, Convention Proceedings - 1938, p. 363.

 

23   Matt Savola, interview, p. 15.

 

Part IV

 

1     See Governor's Strike Commission transcripts of Marenisco hearing, June 8, 1937.

 

2     Timber Worker, 2 July 1937.

 

3     Conference for Protection of Civil Rights telegram to Governor Murphy, July 1, 1937. Murphy Papers: Box 18, Folder 1.

 

4     Two weeks before the outbreak of violence in Gogebic County, Raik had wired, "We feel that the spread of violence continues because the state executive office does not interfere with illegal actions by mobs led by sheriffs." Timber Worker, June 18.

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Book Page 85

 

5     Letter from Murphy to B. B. Hutchinson, June 24, 1937, Murphy Papers, Box 17, Folder 51.

 

6     South Bend Tribune, June 11, 1937.

 

7     George Krogstad, memorandum to Governor Murphy, July 1, 1937. Murphy Papers: Box 18, Folder 1.

 

8     George Krogstad, memorandum to Governor Murphy, July 2, 1937. Murphy Papers:
Box 18, Folder 1.

 

9     Ironwood Daily Globe, 2 July 1937.

 

10     Ironwood Daily Globe, 7 July 1937.

 

11     George Rahkonen, interview, p. 13.

 

12   Ironwood Daily Globe, 15 July 1937; also in Murphy Papers: Box 56, Folder 26.

 

13   Timber Worker, 23 July 1937.

 

14   Timber Worker, 23 July 1937.

 

15   Timber Worker, (Midwest Labor) 24 March 1939.

 

16   Timber Worker, (Midwest Labor) 13 August 1937.

 

17   Ironwood Daily Globe, 16 July 1937; also in Murphy Papers: Box 56, Folder 26.

 

18   Cited in Timber Worker, 9 July 1937.

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Book Page 86

 

19   George Corrigan, untranscribed interview, Saxon, Wisconsin, October 7, 1977.

 

20   Cited in the Timber Worker, 30 June 1937.

 

21   Governor's Strike Committee, minutes of the meeting at Covington, July 20, 1937, Murphy Papers: Box 56, Folder 20; Ironwood Daily Globe, 20 July 1937; Timber Worker, 23 July 1937.

 

22   Ironwood Daily Globe, 24 July 1937.

 

23   Timber Worker, 6 August 1937; Tronwood Daily Globe, 5 August 1937.

 

24   Members of the employers committee were Adolph Mueller, C. L. Anderson, Clarence Kane, John Hautar en, Arvey Ahonen, and C. A. Trethewey, attorney. Ironwood Daily Globe, 12 August 1937.

 

25   Timber Worker (Midwest Labor), 3 September 1937.

 

26   Ironwood Daily Globe, 12, 14 August 1937; Timber Worker, 13 August 1937.

 

27   Governor's Strike Committee, statement to the press, August 12, 1937. Murphy Papers: Box 56, Folder 26.

 

28   U. S. Court of Appeals, transcript of Newberry Lumber and Chemical vs NLRB, January 13, 1941. Matt Savola testimony, p. 208.

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Book Page 87

 

29   Timber Worker, 20 August 1937.

 

30   George Rahkonen, interview, p. 16.

 

31   Ironwood Daily Globe, 17 August 1937.

 

32   Ironwood Daily Globe, 20 August 1937.

 

33   Timber Worker, 20 August 1937.

 

34   National Labor Relations Board, Decisions and Orders, Vol. XVII, Nov. 1938,

 

35   Ironwood Daily Globe, 12 June 1937.

 

36   See National Labor Relations Board, Decisions and Orders, Vol. X, May, 1938.

 

37   General Organization Bulletin, January 1937, IWW Collection: Box 32, Folder 26.

 

38   Correspondence translated from the Finnish, IWW Collection: Box 18, Folder 9.

 

39   IWW Demands in the Lumber Industry, leaflet, n.d. IWW Collection, Box 165.

 

40   Fred Thompson, The IWW: Its First Fifty Years (Chicago: IWW Publications, 1955), p. 174; conversation with Fred Thompson, April 31, 1977.

 

41   Ironwood Daily Globe, 3 August 1937.

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Book Page 88

 

42   The first convention of the tni-state Mid-West Woodworkers was held August 7-8 in Duluth. Matt Savola was elected secretary-treasurer. Local members on the executive board were George Rahkonen, Lester Stolberg and Wilho Wilkkila.

 

43   Ironwood Daily Globe, 19 August 1937.

 

44   George Rahkonen, interview, page 16.

 

45   At the end of 1937 membership as reported by Local 15's first president, Matt Savola, was 3,200. A year later it had increased to 4,800. (Midwest Labor, 6 January 1939.

 

46   Midwest Labor, 3 September 1937.

 

47   Nick Wancash, interview, passim.

 

48   See National Labor Relations Board Decisions and Orders.

 

49   Midwest Labor, 12 September 1941.

 

50   George Rahkonen, interview, p. 8.

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Book Page 89

SOURCES CONSULTED


Articles

 

Engberg, George B. "Collective Bargaining in the Lumber Industry of the Upper Great Lakes." Agricultural History, 24: 205-11 (October 1950).

 

Gedicks, Al. "The Social Origins of Radicalism Among Finnish Immigrants In Midwestern Mining Communities." Review of Radical Political Economics. Vol. 8, no. 3 (Fall 1976).

 

Kostiainen, Auvu. "The Finns and the Crisis over 'Bolshevization' in the Workers' Party 1924-25." Michael Karni, et.al., eds. The Finnish Experience in the Western Great Lakes Region: New Perspectives. (Vammala, Finland: Institute for Migration, Turku University, 1975).

 

Ollila, Douglas, Jr. "From Socialism to Industrial Unionism (IWW): Social Factors in the Emergence of the Left-labor Radicalism among Finnish Workers in the Mesabi, 1911-19." Karni, et. al., New Perspectives.

 

Ottewell, Denis, "The I.W.A." Labour History PSA, Vol. I, no. 1, March 1977.  Shields, James M. "The Amazing Timberworkers." The North Country Anvil, n.d.

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Book Page 90

 

Books

 

Bernstein, Irving. Turbulent Years: A History of the American Worker 1933-1941. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1971

 

Corrigan, George A. Calked Boots and Cant Hooks. Park Fall, Wiso.: MacGregor Litho, 1976.

 

Halonen, Arne. "The Role of the Finnish- American in the Political Labor Movement." Masters thesis, University of Minnesota, 1945.

 

(Industrial Workers of the World). The Lumber Industry and Its Workers. 3rd ed. Chicago: IWW Publishers. n.d.

 

Jensen, Vernon. Lumber and Labor. (New York, N.Y.: Farrar & Rinehart, Inc., 1945.)

 

Karni, Michael G., et. al. eds. The Finnish Experience in the Western Great Lakes Region: New Perspectives (Vammala, Finland: Institute for Migration Turku University, y, 1975).

 

Karni, Michael G., et. al. For the Common Good: Finnish Immigrants and the Radical Response to Industrial America.  Superior, Wisc.: Tyomies Society, 1977.

 

Thompson, Fred. The IWW: Its First Fifty Years. (Chicago: IWW Publications, 1955).

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Book Page 91

 

Oral History Interviews

 

Barry, Norman. Interviewer, Debra Bernhardt. Newberry, Michigan. September 19,1977.

 

Cordish, Louis. Interviewer, Debra Bernhardt. Munising, Michigan. September 20, 1977.

 

Corrigan, George. Interviewer, Debra Bernhardt. Saxon, Wisconsin. October 7, 1977.

 

Kuusisto, Martin. Interviewer, Irene Paull. October 1968. Audio-Visual Library, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.

 

Rahkonen, George. Interviewer, Debra Bernhardt. Phelps, Wisconsin. July 29, 1977.

 

________________      Interviewer, Al Gedicks. Mesaba Park, Minnesota. June 29, 1975. (In the possession of Al Gedicks)

 

Savola, Matt. Interviewer, Debra Bernhardt. Minneapolis, Minnesota. June 30, 1977.

 

Symon, Charles. Interviewer, Debra Bernhardt. Wakefield, Michigan. August 23, 1977.

 

Newspapers

 

Duluth Timber Worker, succeeded by Midwest Labor. Files at the Immigration History Research Center, St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Book Page 92

 

Newspapers (Cont.)

 

Iron River Reporter

 

Ironwood Daily Globe

 

Marquette Mining Journal

 

Milwaukee Journal

 

Newberry News

 

South Bend Tribune

 

Superior, Wisconsin Tyomies; translated from the Finnish by Arthur Puotinen.

 

Manuscripts and Collections

 

Hafeli, Kenneth. "Henry Ford's Timber Operations in the Upper Peninsula." n.d. In the possession of Dr. Larry Rakestraw, Houghton, Michigan.

 

IWW Collection, Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan.

 

Frank Murphy Papers, Michigan Historical

 

Collections, Bentley Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

 

Irene Paull Collection, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.

 

University of Michigan Alumni Records Office

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Book Page 93

 

Manuscripts and Collections (Cont.)

 

Wiita, John. "Some Experiences of My Work at Upper Michigan as Communist Party District Secretary." Unpublished memoir. Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota.

 

Proceedings

 

International Woodworkers of America, Convention Proceedings - 1938.

 

National Labor Relations Board, Decisions and Orders. Vols. XIX, X, XXX, XVII.

 

U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 6th District. Transcript of Record. NLRB vs. Newberry Lumber & Chemical Company, January 13, 1941.

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Book Page 94

 

        Debra Bernhardt earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing and Literature and History of Ideas at the University of Michigan Residential College in 1975. In 1974 she received the Hopwood Award for Creative Writing for her short stories. Working under grants from the Michigan Historical Collections and the Michigan Council for the Arts she compiled an Oral History of Mining in Iron County. The project took final form in the play "Black Rock and Roses" which was performed as a Bicentennial observance. For her "innovative work as a researcher and writer of the history of Iron County" she was one of eight individuals to be selected to receive the Historical Society of Michigan Award of Merit in 1976.

 

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