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James Rowan

Chapter 7 - Victory, but not the Final Victory

Shortly after the strike was transferred to the job, the government placed Colonel Disque, with headquarters in Portland, Oregon, in charge of spruce production. Although the production of spruce was little interfered with by the strike, the lumber companies purposely held it back, to discredit the strikers and make it appear that they were striking against the government, and to force it to aid in breaking the strike.

Chapter 6 - The Job Strike

For some time an idea had been gaining headway among the strikers; that it was time to make use of new tactics, that they had stayed off the job long enough, and that it was time to get back to the camps and mills, and carry the strike with them. Many had been opposed to a long drawn out strike, from the first, and grill had advocated an early return to the job, and tire use of the job strike. As the strike progressed the wisdom of these tactics became more apparent.

Chapter 5 - The Lumber Workers' Struggle for Freedom and the Lumber Trusts' Struggle for Profits

March the 5th and 6th, 1917 a lumber workers convention was held in Spokane, for the purpose of forming an industrial union in the lumber industry. This convention was composed of thirteen delegates representing all the AWO branches in Eastern Washington, Idaho, and Western Montana, thenceforth known as the Spokane district; two delegates representing the organizer! lumber workers of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, the Middle West district; and two representing Nos. 432 of Seattle, and 338 of Tacoma. Lumber Workers Industrial Union No.

Chapter 4 - The Early Struggle for Camp & Sawmill Democracy

Many attempts at organization among the lumber workers have been made with varying success. In 1902 the Western Labor Union, an organization closely allied with the Western Federation of Miners, began to gain a foothold among the lumber workers of Western Montana. In 1905 this organization which had changed its name to the American Labor Union, was one of the unions which went to make up the IWW By that time it had a considerable membership among the lumber workers of Western Montana and the union charter hung in many bunk houses.

Chapter 3 - The One Big Union of the Workers Versus Bosses

Let us investigate the causes of the miserable condition of the lumber workers. We find that the lumber companies are in business for one purpose-to make profits. They care nothing about the welfare of the workers; that is none of their business. They do not care how rotten conditions are in the camps as long as the men are able to do their work. To them it is immaterial how many men die from disease or accident, so long as they are able to get others to take their places. The longer the hours, the lower the wages, the harder the work and the more inhuman the conditions, the bigger.

Chapter 2 - The Lumber Trust Autocracy Over Labor

The Lumber Trust we may consider as the One Big Union of the bosses in the timber industry. We find the lumber companies closely and efficiently organized, with tremendous power and fabulous wealth; while among the workers in the lumber industry there was until lately an almost complete lack of organization. As a class they were lacking in power and reduced to a state of economic dependence and servitude.

Chapter 1 - The Monopoly of the Lumber Trust

The lumber industry of the United States presents a good example of trustification. Practically all the timber lands are owned or controlled by that great Rockefeller - Weyerhauser combination of capital known as the Lumber Trust. Wherever we find timberlands' there we find the Lumber Trust the ruling power, controlling not only the industry, but also the local, and sometimes the state machinery of government, while it's powerful and corrupt influences at the National Capital is well known.

The IWW in the Lumber Industry (James Rowan)

By James Rowan, Lumber Workers Industrial Union #500 - IWW; Seattle, Washington - 1920

About the author:

James Rowan began organizing in the Lumber Industry for the IWW as early as 1916, witnessed the Everett Massacre, and became involved in the great IWW LWIU organizing campaigns from 1917-23. During this time he became to be known as the "Jesus of the Lumberjacks".

Unfortunately, post World War I defeats and factional disputes led to James Rowan leading a splinter faction called the "Emergency Program" (or "E.P.") which ultimately failed. The "E.P." died out around 1930. James Rowan was quite possibly its last remaining member.

Before this disastrous split, however, Fellow Worker Rowan's efforts contributed to and documented the success of the LWIU 120 (then known as LWIU 500).

The following represents the complete, unabridged edition of James Rowan's Sixty-One Page account of the (then) short but colorful history of the IWW in the Lumber Industry of the American Pacific Northwest from 1907-20. 

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