History of the Labor Movement in the United States - Vol. 4

By Philip S. Foner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
The I.W.W., 1907-1909

The upheaval of 1906 had deprived the I.W.W. of its strongest affiliate, the W.F. of M., and this, together with the defection of the Sherman contingent, left the organization with fewer than 6,000 members. Nevertheless, the I.W.W. was still alive. On August 8, 1907, Gompers sent an urgent memorandum to a number of international presidents cautioning them not to be taken in by reports that "the Industrial Workers of the World are dead and buried. In this connection, I desire to call attention to the very persistent work of organizing that is being prosecuted by the Industrial Workers of the World. I make mention of this because I think it necessary that something should be done in the near future to check the growth of this Dual movement."1


PROGRESS IN ORGANIZATION

Despite its straitened financial status, the I.W.W. made a real effort after the second convention to organize the foreign-born workers. Circulars and pamphlets were issued in a number of languages, and in the summer of 1907, the Industrial Union Bulletin announced that this educational campaign was producing results, especially among Polish workers who were said to be "t aking to the I.W.W. as a duck takes to water." Foreign-language branches were increasingly established, such as the Hungarian branch of the Metal and Machinery Workers' Industrial Union, L.U. No. 1113 -- there was also an English-speaking branch -- and the French-speaking branches in the textile industry. Jewish and Italian organizers were appointed, although lack of funds prevented the organization from filling requests for other organizers of these nationality groups. The Italian Socialist Federation and its local branches urged their members and all Italian workers to join the I.W.W., and its journal, Il Proletario, became an official organ of the industrial union. La Propaganda, a weekly Italian paper was started in Chicago. In San

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