Bill Haywood's Book: The Autobiography of William D. Haywood

By William D. Haywood | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
THE WESTERN FEDERATION OF MINERS

THERE were delegates from most of the mining camps of the West: copper miners from Butte, Montana; lead miners from the Cœur d'Alenes, Idaho; gold miners from the Black Hills of South Dakota and from Cripple Creek, Colorado; silver miners from Virginia City, Nevada, which was called the mother of mines. The miners' unions of most of these places had been old assemblies of the Knights of Labor. Here they were all meeting together. Miners' delegates came from many other places besides; British Columbia had her representatives as well as Arizona. There were mill men and smelter men and one or two coal miners. We were the men who, with the United Mine Workers, a body of coal miners, produced the mineral wealth of America. Each union that we represented was an integral part of the Western Federation of Miners. We were one of the three industrial unions that existed at that time, and the only one that had a vision of the day when with other unions in other industries, we could live by the slogan "All for One, One for All."

Here were men who had fought in the tragic strikes of Cœur d'Alenes, Cripple Creek, and Leadville. We were talking of plans which would strengthen our position and back up the rifles that many of us already possessed. We wanted the other workers in and around the mining camps organized with us.

Edward Boyce in his presidential report recommended the formation of an organization that would be a support to the miners and a benefit to the organized men and women. He also called attention to the importance of a Miners' Home for crippled, sick and aged miners, who as a rule under the present conditions died as charity patients, when a mere pittance from each of us would mean a guarantee of care and shelter.

One of the delegates, in speaking of the Spanish War, then going on in Cuba and the Philippines, predicted that the result would be an increase in the standing army, which then consisted of twenty-

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