In 1916, Everett, Washington was facing severe economic difficulty. There was ongoing confrontation between business and commercial interests and labor and labor organizers. The laborer had numbers of organized rallies and speeches on the street. These were opposed by local law enforcement, which was firmly on the side of the business. On May 1, 1916 the Everett Shingle Weavers Union went on strike. The strike was settled quickly in favor of the mills owner, but one. This is when the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) or “Wobbies” became involved and the trouble began. Many members of the IWW saw this to be an opportunity to organize and provide support for the strikers. When IWW organizer and speaker James Rowan arrived on Everett June 31, 1916, Everett became home to IWW newest “Free-Speech Fight”. Everett employers clashed with IWW stubbornness. On the corner of Hewitt and Wetmore, IWW’s speakers chose to speak. At first the speakers would get arrested and get released. Members were paid one dollar by the union for every day they were in jail. Everett jails were kept busy and Snohomish County Sheriff Donald McRae quickly became frustrated. McRae’s next solution was to arrest the speakers and send them to Seattle, instructing them not to return to Everett.
On August 19, 1916 the balance changed, after an episode of violence hit the Jamison Mill. On that day at the start of the shift, strike-b...
... middle of paper ...
...leased from jail, nearly the whole body of IWW men went to Mount Pleasant cemetery to visit the graves of their dead fellow workers.
Everett was “Wobbies” last free speech fight. The violence that took place on November 5, 1916 will never be forgotten and left its mark in the Pacific Northwest history. Workers of the Pacific Northwest actively shaped their lives both on and off work. But this wouldn’t be the last of many changes in the Pacific Northwest.
Schwantes, Carlos. “The Pacific Northwest: An Interpretive History.” University of Nebraska. 1996.
University of Washington “The 1916 Everett, Washington Massacre.” 2010. 15 March 2011.
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