Wobblies Returning To Soapbox in Everett

October 17, 2016

Events in Everett, Everett

Got an email from the office of the Whatcom-Skagit Industrial Workers of the World advising of this event coming to Everett on November 5th…


The IWW will be back in Everett November 5th for the first time in nearly 100 years.

Members of the radical Industrial Workers of the World union (IWW; also known as Wobblies) will gather in Everett, Washington at 1:30 PM on November 5th to commemorate the murders of as many as 12 members of the union on that date in 1916. The commemoration is organized by IWW union branches in Seattle and Bellingham. IWWs and supporters will gather at 1:30 PM to lay wreaths at the memorial located at 1001 Hewitt Avenue then parade to the ‘speakers corner’ at Hewitt and Wetmore. The parade will complete the journey that was intended for that November day one hundred years ago. Wobblies and friends will soapbox on Speakers Corner and music will be played in honor of the fallen union members.  The public rally and march is open to all interested in workers’ history and in improving wages and working conditions in Everett.

                In 1916 the IWWs were returning to Everett in defiance of the city’s de facto ban on free speech. Wobbly free speech fighters were previously badly beaten and run out of town by deputies and a mob organized by the Everett Commercial Club. Over 300 Wobblies were among the passengers aboard two commercial ferries, the ‘Verona’ and ‘Calista’ sailing from Seattle to Everett. A vigilante gang organized by Sheriff Donald McCrae and Everett mill owners met them at the dock. A fusillade of shots rang out. The ‘Everett Massacre’ left 5 IWWs and two vigilantes dead. Seven other IWWs were missing. Everett residents reported that bodies of these unidentified missing IWW members were recovered from the water later. Around 50 men on both sides were wounded. While it isn’t known for certain who opened fire, the circumstantial evidence points at the sheriff’s men, many of whom had been drinking. IWWs had no reason to jeopardize their intention of marching to Speakers Corner, and violence against members of the radical union was common in the Northwest.

The free speech fight began when IWW members from around the northwest converged on Everett to support a strike by an AFL mill workers union. Wobblies were singled out for arrest at as they spoke on behalf of the strike and against capitalism at a popular spot for public speakers, the intersection of Hewlitt and Wetmore. This street corner was the destination of the 300 IWW members aboard the two ships when they were shot down at the dock.

“The Everett Massacre should be remembered because this same kind of injustice repeats itself every day that protesters and fellow workers are imprisoned, injured, or murdered” said Randall Jamrock, General Secretary of the Chicago-based IWW. “Folks are persecuted and arrested for being poor, radical, or racial minorities. It can be stopped when we unite the working class & unemployed.”

The IWW’s November 5th Everett Massacre commemoration marks the return of the Industrial Workers of the World to Everett after nearly 100 years. The IWW has an active union presence in cities all over the Northwest, the US, Canada and Great Britain. Chartered IWW organizations are in Germany, Australia, Greece, Taiwan and Iceland. Members are employed in virtually every industry. They join IWW as individuals or by organizing workplaces. The union organizes workers by their industry, rather than specific trades, which is the meaning to the term ‘Industrial’ in the IWW name. Regardless of their specific job, workers organized into the IWW are all members of the same shop union. In a restaurant, for instance, the cooks, servers, delivery drivers, and dishwashers all belong to the same member-controlled union, rather than a variety of competing unions based on trades, and that local union is in the same industrial union as the workers employed by the food wholesale businesses. The union is openly opposed to capitalism and does not affiliate itself with any political parties.


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