Given recent events in states like Wisconsin, I thought it appropriate to share some historical perspectives on labor relations in the Copper Country. Rebels on the Range: The Michigan Copper Miner’s Strike of 1913-1914 by Arthur W. Thurner looks at the events of the copper strike, which began in July 1913. With representation by the Western Federation of Miners, copper mine strikers fought for a shorter working day, improved working conditions, higher wages, and recognition of their union. Of particular interest to worker safety was the one-man drill (as opposed to the drill that used two workers), which from a company perspective saved on wage hours but from a worker perspective greatly increased the instance of serious and possibly fatal injury. Rebels on the Range chronicles the events which prompted the strike and discusses the events of the strike itself. Thurner takes care to discuss those events directly related to the mines and the goals of strikers as well as those events that impacted the community and families, such as the Italian Hall disaster. As a local of Calumet, Thurner was able to utilize local resources and interview local people to create his account of local labor history.
In addition to recommending this book for those interested in the copper miner’s strike and general labor history I would also like to recommend that you take a look at the journal Labor: Studies in Working Class History of the Americas. If you are unable to subscribe, please take a look at four articles that they recently made available to the public. The articles listed below will help place current labor struggles into a broader historical context. I think these articles will be great discussion starters.
Despite EFCA’s Limitations, Its Demise Is a Profound Defeat for U.S. Labor