20th Century, Culture, Industry, Intercession, Labor, Mining, Minnesota

Mesabi Range Strike

Unknown

Jul 20, 1907 to Aug 15, 1907
The 1907 strike was the first organized, widespread strike on the Iron Range. The immigrant miners—mostly Finnish—had little experience with unions or large-scale strikes. Although the union (Western Federation of Miners)had been planning a strike, the immediate cause was the layoff in July of 200 union members by the Oliver Iron Mining Company. A strike was called on July 20. In early August, strikebreakers were brought in and “deputies” hired to protect them. By mid-August, sufficient numbers of strikebreakers, combined with improved economic conditions, broke the strike.*

What causes a man to be ready to say “enough is enough” Lord? Like many strikes, the motivations seem to be dangerous working conditions and too little pay. But is there more to this circumstance Lord?

I ran across the person of Charles Moyer, the leader of the Western Federation of Miners from 1902 -1926. This is a quote I found on Wikipedia regarding this strike:
“His experiences with the IWW led Moyer to the conclusion that the federation was too radical. Moyer was especially disturbed by the IWW’s refusal to ally with or endorse any political party, which had been the key to Moyer’s support for the creation of the IWW. In 1908, Moyer led the WFM out of the IWW, taking most of the IWW’s membership (which belonged to the WFM) with him. Concerned that the WFM’s reputation for radicalism was making it difficult to reach collective bargaining agreements, Moyer re-affiliated his union with the conservative American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1911.”
“This strike was not started by the I.W.W., but has been underway the past six years. We have appealed to every labor official in Minnesota to have the miners on the range organized, but we have been shuttled back and forth between the Western Federation of Miners and other organizations who passed us on again until finally the miners took things into their own hands and went out without organization.” ** M.E. Shusterich A leader of the Mesabi Range Strike
Philip Sheldon Foner, History of the labor movement in the United States, 1980, 4th edition, pages 493-494

So to briefly summarize the situation, Mesabi’s miners wanted relief from the stains of their labor. One union, the WFM, wished to settle with owners, and those influenced by the more aggressive IWW did not wish to settle. This is much more complex than I originally thought, but I ask You to help me unravel these motive conflicts. Like many of our struggles in life, our motives become less clear when loyalties to multiple relationships are involved.
Let’s start at the beginning, with the Finnish workers. Lord, You have seen how these men worked and know the exact conditions they strained under. Will You give acknowledgement to their labors, and remember the dangers they faced? Will You forgive any envy or discontent in their hearts if that led them to demanding more? Will You forgive their judgements and expectations of their employer; the Oliver Iron Mining Company?
Likewise, will You remember the strains of those in management at Oliver Mining? Will You hear their frustrations of trying to communicate with those who don’t speak the language of business? Will You forgive them their false assessments of these Finnish laborers? Assessments such as, “lazy”, “ungrateful”, and “not man enough for the job” come to mind.

teofilo-petriella-deputato-popolare-risposta-42a97ae9-4b19-4c7d-93b3-4c873ead6534

Another set of issues that added to the fog of this strike were as simple as culture and language clashes. These were readily identified and understood by the Italian Socialist Teofilo Petriella who joined with the WFM to assist with the strike.
“The WFM asked Petriella to organize these ethnically diverse miners on the Mesabi Range. In a 1907 report to the WFM, Petriella noted that the steel trust had earned a net total of $156,624,273, but had only paid out $47,765,540 in wages to the 202,457 men they employed. This was important information the miners needed to know because they had not been given a raise in two years. Unfortunately none of the WFM organizers spoke Slovenian, Italian, or Finnish so they could not effectively communicate with the vast majority of disgruntled workers. Petriella’s arrival heralded a new beginning for the organization efforts because he could address the Italians in their native tongue. He also brought in Finnish and Slovenian speakers to assist in the recruitment drive. With their help, he was able to establish or found new union chapters in Hibbing, Chisholm, Buhl, Virginia, Eveleth, and Aurora, plus many other smaller communities in the region. Within these organizations, Petriella split the membership along ethnic lines, which allowed immigrants to organize with their fellow countrymen.” ***

Will You remember these contributions towards clarity made by Petriella, Lord? Will You forgive the judgments made in this strike based on region? Will You forgive the Northern Europeans their prejudices towards the Southern Europeans, and vice versa? So many of our disputes stem from language and or culture. They did not reach clarity because of imprecise language skills to have a nuanced conversation. Presently, we still have the same problem. Forgive us our failures, past and present, to learn and speak each others’ language. Will You inspire future generations to know each other better by knowing both culture and language?

This event encapsulates the ironies of our human nature and heritage in the conflict of the WFM and the IWW. These two organizations both sought to represent their large memberships in labor disputes. Though their stated purpose was to unify miners, in this case, their conflict with each other left their memberships without representation in Mesabi.
Lord, will You forgive the judgements of the WFM towards the IWW? Will You forgive their assessment of the “radicalism” of the IWW? Conversely, will You forgive the IWW of their judgements of the “conservatism” of the WFM? Will You forgive these internal conflicts of labor leadership that left the miners on their own? Will You show us Your plan to resolve such situations? Will You unify us as Your people and forgive our denial of the other man’s talents?
When all is said and done, a huge elephant in this room is envy. It reveals itself to be a root cause of many schisms and revolutions, especially driven by the popular socialist thought that justice is necessarily economic equality. Yet, I question if the human heart would be pleased if we ever reached exact and total economic equality.
Why? There are too many examples in history and life where the difference between envy and contentment is a decision of the spirit, mind, will, and emotions. We may not be able to control our environment or living conditions, but we can choose our response.
For example, my wife worked with the Sisters of Charity in Haiti. These nuns owned two changes of clothes and a bucket. That’s it! No other possessions. Yet, they found joy in the midst of squalor, and their contentment brought hope and help to thousands of poor.

I do not diminish that it’s right to oppose evil. I do not think truth tellers should lose their jobs, be beaten, or even killed for standing up for themselves and others. What I ask of You is that You empower us to oppose evil without becoming evil.

Lord Jesus Christ, You know what it’s like to be poor, homeless, and friendless. Will You give us character that chooses contentment in spite of circumstances? Direct our eyes to You in our seasons of struggle when we are truly powerless and suffering. Will You take this envy from the Mesabi Strike of 1907 up, out, and onto Your cross? Will You be our Heavenly Mediator in our strikes today with oppression, economic injustice, and the envy of our own hearts, and bring a just settlement?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Moyer
*** This quote is from a transcript on “Teofilo Petriella : Marxist Revolutionary” given by Paul Lubotina at Michigan Tech. http://digitalcommons.mtu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=copperstrikesymposium

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20th Century, Business, government, History, Intercession, Jesus, Labor, Mining, Minnesota

Johnson Becomes Governor

Unknown

Jan 4, 1905
John A. Johnson takes office as the state’s 16th governor. Johnson became the first Minnesota-born governor, the first to serve a full term in the present state capitol, and the first to die in office. He also was the first Minnesota governor to bask, fleetingly, in the national spotlight when he sought the 1908 Democratic presidential nomination, but lost to William Jennings Bryan.*

G-d, it is so difficult to prayerfully write about politicians; there’s so much to know about these individuals, and mere facts do not often give one a grasp of their character and motivations. Will You guide me to information that tells the story You most want me to record? Will You give insight to my dullness today?

After a quick hunt on the internet, I found this excellent source at google e-books. It was published in 1910, so the information would be a recent memory of the authors. This is what they had to say,

“As an executive the most spectacular achievement of his career was his handling of the strike on the Minnesota iron range in the summer of 1907.”
“Led by Italian socialist Teofilo Petriella…”
“Needed only a spark to explode this magazine of hatred and fancied wrong…”
“Without guard or escort, he sought out the leaders of the strike…”
“The leaders of the other side were seen in the same personal manner.”
“And the peace was kept without the use of a single soldier or the firing of a single shot-at the cost to the state only of the Governor’s trip to the Range.”

Frank Day and Theodore Macfarlane,Life of John Albert Johnson, Three Times Governor of Minnesota., Forbes and Company, 1910. pp.161-163.
http://books.google.com/books?id=iVxAAAAAYAAJ&dq=john+albert+Johnson+taxation&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Lord, I want to acknowledge this memory to You. Thank you for the peacemaking abilities of Governor Johnson. Thank You for the power of listening intently he showed those in this disagreement. Thank You for the gifts of wisdom this Governor exercised to avert hostility.
However, absence of war alone does not mean peace. Those who followed Petriella to the precipice of revolt suggest that their grievances were deep and unresolved. Lord, will You forgive their bitterness towards their employers? Will You forgive their employers’ judgments towards them?
As a man who did physical labor for years, I may understand part of their pleas for relief. We are human beings, not machines, and sometimes we simply cannot work more without rest. It is very hard to hear criticism from a boss when you have worked yourself to the point of exhaustion day after day. Will You remember the cross of physical exhaustion these men bore? Will You hear their yearnings for their labor to be valued and respected by their bosses and society?
Conversely, hear the voices of their leaders, foremen, and employers! So few of us know the loneliness of being a leader, or of having extremely high pressure decisions on our plate day after day. Often these leaders have no one to confer with, or have insufficient time and data to make informed choices. They just have to “man up” and make the call.
Will You hear their longings for appreciation? Will You heal their feelings of beings hated and punished for creating jobs? Will You be with them in their lonely decisions?
It is easy to look back on this situation and see how these two groups, labor and employer, may have misbeliefs towards each other. Each group has real needs and wants and limitations that should be heard and considered. In light of that, I bless these two groups of Minnesotans that have, are, or will work on the Iron Range; the laborer and the employer. Jesus Christ, will You overcome all their obstacles to a symbiotic relationship? Will You provide mediators like Governor Johnson who can skillfully deal with any crisis? Will You give us Your imagination, and offer new and creative means to repair rifts long before they erupt?
Finally, forgive us, both then, now, and into perpetuity, of failing to see that judgements of our sister, brother, or boss are judgments of You. Who are we to judge Your laborers’ intents rather than actions? Didn’t You make them strong and skilled and able to withstand the elements? Who are we to judge Your employers? Didn’t You give them the ideas to create useful products, to manufacture those products, and sell those products to the world for a profit that enables the cycle to continue? Didn’t You make some who are born leaders? “Blessed are the peacemakers, for the will be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**Excellent summary of this strike by Jack Lynch of the Hibbing Daily Tribune. http://www.hibbingmn.com/news/years_of_yore/petreila-brains-of-strike/article_9a2d9290-ee82-5421-b481-92b4012fef38.html

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19th Century, Business, History, Industry, Intercession, Jesus, Mining, Minnesota, Native Americans

Duluth Boom

unknown

1890
Ore carriers at the Duluth docks take iron ore to the blast furnaces of Pennsylvania. Duluth is booming on the promise of lumber and iron ore. Its population is nearly 10 times what it was 10 years before.*

The Iron Range is an informal and unofficially designated region that makes up the northeastern section of Minnesota in the United States. It is a region with multiple distinct bands of iron ore. The far eastern area, along the shore of Lake Superior, and the far northern area, along the Canadian border, of the region are not associated with iron ore mining. Due to its shape, the area is collectively referred to as the Arrowhead region of the state.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Range

Thank you for the blessing our state with iron ore! Thank you for its discovery! Thank you for the roles both Native Minnesotans’ and eastern geologists played in finding rich sources of this useful metal!
Will You forgive the injustices, bitterness, and divisive competitiveness of this era? Will You replace the deficits of love that have created an inheritance of distrust in Duluth, its’ mining interests, and across the steel industry? Will you give grace to those whose water or land or air were tainted through ore mining? Christ have mercy on us! We are offended and honestly wronged by our neighbor. We form grudges. Then we become the prisoners of our own grudges! Will you show us how to let the other guy ‘off the hook’ so the we do not continue in hypocrisy? Will You give us trust that You will make things right, even though we see no signs of change no matter how hard we search for it?
Because You are “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…” by faith, I announce Your blessing to the Arrowhead region. May your land, air, water, all above you, and all below you, continue into eternal space as a ray of blessing! May your peoples, of all races and creeds, see and feel and know that You are a GOOD FATHER! May this region be known in the present and the future as a people of forbearance who conduct their business and government with the same gemutichkeit (goodwill)! May the plans of the Enemy to turn our hearts hard as iron ore come to nothing! Please use this Arrowhead region to point and lead into a future of blessing for our state and all people!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

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