Mesabi Iron Range Strike

There is also trouble brewing on the iron ore docks in Duluth.  The dockworkers have many of the same issues as the Iron Range miners.  The miners have had enough.  In 1905 they ask the Western Federation of Miners union (WFM) to come to the Iron Range and help them in their plight.  Over a period of two years, WFM organizes the workers. The miners only want safer working conditions, an eight hour work day and better pay.  That is not much to ask.

In 1907, the iron ore dock workers in Duluth go on strike. The Iron Range miners follow suit.  They give their demands to the company.  They are rebuffed.  Approximately 10,000 - 16,000 miners, mostly Finnish workers, strike. Their cause is just.  Enough is enough.

But the company is not concerned about what the miners want and the human toll it takes on them. It is the bottom line - profits.  The company sends in strike breakers.  The striking miners are fired. Some of the union leaders are jailed for "rioting".  They are later cleared of this bogus charge. Local businesses do not give the striking miners credit so they can buy food for their families.  Things look bleak for the brave miners who stood up against the company who exploited them in the name of profit.

Some historians may say that the strike was not successful but they are wrong.  They neglect to look at the long view.  During this time and throughout the country, hundreds of thousands of workers in other industries were also engaged in the same struggle - the eight hour work day, better working conditions and better pay.  Yes, the strike was successful. The workers did ultimately achieve what they demanded - better pay, an eight hour work day and improved working conditions.  Over one hundred years later, unions still carry on this legacy of fighting for workers' rights.