Laurie Mercier's look at "community unionism" examines the distinctive culture of cooperation and activism fostered by residents in Anaconda, Montana, home to the world's largest copper smelter and the namesake of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company.
Mercier depicts the vibrant life of the smelter city at full steam, incorporating the candid commentary of the locals ("the company furnished three pair of leather gloves . . . and all the arsenic [dust] you could eat"). During five decades of devoted unionism, locals embraced an "alternative Americanism" that championed improved living standards for working people as the best defense against communism. Mercier also explores how gender limits on women's political, economic, and social roles shaped the nature and outcome of labor struggles, and traces how union rivalries, environmental concerns, and the 1980 closing of the Anaconda smelter transformed the town.
A fascinating portrait of how community molds working class consciousness, Anaconda offers important insights about the changing nature of working class culture and collective action.
In The Ashio Riot of 1907, Nimura Kazuo explains why the workers at the Ashio copper mine—Japan’s largest mining concern and one of the largest such operations in the world—joined together for three days of rioting against the Furukawa Company in February 1907. Exploring an event in labor history unprecedented in the Japan of that time, Nimura uses this riot as a launching point to analyze the social, economic, and political structure of early industrial Japan. As such, The Ashio Riot of 1907 functions as a powerful critique of Japanese scholarly approaches to labor economics and social history. Arguing against the spontaneous resistance theory that has long dominated Japanese social history accounts, Nimura traces the laborers’ unrest prior to the riots as well as the development of the event itself. Drawing from such varied sources as governmental records, media reports, and secret legal documents relating to the riot, Nimura discusses the active role of the metal mining workers’ trade organization and the stance taken by mine labor bosses. He examines how technological development transformed labor-management relations and details the common characteristics of the laborers who were involved in the riot movement. In the course of this historical analysis, Nimura takes on some of the most influential critical perspectives on Japanese social and labor history. This translation of Nimura’s prize-winning study—originally published in Japan—contains a preface by Andrew Gordon and an introduction and prologue written especially for this edition.
Robert Houston University of Arizona Press, 1999 Library of Congress PS3558.O873B57 1999 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Bisbee, Arizona, queen of the western copper camps, 1917. The protagonists in a bitter strike: the Wobblies (the IWW), the toughest union in the history of the West; and Harry Wheeler, the last of the two-gun sheriffs. In this class-war western, they face each other down in the streets of Bisbee, pitting a general strike against the largest posse ever assembled. Based on a true story, Bisbee '17 vividly re-creates a West of miners and copper magnates, bindlestiffs and scissorbills, army officers, private detectives, and determined revolutionaries. Against this backdrop runs the story of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, strike organizer from the East, caught between the worlds of her ex-husband—the Bisbee strike leader—and her new lover, an Italian anarchist from New York. As the tumultuous weeks of the strike unfold, she struggles to sort out what she really feels about both of them, and about the West itself.
In Contested Communities Thomas Miller Klubock analyzes the experiences of the El Teniente copper miners during the first fifty years of the twentieth century. Describing the everyday life and culture of the mining community, its impact on Chilean politics and national events, and the sense of self and identity working-class men and women developed in the foreign-owned enclave, Klubock provides important insights into the cultural and social history of Chile. Klubock shows how a militant working-class community was established through the interplay between capitalist development, state formation, and the ideologies of gender. In describing how the North American copper company attempted to reconfigure and reform the work and social-cultural lives of men and women who migrated to the mine, Klubock demonstrates how struggles between labor and capital took place on a gendered field of power and reconstituted social constructions of masculinity and femininity. As a result, Contested Communities describes more accurately than any previous study the nature of grassroots labor militancy, working-class culture, and everyday politics of gender relations during crucial years of the Chilean Popular Front in the 1930s and 1940s.
Just after dawn, two thousand armed vigilantes took to the streets of this remote Arizona mining town to round up members and sympathizers of the radical Industrial Workers of the World. Before the morning was over, nearly twelve hundred alleged Wobblies had been herded onto waiting boxcars. By day's end, they had been hauled off to New Mexico.
While the Bisbee Deportation was the most notorious of many vigilante actions of its day, it was more than the climax of a labor-management war—it was the point at which Arizona donned the copper collar. That such an event could occur, James Byrkit contends, was not attributable so much to the marshaling of public sentiment against the I.W.W. as to the outright manipulation of the state's political and social climate by Eastern business interests.
In Forging the Copper Collar, Byrkit paints a vivid picture of Arizona in the early part of this century. He demonstrates how isolated mining communities were no more than mercantilistic colonies controlled by Eastern power, and how that power wielded control over all the Arizona's affairs—holding back unionism, creating a self-serving tax structure, and summarily expelling dissidents.
Because the years have obscured this incident and its background, the writing of Copper Collar involved extensive research and verification of facts. The result is a book that captures not only the turbulence of an era, but also the political heritage of a state.
“I realize that I am a soldier of production whose duties are as important in this war as those of the man behind the gun.” So began the pledge that many home front men took at the outset of World War II when they went to work in the factories, fields, and mines while their compatriots fought in the battlefields of Europe and on the bloody beaches of the Pacific. The male experience of working and living in wartime America is rarely examined, but the story of men like these provides a crucial counter-narrative to the national story of Rosie the Riveter and GI Joe that dominates scholarly and popular discussions of World War II.
In Meet Joe Copper, Matthew L. Basso describes the formation of a powerful, white, working-class masculine ideology in the decades prior to the war, and shows how it thrived—on the job, in the community, and through union politics. Basso recalls for us the practices and beliefs of the first- and second-generation immigrant copper workers of Montana while advancing the historical conversation on gender, class, and the formation of a white ethnic racial identity. Meet Joe Copper provides a context for our ideas of postwar masculinity and whiteness and finally returns the men of the home front to our reckoning of the Greatest Generation and the New Deal era.
This is the story of immigrant copper workers and their attempts to organize at the turn of the century in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and El Paso, Texas. These Mexican and European laborers of widely varying backgrounds and languages had little social, economic, or political power. Yet they achieved some surprising successes in their struggles—all in the face of a racist society and the unbridled power of the mine owners.
Mellinger's book is the first regional history of these ordinary working people—miners, muckers, millhands, and smelter workers—who labored in the thousands of mountain and desert mining camps across the western heartland early in this century. These men, largely uneducated, frequently moving from camp to camp, subjected to harsh and dangerous conditions, often poorly paid, nevertheless came together for a common purpose.
They came from Mexico, from the U.S. Hispanic Southwest, and from several European countries, especially from Greece, Italy, the former Yugoslavia, and Spain. They were far from a homogeneous group. Yet, in part because they set aside ethnic differences to pursue cooperative labor action, they were able to make demands, plan strikes, carry them out, and sometimes actually win. They also won the aid of the Western Federation of Miners and the more radical Industrial Workers of the World. After initial rejection, they were eventually accepted by mainstream unionists.
Mellinger discusses towns, mines, camps, companies, and labor unions, but this book is largely about people. In order to reconstruct their mining-community lives, he has used little-known union and company records, personal interviews with old-time workers and their families, and a variety of regional sources that together have enabled him to reveal a complex and significant pattern of social, economic, and political change in the American West.
Undermining Race rewrites the history of race, immigration, and labor in the copper industry in Arizona. The book focuses on the case of Italian immigrants in their relationships with Anglo, Mexican, and Spanish miners (and at times with blacks, Asian Americans, and Native Americans), requiring a reinterpretation of the way race was formed and figured across place and time.
Phylis Martinelli argues that the case of Italians in Arizona provides insight into “in between” racial and ethnic categories, demonstrating that the categorizing of Italians varied from camp to camp depending on local conditions—such as management practices in structuring labor markets and workers’ housing, and the choices made by immigrants in forging communities of language and mutual support. Italians—even light-skinned northern Italians—were not considered completely “white” in Arizona at this historical moment, yet neither were they consistently racialized as non-white, and tactics used to control them ranged from micro to macro level violence.
To make her argument, Martinelli looks closely at two “white camps” in Globe and Bisbee and at the Mexican camp of Clifton-Morenci. Comparing and contrasting the placement of Italians in these three camps shows how the usual binary system of race relations became complicated, which in turn affected the existing race-based labor hierarchy, especially during strikes. The book provides additional case studies to argue that the biracial stratification system in the United States was in fact triracial at times. According to Martinelli, this system determined the nature of the associations among laborers as well as the way Americans came to construct “whiteness.”