Starting in May 1917 there was a series of miners strikes, in part organized by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). On 10 July of that year, armed agents of the mine owners roughly rounded up all the suspected labor union organizers and unionized miners, forced them on torailroad cattle cars, and shipped them out of town, letting them out on 12 July near Kingman, Arizona. They were warned to stay away from Jerome on threat of death. This event is known as the Jerome Deportation.
Later that year, the Phelps Dodge Corporation shipped out about 1,000 workers from Bisbee, Arizona to New Mexico, an event known as theBisbee Deportation. “
That is what it was like 100 years ago, 60, 70 years after Charles Dickens had written most of his novels that illustrated the issue of poverty and class struggle in London. The idea that the “1%” controlled everything is not new, it’s been a clear concept for free thinkers for over 2000 years, and the willingness of the masses to allow themselves to be controlled while calling it something else is not new either. Unions were formed not to create ideal workplace conditions, but to stop the owner’s perpetual abuse of workers and using the legal system to prosecute those who would not work as slaves and shut up. Better wages and pensions would come later. Today, politicians in North America are strongly endorsing the owners again, directly breaking unions wherever possible, or simply looking the other way when profit hungry companies decide to ship jobs out of the country. And they will tell you it is for the good of the economy, that magical buzzword that can turn educated middle class people into blithering idiots willing to believe the sky is orange if it means they can maintain their personal plans and dreams without ever questioning anything, without ever having to go a little deeper into a thesarus because bullshit is still bullshit even if you try to call it “reason”.
We are on the road back to the Jerome Deportation, just watch what would happen if a general strike were called in the Tar Sands. In Canada we have the recent closure of the Caterpillar plant in London, Ontario, where just a few years ago Prime Minister Harper praised the company and showered it in tax breaks, to illustrate the direction the country is headed in. Caterpillar will tell you that it was the greed of the workers that forced the plant closing, and with a straight face. Neither the owners or the conservative politicians will concede that Caterpillar behaved greedily, and they will be consistent in avoiding the truth in a tone suggesting that corporations are beyond reproach. Unfortunately, this has simply not created enough outrage across the country, it will happen again.
They are going after teachers in Wisconsin, postal workers in Canada, and many other “essential services” groups. By the time they are finished anything less than a bachelor’s degree won’t get you much more than a career at WalMart, where, it is good to know, they do not have an enforced retirement age. In the name of the economy, which is always a short term proposition that favours the already wealthy, there is not going to be much long term opportunity and there will be a degradation and removal of services for new generations of employees – the actual removal of services will be deemed good for the economy. We who are in the workplace today will seem incredibly spoiled to our grandchildren, even if that is what conservatives are trying to tell us today – how dare we want more, more of what has been divinely ordained as belonging to the wealthy, their birthright?
“A mining town named Jerome was established on the side of Cleopatra Hill in 1883. It was named for Eugene Murray Jerome, a New York investor who owned the mineral rights and financed mining there. Eugene Jerome never visited his namesake town.”
And Eugene Jerome never saw any miners get shot for wanting a fair share and a half decent life for working his claim for him in the middle of nowhere in an unforgiving land.