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Western Federation of Miners

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Western Federation of Miners

The Western Federation of Miners (WFM) was founded in 1893, and was one of the early attempts to organize miners in the U.S. It was one of the more radical labor organizations and was known for being more militant than most unions of the time.

The WFM formed in 1893 comprised of unions of miners from Montana, Idaho, Colorado, South Dakota, and Utah. Many of the member unions had already experienced hardship and violence dealing with the employers and authorities (often without regard for their rights as citizens).

Violence was a common occurrence when it came to early mining-related strikes. During the Cripple Creek, Colorado, strike in 1894, the state militia actually had to be called out to protect the strikers from a group supporting the employers. In the end, the owners capitulated; this success helped build the WFM to more than 200 local unions across 13 states.

For a brief period of time the WFM was affiliated with the American Federation of Labor in 1896. The WFM separated from the AFL and formed another federation, the Western Labor Union in 1897 when it was clear the AFL was not going to support them. Over the years the WFM would also form the American Labor Union (ALU) and industrial Workers Union of the World (IWW).

After surviving many violent strikes in its early years, the WFM took a more radical turn after their convention in 1901. At the convention the membership decided that it was time for the abolition of wage system among other drastic economic changes. Within a couple years they were widely considered the most militant organization in the nation.

Following the charges being dropped against union president Charles Moyer and his suspected involvement for conspiring to assassinate the former governor of Idaho, Moyer separated the WFM from the more radical IWW in 1907.

The WFM rejoined the AFL for a few years starting in 1911. Five years later its name was changed to the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers. Due to shrinking membership the union was eventually absorbed into the United Steelworkers of America in 1967.

Tags:   Western Federation of Miners   Cripple Creek   Colorado   American Federation of Labor   Charles Moyer   International Union of Mine   Mill   And Smelter Workers   United Steelworkers of America  

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The Western Federation of Miners (WFM) was founded in 1893, and was one of the early attempts to organize miners in the U.S. It was one of the more radical labor organizations and was known for being more militant than most unions of the time.

The WFM formed in 1893 comprised of...

By: Richard Martine Created 75 months ago

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