AT THE 1919 convention of the United Mine Workers of America an amendment to their constitution was adopted, which "outlawed" the I. W. W. and all other dual unions. The amendment reads as follows: "Any member of the United Mine Workers of America accepting membership in the Industrial Workers of the World, The Working Class Union, or The One Big Union, or any other dual organization not affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, or membership in the National Chamber of Commerce, shall be expelled from the U. M. W. and is permanently disbarred from holding office in the U. M. W. of A., and no members of any such organization shall be permitted to have membership in our union unless they forfeit their member-ship in their dual organization upon securing membership in the U. M. W. of A. Any member of the United Mine Workers who accepts office in any dual organization shall be permanently expelled from the U. M. W. of A., unless reinstated by the Inter-national Executive Board."
The discussion preceding the adoption of this constitutional amendment, as reported in the convention proceedings, was any-thing but intelligent. The amendment is one of those artificial props by which the machine inside the union seeks to protect an impossible and untenable position. It is like the broom with which the old woman tried to sweep out the ocean. It is an at-tempt to stamp out new ideas and ideals by taking the bread away from those who do not want to sell their souls.
The plans of the machine have not succeeded. The United Mine Workers is honeycombed with I. W. W. ideas and secret or open I. W. W. members. In most places the members refuse to pay any attention to the ridiculous amendment. The members refuse to be gagged and decline to gag others. The I. W. W. ideas are being openly propagated everywhere. We take the "outlawing" more as a joke, as a clumsy tactical move of the reactionaries rather than as a slap in the face by the membership. We want to be a re-enforcement and a help to the members in the critical time now ahead of them and will help them, both inside and outside their union, to win their battle, if possible.
Thus we will organize job branches of Coal-Mine Workers' Industrial Union No. 220, I. W. W., in every unorganized or organized camp where we are able to do it. Where the United Mine Workers are strongly entrenched and where there is little or no understanding of our ideals, our delegates will continue to spread our literature and carry on their propaganda until the proper time comes for forming a branch of our union. But in no case will we seek conflict with the already organized mine workers or try to weaken their power of offense and defense. What-ever course we take, we will continue to fight shoulder to shoulder with them for victory. That is how much we care about the "outlaw" amendment. This organization move of ours is to be considered as the I. W. W. answer to the "outlaw" amendment. It is part of our general plan to organize all industries.
We therefore make the following appeal to the coal-mine workers :
The Industrial Workers of the World is an international industrial organization, composed of industrial unions in various industries. There are 29 such industrial unions in our plan of organization. While we have members in all of them, our present organized strength is chiefly in the following industries : Agri-culture, Lumbering, General Construction, Metal Mining, Metal and Machinery Manufacture, and Marine Transportation. As you will see, this list includes the basic industries of the country. Up to the present time we have not made any great efforts to organize the coal-mine workers on a large scale, but we are herewith entering this field in earnest. The initiative does not come from the top but it comes from the bottom. There are tens of thou-sands of coal-miners of all nationalities who, clamor for the "out-law" I. W. W. to come to their aid and rescue. They tell us they are suffocating mentally and spiritually under the incompetent and autocratic rule of the machine that still controls their union, as well as being led to defeat by it, without any hope for the future. They tell our office and our editors that the field is ripe for us, that we need no longer hold back for fear of weakening the fighting strength of the coal-miners ; they ask us to supply them with the literature that is needed for the enlightenment of the membership and to outline the plan of organization and set the machinery in motion for building up the new organization locally, nationally and internationally.
The demand for membership cards in C. M. W. I. U. No. 220 has been steadily increasing and so has the demand for delegates' credentials. Numerous delegates are already at work all over the country scattering our leaflets and papers in several languages among the miners and signing up new members. We have decided that the time has come for action on a large scale.
At present the affairs of the Coal-Mine Workers' Industrial Union No. 220 are conducted from the office of the Metal-Mine Workers' Industrial Union No. 210, 318 No. Wyoming St., Butte, Mont., which serves as headquarters for this organization move until further notice.
If you are interested in the I. W. W. program and would like to see the coal-miners organized into an industrial union under its banner, put yourself immediately in touch with the above headquarters of the miners, or with the General Headquarters of the I. W. W. at 1001 West Madison St., Chicago, Ill.
Get a supply of our literature with which to prepare the ground and with which to secure a mutual understanding, unity of thought, unity of purpose, and thus, unity of action. There are numerous leaflets and there are papers in many languages, which will contain special articles on coal-mining and on the question of organizing the coal-miners into the I. W. W. And there is this handbook, which will prove a great help in gathering the coal-miners on a common program of education and organization.
Distribute this literature in every camp, arrange for meetings and discussions, arousing the miners out of the aimless stupor in which the old organization keeps them, and show them that the road to victory lies in themselves and not in their chosen officials. Show them that they must strike out in a new direction or they will go under. You will be surprised to find what a hearty response you will meet from the men, including those "ignorant foreigners." You will find that instead of meeting with resistance it will, in most cases, be as easy as rolling off a log. You try it! It is just what they are waiting for. They are waiting for organized initiative from somewhere.
Organize a branch of the Coal-Mine Workers' Industrial Union No. 220 whenever and wherever possible. It does not matter if the branch is small at first. It will grow bigger soon. If the pressure from the operators' side is too great to organize openly, do it "on the quiet." If you cannot do that, get a delegate's credential yourself, to transact business for the I. W. W., and locate some more capable and trustworthy fellow workers to help you by also taking out such credentials. The more delegates on the job, the quicker will be the success.
In the meantime do what you can as an "outlaw" inside the old union. We do not want you to lose your bread, as the leaders intended you should when they adopted the "outlaw" amendment. The bread is not very big at this time, anyhow, and what little there is, is bitter, but if you lose your job at the mine, your usefulness as a delegate and organizer is at an end. Proceed prudently and stay by it. You have two enemies from the start, the operators and the reactionary union leaders. You have got to make friends right under their noses. Do not spoil your chances by brass band tactics. But you are the best judge yourself what tactics are best in your locality.
The idea is to try to get the miners to accept our principles and discard their old leadership. New ideas and principles should be adopted, new methods put into operation for solving the whole social problem. When that work is done, the two unions, the old and the new, will come together naturally, much as the Missouri joins the Mississippi, and with irresistible power march onward and take possession of the mines and run them without paying any tribute to a parasite class.
This handbook is to be limited to a certain number of pages for the sake of convenience. We cannot tell everything in these few pages. We have to refer the reader to our other literature announced elsewhere on these pages.
Get our literature and our papers.
Spread this coal-miners' handbook by the tens of thousands.
Write to our office in Butte, Mont., for delegate's credentials.
Organize a branch of Coal-Mine Workers' Industrial Union No. 220, I. W. W.
Get ready to take over the mines and run them through our union. The time is fast approaching, when you will be called upon to do it. Capitalism is breaking down.
Coal-Mine Workers' Industrial Union No. 220, I. W. W.,
318 North Wyoming St., Butte, Mont.