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Sunday, August 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Wobblies announce move of Lumberworkers headquarters to Chicago

The Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies) announced that they were moving the national headquarters of its Lumberworkers Union to Chicago, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on April 1, 1918. (Spokesman-Review archives)
The Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies) announced that they were moving the national headquarters of its Lumberworkers Union to Chicago, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on April 1, 1918. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Washington Gov. Ernest Lister was in Spokane to deal with several important matters, including the “labor situation.”

The Spokane Daily Chronicle speculated that he was preparing to deal with volatile Wobbly issues. Lister would not confirm that, but he gave a hint when he told reporters: “I am impressed with the idea that the time has about arrived when every able-bodied man ought to be at work. There is enough work for all to do. The war conditions call for the services of every able-bodied man.”

This seemed to be a comment about lumber strikes threatened by the Wobblies.

Meanwhile, the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies) announced that they were moving the national headquarters of its Lumberworkers Union to Chicago.

The general secretary of that union said “the only reason was that I wanted to get closer to the woods of Louisiana, Maine and Ontario.” Also, all of the other Wobbly general offices were already in Chicago.

He said the Spokane office would remain as “the district office of the short-log country.”

This was a sly reference to testimony recently given in the Coeur d’Alene trial of Wobbly leader W.M. Nelson, “to the effect that the IWW were practicing sabotage by cutting timber too short for the standard 2-foot scale.”

From the war beat: A Spokane army captain wrote home to say that “the horror of the war is not blood, but mud.”

He said the mud was up to his ankles, even where he slept. “Good Lord, it is absolutely past imagination,” he wrote.

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