On June 27, 1917, IWW Metal Mine Workers' Industrial Union No. 800 of Bisbee, Ariz. (formerly Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers' local 106) went on strike after the three major copper mining companies operating in Bisbee rejected their demands to improve safety on the job, standardize wage rates, and stop discriminating against union members, among other things. Within days some thirty thousand copper miners from both the IWW and the Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers were on strike at Globe, Miami, and Jerome in south-central Arizona and at Clifton, Morenci, and Metcalf near the New Mexico border, virtually shutting down the state's copper mines, which produced almost 30 percent of the nation's output. In Bisbee the strike was effectively ended on July 12 after county sheriff Harry Wheeler and a posse of some two thousand residents rounded up nearly twelve hundred strikers and sympathizers, put them in cattle cars, and dropped them off in the New Mexico desert. The deportees were able to make their way to the army encampment at Columbus, N.Mex., where they took shelter, but they were prevented from returning to Bisbee. Efforts to punish those responsible for the "Bisbee deportations" were unsuccessful.

For related documents see Gompers to Woodrow Wilson and to Thomas Gregory

To learn more about this episode, visit the University of Arizona's web exhibit which includes I.W.W. publications, personal recollections, newspaper articles, court records, government reports, correspondence, and journal articles