Journal of Arizona History 38 (Autumn 1997): 233-256.


Industrial Relations in the Jerome Mines, 1900-1922

by Thomas J. Dorich

On July 10, 1917, a citizens’ committee in Jerome herded sixty-seven suspected members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) into a railroad car and attempted to deport them to California in what seemed to be a dramatic failure of industrial relations in the central Arizona mining town.  Although it is tempting to attribute the breakdown to ideological differences between mine management and workers, a careful examination of unionization in Jerome reveals that almost all the job actions against the leading mine, the United Verde Copper Company (UVCC), from 1900 to 1917 focused on practical work-related issues, rather than political struggles.  In fact, a May 1917 district-wide strike was more significant to Jerome’s labor and economic history than the deportation of IWW members later that summer.

                William A. Clarks’ UVCC management controlled Jerome. An easterner by birth, Clark had made his fortune from freighting, banking, and mine speculation in Butte, Montana, after the Civil War.  In 1888, he bought out a New York syndicate that owned the floundering United Verde operation and, in short order, successfully redeveloped it.  Clark’s mine was Jerome’s only producer until 1916, when a bonanza strike occurred on the neighboring United Verde Extension.  The town blossomed as mine speculation and development drew more people to Jerome.


Thomas J. Dorich holds a Ph.D. in American history from Arizona State University.  He is currently affiliated with MidAmerica Management and Development Company as a research analyst.

The United Verde and United Verde Extension mines were sophisticated industrial plants, consisting of underground works, a smelting complex, a railroad system, and support shops, where equipment was assembled.  New technology and an increased labor force changed the mine worker’s role and the relationship between employee and employer.  Miners became part of an underground assembly-line system in which the human component easily could be replaced or discarded.  Safety, however, did not keep up with the increased complexity of mining technology.  Therefore, as underground mining became more intricate, safety became a labor-management issue.  The United Verde had a reputation as a tough mine to work in, with a fatal accident rate higher than some larger Arizona mines.

                Mine safety eventually became the seed issue that spawned industrial unionism in Arizona.  The union movement was based on pragmatic reform typical of the era, rather than on political ideology.  The first union in Jerome formed, with Clark’s encouragement, in 1900.  The Jerome Mining News offered its support:  “The organization in Jerome is agreeable to the company as well as to the men, and under such circumstances cannot help but be successful and of mutual benefit.”  The paper went on to say that, generally, good workers were good union me, and that, on the whole, a unionized work force would be for all.1

                The Jerome Mining Union (JMU) was open to all mine and smelter workers, regardless of nationality or ethnicity.  It supported job actions against the Verde district copper companies, advocating shorter hours, improved working conditions, and good relations with employers. But, the JMU also considered itself a community-based organization that encouraged education and sponsored local social events.2

                In 1901, smelter workers seeking an eight-hour workday left their jobsite.  Although the UVCC had previously granted underground workers an eight-hour shift, Clark rejected the topsider’s demands, because he believed the strike had been called in violation of the union’s own rules: the strike vote was barely a majority instead of the necessary two-thirds vote, no thirty-day notice was given, and it was not referred to the local’s executive committee for approval.  He assumed that the job action was the work of agitators rather than good union men.  Clark pointed out that he had pioneered the eight-hour day for miners and was paying higher wages than warranted by the local cost of living.3

                Clark maintained his hard line.  When thirty smeltermen walked off the job in 1902, protesting a work-force reduction, Clark shut down the smelter for repairs.  Once the repairs had been finished, he reopened the plant with the same reduced work force.  Mine management maintained that the walkout was a wildcat strike that could have been avoided if the workers had been willing to negotiate in good faith with the superintendent.4

                Clark employed the same tactics four months later.  This time he claimed that, because the copper market was glutted it was a good time to close the min in order to repair stopes that had caught fire and required bulkheading.  Once again, the work force was reduced, with the laid-off miners being told that the closing was indefinite and that they should seek employment elsewhere.5

                Some observers viewed Clark’s move as an attempt to eliminate a growing and popular miners’ local, rather than as a genuine response to the copper market or to safety concerns.  “While the fire at Jerome is directly responsible for the shut down, still there is an undercurrent of discontent at Jerome between employer and employee, not known to the general public, although it is an open secret there,” the August 16, 1902, issue of the Daily Bisbee Review, pointed out.  “The management and the Miners union are not working in harmony.”

                Layoffs continued into September, when even the assayer and civil engineer were “given their time.”  The smelter remained closed until November 24; start-up operations did not begin until December, and the mine finally reopened in March 1903.  During the shutdown, the November 15, 1902, Los Angeles Mining Review commented that “Besides increasing the capacity of his furnaces (Clark) has been the innocent means of scattering those former one thousand employees of his to the four quarters of the country, and in so doing has nicely punctured that little scheme of a Miners’ Union at the United Verde mines which had it not been effectively squelched would have made the Miners’ Union the ‘boss’ of the United Verde mines.”6

                Both the union and the company survived the conditions that caused the job actions in 1901 and 1902.  Labor-management relations seemed to improve the following year, when Clark raised the minimum wage at the mine to $2.50 per day.  He claimed that he was responding to a petition from the local union to consider changes in wages and working conditions.  But when small groups of workers complained about policy, the company rejected their demands on the grounds that disgruntled workers would not be acknowledged.  Grievance committees did not exist as yet and the mine superintendent interpreted company policy—discontented men were encouraged to seek work elsewhere.7

                In the early days of labor-management conflict, the UVCC, like other large industrial firms, employed agents to infiltrate the union.  As early as 1903, the company contracted with the Thiel Detective Service to penetrate the JMU.  In August, an unidentified detective arrived in Jerome, secured work at UVCC, and waited to be approached by local organizers.  He reported that union activity was muted “apparently the union men are quiet.”  In conversation, he learned that the union would have a difficult time winning a strike in Jerome because of the large number of Mexican miners, who were not enthusiastic about joining.  Ironically, the agent confessed that he had been unable to attend a union because he was on the night shift.  He feared being fired if he took time off and his shift boss found out.8

                Thiel’s operative emphasized that he had not heard a lot of union talk among the men, even when they drank together.  The subject was seldom broached to him, either in the mine or in saloons.  He saw no evidence of agitation and never heard of anyone talk against company officials.  One miner, however, complained “that all strikes were just and that the laboring classes never had been paid as much as they earned.”9

                It was a different story at union meetings.  Miner Tom Cassidy, in particular, had a great deal to say about unionism.  In response to the charge that miners were “too well paid,” Cassidy replied that “a man ought to get [$]10.00 a shift to work in the United Verde mine and also that the miners would not be getting what they were if it were not for organized labor.”10

                Union secretary Albert Ryan, meanwhile, complained about working conditions and the high turnover rate among United Verde miners.  “This is a tough place to work and a one camp,” he informed the Thiel agent.  “The mine is hot and dirty.  A good many men come from the Northern camps but they won[‘]t stay long and I expect they tell their friends how it is and that keeps a great many from coming here.”  Those who did stay lacked “grit and spunk,” when compared to their counterparts in Colorado.  Ryan’s only explanation for the lackadaisical attitude at the United Verde was Arizona’s milder climate.11

                In subsequent accounts, the Thiel operative reported on Ryan’s disposition.  Regarding the ongoing strike in Cripple Creek, Colorado, for example, Ryan, who opposed union violence, blamed the anarchy there on the actions of the state police, not the miners.  On another occasion, Ryan argued that “there was no relief for the working class excepting through Socialism and that there could be no harmony between capital and labor under the present system.”  Ryan believed that a worker was wasting his vote on either the Republicans or Democratic parties, because politicians would always side with capital.  Voting for socialists and socialism was the only solution to labor-management disputes.  A “Cripple Creek situation,” where workers had to face down Gatling guns, would also have to occur in Jerome in order to force miners out of their complacency.  That sort of strike made the union stronger and attracted new members.12

                While one Thiel operative was courting Ryan in Jerome, others reported from Colorado that the JMU secretary had alerted the union local in San Juan County that Verde district mine operators were advertising for workers.  Because the eight-hour law had gone into effect in Arizona, the JMU wanted to keep work opportunities opened for its own members and not outsiders.  The Thiel agent in Jerome confirmed the sentiment.13

                The spies revealed to the mine managers some of JMU’s recruiting methods.  Ryan was said to be meeting every incoming train, where he recruited even Mexicans.  A recruitment committee at each mine level monitored worker’s affiliations and pressured men to join up.  Some miners labeled their coworkers scabs if they did not join the union and plotted to have them fired.  Despite this “damning” evidence, the Thiel agency concluded that union leadership in Jerome, although dedicated to its cause, was basically conservative and reasonable.14

                Regardless of labor’s intentions, the corporate establishment would not tolerate a union movement that had the potential to gather strength.  According to historian Vernon H. Jensen, “As long as the local at Jerome was small and weak, the company was only mildly interested, but when it pursued a policy of expansion, something always came up to interfere.”  A Thiel agency report suggests that this became the United Verde’s corporate policy.  “The union at Jerome is now in such a shape that by keeping a man there who can keep you posted on its conditions and just what they are doing enabling you from time to time to take action against the most radical union men, the union could be kept in such shape that it could not do much harm,” the agency advised.  “However, should it be allowed to recruit and become stronger you must expect the same trouble we are having here in Colorado and that Utah will probably go first.  I would therefore suggest that after a month or two it might be well to send another man there to see what change, if any, has occurred in the union.”15

                In the meantime, the company responded to some of the miners’ practical concerns.  In 1904, William A. Clark brought in Will L. Clark (no relation) from Butte to improve safety conditions at the United Verde.  Prior to his arrival, fatal mine accidents at the Jerome facility averaged three per year—a total of thirty-three fatalities since 1893.  Despite new measures, eleven men died in the mine in 1905, the largest number since six fatalities in 1900.  A total of twenty-seven men died in mining accidents between 1905 and 1915.16

                Although mining journals extolled Clark’s application of technology and industrial policy, they were not privy to details of working conditions and industrial policy, they were not privy to details of working conditions and industrial discipline.  Occasionally, a visitor’s or an inspector’s report reached the public.  In 1909, for example, H.J. Stevens’s Mines Handbook stated that “from a miner’s standpoint, the United Verde is not an especially desirable working place…openings are very hot and the acid waters cause blisters and sores on the unprotected skin, while mine fires and caving ground render the mine safer, but owing to its having been opened wrongly at the start, such efforts are made at a disadvantage.”  Nonetheless, the author concluded on a positive note, pointing out that “the mining system has been improved latterly, and the United Verde, while by no means an ideal place for the employment of persons with weak nerves, is much safer than formerly.”17

                In January 1917, the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers (IUMMSW) sent Henry S. McCluskey to organize Jerome’s miners in earnest.  At first he was successful and the local union blossomed.  But the UVCC reacted quickly, implementing “the policy pursued on former occasions when the union began to increase its membership by sending down stool pidgeon [sic] to join union with the result that numbers of our members were discharged.”  Unionization efforts continued into spring.  But, from time to time, so did the firings.18

                As summer approached, tension between the union and mine management rose to a boil.  First and foremost was the issue of a sliding wage scale.  The JMU claimed that high rents, electrical and water rates, and other living costs justified a flexible scale.  The proposal went to the mine superintendent Robert E. Tally in April 1917, who deferred the matter until Clark’s son, Charles, arrived.  By then, Tally already had recommended against an increase in the standard miner’s wage, claiming that the existing scale was satisfactory.  At the same time, the union maintained that the UVCC was sending men to join the union in order to vote for the company and that UVCC watchmen were installing searchlights on the property.

                Subsequent negotiations in New York failed to achieve a settlement.  The UVCC rejected the notion of a closed shop, arguing that William Clark had never accepted such an arrangement and there was no reason to change.  A union was acceptable, but not a closed shop.19

                While rejecting the call for a closed shop, management proposed to increase wages by twenty-five cents per day to $3.75 for miners.  The union declined the offer and recommended a strike vote.  Believing that the UVCC had paid labor spies to disrupt union organizing and had helped form the Verde Mine Operators Association (VMOA) to promote union busting, the JMU stood its ground.   It accused the “Big Mine” of exerting paternalistic control over Jerome and Clarksdale.  In organizer McCluskey’s view, that made recognition of the local union tantamount to “the  establishment of Industrial, Political, and religious freedom in Jerome.”20

                So, on May 17, 1917, the local voted 247 to three to call for a strike vote on the twenty-first.  The following day, the United Verde fired all those who had spoken in favor of the strike.  On Saturday, May 19, the VMOA circulated a notice rejecting the union demands.  That same evening, five armed and masked men abducted McCluskey from his hotel room, drove him to the vicinity of Cherry Creek, and warned him to stay out of town for his own safety. 

                McCluskey returned to Jerome, via Prescott, early on Monday morning, May 21, in time to monitor the strike vote.  Each union member showed his membership card and had it stamped to ensure one vote per man.  Only miners holding legitimate local union cards could vote; IWW cards were not honored.  “Shortly after my arrival the men began to vote,” McCluskey reported.  “I was in the hall at various times during the day and the voting was being conducted in an orderly manner, anyone that cared to could take his ballot and go off to one side of a table provided for the purpose and vote in secret, but the great majority of the men were only too anxious to vote a strike and voted openly before the tellers.”  The opposition also observed the vote and monitored the count but offered few challenges to anyone’s credentials.  McCluskey claimed that one of the observers was an IWW member, employed by the UVCC as a stool pigeon.  When the vote was tallied, it totaled 543 to twenty-five in favor of a strike against the UVCC on Thursday, May 24.21

                That night, businessmen and mine superintendent Tally attended a Citizens’ Alliance meeting at the local high school.  Jerome mayor J.J. Cain presided as the mine operators presented their side of the dispute.  The alliance as the mine operators presented their side of the dispute.  The alliance members decided to call a mass meeting once the strike had begun, while Mayor Cain agreed to call out the Home Guard to protect nonstriking Hispanic workers.

                At a final meeting held the next day in the UVCC mine office, union executive board member W.A. Burns implored Supertendent Tally to grant the union demands.  The two men knew each other from their mining days in Virginia City, at a time when Tally—whose father was a union man and whose career the union had advanced—favored unionization.  Nevertheless, Tally stated that he could not come to terms with the union and warned that the company would break any job action.22

                The walkout, which occurred during the evening shift on May 24, affected all mining companies in the district.  The job action began when union officials spoke to workers on the road leading to the United Verde, telling them that there would be no concessions.  “Shouts and cheers greeted the announcement.  Miners threw their hats into the air and tossed their full lunch pails down the hill.”  About 1,100 men went out against the United Verde, UVCC smeltermen, whose demands previously had been met, remained on the job in Clarksdale.  But 300 of 400 men at the United Verde Extension walked, leaving only supervisors and pump men on the job.  As miners left their shifts, pickets along the road tried to persuade men on their way to work to join the strike.  Organizers instructed picketers not to curse or attempt to stop anyone crossing the picket line.23

                After a town meeting sponsored by the Citizens’ Alliance on May 25, local businessmen sent a law-and-order message to the union.  They called for patriotism and hinted at a possible federal takeover of the mine if copper production dropped.  They also urged the union to accept a compromise—to accept the Miami scale (a sliding wage scale negotiated earlier in the Globe-Miami mining district and based on the market price of copper) and drop their other demands.  A long, drawn-out strike, the businessmen argued, would adversely affect the local economy.24

                McCluskey responded by protesting the armed escort the Home Guard had provided strike breakers that morning.  Because of heckling and individual confrontations, the guard accompanied Mexican miners going to work in compliance with the anti-strike position announced by the Liga Protectora, their worker association.  Appeals for government intervention were quickly transmitted to Arizona governor Thomas E. Campbell, a former Jeromite and son-in-law of past UVCC smelter superintendent H.J. Allen.  Fear increased when rocks were thrown from the picket lines.  On May 27, several strikers were arrested for weapons possession.25

                As required by wartime emergency regulations, McCluskey already had notified the U.S. Labor Department and the National Council of Defense of the strike.  The Labor Department responded by sending former judge and past president of the American Federation of Labor John McBride from Phoenix to act as a special conciliator.  After McBride’s arrival in Jerome on May 28, proposals from UVCC’s recently arrived Charles W. Clark and Robert Tally were passed through the judge to the union.  Governor Campbell also appeared in Jerome on May 28, along with Col. J.J. Hornblower, sent by the War Department from Douglas.  Accordingly, all the major characters involved in resolving the dispute were in town within four days of the strike.

                Also on May 28, a ruckus erupted on the picket line when strikers verbally harassed workers coming off shift and followed them down into the Mexican quarter.  After the armed escort left, some strikers jumped a scab who, they thought, was drawing a weapon.  He was rescued just as the crowd became aware of more armed nonstrikers uphill.  A quick, chastening speech from labor activist W.A. Burns deterred the strikers from pursuing.  Although he had quelled the “scab hunt,” Burns was unable to disperse the mob.26

                Union leaders then requested Governor Campbell, Judge McBride, and Colonel Hornblower to address the milling crowd from the bandstand near the center of town.  The governor pleaded for law and order and pledged to pursue a fair resolution of the strike.  Judge McBride explained his plan to mediate, while reminding the strikers of his forty-five years as a union man.  Colonel Hornblower promised that if the strikers heeded the call of their leaders, the military would have no reason to intervene.  Then Burns spoke up, reminding everyone that the cost of living was a root cause for the strike.  McCluskey concluded the speechmaking with another plea for restraint that included self-policing on the picket lines.27

                The efforts of negotiators and labor organizers averted violence between strikers and scabs early on in the job action.  Restraint was important to the union, because any violence on the picket line would hurt its negotiating position.  Its credibility would be in question if it could not control its own men, leaving the mine owners free to reject direct negotiation outright and appeal for civil authorities to intervene. 

                Nonetheless, violence erupted and lives were lost on the night of May 29, when shots were fired on the grounds of the UVCC surface plant.  Earlier that same evening, a fire of undetermined origin broke out in the United Verde & Pacific Railroad depot, consuming the station so quickly that men who responded to the fire signal arrived only to watch the structure burn to the ground.  As the workers were leaving the scene, two sets of patrolling night watchmen fired on each other, killing two men and wounding two others.28

                The following day, some businessmen called on Governor Campbell, claiming that chaos reigned in Jerome because strikers controlled the town.  In their view, foreign-born stirkers were inciting disorder by harassing nonstrikers and calling for a boycott of business that opposed the strike.  Although weapons had been stockpiled at the United Verde mine and armed lookouts occupied many of the town’s rooftops and the high ground above United Verde Road, the businessmen called for protection of the town’s water and power supplies.29

                On that very day that Jerome seemed poised on the verge of anarchy, principles from both sides of the labor dispute were closing in on a settlement.  Negotiations actually had begun immediately after the walkout, when the union approached Robert Tally to set up a grievance committee.  Tally refused to accept any union involvement but offered to work with a five-member committee:  two chosen from United Verde employees, regardless of affiliation; two chosen by mine management; and one additional man chosen by the other four.  McCluskey took Tally’s proposal back to the union’s local executive committee.30

                Posturing had begun on May 29, when the UVCC accused the union of rigging the strike vote.  Mine management asserted that the secret ballot was actually signed out in the open, and those who applied for union membership that day were accepted and allowed to vote, regardless of whether they were actually employed.  The UVCC further contended that the company had taken a secret ballot as workers came off shift on May 22.  The results were 466 to 256, with 198 abstentions in opposition to a strike.  Supposedly, similar votes throughout the district revealed 306 to 189 opposed to a job action.31

                If UVCC management was grandstanding in public, it nonetheless was negotiating in earnest behind the scenes.  On May 30, all the principles, including United Verde Extension owner James Douglas, but excluding union officials, met in Clarksdale to discuss strike issues.  As the situation in the streets simmered down on June 1, Judge McBride awaited responses from labor and management on the proposal each side had submitted.32

                Charles W. Clark offered to adopt the Miami scale, set up a grievance committee, foreswear retribution against striking miners and JMU members, lower utility rates, and lobby local merchants to lower their prices.  On paper, at least, the UVCC and VMOA were proposing a negotiated compromise settlement:

We wish to assure you that we are making these propositions to our men in all fairness and sincerity, and with the earnest hope that the men will come back to work in the proper spirit, and with the desire to forget what has passed, and to stand mutually with us in carrying through the provisions offered in a manly, straight forward way.  We hope there will be an entirely new deal and that all past complaints be dropped.

Management remained opposed, however, to the union’s main position.  There would be no closed shop or check-off system.  The open-shop system had to be maintained, but any miner was free to affiliate with a union without fear of harassment.33

                The union executive committee submitted the terms of the offer to its membership, which voted on the evening of June 2.  The balloting was secret and company officials were invited to watch the procedure.  By a simple majority of 467 to 431, the strikers accepted management’s terms.  The results were announced informally at midnight and officially the next day.  On Monday, June 4, the men went back to work, ending Jerome’s first serious labor strike after nine days.34

                The June 1 issue of the Verde Copper News succinctly summarized the issues.  Because of the high quality of the work done at the UVCC, the paper editorialized, the company should have adopted the Miami wage scale earlier.  The closed shop did not exist in Arizona and was unnecessary so long as the miners were unaffiliated with a union.  Fear of blacklisting was unwarranted, because union affiliation was not a hindrance to finding work in the Arizona’s mines.  Essentially, it was standard practice for affiliated men to work in an open shop.35

                Although a considerable amount of attention has been devoted to the subsequent Jerome deportation, the May strike was the most important event in Jerome’s labor-management history.  It was the first time that a local union organized a job action that affected production in the whole district.  At the same time, the strike was the first and only united opposition to the paternalistic policies of William A. Clark and James S. Douglas.

                Even though the UVCC thwarted the JMU, the local managed to sustain the job action long enough to attract the attention of the federal government.  The political and ideological details behind the decisions made between arbitrator John McBride and mine management have never surfaced but the fact remains that the two mining companies were forced to negotiate with the union for the first time, resulting in a compromise settlement.  In the process, the Clark’s consistently solid wall of anti-unionism was finally—if temporarily—breached.  The adoption of the Miami scale, a pledge not to retaliate against union-affiliated labor, and the establishment of a grievance committee system may have started a trend toward better conflict resolution.

                While the labor management conflict may have been temporarily resolved, very little time passed before another problem arose.  The local IWW affiliate, which had quietly established itself in Jerome, refused to accept the compromise settlement.  The JMU perceived the Wobblies as UVCC pawns, used to subvert union loyalty and disrupt organizing activities, and had not invited them to participate in the organized strike.  Subsequently, the union considered the Wobblies strikebreakers because they were uninterested in local issues.  In the days after the ballot ending the strike, Judge McBride claimed that Wobbly officials had settled from the May strike, the Wobblies had set the stage for another job action job action that summer.36

                At the end of June, IWW affiliate Metal Mine Workers Industrial Union called strikes in Bisbee, Globe, and Clifton.  At 3:00 P.M. on July 6, the 150 member Jerome IWW local struck throughout the Verde district, demanding six dollars per day for all underground workers and five dollars per day for topsiders (instead of a sliding scale); removal of armed guards from mine property; no retribution against union members or strikers; abolishment of blasting during shifts; the contract and bonus system; and physical exams.37

                The Wobblies had walked out without support of the JMU, and the next day the local voted 470 to 194 not to honor the IWW picket lines.  Rock-throwing incidents and fighting increased, as JMU members marched to work without company protection.  Although few in number, the Wobblies effectively used intimidation to make themselves seem more dangerous than they actually were.

                The idea of warning the Wobblies out of town surfaced during a July 9 meeting called to deal with picket-line problems.  A 250-man vigilance committee was formed with the tacit approval of local police.  The next day, the posse swept though town, apprehending about 104 suspected Wobblies and carting them off to the city jail.  When the roundup was over, the detainees were marched to the UVCC offices, where they were screened and then turned over to a JMU committee for further examination.38

                IWW affiliation resulted in a cattle-car ride out of town for sixty-seven men.  At Jerome Junction, a Prescott posse took custody of nine Wobblies for questioning.  The rest were hauled to Kingmn, via Ash Fork, for deportation across the state line.  California law-enforcement officials met the train at Needles, however, and ordered the posse to return to Arizona.  The local sheriff held the detainees in the Kingman courthouse until Governor Campbell ordered them released if no charges were pending.  The Mohave County court concurred, and the Wobblies were set free.39

                In the aftermath of the deportation, the Jerome News endorsed the actions of the vigilantes:

Her law-abiding citizens today demonstrated to the satisfaction of the whole world that there is no place in Arizona at least where the red flag of the I.W.W. cannot be waved on the faces of decent working people by a gang of rule-or-ruin roughnecks.  It was one of the most beneficial “clean-up days” any community has ever had, and as a result, festering cores of anarchy and treason have been removed forever from the camp.40

One year later, the News was unapologetic:

Last summer the I.W.W. fomented strikes in Arizona with the avowed purpose of closing every copper mine.  They succeeded partially in Jerome, more in Bisbee.  There was no legal way to deal with the situation, desperate as was the cry of America and her Allies for the red metal….When they did that [ the deportation ] the citizens of Jerome and Bisbee saved Arizona from a state-wide strike and from humiliating disgrace.41

An eyewitness and Jerome’s first historian, Herbert V. Young, suggested that the town’s businessmen instigated and organized the Wobbly round-up with almost unanimous support from the townsfolk and tacit approval of the UVCC.  Vernon H. Jensen added that the JMU had not actively participated in the deportation, even though it viewed the IWW as a threat to the greater union movement.  If Jensen’s assessment is true, it was easy for the copper companies to go along.  Once tranquility had been restored, the town returned to business as usual.  Little had changed.42

                Although the president’s mediation commission did not make an official visit to Jerome, Judge Ernest W. Lewis was sent from Phoenix to act as the commission’s official representative.  That November, Judge Lewis met with the VMOA in Clarksdale to develop a plan for dealing with future labor disputes.  Together, they determined that the grievance committee appointed at the end of May strike would continue to mediate any labor problems.  Joseph S. Myers was appointed federal arbitrator and given final authority to make a decision if the committee could not resolve an issue.  Both labor and management agreed to the plan.43

                A sense of industrial peace settled over Jerome for the remainder of 1918.  Wartime patriotism and a union call for cooperation with war industries, combined with the federal government’s efforts to mediate labor disputes and impose order in war production industries, promoted a temporary suspension of differences.  Issues involving the cost of living, paternalistic control of the town, and union recognition went unaddressed, however.  As a result, the national copper market and the self-interested policies of the UVCC continued to control job security and living conditions.  At the same time, union membership and activism declined.44

                Unionism in Jerome plummeted when declining copper prices forced mine shutdowns in 1920-1921.  When production resumed in 1922, United Verde management turned to supporting—at least on paper—amicable work relations.  Robert E. Tally reiterated the idea of a copartnership between workers and bosses, safe working conditions, and good community relations:

We want to pay good wages and we want to make working conditions as safe and as comfortable as they can be made; we want kind and just treatment to be given to every workman in the mine; we want to create good and reasonable living conditions; we want plenty of proper amusement in the camp; we want good school and church, education and social conditions.

In return, Tally expected continued high-quality work from employees.  The company was abandoning harsh work relations in favor of expressing grievances and solving problems.  The Verde Copper News supported the new order, observing that miners and management alike were seeing the advantage of working together.45

                Because complete records detailing labor-management relations from the United Verde point of view are not available, the true image of working conditions in Jerome remains ill defined.  Organized labor strife did not reoccur during the 1920s; by 1925, unionism in Jerome had ceased for all practical purposes.  Five years later, institutionalized company paternalism was entrenched.  Whatever remnants of unionization remained were utterly destroyed when the miners shut down during the Great Depression.


1.        See Ronald C. Brown, Hard Rock Miner: The Intermountain West (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1979).  Brown asserts that work-related practical issues and not ideology drove mine-worker unionism.  Prescott Daily Journal Miner, August 3, 1901; Jerome Mining News, July 30, 1900.  Since the United Verde Extension company records are unavailable to researchers, very little is directly known about working conditions underground.  The secrecy goes back to the district’s earliest days because William A. Clark did not allow release of information about the workings of the United Verde.  Separating employees intensified the secrecy:  “No man who works above the ground can go below.  Miners who work in one part of the property never go in another part.”  Evidently, Clark believed that his employees should see only what was necessary to their own work.  Jerome Mining News, May 8, 1899.

2.        Jerome Mining News, July 6, 1902, September 29, 1900.

3.        Prescott Daily Journal Miner, August 5, 1901; Jerome Mining News, August 10, 1901.

4.        Jerome Mining News, April 1, 12, 1902.

5.        Ibid., August 25, 1902.

6.        Ibid., September 1, November 10, 17, 24, December 9 ,1902; March 2, 1903.

7.        Ibid., May 18, 25, 1903, March 17, 1904.

8.        Robert P. Weiss, “Private Detective Agencies and Labor Discipline in the United States,” The Historical Journal, vol. 29 (1986), p. 89; Sidney Howard and Robert Dunn, The Labor Spy (New York: Republic Publishing Co., 1924), pp. 11-12; W.E. Giese to H.J. Allen, August 31, 1903, all in MS 199, United Verde Copper Company Collection (UVCCC), Special Collections, Northern Arizona University (SCNAU).

9.        Thiel Detective Service to United Verde Copper Company, September 6, 13, October 6, 1903, MS 199, UVCCC, SCNAU.

10.     Ibid., September 6, 1903.

11.     Ibid., September 22, October 1, 22, 1903.

12.     Ibid., October 1, 6, 17, 22, November 1, 12, 27, December 13, 1903.

13.     W.E. Giese to H.J. Allen September 9, 1903;. Thiel Detective Service to United Verde Copper Company, September 22, 1903, MS 199, UVCCC, SCNAU.

14.     Thiel Detective Service to United Verde Copper Company, September 13, October 6, 22, November 1, 22, 1903, ibid.

15.     Vernon H. Jensen, Heritage of Conflict: Labor Relations in the Nonferrous Metals Industry up to 1930 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1950), p. 361; W.E. Giese to H.J. Allen, December 21, 1903, MS 199 UVCCC, SCNAU.

16.     Jerome News, October 13, 1916; Yavapai County Coroner’s Inquests and Arizona Mine Inspector Annual Reports, Arizona Department of Library, Archives, and Public Records (ADLAPR), Phoenix.

17.     H.J. Stevens, ed., The Mines Handbook, 1909 (Houghton, Mich.: H.J. Stevens, 1909), p. 1369.

18.     McCluskey Statement, May 29, 1917; C.H. Sullivan to John McBride, May 29, 1917; C.H. Sullivan to Robert E. Tally, March 15, 17, 1917, MS 54, McCluskey Collection (MC), Special Collections, Arizona State University (SCASU).

19.     McCluskey Statement, May 29, 1917; W.A. Burns to John McBride, May 29, 1917, ibid.

20.     Letter to Officers, May 28, 1917; McCluskey Statement, May 29, 1917, ibid.

21.     McCluskey Statement, May 29, 1917, ibid; Verde Copper News, May 25, 1917.

22.     W.A. Burns Statement, May 29, 1917, MS 54, MC, SCASU.

23.     Verde Copper News, May 25, 1917; Orders to Lieutenants of Pickets, May 26, 1917, MS 54, MC, SCASU.

24.     Verde Copper News, May 25, 26, 1917.

25.     Ibid., May 25, June 1, 8, 1917.

26.     Ibid., June 1, 1917.

27.     Ibid., May 25 to June 1, June 8, 1917.

28.     Ibid., June 1, 8, 1917.

29.     Petition of Jerome Businessmen, May 30, 1917, MS 54, MC, SCASU; Rachel W. Reber to Lewis Reber, n.d., Herbert V. Young Collection, Jerome Historical Society.

30.     Verde Copper News, May 25, 1917.

31.     Ibid., May 29, 1917.

32.     Ibid., June 1, 1917.

33.     Ibid., June 8, 1917.

34.     Ibid., June 4, 8, 1917.

35.     Ibid., June 1, 4, 8, 1917.

36.     McCluskey to IWW Committee, April 25, May 26-27, 1917, MS 54, MC, SCASU; Verde Copper News, June 8, 1917.

37.     Jerome News, July 6, 1917.

38.     Jim McBride, “Deportation at Jerome:  The Reaction to Militant Unionism in a Western Camp,” Maricopa Trails, vol. 1 (Summer 1978), pp. 6, 9, 12-19; James Byrkit, Forging the Copper Collar: Arizona’s Labor-Management Wars, 1901-1921 (Tucson:  University of Arizona Press, 1982), pp. 168-71.

39.     Jerome News, July 13, 1917.

40.     Ibid., June 7, 13, 1917.

41.     Ibid., June 7, 1918.

42.     Herbert V. Young, interview by Betsy Dunlap and Nancy Smith, October 25, 1985, Oral History Collection, Jerome Historical Society; Jensen, Heritage of Conflict, pp. 383, 400.

43.     Jerome News, November 16, 23, 1917.

44.     Ibid., July 20, 1917; Fred Temme to McCluskey, April 21, May 21, June 6, 1919, MS 54, MC, SCASU.

45.     McCluskey to Charles Moyer, May 1, 1920; Verde Copper News, April 8, 1921, February 16, 1923.

CREDITS—The photographs on pages 234, 235, 238, 243, 245, 246, 250, are courtesy of the Arizona Historical Society, Tucson.  The photographs on pages 244, 247, 252, 253 are courtesy of the Jerome Historical Society.