You ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes.
                                                      -Mother Jones

Wednesday August 5, 1903
From The International Socialist Review: Solidarity in Oxnard, California, Part I

This story went mostly uncovered last spring. And, therefore, we were happy to find this good account of the struggle by John Murray Jr. which was published this month in the Review. Parts II-IV will be presented over the next three days.

Part I-Unity between Mexican and Japanese Beet Workers

He who may not agree with the conclusions arrived at in the telling of this bit of California's history, should at least value the facts narrated — for they are surely pregnant with meaning to those who study the history of the labor world.

The town of Oxnard is in Ventura county, about sixty miles north of Los Angeles, and was founded by the American Beet Sugar Company, in which Henry T. Oxnard is the central figure. On the evening of March 24, of the present year, the Associated Press dispatches announced that there was "riot" in Oxnard — that the Japanese and Mexican unions were terrorizing the town, shooting and killing peaceable non-union men, whose only desire was to exercise the right of American citizens and work for any wage they chose.

Being within a few hours' ride of the place, the next morning's train carried me to the gates of the sugar factory. My only companions on the car were a parcel of drummers, who were quite naturally anxious to know just how peaceful a state the town might now be in. To this end anyone who might know, and especially the conductor, was cross-questioned in a most thorough manner :

"How many men were killed — could the sheriff control the situation — was it safe for a traveling man to go about his business on the streets?" were some of the queries that received apparently confusing replies.

"Yes, there was a man killed and four others wounded — all union men — and the town is now quiet."

"How's that," said a salesman for a wholesale hardware firm, "union men start a riot and only union men shot? Something queer about that! I know a house that shipped revolvers here last week — who bought 'em, that's what I'd like to know. Couldn't have been the unions if all the dead men are on the other side," — which was without doubt a common sense conclusion from a purely business point of view.

Certainly the town seemed quiet, as I walked up from the station, the only noticeable thing being a little squad of Japanese union pickets that met the train and were easily recognized by their white buttons labeled "J. M. L. A." (Japanese-Mexican Labor Association) over the insignia of a rising sun and clasped hands. Oxnard was full of those white buttons — and when the first thousand of them had been distributed, and no more obtain able, hundreds of beet thinners put red buttons in their button holes to show that they were union men.

On the presentation of my blue card, I was warmly welcomed at headquarters by J. M. Lizarraras and Y. Yamagachi, secretaries of the Mexican and Japanese unions. They had a plain tale to tell, and one which I found was fully borne out by facts known to all the towns folk — for even the petty merchants, strange to say, freely acknowledged that the men had been bullied, swindled and shot down, without reason or provocation.

The Beet Sugar Company had fostered the organization of a scab contracting company — known as the Western Agricultural Contracting Company — whose double purpose was to reduce the price of thinning beets from five to as low as four and a quarter dollars an acre, and at the same time undermine and destroy the unions. Not content with the lowering of wages, they also forced the men to accept store orders instead of cash payments, with its usual accompaniment of extortionate prices for the merchandise sold. These tricks, of course, are as old as the hills, and consequently when the men rebelled there was a great surprise among the labor skinners, who had no idea that Japanese and Mexicans would ever have wit enough to unite for mutual protection, or that if they did temporarily unite, their organization could possiblv last for any length of time, with the obstacles of different tongues, temperaments and social environments to bring speedy wreck to such a union. But the men did organize, did hang together — in spite of the rain of bullets which were poured down upon them — and finally whipped Oxnard's beet sugar company, with its backing of millions.

To Socialists it is needless to point out that to whip a capitalist to-day means nothing more than that you must fight him again to-morrow, but the significance of this particular skirmish, in the great class war, lies in the fact that workers from the Occident and Orient, strangers in tongues, manners and customs, gathered together in a little western village, should so clearly see their class interest rise above all racial feelings of distrust.

emphasis added

The International Socialist Review
-of August 1903

Tuesday Aug 5, 1913
Calumet, Michigan - Mother Jones Will Arrive Today to Assist Copper Strikers

Mother Jones is answering the call for her assistance once again. This time she is coming to aid of the Michigan copper strikers. She is expected to arrive in Calumet this morning and will be met by officials of the Western Federations of Miners. According to some reports, the W. F. of M. leaders will make a request to Congress for a special investigating committee to be appointed to look into conditions in Michigan's Copper Country. Mother Jones could be asked to go to Washington D.C. to help push for that investigation.

Escanaba Morning Press
-of Aug 3, 1913

Hellraisers Journal on vacation!
Hellraisers will appear in abbreviated form until Sept 2nd for a vacation of sorts. A total vacation is not possible since the capitalist never took any time off in their suppression of the U.S.labor movement.


Originally posted to Hellraisers Journal on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 11:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by WE NEVER FORGET, In Support of Labor and Unions, Anti-Capitalist Chat, and Three Star Kossacks.

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