Chapter 36

The story so far: Strikers shame the scabs into leaving.

 

The strike committee was assembled in the underground bunker.

“We lost Deputy Baker,” Andre announced. “Cleared out in the night without a trace. Took his family with him.”

“What do you mean ‘we’ lost him?” Katka asked. “He was on our side?”

“As much as he could have been.”

“I don’t envy him his position,” Paul said. “Let’s hope he got far enough away that they’ll never find him.”

“He might have a chance,” Sam Scarlett said. “Not much has happened here yet. It’s only been sixteen days.”

“Sixteen days seems like three years,” Adeline said. “Isn’t there anything else we can do?” They sent and resent the strike demands, but the company would not respond, telling the newspapers it had no plans to negotiate.

“Is anyone wavering?” Sam Scarlett asked.

“No one I know of,” Milo said.

“Send some spies.” Scarlett insisted. “Feel it out. It is imperative that if any man is considering crossing the line, we stop him at once. Find a few guys from each nationality. Have them feel out their people. Find out if anyone is considering crossing.”

“In the meantime, Mr. Scarlett,” Adeline said, “I think we need to do something more than wait for your headquarter men to pay attention to us. Townsfolk, they all be starting to wonder if you know what you’re doing. Don’t take this the wrong way, but most of us here thought this strike’s be over by now and our mensfolk wouldn’t miss no more than one paycheck.”

“We’re doing what we can, Mrs. Sherek.”

“Ain’t enough, sir.”

“What do you propose we do?”

“When the president of the United States doesn’t like something, he declares war. I suggest we follow his lead.”

“You want us to declare war on U.S. Steel?”

“Yes, sir.”

The rest of the group negotiated the wording of their declaration of war:

War has been declared against the steel trust and independent mining companies of Minnesota by the Industrial Workers of the World. The iron miners are mustering. Twenty thousand have left the mines and pits. The steam shovels are idle. The drills are silent … these barehanded miners, driven to desperation, have declared industrial war against the United States Steel Corporation.

Milo delivered the declaration to the home of Mr. Augustine Stone. It was June 18, 1916.

 

Tomorrow: Chapter 37 begins.