The Greenhorn - Blacklisted!

Setting the Scene

The Cobalt Adventure character Danny is not based on any particular person but represents the many men who came to work as miners in Cobalt.

Work in the mines was hard and dangerous. Workers often lived in housing owned by the mines, and if they spoke out about work conditions they could find themselves out of a job and a home. Many workers felt a union was necessary to protect their interests so in 1905, the Cobalt Miner's Union, Local 146, Western Federation of Miners, was formed.

A photograph of the six man executive of the Cobalt Miners Union wearing their union badges.

The Cobalt Miner's Union

"The object of this Union shall be to promote the practice of those virtues that elevate and adorn society, and remind man of his duty to his fellow man, the elevation of his position and maintenance of the rights of the workingman."

- From the Cobalt Miner's Union Local No. 146, Constitution, Article I, Sec. 2.

The famous American WFM organizer Big Bill Haywood spoke in Cobalt at the Orpheum Theatre while on tour of the United States. The rousing nature of his speeches, however, could not change the uphill battle facing union organizers in Cobalt.

A photograph of union organizer Big Bill Haywood of the Western Federation of Miners.

Big Bill Haywood, Union organizer, Western Federation of Miners

The mine mangers hired private detectives to spy on the workers and used the Mines Employment Bureau to prevent union sympathizers from getting jobs at their mines.

Despite these efforts, the union did organize. They called their first strike 1907. Organizer Big Jim McGuire was arrested and the strike petered out without clear resolution.

The 1919 strike was a bitter six-week affair. The union struck over wages, union recognition and the demand for an eight-hour day. The mine managers refused to negotiate. Finally, with winter coming and most of the miners wrestling with poverty, the union went back to work with a faint promise of a wage increase.