by William Haywood
Red and Black Publishers
William D "Big Bill" Haywood was one of the most colorful figures in American labor history. While working in an Idaho silver mine as a young man, he joined the Western Federation of Miners, and quickly became a member of its Executive Board and then its Secretary-Treasurer. Haywood preached a militant brand of unionism which advocated the overthrow of capitalism by a mass general strike and the use of sabotage. In 1905, a former Governor of Idaho was killed by a bomb; Haywood and two other WFM leaders were tried and acquitted of planning the murder. In 1905, Haywood was a founding member of the revolutionary labor union Industrial Workers of the World (IWW--the "Wobblies") and soon became its Secretary-Treasurer and best-known member. In 1917, 165 IWW members, including Haywood, were arrested and charged with violating the Sedition and Espionage Acts by opposing the First World War. Sentenced to 20 years in jail, Haywood skipped bail and fled the country in 1921.