For Twin Cities readers you may wish to catch the documentary “The Mesabi Iron Range Strike of 1907” tonight at 7:30 on KFAI. Produced by Britt Aamodt, this piece explores the seminal moment that workers organized in the mines of the Iron Range. Unsuccessful, the first great strike of the Iron Range led to the blacklisting of the organizing Finns and created a tinderbox of labor strife that would explode less than a decade later. It’s quite a story. You can listen online here if you can’t catch the radio broadcast.
At the turn of the last century, Minnesota’s Iron Range was a cauldron of ethnicities and languages. From 1892 to 1914, more than 40 different ethnic groups immigrated there from the Old World, converging on one of the richest iron lodes in history. In 1907, a large-scale labor strike erupted on the Mesabi Range, led primarily by immigrant Finns. The strike raised questions about whether laborers had the right to strike for liveable wages, eight-hour work days and fair work practices. Though ultimately unsuccessful, the strike broke down cultural barriers and united miners under the common banner of organized labor. KFAI producer Britt Aamodt talks with historian Rhoda Gilman, Pam Brunfelt and Peter Rachleff.