ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Born in Centralia, Washington, in 1928, Herbert H. Fuller attended the University of Washington and Harvard. He served as state chief assistant attorney general for nearly three years. He has argued cases before both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Washington State Supreme Court. Currently he is of counsel with Fuller & Fuller, Attorneys in Olympia, Washington. He is a member and former board member of the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association. His wife and three children are all attorneys.
The county in which Centralia is located was a significant center for organized labor. At that time, seventeen unions comprised the Central Trade Council. This council in turn represented an estimated 3,000 union members. The power of organized labor was evident in the Labor Day Parade on September 1st, 1919. The unions staged a parade described as “the biggest parade ever held in Centralia.” Timber workers, coal miners, barbers, printers, carpenters, retail clerks, and railway brotherhoods all took part in the parade. Plans were announced about that time to build a new labor temple.
The Centralia case arose as a result of deaths and injuries following gunfire near the union hall of the radical labor union, the Industrial Workers of the World, whose members were called “Wobblies.” The IWW is an international union founded in Chicago, Illinois, in 1905 by a few hundred socialists, anarchists, and radical trade unionists. Its radical nature is shown by its chief goal: the abolition of the wage system and control of the workplace by the workers.
Conflict between labor and management had a violent history in the Northwest timber industry. IWW union halls were raided and pillaged again and again. Members of this radical union were frequently beaten and tarred and feathered and forced to leave town. In 1918, the IWW had a union hall which was located a few blocks from the union hall used by them in 1919. That hall was attacked and wrecked by participants in the 1918 Red Cross Parade. The members inside were maltreated and driven out of town.