The Sacco-Vanzetti Case and the Grim Forces Behind It
By ART SHIELDS
in the trade, one employer calling him the fastest edge-trimmer of some 3,000 who had passed through his factory doors.
His wagers were higher than most of his Italian fellow-workers, and he was able to send regular remittances to his parents at Torremaggiore, Italy, where his brother has recently been elected major; and to support a wife and child as well. He aided effectively in the seven weeks' strike of insurgent cutters in 1918, which forced wage increases from various show manufacturers.
Vanzetti a Power in Plymouth
Bartolomeo Vanzetti's voice counted for much among the workers in Plymouth. This town, widely advertised as the landing place of the Puritan Pilgrims, is the cordage production of the United States. Here the modern pilgrim from Southern Europe tends the spinning machines of the Cordage Trust, transforming the sisal hemp of the Yucatan Peninsula into rope and binder twine for sale around the earth.
When Vanzetti got a job at Plymouth in 1914 loading rope-coils on freight cars with the outside gang, Italians Portugese and other Europeans working in the cordage plant were living under conditions worse than those prevailing at Lawrence in ante-strike days. Husbands and wives worked side by side in the mill or met each other going to and from the day and night shifts. Women were paid six dollars a week and men a maximum of nine dollars. Vanzetti began an energetic campaign for economic action.
On January 17, 1916, the big walk-out came, the first and only strike the Cordage Trust ever faced. Four thousand employees swarmed out from all parts of the mills, completely shutting down the plant. It was in the midst of the busy season, when orders for binder twine for the next summer's harvest were pouring in. For a month the factor was silent.
Threats Against the Strikers Fail
Police and private detectives and threats that families would be turned out of company-owned houses failed in their purposes because of the ceaseless endeavors of Vanzetti and co-leaders. Vanzetti worked night and day making speeches and doing his turn on the picket-line. He was responsible for gathering in much money for the strike fund.
Victory was with the strikers. The Cordage Trust settled. Wages were immediately raised. Inter-racial distrust was wiped out by the new solidarity, and this gave the workers power which forced successive wage increases until an average close to $25 a week was reached. Vanzetti does not know whether or not he was blacklisted, but he does know that the cordage company didn't need his services any longer. E found it convenient to become a fish-seller, and thus to be his own boss, but he continued to inspire the Italians and Portugese at the cordage plant. And accordingly he was marked a "dangerous alien."
With Force and Violence
Vanzetti was exactly the type of man the Department of Justice was picking for deportation, but no excuse for arresting him was found until May 5, 1920, when the last relentless drive against aliens have been going on for a year. That drive was used by politicians and industrial magnates to serve important purposes. The victims were largely men who encouraged their fellows to resist open-shop campaigns and wage-cutes. Thus the industrial captains would be able, they believed, to cow the remaining multitudes into accepting anew the miseries of ten years ago.
Hundreds of halls and homes were raided by agents of the Department of Justice and the plug-uglies of
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