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Always on Strike
Frank Little and the Western Wobblies
A history of the I.W.W.’s golden years as lived by one of its’ guiding lights.
“[The governor] asked me what we would do if the companies did not yield to our demands. I told him we would call everyman out of the mines. Then he said that if we did, that he would place them under Federal control. I laughed and told him we would call out every worker in the country, agriculture workers, lumbermen, munitions workers, miners, mechanics and all classes of working men. He said ‘Why, man, you wouldn’t do that. This country is at war.’ I said ‘ Governor, I don’t care what country your country is fighting. I am fighting for the solidarity of labor!”
—From the speech for which Frank Little was murdered in Butte, Montana

Frank Little is considered by some to be the greatest organizer produced by the U.S. labor movement, and yet precious little has been written about the famous Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) agitator. Little was a key leader of the country’s first free speech fights, organized a number of mass strikes, and was considered such a threat to corporate interests that he was lynched by company thugs for decry attempts at strike breaking. Police and government officials not only turned a blind eye to his murder, they later used his words and actions to justify a campaign to scapegoat and persecute other members of the IWW.

Always on Strike chronicles and critically engages with Little’s exploits in hopes of exposing a new generation of radicals to his life, legacy and politics.

Featuring cover art from a portrait of Frank Little by Keith Seidel, keithseidel.com
Reviews
  • "Today, Frank Little gets remembered as another Wobbly martyr, overshadowed by folksinger and labor organizer Joe Hill. But as historian Irving Werstein wrote, "Next to Big Bill Haywood, Frank Little was the most vital leader of the IWW." Arnold Stead's short and engaging Always on Strike: Frank Little and the Western Wobblies aims to recover his mighty struggles and special boldness as object lessons for left-wingers organizing in the shadow of the Great Recession....'[I]n today's working class and left movement, which is only yet regaining the confidence to strike and struggle in isolated pockets, Stead's words hit the nail on the head. And so does Frank Little's story."
    —Socialist Worker