I have your letter of the 25th, inclosing communication from Senator Weeks, relative to the situation in the mining and smelting industries of the Rocky Mountain States.
On June 14th my attention was orally called to a serious situation existing in Butte, Montana, affecting the mining and smelting operations. I was advised that certain individuals, whose names were not mentioned, had come to Butte from the Pacific Coast, claiming to represent the Sinn Fein movement. It afterwards developed that they were actually representatives of the IWW. Literature of that organization was circulated in large quantities, and among other things appearing at the same time, but in an anonymous form, was a circular scattered throughout the city insisting on the shutting down of the mines in order that copper might not be furnished to the British. An unusually large number of mine accidents, principally fires, resulting in considerable loss of life, have recently occurred in the Butte District. Some of these are recognized as being of accidental origin. Others are believed to have been incendiary. The Department of Justice has been investigating these allegations.
On June 20th I was advised by telegram that a strike had occurred at Butte. In the meantime I had received from Acting Governor Bennion of Utah, under date of June 16th, a telegram notifying me of a strike at Tooele, Utah, which was presumed to be in some way connected with the strike movement at Butte. The mediation fund of the Department was exhausted, but the situation seemed to me to be of such importance that on June 20th I decided to appoint two competent men to act as mediators, paying them out of the immigration fund. I sent one of them to Butte and the other to Tooele, and directed them to cooperate with each other.
Yesterday I received the following telegram from Mr. McBride, the Commissioner at Tooele:
“Held several conferences with interested parties. Conditions at Tooele peaceful. Progress of a promising character being made. Telegram on Butte situation just received and am wiring Rodgers.”
Today his report is not so encouraging. He wires:
“Repeated conferences with numerous interested parties in mining and smelting led me to hope for acceptance of compromise proposition submitted by me, but today shippers and smelters meeting refused to accept and declared for original position, which strikers had unanimously refused. Tooele strikers live three miles from smelter and everything peaceful, but companies have asked for and expect Federal troops, which, while unnecessary, will be welcomed by strikers. Tooele strike has one thousand men directly involved but fifteen thousand interested and may participate before settlement reached. Influence of unknown character interfering. Rodgers cannot locate it at Butte. Meeting Tooele tomorrow. May be policy to remain here few days but outlook for settlement anything but favorable as I view it. Advise me your judgment as to future.”
I have instructed Mr. McBride to remain on the ground as long as there is a thread of hope and to wire me the substance of the proposed compromise, rejected by the employers, with the hope that I may be able to bring some influence to bear at the New York end. The information we now have seems to indicate that the strike is not likely to spread to other mining camps and smelting plants.
I am returning the letter from Senator Weeks herewith.
W B Wilson
The White House.