• Nunzio Pernicone
Part of the Italian and Italian American Studies book series (IIAS)


On January 11, 1912, after mill owners cut wages in response to a state mandated cut in the number of hours women and children were permitted to work, Polish, Italian, and Lithuanian mill hands—many of them women—spontaneously rebelled by shutting down their looms, slashing power belts, and exiting the mills in protest.1 Anticipating a long strike, Angelo Rocco, secretary of Local 20’s Italian branch of the National Industrial Union of Textile Workers, an IWW affiliate, requested Joe Ettor to mobilize the workers under the leadership of the IWW. Only twenty-six years old, with a shock of curly black hair and a cherubic smile, Ettor looked more like a mischievous street urchin than a fiery labor agitator and the IWW’s principal organizer for its eastern branches. Born to Italian parents in Brooklyn, in 1886, Ettor grew up in Chicago and California and joined the SPA while still a teenager, working as a iron worker in a San Francisco shipyard. He joined the IWW in 1905 and served as an organizer among West Coast lumbermen, miners, railroad workers, and construction gangs. Elected to the IWW’s general executive council in 1908, Ettor moved East the following year. His proficiency with foreign languages (he was fluent in English and Italian, and understood Polish, Yiddish, and Hungarian) proved invaluable when dealing with immigrant workers such as those in Lawrence. The strike would prove to be the greatest triumph of his career in the labor movement.2


Textile Worker District Attorney General Strike Italian Banker Italian Worker 
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  1. For the Lawrence strike, see Justus Ebert, The Trial of a New Societ? ( Cleveland: I.W.W. Publishing Bureau, 1913 )Google Scholar
  2. Donald B. Cole, Immigrant City: Lawrence, Massachusetts, 1845–192? ( Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1963 ), 177–197Google Scholar
  3. Melvin Dubofsky, We Shall Be All: A History of the Industrial Workers of the Worl? ( New York: Quadrangle, 1969 ), 227–258Google Scholar
  4. Philip S. Foner, A History of the Labor Movement in the United States, 1896–193?, vol. 4: The Industrial Workers of the World 1905–191?(New York: International Publishers, 1965 ), 306–350Google Scholar
  5. Patrick Renshaw, The Wobblies: The Story of Syndicalism in the United State? (New York: Anchor Books, 1968), 97–112Google Scholar
  6. Ardis Cameron, Radicals of the Worst Sort: Laboring Women in Lawrence, Massachusett?, 1860–191? ( Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1993 ), 117–186Google Scholar
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  9. 4.
    For Giovannitti’s career, see Mario De Ciampis, “Un poeta ribelle: Arturo M. Giovannitti;” Parts 1, 2 Controcorrent? 16 and 17 (February, April 1960 ): 18–21, 20–22Google Scholar
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    Luigi Galleani, La fine dell’anarchismo? ( Newark, NJ: Edizione Curata da Vecchi Letton di Cronaca Sovversiva, 1925 ), 83.Google Scholar
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    Ebert, The Trial of a New Societ?, 87–90; Solidarit?, October 19, 1912; Il Proletari?, September 21, November 30, 1912; Baldo Aquilano, L’Ordine Figli d’Italia in Americ? ( New York: Società Tipografica Italiana, 1925 ), 90.Google Scholar
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    See Nunzio Pernicone, “War Among the Italian Anarchists: The Galleanisti’s Campaign Against Carlo Tresca;” in Philip V. Cannistraro and Gerald Meyer, eds., The Lost World of Italian-American Radicalis? ( Westport, CN: Praeger, 2003 ), 77–97.Google Scholar

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© Nunzio Pernicone 2005

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