Red Metal: The Copper Country Strike of 1913

Red Metal: The Copper Country Strike of 1913

Tuesday, December 17 at 8:00 p.m.

The 100th anniversary of an epic labor strike still haunts the American labor movement.

From its hopeful start to its heartrending conclusion, "Red Metal"recalls Michigan's Copper Country strike of 1913. Among the notable elements of that strike was the death of 73 children at a union Christmas party in what is now Calumet, Michigan. Known as the Italian Hall Disaster, it remains the deadliest unsolved manslaughter in U.S. history.

The tragedy (attributed to strikebreakers yelling “fire” in a crowded auditorium) was immortalized by Woody Guthrie in his ballad “1913 Massacre,” performed in the film by Steve Earle.

"Red Metal" explores the intensifying battle between organized labor and corporate power, as well as related issues of immigration and technology. Of equal significance is the strike’s cultural legacy, which influenced national discourse, music and legislation during the Progressive Era. As the centennial of the Italian Hall Disaster approaches, a new generation of Americans has begun paying tribute to the victims, while also deliberating the strike’s causes, outcomes and legacy. 

Main photo: Picketers during the 1913 strike. One carries a sign, "One Man Machine - Our Agitator." Another carries a sign reading "We Demand Higher Wages and Better Working Conditions."
Photo at right: Copper Country miners.