On July 1, 1903 the Mill and Smeltermens' Union at both the Globe and Grant Smelters went on strike, part of a wave of labor disturbances across the state demanding higher pay, shorter hours, better working conditions and recognition for the union. (The eight-hour day had been signed into law by the Colorado legislature in 1902, but was not enforced). The union brought in its superstars, co-leaders Charles Moyer and Bill Haywood, who spoke at the town hall in Elyria, giving rousing speeches and urging members to strike. What began as an orderly protest soon disintegrated into a mob with strikers beating watchmen, superintendents and men who wished to remain on the job. The walkout idled 775 men, a significant number in the small town, and the violence destroyed the public's view of the union. Management obtained an injunction prohibiting picketing and two weeks later reopened the Globe works with twenty-five non-union men, protected by the Denver police. ASARCO then announced that it would close the obsolete Grant Smelter permanently, eliminating 475 jobs. By the end of November, many unionists had exhausted their resources and reapplied for their jobs at the Globe plant, which employed only 300.
The remaining strikers were desperate. On November 29, about 100 women and 50 men held a meeting at Max Malich’s saloon and determined to take action, attacking and beating a wagonload of non-union men returning from work. Several men were hospitalized and 18 people were arrested and jailed, 14 of them women. (whether or not all 18 were confined to the two cells in the Globeville station is unclear)
The union had more resources than the workers and by the end of 1903, most employees had gone back to work, after first pledging they had severed their connection with the union.
Old maps show the former town hall and jail on Elgin Place, east of Washington Street - now occupied by small businesses.
Scratchy photo from the Denver Republican, September 1903
® Photo 2012 by Mary Lou Egan