Mother Jones, "UMWA Convention Speech," 1910


Children at Work in a Tennessee Textile Factory
Courtesy of LOC Prints & Photographs

During the five years, 1905-1910, that Mother Jones worked for the Illinois Socialist Party, she devoted much of her energy to raising funds for the Mexican Revolution. She saw this conflict, like the laborers' conflict in the United States, as a part of an international class struggle.

By the time of this speech, 1910, she had broken with the Socialist Party and renewed her ties with the UMWA. The following year, the UMWA put her back on the payroll as an organizer.


UMWA Convention Speech by Mother Jones, March 29, 1910


As you read the document, reflect on the following questions:

  • What is the new phase in the industrial conflict?
  • Why are women in the workforce? Why are the breweries "no place for them"?
  • From what you have read of the workers' situation, how appropriate is her phrase ."ground into profit"?
  • The Blatz's proprietor argued against organizing the women and giving them increased wages because, "They get married and go away." Was this a fair argument?
  • How could workers control the profits? Is this tactic used today? What does it say about the balance of power?