During the summer of 1916, the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.) coordinated a strike of iron ore miners on the Mesabi Iron Range. The strikers fought for higher wages, an eight-hour workday, and workplace reform. Although the strike failed, it was one of the largest labor conflicts in Minnesota history.
During the early twentieth century, the population of the Iron Range was among the most ethnically diverse in Minnesota. Tens of thousands of immigrants arrived from Finland, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Canada, England, and over thirty other places of origin. These immigrants mined the ore that made the Iron Range famous and built its communities.
The exterior of Fisher’s Barber Shop splashed with red paint, c.1940s. During this period, shops perceived as communist—especially those allied with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO)—were vandalized with red paint.
Journeymen barbers were skilled craftsmen whose labor organizations helped shape the barbers’ trade in Minnesota. Politically active from their first arrival, they allied themselves with third-party movements after World War I. Shopping mall barbershops, consumer choices, and lost union membership led to organizational decline in the 1970s.