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The copper strike of 1913-14 started in July and lasted nine months. It was one of Michigan's most bitter labor actions. The introduction of the one-man drill triggered the strike. Miners feared cutbacks on the number of jobs and working alone. Strikers also demanded recognition of the Western Federation of Miners as their bargaining agent, a reduction from a 10-hour to an 8-hour work day, and $3.50 per day wages. The mining companies refused to recognize the union or to return to the two-man drill, but did, in the end, cut hours and increase wages. Miners who returned to work found themselves alongside men who had been hired as strikebreakers. In the following years, many experienced miners left the Copper Country for the auto factories of Detroit, mining jobs inthe western U. S. or military service with the outbreak of World War I in 1917.

The strike was a bitter struggle. Michigan state militia, on horseback, was deployed against the strikers. Strike leaders, lead by "Big" Annie Clemenic, rallied the strikers by hosting a Christmas party at the Italian hall. While the miners' families were celebrating Christmas Eve at Italian Hall in Calumet someone yelled, "Fire!" In panic, the crowd rushed to get out of the second-floor hall. They could not open the door to the outside, and 73 people--mostly children--died in the crush.There was no fire. Many miners believed that the mine companies had sent the person who caused the panic, although this could never proved it seems the most likely explaination. Eye witnesses saw company agents in the area but could not identify them. The crime remains unsolved.

In recent times the hall fell on disrepair. Local Unions, including the North West Upper Peninsula Labor Council, and a variety of volunteers, purchased the site and the surrounding land. They restored it and preserved it as a monument to Michigan's workers. These individuals kept the incident and the site from fading into the mists of history. Those who forget their past are doomed to repeat it!