Coeur d'Alene Miners' Dispute (1892-1899)There were two related incidents between miners and mine owners in the Coeur d'Alene Mining District of North Idaho: the Coeur d'Alene Miners strike of 1892, and the Coeur d'Alene Labor Confrontation of 1899.The strike of 1892had its roots in the first pay cut by the Bunker Hill Mining Company in 1887. Immediately after the reduction in wages miners organized the first union at Wardner on November 3, 1887.The response to that violence, disastrous for the local miners' union, became the primary motivation for the formation of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) the following year.The confrontation of 1899resulted from the miners' frustrations with mine operators that paid lower wages; hired Pinkerton operatives to infiltrate the union; and routinely fired any miner who held a union card.Coeur d'Alene Strike of 1892Coeur d'Alene District miners organized into several local unions during the 1880s. Mine owners responded by forming a Mine Owners Association. Mine operators found a reduction in wages the easiest way to mitigate increased costs. The operators also increased miners' work hours from nine to ten hours per day, with no corresponding increase in pay.The year 1891 marked the turning point in the economic struggle between the miners and the mine owners. William T. Stoll, a pioneer mining lawyer of the Coeur d'Alene Mining District, said later:"Prior to 1891 all mines had worked to capacity; prior to 1891 all mines had paid good dividends, powder-and-drill men drawing three dollars and fifty cents a day for their labor, and muckers fifty cents less. Everyone was satisfied, everyone was happy; there were no unions, there was no need for unions--a matter, doubtless, entirely of opinion."It was indeed, a matter of opinion. Stoll was the secretary of the Mine Owners' Association and had a managerial point of view. He maintained that unionization ultimately came about through outside "agitators" from Butte. A similar view was expressed by one of the original organizers ofthe mine owners' group, John Hays Hammond. Hammond asserted that his own Bunker Hill andSullivan miners were not discontented in 1891; he further implied that the Butte mine operators steered the agitators into the Coeur d'Alenes in order to reduce their own labor problems.
James McParlandThe formation of the Mine Owners' Association in 1891 was the beginning of a series of events that challenged the aroused miners. John Hays Hammond and Fred Bradley figured prominentlyin the organization of this protective association whose first move was to seek the services of the Pinketon and Thiel detective agencies. James McParland, head of the Western division of the Pinkerton Agency, later to play a key role in the 1907 cases against the Western Federation of Miners, recommended the services of an ex-cowboy named Charles A. Siringo.