• Rosemary Feurer

Chicago Federation of Labor Endorses Statue Campaign

From the beginning of our campaign for a Chicago Statue, we have had advice and support from officers of the Chicago Federation of Labor. Now they have passed a very strong resolution of support, highlighting the history of Mother Jones and the relationship. They call for affiliates to donate to the campaign.


We thank Don Villar, secretary-treasurer of the CFL, for his work and sharing this resolution.


Chicago Federation of Labor Mother Jones Statue Resolution


WHEREAS, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones (1837-1930) was an Irish refugee from Cork fleeing the Great Famine who became a teacher, married a union iron molder, lost her husband and all four children to yellow fever in 1867, and then opened a dress shop which was destroyed along with her home in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871;


WHEREAS, out of these tragedies Jones found a new family in the emerging Chicago labor movement, joined the Knights of Labor, became an organizer for the American Railway Union around the struggle at Pullman, campaigned for the Socialist Party and organized for the United

Mine Workers, such that by 1900, she was universally known as the “Mother of the Labor Movement,” defender of working families and enemy of child labor;


WHEREAS, Mother Jones organized workers across all racial and ethnic lines during a period of extreme racism and bigotry, believing from her own experiences that poverty and the lack of choices were the same for all working class people, men and women, black and white, immigrant and native born, preaching to workers that through solidarity they held their fate in their own hands;


WHEREAS, the Chicago Federation of Labor longstanding and deep connection to Mother Jones’ work and President John Fitzpatrick was one of her closest friends and confidants;


WHEREAS, Mother Jones often lovingly referred to President Fitzgerald and Secretary Ed Nockels as “the boys,” joining with the CFL leaders in countless strikes, fights, and power struggles;


WHEREAS, after her passing, President Fitzpatrick served as the executor of her will, Secretary Nockels arranged her funeral, and WCFL broadcast the proceedings to the world;


WHEREAS, a district attorney said at her trial for ignoring an injunction banning meetings by striking miners in 1902, “There sits the most dangerous woman in America. She comes into a state where peace and prosperity reign…crooks her finger and twenty thousand contented men lay down their tools and walk out;”


WHEREAS, attorney and ACLU leader Clarence Darrow wrote: “In all her career, Mother Jones never quailed or ran away. Her deep convictions and fearless soul always drew her to seek the spot where the fight was hottest and the danger greatest;”


WHEREAS, the Mother Jones Heritage Project has a campaign to erect a statue in the City of Chicago of Mother Jones, one of the most famous women of the early 20th century and a labor icon to workers everywhere;


WHEREAS, a statue of Mother Jones in Chicago would remind us that workers built this city, would begin to rectify the absence of statues of women, and would tell the world that Chicago has always been a city of immigrants;


WHEREAS, Chicago has few if any outdoor statues to honor women’s contributions to history;


THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Chicago Federation of Labor endorses the Mother Jones Statue Campaign and urges the City of Chicago to approve the proposed site and project to erect this Statue and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chicago Federation of Labor urges its members and affiliates to donate to support this work, raise awareness of Mother Jones’ vital contributions to labor and women’s history in their own ranks and participate in activities to bring it to fruition.


Adopted by CFL Executive Board on May 3, 2021


Accepted and passed by CFL Delegates May 4, 2021


Don V. Villar, Chicago Federation of Labor, Secretary Treasurer