Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Winter 2022

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Stephen Moore

Second Committee Member

Daniel Herman

Third Committee Member

Roxanne Easley


The present study analyzes the August 1937 International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers (IUMMSW) strike at the Sunshine Mine in Kellogg, Idaho as an important turning point for Pacific Northwest hardrock mining labor relations and as a case study of the increasingly active role of the federal government in labor relations during the New Deal period. Beginning with a brief history of the earlier labor strife and violence in the Coeur d’Alene region—particularly during the 1892 and 1899 district-wide labor battles—this study demonstrates Sunshine Mine was an industry outlier that did not share the same history of labor tension as other mines in the district and therefore developed a decidedly different response to labor unrest. This study argues the 1937 strike not only inaugurated the reintroduction of union labor to the district, but it demonstrated the important shift away from direct action violent clashes at mine shafts and toward politicized union negotiating. In the same way, the strike initiated an unprecedented company response to unionization efforts in the form of the Mohawk Valley Formula: a strikebreaking plan that was utilized by Coeur d’Alene district mining companies to disempower the IUMMSW for the following three decades. Although the Sunshine strike lasted only six days—and ended with a declared victory for the Sunshine Mining Company—the legal battle between the IUMMSW, the National Labor Relations Board, and Sunshine Mining lasted six years, resulted in a union victory, and removed barriers that subsequently enabled the unionization of miners at all the Coeur d’Alene district’s mines. This study examines the social and political causes and impacts of New Deal legislation on mining labor relations in the Pacific Northwest and of the Sunshine Mine strike on the Coeur d’Alene district.

Available for download on Tuesday, December 07, 2027