Photo courtesy Everett Public Library
Ernest P. Marsh
In a demonstration that workers could be just as migratory as managers, Ernest Marsh was a shingle weaver at three 14th Street Dock shingle mills from 1901 to 1908. In 1909, he left the dock and soon became a union official. By 1910 he was the editor of the Labor Journal and secretary-treasurer at the Labor Temple. Though passionate about his union views, Marsh was a man of measured words and actions. In the words of Mill Town author Norman Clark, Marsh had the “soul of moderation” He was an articulate spokesman for the laboring man but never questioned the mill owners’ right to reasonable profits. After the 1915 collapse of the Timber Workers’ Union, of which he had been a founder, Marsh reorganized the state shingle weavers’ union. He headed up the strike committee when the new International Shingle Weavers of America clashed with the Everett shingle mill owners, and he played a central role in the prolonged 1916 strike and lockout.
Marsh did not welcome the Industrial Workers of the World’s (IWW) entry into the conflict between the Everett shingle weavers and mill owners. He respected the IWW’s right to speak, but he rejected the radical union as bad for the wood products industry and a definite threat to his American Federation of Labor Organization. The shingle weavers strike faded to the background as the mill owners and IWW battle escalated and finally culminated in the City Dock shootout known as the Everett Massacre. Marsh had witnessed the violence from the hill above the dock and was dismayed and disgusted by what he had seen. Convinced that conclusion of the shingle weavers strike was critical for community healing, he led efforts in that direction. However, the strike, with a few interruptions, dragged on until late 1917.
By this time, America was in World War I and federal government intervention was changing the entire wood products labor and management relations. Ernest Marsh’s name is not found in the city directories after 1917; he left Everett to work for the federal government as a labor moderator. After a quarter century of governmental service, he concluded his working years in San Francisco as an advisor to the Crown Zellerbach Corporation. Ernest Marsh died in 1958, more than a half century after his challenging years in Everett