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Additional resources for Carlo Tresca: Portrait of a Rebel
Tresca gave several more speeches about socialism and visited the ditch diggers at night to convince more of them to strike. Within a month or so, many of the discharged strikers found similar work in Burlington or with the local railroad. Those who returned to the water system project received higher wages and better housing. 29 Revolutionary Syndicalism Tresca’s earliest experiences as a strike leader paralleled the emergence of a new movement in Europe and America, which would quickly win his allegiance— revolutionary syndicalism.
Among Italian socialists and anarchists he had no peer. Tresca’s first strike action was against the John B. Stetson Company in Philadelphia. Five hundred Italian and 900 Jewish hat makers, representing half of the employees, walked off their job in February 1905 to protest against the exploitative methods by which the owners generated fat profits. So-called apprentice workers were hired at two dollars a week, with a promise that they would receive a small bonus and become permanent employees after three months.
Audience composition was generally the same in larger cities. Participants often wrote letters to Il Proletario, depicting him an impassioned orator capable of stirring the emotions of the crowd and as a patient mentor who explained his ideas in language uneducated workers could understand. They also reveal how Tresca established a quick and easy rapport with audiences by means of his informal manner and hearty sense of humor. Indeed, this ready rapport was a key factor in his success and popularity with workers.