It was Madera’s first serious dispute between capital and labor, and it struck at the center of what was then the city’s economic heart.
The lumber business had created the town in 1876, and had given it the name of Madera. Now some 40 years later, the local captains of industry were faced with rebellion in the ranks of their employees. The Madera Sugar Pine mill and the Thurman Sash and Door Factory, both located on the south end of town, became the objects of discontent, as their employees went on strike. The lumber company survived the ordeal, but the Thurman concern became a permanent casualty.
On March 11, 1917, the Madera Union of Carpenters and Joiners of America Number 1266 was organized and immediately began signing up Sugar Pine and Thurman workers. For more than a month the union sought recognition from the mills, and when the employers refused, the workers walked out.
The Sugar Pine mill had just commenced its new logging season, so the numbers involved from that site were relatively small. However, the Thurman Sash and Door Factory lost 100 of its 150 employees to the strike. So drastic were the implications of a prolonged dispute in Madera that a citizens committee was formed to attempt to settle the discord. It was made up of E.M. Saunders, F.E. Osterhoust, J.M. Griffin, Joseph Barcroft, Sherwood Green, John Franchi, George Marchbank, Leo Friedberger, and W.C. Tighe...