Ora Pearl McGill, born June 1894 in Iowa, began her career as a labor organizer while employed as a button worker in Muscatine. At the age of 17, Pearl was elected recording secretary and appointed to the executive committee of the Button Workers Protective Union (BWPU) No. 12854, an affiliate of the AFL. In 1911, she was identified as a “prominent delegate” to the annual convention of the Women’s Trade Union League, representing the Muscatine button-workers. In 1912, she joined the IWW, agitating throughout Massachusetts. She first came to prominence as a Wobbly during the Lawrence “Bread & Roses” Strike. McGill spent the next several years in Massachusetts, organizing workers and raising funds for jailed IWW leaders Joseph Ettor & Arturo Giovannitti.