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Hagerty had been a Marxist before his ordination in 1892 and was later influenced by anarcho-syndicalism. His formal association with the church ended when he was suspended by his archbishop for urging miners in Colorado to revolt during his tour of mining camps in 1903, however he continued to consider himself a priest in good standing. Shortly after, he became the editor of the American Labor Union's newspaper, the Voice of Labor.
Hagerty is credited with authoring the IWW Preamble, assisting in writing the Industrial Union Manifesto and drawing up the first chart of industrial organization (dubbed "Father Hagerty's Wheel of Fortune" by Samuel Gompers).
Hagerty favored direct action, as opposed to political action of the socialist political parties (he referred to them as "slowcialists"). During an IWW convention speech he said:
- "The Ballot Box is simply a capitalist concession. Dropping pieces of paper into a hole in a box never did achieve emancipation of the working class, and in my opinion it never will."