1912: What’s Been Going On In Lawrence
The nation-wide textile worker strike that started in Lawrence Massachusetts has continued to make headlines since we talked about it last month. Joseph Ettor, the strike leader, is still in prison. He told his supporters that efforts to quell the strike are only going to “create a diversion of sympathy…to crown all your efforts with success.” The children, who were sent to New York for their protection, have begun to head home. But some reporters say the children don’t want to go home. One young boy gives a pretty good reason for this: “I don’t want to go back till the soldiers go away.”
On March 5, 1912, some of these children began to testify in court. Sixteen-year-old Victoria Wanarysk said that after turning 14 on a Wednesday, the legal age of working, she began working the following Monday. As she got older, her wages decreased: “when I first went to work I got $6 a week, but when I knew the work better I only got $3 or $4 and sometimes $5.”
These types of reports solicited the sympathy of the public. Finally, on March 12, after nine weeks of refusing to work, the American Woolen Company agreed to most of the striker’s demands. They received an average of 7% increase in pay. This is a great victory!