< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >
Laundry workers strike all Everett plants on May 23, 1910.
HistoryLink.org Essay 8316
: Printer-Friendly Format
On May 23, 1910, a Monday morning, members of the Shirt Waist and Laundry Workers Union No. 154 in Everett walk off the job. Strikers represent all laundry plants in the city. The dispute is over wages, which have remained the same for two years. Laundry owners hope to break the strike by using scab labor but are halted in their efforts when laundry drivers, not in negotiation, support the strike. Laundresses are prepared for a long strike, but a settlement is made in six days.
Women Workers and their Employers
Although customer prices for laundry work had climbed 25 to 30 percent between 1908 and 1910, workers' pay remained unchanged. When the Laundrymen's Association refused to raise wages, Shirt Waist and Laundry Workers walked off the job. Many of these workers were female laundresses who were receiving very few hours of work at the time.
The strike began on Monday morning, May 23, 1910. Laundry drivers, not in bargaining, walked out in support of the strike. Laundry workers gathered laundry and continued to do the city's wash on their own. Everett's Labor Journal praised the workers' efforts for their ingenuity and called for public support of the strike.
Laundresses requested that the public bring their dirty clothing to the Labor Temple for washing. The public responded and soon soiled linen and clean linen, shipping boxes and crates, filled the Labor Temple office. As a Labor Journal reporter wrote, the laundry workers were not asking for an unfair raise, "There never was a strike in all history that the bosses did not put up the moth eaten bowl of misery that to raise wages meant ruination to their business ... . We've all heard their poverty cry."
Wage Scales Old and New
The newspaper published both their present and newly proposed wage scales:
Old Wage Scale:
Assorters and Markers, 1st class men, $18 per week, Women $12 per week
Assorters and Markers, 2nd class men, $14 per week, Women, $8 per week
Washers, $14 to $18 per week.
Polishers, 1st class men, $18 per week. Women 25 cents an hour.
Polishers, 2nd class men, $14 per week. Women 17 cents an hour
Starchers, 1st class men, $18 per week. Women 17 cents an hour
Starchers, 2nd class men, $14 per week. Women 15 cents an hour
Mangle Girls, 14 cents an hour
Machine ironers, 1st class, 14 cents an hour
Hand ironers, 1st class, 17 cents an hour
Hand ironers, 2nd class, 15 cents an hour
New Wage Scale:
Assorters and Markers, 1st class men, $20 per week, Women $13 per week
Assorters and Markers, 2nd class men, $16 per week, Women $ 9 per week
Washers, $16 to $20.
Polishers, 1st class men, $20 per week. Women 27 ½ cents per hour
Polishers, 2nd class men, $18 per week. Women 19 cents per hour
Starchers, 1st class men, $20 per week. Women 19 cents per hour
Starchers, 2nd class men, $16 per week. Women 16 cents per hour
Mangle girls, 15 cents per hour.
Machine ironers, 1st class, 19 cents per hour
Hand ironers, 1st class, 19 cents per hour
Hand ironers, 2nd class, 16 cents per hour
The laundry workers 1910 strike lasted only six days, ending on May 28. Terms of the settlement included a 10 percent increase over the previous scale to all inside workers and every striker was promised that he or she would be re-instated in their old position. The increase was agreed to for a two-year period.
“Laundry Workers Strike In All Everett Plants,” The Labor Journal, May 27, 1910, p. 1; “Laundry Girls Win Higher Wage Strike,” The Labor Journal, June 3, 1910, p. 1.
Travel through time (chronological order):
< Browse to Previous Essay
Browse to Next Essay >
Women's History |
Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that
encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both
HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any
reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this
Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For
more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact
the source noted in the image credit.
Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided
By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins
| Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry
| 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle
| City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach
Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private
Sponsors and Visitors Like You