Proclamation of striking worksPresentation Transcript
Proclamation of striking workers
On January 1st, 1912 a new Massachusetts law passed that reduced the number of work hours per week for factory workers.
In response to the new law, textile mill owners reduced the workers' weekly wage to make up for the lost hours.
When women workers at Everett Cotton Mills found out about the reduction in pay they left their looms and walked out. Soon other workers from other mills did the same thing.
Arturo Giovannitti (right), an Italian labor organizer, and his friend Joseph Ettor (left) joined the strike and helped lead the workers.
The striking workers were composed of people from different ethnic groups who decided to cast away their prejudice towards each other in order to unite and resist against a common evil which were the mill owners.
"We, the 20000 textile workers of Lawrence, are out on strike for the right to live free from slavery and starvation; free from overwork and underpay; free from a state of affairs that had become so unbearable and beyond our control, that we were compelled to march out of the slave pens of Lawrence in united resistance against the wrongs and injustice of years and years of wage slavery."
Arturo and Joseph were arrested for killing an Italian worker even though it was believed that the state militia were at fault. Another Italian worker was also arrested for the crime.
During the strike, the strikers would often suffer abuse from the state militia, police, and state government.
"But when a long train of abuses and ill treatment, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them to a state of beggary, it is their duty to resist such tactics and provide new guards for their future security.
Mill owners refused to meet with the committees of the striking workers and they also refused to consider their demands.
The actions that police took against the strikers were violent and brutal. They would drag young girls from their beds at midnight and drag little children from their mothers' arms and club pregnant women.
The police would also place striking workers under arrest for no reason at all.
The city government would not allow the strikers to parade through the streets and would also not allow the strikers to use the city hall and public grounds for public meetings.
"They have denied the strikers the right to use the Common for mass meetings, and they have ordered the police to take little children away from their parents, and they are responsible for all the violence and brutality on the part of the police.“
The Massachusetts Legislature voted to devote $150000 for maintaining an army of 1500 militiamen to deal with the striking workers.
"They have appointed investigation committees, who declare, after perceiving the signs of suffering on the part of strikers on every side, that there is no trouble with these people."
"These men and women can not suffer much longer; they will be compelled to rise in armed revolt against their oppressors if the present state of affairs is allowed to continue in Lawrence."
The strike lasted from January of 1912 to March of 1912 and the workers ended winning the battle with their employers. The proclamation of the workers were translated into the diverse languages of the workers and distributed around the world.
Arturo, Joseph, and the Italian worker were acquitted and released from jail eight months after the textile strike ended.