This website was created on occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Passaic textile strike
January 25, 1926
1926 Passaic textile strike
- New Jersey -
Passaic is the battle-field
Of boss and working class
Our war cry “We shall never yield”
We vow “they shall not pass!”
Your bloodhound thugs can bark and beat
And throw us into jail
But bravely their assaults we’ll meet
Their dirty work shall fail.
We do not battle for the Lord
But for a living wage
This drives the greedy master horde
To curse and fume and rage.
In this great war for human right
Alone we do not stand
All are concerned in this great fight
All workers of this land.
Should we be vanquished on this field
By the army of black Greed
Then workers everywhere must yield
To those who make them bleed
Workers join us in this fight
Its yours as well as ours
We’ll win if we will all unite
Against the ruling powers.
The 1926 Passaic textile strike was a work stoppage by over 15,000 woolen mill workers in and around Passaic, New Jersey over wage issues in several factories in the vicinity. Conducted in its initial phase by a "United Front Committee" organized by the Trade Union Educational League of the Workers (Communist) Party, the strike began on January 25, 1926 and officially ended only on March 1, 1927, when the final mill being picketed signed a contract with the striking workers. It was the first Communist-led work stoppage in the United States. The event was memorialized by a seven reel silent movie intended to generate sympathy and funds for the striking workers.
From the end of the 19th Century, Passaic, New Jersey, located just south of the city of Paterson, was the heart of an industrial district which included the towns of Lodi, Wallington, Garfield, and the city of Clifton. While cotton and woolen mills had been constructed in the area as early as the 1860s, it was not until 1889, when Congress increased the rate of tariffs on imported worsted wool that the textile industry expanded in any meaningful way.
In the middle part of the 1920s, there were over 16,000 workers employed in the wool and silk mills located in and around Passaic, New Jersey. The largest of the mills in the area, the German-owned Botany Worsted Mill, employed 6,400 workers, with three other giant mills employing thousands more. The workers at these facilities were predominantly foreign-born, including among them representatives of 39 nationalities, with immigrants from Poland, Italy, Russia, Hungary in particular evidence. Fully half the workforce was female.
Wages of these workers were miserable. A 1926 survey indicated that male workers in the Passaic textile mills averaged wages of from $1,000 to $1,200 per year, while female workers typically earned from $800 to $1,000 per annum. Female workers worked 10 hours a day to earn this sum, with the pace of work rapid and the use of the piecework system prevalent. With an income of approximately $1,400 estimated to be necessary to maintain a basic "American standard of living," many New Jersey factory workers found themselves on the brink of financial disaster.
This was not just a question of creature comforts for many Passaic textile workers, but a matter of life and death. The 1925 report of the New Jersey Department of Health showed a death rate for infants under 1 year of age that was 43% higher than for the rest of the state, 52% higher for children aged 1–5 and 5-9. Sanitary conditions were poor and an exhaustingly long work week in poorly ventilated facilities resulted in a higher than average rate of tuberculosis as well as other diseases.
The affected workers had little recourse to their situation. Despite previous efforts to organize the Passaic millworkers by the Industrial Workers of the World and the Workers International Industrial Union in 1912 and the Amalgamated Textile Workers Union in 1919 and 1920, as of 1925 there were no textile unions extant in the area.[ A conscious effort was made by the mill owners to employ as many different nationalities as possible in their facilities, thereby making the task of labor organization even more difficult.
A majority of the strikers were foreign-born, with the biggest percentage being Poles, followed by Italians and Hungarians. Despite the divergent nationalities involved, it was judged that, given the limits placed upon new immigration, these foreign-born workers had been more tightly attached to their occupations and "greatly Americanized." Communist union organizer Ben Gitlow observed that these workers "understand English and have acclimated themselves to many of the American customs," cemented together by their American-born children into "one homogeneous whole."
In the fall of 1925, after first applying economic pressure to household budgets by the cutting of work hours, Passaic's largest mill, Botany, implemented a 10% wage cut. This cut was matched at once by all the other mills in the area, save one.
A former Phi Beta Kappa graduate of City College of New York and Harvard Law School, Albert Weisbord, was already active in the Passaic area as an organizer for the Trade Union Educational League (TUEL), the trade union arm of the Workers (Communist) Party. Weisbord moved into the void, establishing a "United Front Committee of Textile Workers" (UFC) — a de facto union organizing committee for the supposedly "unorganizable" immigrant mill hands. Within about 2 months, the UFC had enrolled about 1,000 workers in its ranks to fight the wage cut at the Botany Worsted Mill.
Outbreak of the strike
On January 21, 1926, a worker speaking out for the United Front Committee was fired from the Botany Worsted Mills for his organizing activity, sparking worker unrest. A committee of 3 was elected by the members of the UFC to meet with the manager of the Botany facility to discuss the firing. This committee was told in no uncertain terms that any individuals known to be members of the UFC would be similarly terminated, a hardline position which further inflamed the situation.
Another meeting of the UFC followed on January 25, at which it was decided to elect a committee of 45 to meet again with management. This time not in supplication for the reinstatement of a fired colleague, but rather to present a set of concrete demands, including establishment of a 44-hour work week, elimination of the 10% pay cut effected in October 1925, initiation of the payment of time-and-a-half rates for overtime work, and firm promises that there would be no retaliation by management against union members. Instead of negotiating, the manager of the mill chose to fire the entire committee on the spot. The committee returned to their places at the mill, told their fellow workers what had transpired, and called for them to shut down production. Within an hour, 4,000 Botany workers had walked out and begun to picket at the factory gate, and the strike was on.
The strike develops
On February 9, 1926, a line of strikers attempted to cross the bridge from Passaic to the neighboring Clifton in an attempt to shut down the Forstmann & Huffman mill in that city. They were met at the bridge by a line of police, who wielded their clubs and turned back the strikers. The effort was repeated the next day and a picket line was established and joined by many workers of the mill. In the face of continued aggressive picketing, the firm was forced to shutter its operations for the duration of the strike on February 23.
The authorities met this expansion of the strike with intensified force. On February 25, the Passaic City Council invoked a Riot Act which had been on the books for more than six decades against the strikers. On March 2, a line of policemen blockaded a street along which a line of pickets was passing. Stopped in their tracks, the police began clubbing the massed strikers and dispersed the crowd with the use of tear gas and firehoses of icy-cold water. Horses and motorcycles were ridden into the crowd. The riotous scene was repeated the next day, this time with newspaper reporters and photographers present to chronicle the mayhem. The authorities took the fight to the press, clubbing cameramen and destroying cameras. Dozens were arrested, including strike leader Albert Weisbord, who was held on $50,000 bail.
The strikers paused for a day before making their next effort, this time donning steel helmets and passing triumphantly through the police line as cameramen documented the scene from the safe confines of armored cars and via an airplane overhead.
The strikers next turned their attention to the United Piece Dye Works of Lodi, located three miles from Passaic. This large factory was also shut down under the pressure of picketing workers on March 9.The original strike of 4,000 Botany workers had grown to 15,000 of the estimated 17,000 textile workers in the area.
Mass meetings of the strikers were held daily and picket lines continued without interruption. A governing strike committee containing representatives from each striking mill, as well as delegates from participating ethnic groups, met each morning at 9 am. Key organizers were provided by the Workers (Communist) Party and included, in addition to Albert Weisbord, New York garment worker Lena Chernenko and Jack Stachel of the Trade Union Educational League.
Borrowing a page from the successful 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike by sending away children of striking workers to the homes of sympathizers in New York City. This simultaneously reduced the maintenance cost of the strike and served as a vehicle to garner publicity and support for the work stoppage.
A more innovative attempt to garner public sympathy and financial support came in the form of a motion picture shot to aid the strikers' cause. Entitled simply The Passaic Textile Strike, the 7-reel film was directed by Samuel Russak and produced by Communist Party functionary Alfred Wagenknecht, making use of funds provided by International Workers Aid, an adjunct of the Communist International.
In April Socialist Party leader Norman Thomas and Communist Robert W. Dunn, members of the National Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), challenged the virtual imposition of martial law by Bergen County's sheriff, by speaking to strikers there.Thomas and Dunn were arrested with two others for violation of the New Jersey "Riot Act" and held under $10,000 bond, providing an opportunity for the ACLU to begin legal action and to obtain an injunction against the sheriff for his alleged violation of civil rights. The courage of Thomas, Dunn, and their fellows was followed by others, including Reverend John Haynes Holmes and constitutional scholar Arthur Garfield Hays, who likewise came to Passaic in defiance of the authorities to exercise their constitutional rights.
Acting in support of the strikers, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn of the so-called "Garland Fund" hired Mary Heaton Vorse to act as publicity director for the strike.Vorse produced a regular Textile Strike Bulletin to keep strikers and sympathetic outsiders abreast of developments in the ongoing work stoppage. This publication was instrumental in helping to raise funds on behalf of the relief effort.
The strikers were supported through the establishment of four relief stores and two soup kitchens, operated by the strikers and their sympathizers with Alfred Wagenknecht in charge of the operation. Local bakers supplied bread, shoemakers repaired footwear of strikers without charge, barbers donated shaves and haircuts, and other unions, such as the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union contributed a wide array of foodstuffs. A playground was constructed for the children of strikers, some of whom were also sent off to summer camps.The strikers' General Relief Committee tried to raise funds by issuing and selling a heavily illustrated, poignant photographic survey of the strike entitled "Hell in New Jersey."
The American Federation of Labor takes over
Despite the series of successful strike actions and public relations victories, the Passaic labor stoppage dragged on interminably, with no end in sight. As early as March 28, 1926, strike leader Albert Weisbord had appealed to the American Federation of Labor's Executive Council for help. This appeal was rejected summarily by William Green of the AF of L, who declared that his organization would have nothing to do with any "Communist-dominated United Front Committee."
Locked in a stalemate with management with no end in sight, the Communists were uncertain how to proceed. After a period of debate, the Communists and the leadership of their TUEL adjunct made the determination that "it would be incorrect to let the issue of communism stand in the way of a settlement," even though this position would mean that Weisbord and the rest of the party's leadership would as a result be removed to pave the way for an agreement. On August 12, 1926, a committee elected by the strikers met with officials of the AF of L-affiliated United Textile Workers of America and reached agreement that the union should take over the strike, replacing Weisbord and the United Front Committee. The Passaic strikers were accepted as Local 1603 of the UTW.
After the transition from the Communist-led United Front Committee to the United Textile Workers in September, relief funds for the strikers began to dry up and morale started to drop. The strike continued to wind along into the fall, however, with the UTW entering into direct negotiations with factory management.
The first break in the Passaic strike came on November 12, 1926, when the Passaic Worsted Company signed an agreement with the union. On December 12, Botany Mills and its subsidiary, Garfield Worsted Mills, settled with the strikers. A series of negotiated settlements followed, with the final mill settling coming on March 1, 1927.
And so the great battle came to a close.
Aftermath and legacy
The relationship between the United Textile Workers and their Passaic local remained an uneasy one. The Communists charged that an agreement was made between the International office of the United Textile Workers of America and Botany Mills agreeing that "the active and militant workers, and all those that may look 'Red,' must not go back into the mills."The situation was further muddied by an economic downturn in the textile industry which left many of the former strikers unemployed. Of those rehired, it was alleged that many were promptly laid off and then rehired into another department at a lower rate of pay.
This simmering acrimony between the union's headquarters and its active members in New Jersey finally erupted in 1928, when the UTW expelled the entire Passaic local for its support of the ongoing Communist-led strike of textile workers in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
The Passaic Textile Strike of 1926 is remembered as one of the seminal events in American labor history in the decade of the 1920s. The historical memory of the event has been enhanced due to its immortalization in film. Five of the seven reels of the film The Passaic Textile Strike have survived, with reels 5 and 7 missing. In 2006, graduate students in New York University's Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program discovered the missing reel 5 while processing films belonging to the Communist Party USA's collection. Reel 5 was subsequently meticulously reprinted and preserved by Colorlab and the Library of Congress.
Children on Strike during Textile Strike of 1928 – Courtesy of Spinner Publications
Passaic Public School
This highly-emotional, well-illustrated booklet was issued by the General Relief Committee Textile Strikers to raise funds for workers staging the long Passaic textile strike of 1926. It has a huge number of fascinating and moving photographs toned in sepia, gray, or black and white. This was one of the first important Communist-led strikes in the U. S. Organized labor wanted very little to do with these strikers because of the Communist involvement. Time wrote about the strike on April 26, 1926. It focused on how a sheriff read the Riot Act to workers, which declared they would be arrested thereafter for assembling. Police even arrested a crowd on their own property. The leader of the strike, Harvard-law-school-educated Albert Weisbrod, was jailed on charges like “Hostility to Government,” and “Inciting to Riot.” This rare booklet preserves information and information that scholars are unlikely to find elsewhere.
On January 25, 1926, pushed to the point of desperation by wage cuts, lengthened hours, and unsafe work conditions, the largely immigrant workforce in the textile mills of Passaic, New Jersey, shut down their city's textile industry for over a year. Although the strikers at first hired professional filmmakers to cover the event, they were forced to finish the job themselves when the original crew eventually bowed out, declaring the filming conditions unsafe. The result is a landmark in the history of the documentary genre. The film opens with a prologue that tells the story of a representative family and its experience in the mills, and continues with the unfolding of the strike and the formation of a union. Some of the events depicted are reenactments, and the strike was still unresolved when the film was completed; yet Passaic Textile Strike was a resounding success, raising money for the International Workers Aid and spreading the gospel of labor solidarity nationwide.
The Passaic Textile Strike (1926), produced by the communist-oriented International Workers' Aid, is one of the few worker films to have survived almost in tact. Made in the midst of a bitter textile strike that involved over 16,000 New Jersey workers, the film offers a mix of dramatic recreations and actual scenes from the strike. The film begins in by tracing the journey of the fictional Breznec family as they leave eastern Europe in hopes of making a better life for their family in America. But all they find is hardship and exploitation in the textile mills of Passaic, New Jersey. Exhausted to the point of death, Stefan Breznec is comforted by his fellow workers
Breznec is not interested in unionism; he only wants to earn a decent living to support his wife and children. However, his wages are so meager that he literally works himself to death trying to get more overtime pay. After his death, his wife is forced to send the children into the mills--where her daughter is soon raped by the factory superintendent. Only after their requests for a living wage are repeatedly rebuffed do workers finally go out on strike.
"The Passaic Textile Strike.
The Battle for Life of the Workers who make the cloth that clothes you. Begun: January 25, 1926. To End: When Victory is Won. An International Workers Aid Picture. This is the story of 16,000 unorganized workers who went on strike against merciless wage cuts-and found their strength in the Union they built to carry them on to Victory." The Prologue is introduced with the following statements: "To show the life they live, the Passaic strikers have played for you this simple story of the Breznac Family [which is any family of textile workers], who came to America, the Land of Promise, only to find industrial oppression and bitter struggle. The players lay no claim to art, except as art is compounded of simple truth. The incidents are just the common facts of the textile workers' lives, empty perhaps of those flaming passions seen so often on the screen, but full of the actual tragedy of deadening labor and despairing struggle."
International Workers Aid was associated with the Communist organization Workers' International Relief, which organized the relief effort during the strike. Labor leaders and other personages who appear in the film include, Albert Weisbord, Gustav Deak, Clarence Miller, Leona Smith, George Ashkenudse, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Alfred Wagenknecht, John J. Ballam, J. O. Bentall, Mother Bloor, P. P. Cosgrove, Leo Krzycki, Ellen Wilkinson, Robert Dunn, Norman Thomas, Jack Rubinstein, Thomas DeFazio, Joseph Magliacano, Lena Chernenko and Martin Winkler.
According to an interview with Gustav Deak, who plays himself in the film, the film's first director (whose name has not been determined) was hired from an independent film company by the Relief Committee, headed by Alfred Wagenknecht, who also appears in the film. This director did not sympathize with the strike and eventually was fired. Cameraman Sam Brody states that Sam Russak, a professional still photographer who had done some work with motion pictures, finished the direction, and that Brody and Lester Balog, both of whom later founded the Film and Photo League, shot the film. (NYSA records list the manufacturer's name as S. B. Russack.) A third director May have worked on the film before Russak. Subtitles were written by Margaret Larkin. The film was shown during the strike and was used to raise money for relief efforts. It had its first showings to strikers in September 1926 at Belmont Park, NJ, and was shown to the public beginning in October 1926 at Passaic.
The film toured the country accompanied by Communist activist speaker Ella Reeve "Mother" Bloor, who appears in it. The strike ended in February 1927, with the strikers failing to get the wage-cut withdrawn, but winning the right to affiliate with the American Federation of Labor and a promise of no discrimination against strikers seeking reemployment. Existing prints are missing two reels of the seven that were originally shown in 1926. [According to NYSA records, in 1926, the film was 6,263 ft. in length following eliminations ordered by the New York State censors.] In a book about the strike, Albert Weisbord, one of the strike's organizers, noted that the mills in the Passaic area were owned for the most part by Germans, who hired immigrants from numerous nationalities to avoid worker solidarity.
In 1907, in the growing textile city of Passaic, New Jersey, Stefan Breznac, a Polish immigrant worker, gets a fifty cent a week raise and writes to his sweetheart Kada in the Polish farmlands to come share his new prosperity. When she sees the Statue of Liberty from the deck of her crowded boat, Kada thinks she has reached the land of liberty and riches at last. As the years go by and their family increases, they find the courage to face their growing problems. When Stefan gets another wage cut, he suggests that their fourteen-year-old daughter Vera go to work to make up for the cut. Although Kada would like Vera to stay in school, Vera boasts she is strong and tells her not to worry. When Mulius, the "big boss," sees Vera, he invites her to his office, and soon she gets a raise. One day, he offers to drive her home and then takes her for a ride. They stop after awhile, and the chauffeur says they are out of gas. Mulius sends him to get some, and as the chauffeur smokes a cigarette by a tree, Mulius attacks Vera. Two months later, Vera learns that Mulius is married. When she questions him about it, Mulius sends a foreman with a note saying she is fired. Stefan increases his hours to sixty-six a week and plans to try seventy-two despite Kada's warning and the concern of fellow workers that he'll kill himself. Breaking under the strain, he is reduced from a weaver to a transporter at less pay. As he pushes a bin, he falters, and though a foreman tells him to get back to work, another worker brings him home. Although a doctor prescribes that he rest for at least two weeks, Stefan goes back to work the next morning. When his friend sees him struggling, the friend suggests to other workers that they form a union. Two days later, Kada tries to wake Stefan for breakfast, but she finds her husband dead. With no time to mourn, she gets a mill job working the night shift, and at home sits in despair.
In the film's main section, entitled The Strike , the Passaic Strike of 1926 is described as "part of the great undertaking of American Labor to organize the unorganized, to set up a 'United Front of the Workers Against the United Front of the Bosses.'" It is stated that only four million out of twenty-nine million workers in the U.S. are organized into unions. The meager wages of textile mill workers only allow the workers to live in dark, crowded areas. Lint and dust of the mills harm the health of the workers. The death rate from tuberculosis is 100% above normal. The mansions of the owners are shown to contrast with the shacks of the workers. Talk begins of forming a union following the wage-cut of October 1925. When a worker confronts his boss to get the cut revoked, he is fired, and others decide that the only way to talk to bosses is with a union. Albert Weisbord begins to quietly organize workers. When Mulius sees Gus Deak meeting with other workers, he offers him a better job, but Deak tears up the new contract rather than take the bribe. On January 24, 1926, Weisbord tells a meeting of delegates that they will present the boss with their demands on the following day. Although there is a risk of a strike, the group decides to go ahead. On the next day, those who demand a withdrawal of the wage-cut are fired. The strike begins, and the union assembles masses of workers to picket. Police allow mill workers to cross the lines, as a man on the picket lines exhorts those crossing to join the picket. Within three days, the mill is tied up. Pickets spread to the mills of neighboring Clifton, Garfield and Lodi, and soon workers from eight mills present new demands, including an increase in wages of 10% above the rate prior to the latest wage-cut; payment of money that workers did not get due to the wage-cut; time and one-half for overtime; a forty-four hour work week; decent and sanitary work conditions; no discrimination against union workers; and recognition of the union. Under the leadership of Weisbord, a small group of organizers set up an office for the United Front Committee of Textile Workers of Passaic and Vicinity, and 12,000 strikers join. They send the "Textile Strike Bulletin" to the American Labor Movement. The workers, coming from many countries and ethnic groups, include Hungarians, Russians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Germans, Czechoslovakians, Jews, Spanish, Polish, Italians, African Americans, Mexicans, Bohemians and English. Forty-seven church organizations parade to demonstrate their support. Police, responding to the owners, arrest 560 strikers, but they are bailed out immediately and get back to the lines. Police soon begin to club the strikers, and bandaged, beaten men and women are shown. Throngs fill the street where the casket of a martyred striker, Frank Dido, is moved from a house to a hearse. Though police smash movie cameras, shots taken from a roof show police clubbing strikers. Gas bombs are used to disperse crowds, but strikers learn to wear gas masks. Alfred Wagenknecht, director of working class relief campaigns, opens an office for relief work, and 125 strikers are assigned to it. An appeal goes out to the labor movement, and a picture book about the strike is sent out. The strikers receive contributions from the American Labor Movement, and caravans of trucks bring relief supplies. Relief stores distribute food and supplies to strikers with food cards. In union meetings, the goal of joining the A.F. of L. is announced, so that with a union, the workers can fix their own hours and wages. Visiting representatives of unions speak to the workers. After the sheriff of Bergen County illegally establishes martial law, issuing a proclamation that orders those assembled to disperse, a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union is thrown in jail for questioning its legality. The strikers' halls are closed and meetings are forbidden. A.C.L.U. attorneys get an injunction against the sheriff, and the halls are reopened and daily meetings resumed. Weisbord is arrested on charges of sedition and inciting to riot, but other leaders step forward to take his place.
Textile Strike Bulletin
The United Front of the Workers Against the United Front of the Bosses
Vol. 1 no. 2 Passaic, N. J. March 3, 1926
Police Throw Bombs and Turn Water Hose On Strikers
Cossacks, with horses and bombs and fire department attack strikers in the most brutal way when 2000 pickets marched before the mills in a peaceful and orderly manner. This disorder will be laid at the door of the chief of police Richard O. Zober, and Commissioner Preiskel. The strikers are the more firm as a result of this lawlessness on the part of the officials. Tear bombs are the lowest form of attack by officials. It shows that they have no defense except violence and brutality.
Defying the Laws of the State and Every Law of Decency, Commissioner Abram Preiskel Has Threatened With 300 Mounted Police, and Has Instituted a Reign of Terror that the People of Passaic Will Not Stand For.
Sign the Petition for the removal of the Mounted Police and for the Impeachment of This Unworthy Official Who Arrogates to Himself Such Power As No Civilized Community Will Confer Upon Him Or Upon Anybody Else.
City Council Of Garfield Meets But Mayor And Judge Leave In Huff
Baker Dignifies His Court by Telling Organizers to Go to Hell and Wants Workers to Respect Him
In a sweeping victory Friday night, February 26th the City Council of Garfield was won to complete support of the strikers, while Mayor Burke and Recorder Baker expressed themselves in an open meeting as their enemies. Recorder Baker, the judge who has been handing out sentences of thirty to ninety days for peaceful picketing, was driven to flee from the room in hysterical rout, and Mayor Burke proclaimed himself the Botany-owned hater of the worker that he is.
It was upon the invitation of the Garfield City Council that the delegation of strikers accompanied by organizer Weisbord came down, expecting from the letter they had received, to meet with a delegation of citizens from Passaic and Clifton and with representatives of the mill owners in an effort to begin negotiations to settle the strike. No mill owners or their representatives showed their faces; no delegation from Passaic or Clifton appeared. What can the strikers conclude but that they alone wish to settle the strike, that the mill owners are not sincere in their professions of wishing to settle it.
Council Is Favorable
The Council took action upon this letter of protest which Organizer Weisbord had previously directed to Mayor Burke and to the Garfield Council. The letter had demanded that the Council stop the police interfering with the orderly picketing of the strikers and their right to peacefully assemble. The atmosphere of the meeting was not at first very favorable. Mayor Burke, Captain Morrison, and Recorder Baker, looming in the background, presented a wall of hostility. But Weisbord showed that the picket line had been sent away from the gates of the mills where alone it could keep scabs from entering, to picket dwelling houses and even a cemetery several blocks from the mill. Detectives had been constantly present whose sneers and even whose presence, with its implication of company spying upon the workers, had cast an atmosphere of restrain and depression over the strikers meetings.
Feeling the ground slipping from beneath his feet, as the councilmen came round to support of the strikers, Recorder Burke attempted a grand coup by producing a bulky Atlantic Reporter and read lengthy definition of picketing. This councilman Quinlivan knocked into a cocked hat by dryly stating that the definitions were all that pickets "may” be prevented from doing various things; not that they must be.
Fat Mayor Blusters
Mayor Burke now plunged to the rescue --- if the word plunged may be applied to a two hundred pound graft-fed bellied official with a masterpiece of strategy. He produced an article from the Young Worker, which devilish sheet he claimed had been circulated at the strikers meetings. Strange to say, the assembly did not at flee from the room in terror at hearing an expression of solidarity with the working class of Russia. And furthermore, Organizer Weisbord proved that he did not circulate the Young Worker, that it was simply given out at the hall just as many other papers were.
In a fury at his own impotence, Recorder Burke then burst into a tirade against unknown outsiders coming in and taking the people away from their true leaders, who, one would infer, are such hysterical, unreasoning and hostile officials as himself. Losing control of himself completely, he told Weisbord to go to hell, the quicker the better, and fled from the room amid a clamor of boos and cries of derision. "Three cheers for Weisbord,” the cry went up, thus emphasizing the victory of the United Front Committee.
Judge Baker Warned
So firmly were the councilmen won over by this time that resolutions for the support of the strikers were passed unanimously. The Council endorsed the seven demands of the workers; it requested Mayor Burke to withdraw police and detectives from meeting halls; called upon Recorder Baker to be more lenient in his sentences of strikers; it voted to support the relief of the strikers, and to call a conference with the Board of Education to take steps to establish free lunch counters in the schools for the hungry children of the strikers.
Yes, the Council was won for the strikers. But at every step the fact was emphasized that the Council has no power; can request, but the man who can act, who can hound the worker with police on the line and in the meeting hall, who can order for them such brutal clubbings as the unforgettable affair of Ackerman’s bridge is the man who draws pay as a secretary from the Botany Mill, the man who has been a worker, but who has lived to betray his class—Mayor Burke. And Mayor Burke shouted in a meeting packed with strikers that he would have police in halls no matter what was requested. The last blow has been dealt to whatever faith the strikers, citizens of Garfield may once have had for their officials.
The bosses are twisting and squealing. They do not know what to do. They are almost at the end of their bag of tricks. They have tried to fool the workers into going back to work but have failed miserably. The mills have closed down as tight as ever. In fact more mills such as the Dundee Textile Mills are being forced to close down more and more.
In desperation the bosses are trying terrorism and violence. They are getting the police to try to close down our halls and to break up our picket lines and to club innocent workers and citizens. But the answer of the workers will be stand firmer than ever. We will not be provoked into violence but we shall not yield one inch where we are right. We shall answer the clubs of policemen with firmness in self defense, with publicity, with photographs.
Stand firm, workers, stand firm. We have plenty of money to care for all the needy ones. A new relief store has now been opened for the East side workers at 85 Passaic Street for the workers of the Passaic Worsted Spinning Co. Mill. Gera Mill and New Jersey Spinning Co. Mill. This is our answer to the drive of the bosses to get new scabs.
Stand firm, workers, stand firm. The bosses are yielding all along the line. They are growing weaker and weaker. The bosses must crack soon. Do not be scared and stampeded. We must win. Our cause is just and righteous. We shall win.
Let the Facts Speak
There are two important elements in the strike at present:
1. The resulting to tear bombs, the water hose and Cossacks. It is estimated by all decent and civilized people that this is the lowest form of attack that can be used. Only the most depraved of officials and only the most bigoted of tyrants would think of using such methods. Yet we have them here in Passaic.
These tactics against starving and ill-clad workers will remain a blot on the city for all time, and those responsible will be looked on as the vilest of the breed of human oppressors.
2. The impeachment of the commissioner of public safety, Abram Preiskel.
While it is true that behind Preiskel is Mayor McGuire and behind the mayor are the mill owners, the dirty work is done by the commissioner. He seems to be a willing tool. Were he very much of a man he would refuse to be such a tool.
In righteous indignation not only the workers, but the entire populace has risen to protest and to call for the impeachment of this unworthy official. The people of this city can get along very well without the kind of “safety” he is giving them. The strikers have been orderly. They will remain orderly. The only violence has come from the officials.
Speaker at mass meeting: “Judge Baker says that the sooner Weisbord gets out of town the better he likes it. Do you want Weisbord to leave town?”
Audience: with a loud voice: “No!”
Speaker: “Whom do you want to get out?”
Is it specified in the oath of office that the Mayor shall know absolutely nothing? If so he is living up to his oath like a gentleman and a scholar.
All who want to go back to work first and settle the strike after, say Aye. The No’s have it.
To the Mayor and Commissioner of Passaic:
We the citizens of Passaic protest most emphatically against the Cossack outrages which our police department and officials of Passaic have committed.
We demand that the clubbing and trampling down of innocent men and women be stopped.
We demand the removal of the mounted police.
We demand the impeachment of Abram Preiskel, Commissioner of Public Safety, who is responsible for all the disorders in this city.
Vol. 1 – No. 4 Passaic, N. J. Monday, March 15, 1926
Rabbi Wise Offers To Help Strikers Get Their Justly Demanded Rights
Gov. Moore Expresses Full Sympathy With the Workers in Their Fight For a Chance to Live
A committee headed by Dr. Stephen S. Wise of New York has offered its services to the strikers and Governor A. Harry Moore has expressed full sympathy with the workers who are now in a bitter fight with the mill owners for a chance to live.
The Governor says “My sympathies are with the strikers. I am always with the underdog.”
"The local police could have ended this strike long ago if they had gone about it in the right way. We settled a similar strike in Jersey City without violence when I was commissioner.”
"I am for the people. I will not allow citizens of the state of New Jersey to be shot down by anyone. There is no need for violence.”
The letter from Dr. Wise and his committee is as follows:
New York City, N. Y.
March 5, 1926.
To the Strikers in the Textile Industries of Passaic, Men and Women:
We, the residents of the metropolitan industrial district centering in New York, have learned of your refusal to remain at work in the mills of Passaic under the conditions of a wage reduction imposed upon you some months ago. We know of the demands that have been made by you upon the mill owners and we believe these demands to be just and righteous. We have been deeply grieved to note the ruthlessness with which you have been treated by the police of your city, and we regret this the more because many of you are not yet become American citizens or are American citizens of recent adoption who should never have made to suffer nor even to look upon any violation of the rights of citizenship in this country.
It is our understanding that the mill owners have refused up to this time to negotiate with you on the ground, real or alleged, that you are not regularly organized within the ranks of labor, and that your leader is a man of radical political views. As for the latter allegation, we have learned after careful investigation that, whatever his political views may be, he has scrupulously avoided the injection of them into the situation in which you find yourselves under his leadership. It has further been brought to our notice that some representatives and managers of the mills have declared that they would have been prepared to negotiate with representatives of the American Federation of Labor, if these had undertaken negotiations on your behalf. The truth is, as we know it, that the mill owners of Passaic have been steadily and even bitterly opposed to the organization of their workers under any auspices or name whatsoever. This it is that has done most to make impossible your organization within the ranks of the United Textile Workers which body would, as it ought now to, have organized the workers of Passaic in the textile industry, had it not yielded to the relentless opposition of the establishments in which you labor.
We address ourselves to you in order to offer the following proposal:
We are prepared if you desire it, to serve as a body of your representatives who shall negotiate on your behalf with the owners and managers of the establishments in which you have been employed. We are prepared to urge the acceptance of the demands made by you, and to submit the results of our negotiations to you and your General Strike Committee before the final acceptance thereof.
We offer this proposal to you because we are in entire sympathy with you in your grievances and in your hope of redress. We believe that it is given to us to render a public service of importance in serving as your representatives in these negotiations which we are prepared to offer to initiate in the event of your acceptance of our offer.
Very faithfully yours,
John Lovejoy Elliott, Paul U. Kellogg, John Howard Melish, Stephen S. Wise.
In reply a letter was sent by the United Front Committee to Dr. Stephen S. Wise, John Lovejoy Elliott, Paul U. Kellogg, and the Rev. John Howard Melish.
The General Strike Committee of the United Front Committee of Textile Workers appreciates the fact that you are in full sympathy with the demands of the strikers and are prepared to bring about a settlement of the controversy on the basis of these demands.
The General Strike Committee accepts your offer to work for a satisfactory settlement and wishes to point out that it has always been ready to meet with the representatives of the mill owners for that purpose. However, it has been the obstinacy of the mill owners, their refusal to meet with the regular representatives of the workers for no valid reasons whatsoever, that has now placed the entire responsibility for the continuance of the strike fully and plainly upon the shoulders of the mill owners.
We furthermore desire to express to you our complete satisfaction with the position you have taken to submit the results of your efforts to the General Strike Committee for approval before final settlement is made. The General Strike Committee of the United Front Committee of Textile Workers reserves for itself the right of reaching final decision on the issues in controversy and it is upon this basis only that the General Strike Committee accepts your sincere offer to intercede in our behalf.
We trust that your efforts, motivated as they are by the highest public feelings and calculated to render a public service of importance, will culminate in a satisfactory termination of the strike.
Very respectfully yours,
General Strike Committee,
United Front Committee of Textile Workers of Passaic and vicinity.
Albert Weisbord, Chairman Gustav Deak, Secretary
Statement To The Press
We are glad to note that Gov. Moore has offered his services to mediate the textile strike in Passaic.
The United Front Committee of Textile Workers of Passaic and vicinity has always been ready to meet the representatives of the mill owners to reach a satisfactory settlement, although those representatives have consistently refused for no valid reasons whatsoever to deal with the workers organization.
Our organization is ready to meet the mill owners of Passaic or their representatives at any conference that Governor Moore may call.
In commenting on the letter, Mr. Weisbord said: “The offer of the committee of which Dr. Wise is a member is very kindly in view of the offer of Governor Moore to mediate the strike. The mill owners can no longer refuse Governor Moore’s offer of mediation when such a powerful committee as that headed by Dr. Wise offers to be the mouthpiece of the strikers in the settlement talk. It should be noted that the statement of the committee headed by Dr. Wise contains the following important points, (1) that the demands of the strikers are considered fully just and righteous. (2) That the cry of Communism is only a bogy conceived by hysterical mill owners themselves. (3) That the argument of the owners that they would meet the American Federation of Labor but not the United Front Committee is a specious and insincere one to quote the letter, ‘The truth is, as we know it, that the mill owners of Passaic have been steadily, and even bitterly opposed to the organization of their workers under any auspices or name whatsoever. This it is that has done most to make impossible your organization within the ranks of United Textile Workers, which body would, as it ought now to do, have organized the workers of Passaic in the textile industry, had it not yielded to the relentless opposition of the establishments in which you labor.’ Our reply to this communication takes great pain to point out that the United Front Committee of course considers itself to be the final body in deciding on what conditions the workers shall go back to the mills.”
The Committee also announced that it would be ready to meet the mill owners of Passaic at any conference which Governor Moore might call in discussing his offer to act as mediator for the strike.
At Last, the Kluxers Cluck!
The following letter, typewritten with red letters, and unsigned, was mailed to Mr. Weisbord in Passaic, March 9, at 8:30 p. m.:
Bergen and Passaic County Headquarters.
Mr. Albert Weisbord:
Resolved at our last meeting that you leave this city at once or drastic action will take place at once.
This is your first and last warning so take heed.
Your presence in this State is a menace to mankind and we will not tolerate Communism.
You are constantly watched together with the rest of your associates.
Leave your hands off other peoples liberties.
Bear in mind that our methods are relentless for we always succeed in our ventures.
Your days are numbered so take care and heed this WARNING.
AVENGING COMMITTEE K.K.K.
Clergy Meets Weisbord
Thirteen clergyman of Passaic and neighboring towns met with Organizer Albert Weisbord at the headquarters of the United Front Committee of Textile Workers Friday morning at 10:30 and after a short talk by Weisbord the clergyman asked many questions concerning the strike situation.
After a long discussion a motion was made by J. Wroblewski that a committee of three be elected from those present to be sent to both sides in an effort to bring about a mutual conference between the employers and the strikers. The motion was seconded by T. Andrews and then carried.
The committee elected were the following: Rev. E. F. Schulte, Chairman, Rev. John Wroblewski, and Rev. T. Andrews.
As soon as they succeed in getting the bosses to agree to meet the strikers and their representatives the date for such a conference will be set. The strikers are always ready to confer and negotiate. The reply to the clergy by the bosses is awaited with much interest.
The First Break In The Ranks
The first break in the ranks of the bosses came on March 1, when officials of the Passaic Worsted and Spinning Company sent their spokesman to negotiate with the United Front Committee of Textile Workers and its Organizer, Albert Weisbord, conducting the strike.
The spokesman agreed to two of the demands made by the Union: Better sanitary conditions and time and a half for overtime. The important point is that for the first time the Committee and its official representative, Albert Weisbord, was recognized.
Passaic Strikers get Relief From Fund Raised By Growing Multitude
Sympathizers From All Over America Send Contributions For Needy Workers In Fight For Justice
"No family in need of food has been turned away from the relief committee without aid.”
This is the most important statement that has been issued since the beginning of the strike.
It is easy enough to call a strike and to ask the workers to take up a fight against the bosses when the conditions become unendurable. But to have a plan for relief that will be adequate is often neglected.
The United Front Committee of Textile Workers looked ahead and put its machinery to work as soon as the strike started. It was known that workers who resort to the hardship of a strike have not been getting wages that would permit them to lay aside a big bank account. Most of them were not three weeks ahead of starvation.
The relief department was started at once. Funds began to see there would be enough to meet all needs. The unions have responded gloriously and many sympathizers have given of their bounty.
Organizer Weisbord announced at the meetings that three stores are now giving food supplies. One store has just opened at Monroe and Dayton Ave. where clothing is furnished.
At present over 1,500 families are cared for every day. There will be more right along. There are over 12,000 workers on strike in Passaic and vicinity. Now Lodi is added with another 4,000. The Belting and Rubber plants are getting restless. Other underpaid workers will not be able to hold out very long. All these must be taken care of.
They will be taken care of. The answer to the brutal bosses is adequate relief. The bosses shall not starve the workers back. There are 40,000,000 workers in America who will answer the bosses with funds for the strikers. It is a powerful answer. It is the most powerful answer. The bosses shall not starve the workers back.
Until the end of the strike we will keep up the good work. It will be a great day when we win.
Bosses Reject Dr. Wise
"I do not think that we can see the value of the proposed intervention by Rabbi Wise’s committee. Now how it would be useful in ending the trouble.”
With these words, Colonel Charles F. H. Johnson, vice president of the Botany mill refused once more to meet the workers for any settlement of the issues of the strike, even when a powerful, impartial group as that headed by Rabbi Wise offers a helping hand.
"We know of the demands that have been made by you upon the mill owners and we believe these demands to be just and righteous.”
Is it this statement, made impartially by John Lovejoy Elliott, Paul U. Kellogg, John Howard Melish, and Stephen S. Wise, famous clergyman and leaders, that has prejudiced Colonel Johnson against them as spokesmen for the strikers?
Certain it is that up until now, the offer of Rabbi Wise, motivated by the highest public feelings, has been totally ignored. Surely the mill owners cannot fail to listen to so powerful a committee as that headed by Rabbi Wise. If they still refuse to meet the workers, we point out that the further continuance of the strike will rest fully and plainly on their shoulders” Mr. Weisbord has said.
The week has passed. The Botany mill is the only one that has even replied to the invitation of Rabbi Wise, and Colonel Johnson has refused to treat with him. All the other mills have kept silent. Can they keep silent forever?
One dent has been made in the stubborn effort of the mill owners to kill the union by refusing to negotiate with it. On March first the officials of the Passaic Worsted and Spinning Company met the United Front Committee and its Organizer, Albert Weisbord and acceded to two demands of the workers. The importance of this conference lay, not in the demands that were agreed to, but in the fact that for the first time, a mill in Passaic recognized the right of the workers to have a union and met with that union for negotiation. This is only the first tiny rift that indicates the huge crack that the mills must suffer. More mills will come out and every mill will deal with the United Front Committee in the formation of “one big textile union.”
Amalgamation! One Union in the Textile Industry!
One of the most important purposes of the United Front Committee of Textile Workers is the formation one industrial union in the textile industry.
What do we find today? We find almost a dozen small unions, each one weak and incapable of organizing the great mass of the unskilled textile workers. Sometimes these unions even fight each other and play right into the hands of the employers.
The United Front Committee will move with the greatest vigor and determination to change this situation and will support every honest move for amalgamating all of the textile unions into one.
Last Sunday the Executive Board of the Federated Textile Unions, a body composed of five textile unions, met and decided to call an amalgamation conference for the first Saturday in June at the Imperial Hotel, New York City, to which all representatives of all textile organizations are invited.
Of course the United Front Committee, on whose initiative this conference was called, will send delegates. Let us hope that the Associated Silk Workers in Paterson will come in also and then we will have made a great step toward labor unity in the textile industry in America.
This move toward amalgamation is doubly important for us in Passaic, for it means that the powerful Federated Textile Unions will support the moves made by the United Front Committee in organizing the unorganized.
And this move for amalgamation comes just at the proper time. It comes when the United Front Committee is conducting a tremendous fight in Passaic. It comes when the Associated Silk Workers are moving toward strike action in Paterson. It comes when all of the Lawrence textile workers may walk out under leadership of the United Front Committee. It comes when organization moves are being made in Providence R. I., and Philadelphia Pa. It comes at a time when the whole textile industry may soon be aflame.
This revolt of the workers in the textile industry must not be allowed to go off in thin air. The revolt that will break out in strikes must be taken in hand by a powerful textile union so that at last the textile workers of this country may have a permanent, enduring industrial union.
Who Is Col. Charles F. H. Johnson?
Col. Charles F. H. Johnson is the Vice-president of the Botany Worsted Mills. He is also the representative of the bosses to settle the strike.
Col. Johnson was a poor boy when he grew up. His father was a policeman in New York and his mother ran an employment agency. Neither job can be considered to have had a good influence on the youth. He is not to blame for the environment that molded his mind in his earlier days.
Fabien, as he was called, set out to make his way early and got jobs of various kinds that landed him in the insurance and real estate business. Then he got into the mills and was “promoted.”
Now he is vice-president of this big mill. He is against the workers. He did not earn his way up. He made the workers earn it for him. He tells you that there is a chance for everyone. That is not so.
There are over 5,000 workers in the Botany. Can each one become vice-president of the mill? If they succeed, who will work in the mill? If they get another set of workers, will not they also go on strike? And then if they “work themselves up” will the 10,000 vice-presidents hire another 5,000 to do the work? And those too "work themselves up” and another 5,000 shipped in?
No fool but a rich fool would argue in this manner, that is the way the bosses try to deceive the workers.
But that is not all. When the workers are trying to “work themselves up” by asking for higher wages, Col. Johnson does not seem to agree with them.
How does he want them to “work their way up?” Will he not please tell them? He might be able to solve the problem quite quickly.
Col. Johnson, please, Col. Johnson, tell us 5,000 Botany workers how to “work our way up.” Please do that. Just tell us how we may become vice-president of the Botany or some other mills, with nice little incomes of any amount between $5,000 and $5,000,000 a year.
If you will do that we will quit the strike at once. And after you have shown us how to do it, will you not go up to Lawrence, Mass., and let the 25,000 mill slaves there in on the secret? Then go to Paterson and slip the joyful information into the ears of the silk workers. They will at once stop talking about the strike that is brewing in Paterson.
Oh, Col. Johnson, what a nice man you would be if you would only tell us this little thing. It is so easy for you and it would be so good for us. Just tell us how to “work our way up” so we get an income of anything from $5000 to $5000,000 a year, --- without working for it—just like the bosses.
The Bosses Are Weeping
Pity the poor bosses. They are weeping. Dear me! Maybe we can do something for them.
They are now running half page advertisements in the daily papers saying that they are poverty stricken and on the threshold of the poor house.
The Botany wails that it made $156,000 less last year than in 1914. But it very conveniently omits to tell us how much it made in 1914. It was the beginning of the war when the profiteers were in clover.
The Bulletin happens to know that during the last three years the Botany has made over $6,000,000 in profits. It has loaned $2,000,000 to German mills and is drawing interest on that. It may be hard for the bosses and their little wives and poodle doggies to live on the paltry $4,000,000 they have left. Maybe we should take up a collection for them.
The Botany also states that it paid $3,706,000 more in wages last year than in 1914. Why not if it had a larger working force than twelve years ago?
But what we would like to have the Botany state frankly is this: How many did you employ in 1914? What was the average wage? How many did you employ in 1925? What was the average wage? How much did you get a yard in 1914? How much did you get a yard 1925?
We have asked you to open your books. You have refused. It will do you little good to spend on advertisements if you do not want to give the facts. You will not be able to fool the workers with the stuff you have published so far.
In the first place your stuff can be picked to shreds. It is too flimsy. There is too much hypocrisy in it. You are playing like the boy who looks through his fingers and pulls the kitten by the tail at the same time. The workers see through you. The Bulletin is here and that is somewhat annoying to you. It shows what little squealers you are and how you try to scheme the workers back into the shops.
Then, too, you do not get to the workers with your stuff. They do not buy the papers you advertise in. Why should they? A few dozen will read those sheets. But most of the town reads the Bulletin. All the strikers read the Bulletin. That makes a big difference. And they will not go back to work just because you tell them your sob story.
Besides it does not look very good for full grown men to cry and sob like that. You look just like Shakespeare’s "sick girl". What would you say about the men and women you pay $12 to $18 a week if they bellered around like that? They have braced up and gone out to tell the world that they cannot live on the miserable wages you pay them. And the world is listening to them and agrees with them!
But you? The whole world holds you in supreme contempt.
The Strike At Lodi
The workers at Lodi have joined the strikers of the Passaic district. Many of them came out when 6,000 fellow workers marched from Passaic through Garfield and Clifton and down the road to the United Piece Dye Works in Lodi. It was a day not soon to be forgotten.
But it was not the line of 6,000 that pulled the Lodi workers out. It was the horrible conditions that prevail in those dye works and the starvation wages that have been paid.
It is not easy for a group of workers to decide upon a strike. The strike is the last weapon they will use against the bosses. Only when the wages have been cut so low that it is impossible to live, and when the work hours and the conditions become so terrible that death itself loses its terrifying power that the workers will take the risk of walking out, not knowing where even to get the crumbs that a starvation wage afforded.
The bosses of the Dye works have been as brutal as any in the textile industry. They exploited immigrant labor to the very limit. So hard were they that even the most needy could not endure the oppression. The bosses could not get enough labor to run the dye works.
Then they resorted to other means. They went south and brought Negroes with them. They went further south and imported Mexicans. They thought this would save them. The new recruits in the Lodi slave pen have gone out with the rest of the workers. Negroes and Mexicans have joined all the other workers and united with them in the great protest against the tyrants.
Out of the steamy, damp and fuming rooms they have come. Out of the killing air of chemicals and poisonous vapors they come. From the hall of slavery and tyranny, of low wages and deadly speed up pace, of long hours and smelling, unsanitary pits they come. All call for a chance to live. All pledges themselves to stand together. All sing “Solidarity Forever!” All are workers and all must unite through which they may gain now into a powerful organization and decent wages and more human conditions.
The United Front Committee of Textile Workers welcome the workers of Lodi into the ranks of the militant workers of Passaic, Garfield and Clifton. Together we will become strong. Through our own union we will be powerful. If we stick together we will win in this battle and gain for ourselves and our children improved conditions and a greater measure of the things that we justly ask for and must have in life.
Vol. 1 – No. 5 Passaic, N. J., Monday, March 22, 1926
Stop Police Brutality
To Senators Borah, Wheeler, LaFollete, Walter F. Edge and Ed I. Edwards,…
Passaic police cossacks have brutally assaulted orderly strikers this afternoon, hundreds of men, women and children, including babies in carriages, beaten and trampled under by mounted men in front of Gera Textile Mill. Many newspaper reporters and photographers badly clubbed and cameras smashed. Many strikers, including women arrested. The United Front Committee of Textile Workers, representing 16,000 strikers, fighting against wage cuts, and for a living wage, demands an immediate thorough investigation of the conditions existing in the textile mills of New Jersey, and the abolition of all the Constitutional rights guaranteed to all the people. The tortured cry of the workers for bread shall not be throttled by the knouts of maddened cossacks.
"Oust Johnson From Negotiations” Is Cry Of Passaic Textile Workers
"Prussianized System of Factory Operation is Repugnant to American Industrial Standards"—Committee Says
Accompanied by a delegation of men and women strikers representative of about 16,000 workers now out on protest against a 10 per cent wage cut arbitrarily ordered by the large New Jersey textile mills, Honorable Frank P. Walsh, former Joint Chairman of the National War Labor Board and chairman of the federal Commission on Industrial Relations created under the administration of President Taft, yesterday laid before Senators Borah, LaFollete and Wheeler and other influential members of both the Senate Committee on Education and Labor and the Committee on Manufactures, evidence supporting his demand for a special congressional inquiry into denial of constitutional rights and interference with interstate commerce by the New Jersey mill owners.
In a statement issued to the press this evening, Mr. Walsh laid down the following grounds to warrant immediate congressional action:
Condition Is Anti-Social
A committee representing the textile workers of Passaic, N. J. and vicinity has laid before me facts showing that more than 90 per cent of the employees of this basic interstate industry are unable to earn a living wage, according to the bulletins of the U.S. Department of Labor. Such a condition is admittedly anti-social and un-American, and calls for the interposition of all available arms of the government to end its existence. Any industry which refuses to pay its workers a living wage should be declared a public nuisance, and if it be an essential industry, it should be taken over and operated directly by the government.
I have come to Washington with these textile mill workers to bring to the attention of responsible members of the Senate, a state of affairs in the New Jersey textile industry which the evidence proves to be more disgraceful and inhuman than I have ever found to exist in any other industry of this country. It is my hope that the U.S. Senate will take prompt and vigorous action to investigate the truth of these charges, and hold criminally responsible those industrial interests responsible for violating the constitutional rights of their employees.
Brutal Police Assaults
We base our request for Congressional action on the following charges, which will be made under oath by a large number of eyewitnesses:
The rights of public assemblage, free speech, and free press are being denied by the public officials of the mill towns, as evidenced by scores of brutal assaults on peaceable workers, newspaper representatives, and the public by police and other officials. Governmental protection of the life, limb, and homes of the great majority of the inhabitants of these mill towns has broken down, imperiling and destroying the life, liberty and property of vast numbers of citizens of New Jersey by force and violence, in direct violation of the federal Constitution. The textile industry of New Jersey, primarily engaged in production for outer state and foreign commerce, compels workers to produce its goods amid sanitary conditions that menace their own health and that of the persons of the various states into which their product is shipped by interstate commerce.
Spies and Thugs Used The New Jersey mill owners are using interstate transportation to bring into Passaic and vicinity spies and detectives to act as agents provocateurs and to initiate and foster violence and intimidation. The mill owners are threatening to use the federal immigration laws to initiate deportation proceedings against hundreds of law-abiding workmen for no other reason than that they insist on a living wage and working conditions which are not a menace to life and limb. The public officials of these mill towns have been bribed by the mill owners, and peace officers arbitrarily refuse to enforce the statutes and ordinances of the State for the protection of United States citizens.
Guarantees Violated By Authorities Both the Congress and the President are called on to enforce Article IV Section 4 of the Constitution of the United States, guaranteeing to each State of the Union a republican form of government and protection against invasion, which constitutional guarantees are now being violated with impunity in the State of New Jersey.
Mr. Frank P. Walsh and the delegation of Passaic strikers brought with them a mass of evidence showing the large profits of the wage-cutting mills, the brutality of the police, the viciousness of municipal authorities and the refusal of the courts to administer impartial justice, together with evidence showing unsanitary and illegal working conditions, excessive hours of labor, forced speeding up of workers, night work for mothers, and the poverty and illiteracy of thousands of workers compelled to exist on starvation wages.
Mr. Walsh emphasized the willingness of the strikers and the refusal of the mill owners to negotiate, despite the endeavors of local churches and merchants and the appeals of such disinterested public leaders as Gov. A. H. Moore of New Jersey, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, John Lovejoy Elliott, John Howard Melish, Paul U. Kellogg and many others. It is expected that a resolution for the immediate appointment of a special committee of investigation into the New Jersey situation will be introduced into the Senate in a day or two.
Washington, D. C.
March 17, 1926
To the Secretary Of Labor, Washington, D. C.
Following our conference of this afternoon, and summarizing the suggestions and counter-suggestions thereof, we submit the following:
There are now on strike in the textile manufactories of Passaic, N. J. and vicinity approximately 16,000 workers, men, women and children. The strike began on the 25th day of January of the present year. The undersigned committee of workers, all of whom waited upon you, is composed of textile workers actually employed in the mills at the time of the strike, and who went on the strike in an effort to remedy intolerable conditions. Before going on the strike, the employees, through committees democratically selected, presented their demands as follows:
For the Woolen and Worsted Mill Workers
Abolition of the 10 per cent wage cut and 10 per cent increase in wages; The return of money taken from the workers since the time of the last wage cut; The forty-four hour week; Time and one half pay for overtime work; Decent and sanitary working conditions; No discrimination against union workers; Recognition of the workers union.
For the Silk Workers
A 25 per cent increase in wages; The forty-four hour week; Time and one half pay for overtime work; Decent and sanitary working conditions; No discrimination against union workers; Recognition of the workers union.
The employing mill owners made no reply to these demands. The Botany mills, the largest of the group, summarily discharged each and every member of the employees committee which had presented the claims of the workers.
Answering your request as to terms under which the controversy might be settled, we respectfully submit the following:
Living Wage Demanded
That a living wage for all employees be immediately established as a minimum in all mills now on strike, the amount of such living wage to be that which has heretofore been determined by the United States Department of Labor itself, said living wage to be retroactive to the time of the wage cut of October, 1925. That immediately upon the establishment of such minimum living wage, the employees will return to work in the mills. Union Must Be Recognized That within three days following the establishment of said minimum living wage, the mill management and the undersigned committee, representing the striking workers, shall each select one representative to adjust the demands herein set forth. The employers shall have the right to select an officer, stockholder, or person unconnected with the mills, and the workers shall likewise have the right to select one of their number or a person unconnected with the mills to represent them, so that the principle of collective bargaining through representatives freely selected may be preserved. These two representatives shall be empowered to adjust all points in dispute between the mill owners and the workers, and in case of disagreement shall have the authority to select an impartial referee to the end that any remaining disputed points may be equitably adjusted.
Employee Strike Committee (signed)
Frank Giacomini and Theresa Staudinger of Botany Consolidated Mills.
Frances Janike and Anna Breznak of Passaic Worsted Mills.
Stephen Klysar of the Gera Mills.
Carl J. Trocola of United Piece Dye Works and National Silk Dyeing Co.
Anna Malack of Dundee Textile Mills.
Stephen Rosetor of Forstmann-Huffman Mills.
Nancy Sandusky of New Jersey Worsted Mills.
Workers Party Is With Us
March 17, 1926
United Front Committee of Textile Workers,
Room 4, 743 Main Avenue,
Passaic, New Jersey
Enclosed please find check for nine dollars, ($9.00) which represents the collection taken up at the meeting of the Workers Party last night. By unanimous vote it was decided to tax each member according to his circumstances, and each week the amount collected will be sent directly to you. We .are solid1y behind your effort to win the strike and assure you of our utmost support.
Workers Party of Brockton—Henry L. Gage, Secretary
Passaic Strike Hits Washington Like An Invasion
Col. Johnson and Mill Barons Slink from White House as Starved Workers Put Case Before the United States Government
The strike in Passaic came to Washington like an invasion. The workers from Passaic, representing 16,000 strikers, saw more of the working of the Government in two days than most workers ever will know. It is a story of highest importance to them. They went from the senatorial offices to the White House. From there they went to the Department of Labor. Then back to the Senate. They made a complete circle.
On Saturday, March 13th., with Albert Weisbord as leader of the delegation of the United Front Committee of Textile Workers visited Frank P. Walsh and asked him to be their council, and going to Washington and request a congressional investigation of the textile industry in New Jersey, as well as ask President Coolidge to institute an industrial relations committee patterned on that of the Taft administration.
On the morning of March 16, the committee of nine, together with Katherine Wiley of the Consumers League of New Jersey, arrived in Washington and immediately went to the office of Senator Borah. Here members of the committee told the story of their daily lives, their pay, their working conditions in the mills, the speed up system, the attacks by the police and their home conditions.
Later, before Senator LaFollete and Senator Borah, were displayed the pay checks, receipts of yearly pay, grocery books with huge accounts outstanding.
Trocolo, from Lodi, showed his finger-print card without which no dye worker can get his pay. The members of the committee showed pictures of the police clubbing women. They told the story of the night work in the mills. You all know the story. It is your story. Told in the dignified Senatorial offices, it sounded different. It sounded monstrous. It seemed unbelievable. Told there in Washington, the simple facts painted Passaic as a hell hole. No one can hear the lives of the textile workers without horrors.
Mr. Walsh said: “Mr. Senator, the leadership of this strike has been accused of holding radical political views, but I tell you that in Passaic it is this wage scale that is menacing the government of the United States.”
As they told their story, these workers from Passaic grew in significance. It was as if behind them was the disciplined union army of the picket line—as if here in Washington represented by them were the workers of the textile industry a million strong, saying to the senate of the United States: “We want the people of the country to know how the cloth they wear is made—the cloth they wear is being paid for with our lives. Listen folks, everywhere, how cotton, wool and silk cloth is made.”
The little company which seemed so small and which had the power of marching numbers behind it went the next day to knock on the door of the White House. The door opened easily enough. The door man let them into a stately office where they met the private secretary, Sanders. It seemed it was impossible for the President to see the strikers. “Does that mean,” Miss Wiley asked, “that the President will never see us?”
Somewhat embarrassed, Secretary Sanders admitted that this was true. The President would never see representatives of the textile workers. Albert Weisbord said, “It seems strange that when President Coolidge receives the Charleston dancers he cannot see the textile workers.” It did seem strange.
It did seem strange—so strange that newspapers all over the country took up Weisbord’s words. Workers all over the country wonder why the President of the United States cannot see the workers who wish to tell him about their unbearable grievances. Mrs. Breznak wept bitterly. “The President of the United States wants four more years of hell hole for us in Passaic,” she sobbed. How terrible it seemed that the President didn’t care if they lived or died.
"I had to smash my hankerchief so I wouldn’t cry out aloud,” said Mrs. Janike. Don’t worry, Frances Janike, though you cried quietly, the workers of the United States saw your tears as you were turned out of the White House. Son’t worry Mrs. Breznak, the President of the United States cannot help the hell holes of Passaic. It is the workers in Passaic and the workers in the United States behind them that will have to remedy that. In his own fashion the President may have helped you. At the White House the workers were told that their place was at the Department of Labor. The White House, it seems, has nothing to do with the Workers grievances.
The committee sat in the room of the Department of Labor, where the mill owners had been so short a while before. You could smell them yet. Face them, Secretary Davis, his smooth, waxen face, not the face of a worker but the face of an actor. He is always talking about the time he was a peddler. He has the tools of his trade --- nickel-plated. Like his tools, he too is plated, original material coated over by vague phrases of a man who watches for the reflection of his words on the faces of crowds, as a politician must. The large room, with its great desk, its long shiny table is filled with the ghosts of dead conferences. Here have come an endless file of employers to state as did Johnson of the Botany Mills, that they would deal with the workers individually.
The employers who were here yesterday had put forward a plan of how to break the strike. Human life is not their affair. Strike breaking is their business. First they wanted the workers to go back and then they would settle.
A growl from the committee was their answer. “We won’t go back first.” Mrs. Breznak gave Secretary Davis a piece of her mind: “I done starve before I go back to work—they say they give us what we want—we don’t get nothing—no Mister, I live on black coffee and dry bread long enough.”
The committee rejected the strike-breaking plan as heartily as the full throated “no” of the workers in Passaic rejected it. This is not my plan, says Mr. Davis. This is not our plan, says Mr. Kerin. This is the best, the very best, terms we could get from the employers. They speak as though they had performed an appendix operation to get these terms from the employers.
The committee next day made its counter-proposals. "We reject completely the mill owners proposal to break the strike,” said Mr. Walsh. “I wouldn’t put it that way,” said Mr. Kerin. “Many strikes are settled by the workers going back to work first.” Take care Mr. Kerin, the Department of Labor indirectly advised the striking textile workers …………………..millowners………….
The Jails of New Jersey
The picket lines are not the only places where the battles of the strike are being fought. They are being fought in the jails and courts of New Jersey.
Jack Rubenstein fought the strike battle when he went on a seventy-two hour hunger strike as a protest against unjustified solitary confinement, a hunger strike that was only broken by bail of $2,000. From Monday until Friday night the forces of the law used every trick to keep the picket captain in jail. Six other strikers, arrested at the East Paterson picket line were released on Thursday.
Rubenstein was apparently arrested solely because he was a picket leader. After his trial without the right of a defense lawyer, he was sentenced to 60 days in jail on a disorderly conduct charge, the disorder consisting in saying to the sheriff that he wished to pass the National Silk Dye works with his pickets.
An argument between two prisoners, in which he acted as mediator, was Jack’s undoing in the Hackensack jail. He was pommelled by a keeper and although he did not attempt to defend himself, was put into solitary confinement for “getting gay” with an officer. He promptly went on a hunger strike as a protest against this new injustice, and for seventy-two hours was without food.
One brief vacation of an hour broke the long confinement when Jack officially released on bail of $1,000 and was taken in handcuffs to the Justice of the Peace charged with “getting gay” and sentenced to another 60 days. His release was affected by another $2,000 bond and he was told that his bond would be doubled with any future arrest.
The workers are here to change this sort of thing.
Striker Gets Ten Days For Being Beaten
Grabinsky Commits a New Crime by Letting a Cop Split His Head
A new crime has been invented in Passaic. If a striker allows a cop to split his head the striker has committed a crime, and is at once taken to the hoosegow and later to the judge and given a sentence of anywhere from 10 to 60 days in the county bull pen.
To prove this ask Chester Grabinsky. He knows…….
Grabinsky was picketing in a small line of only half a dozen, among them a couple of boys that have worked in the mills since they were 13. When the police stopped Teddy Timchko, 17 and began to search him, Grabinsky asked what right the police had to search a young fellow on the picket line without any reason. He was at once put under arrest. Then after he was in the hands of a cop, another cop came along and shouted, “Where is that fellow?” When he saw him he knocked him unconscious with his night stick.
Grabinsky’s head had been split and he was bleeding profusely. The kind hearted chief who happened around ordered Grabinsky locked up. The jailer saw his condition and ordered him sent to the hospital. Here the doctors sewed up the scalp and got him dressed for the next ordeal. He must now go to the court and see what has been his crime. The judge gets the hang of the affair and promptly gives Grabinsky ten days in jail, explaining that it is a serious crime to get hit by a cop’s club.
Apologists for the judge claim that he did this out of pure kindness and argue that it will require at least ten days for the wound to be healed, and what place could be more safe than the jail where no picket lines are formed and where cops do not break in and split heads.
Lawrence Is Organizing
Lawrence and surrounding towns engaged in the manufacture of textiles are busy organizing. Unions and old and new organizations are building up the United Front Committee of Textile Workers into something very promising. There is a growth and a strengthening of the forces of the workers that seem most encouraging.
Parallel with the fine work of organization goes the splendid work of relief for the Passaic strikers. The unions and the club and the United Front Committee have all contributed and are continuing to contribute. There are entertainments and there will be another Tag day and the workers are stirring things up enthusiastically in support of the Passaic workers. There is a feeling that PASSAIC MUST WIN.
Mother Bloor is on the job. Fred Beal and a hustling bunch of helpers are on the job. Several girls from Passaic are their to help. There is an undercurrent of much seriousness and a mysterious spirit of determination, a good deal of gritting of teeth and whisperings, and definite signs of solidarity.
Not so much is said. Not Yet. But neither are the bosses saying much—and not paying much. Ah! There is the rub. The bosses are not doing any firing for being in the United Front Committee. They may have heard what happened to Col. Johnson of the Botany. That we don’t know, but it may be that they are trying to be less stupid than he, which would not be at all impossible.
The workers in Lawrence do not want a strike, but they do want to live. They say so almost publicly When police and stools are not too close they even say they want a living wage.
Just now they are getting all the way from $12 to $18 a week. Only few get more. They claim that this is not a living wage. Almost everybody except Coolidge and the bosses agree with them.
What they are going to do about it is for the future to witness. It may be the near future.
In the meantime the workers are organizing and helping the Passaic strikers.
Go up to Lawrence and Andover and Lowell and Fall River and you will feel just the way we feel while writing this. And you may want to say more about it than we have said just now. So do we. And we will in the next issue of the Bulletin.
Distributing the Strikers Bulletin is becoming a crime in Passaic, as well as peacefully walking the streets.
Vol. 1. No. 6 Passaic N. J. Wednesday, March 31, 1926
Bloody Assault by Police Is Renewed On Ackerman Ave. Bridge
Bread for Suffering Strikers Taken to Station as Truck Drivers Are Arrested.
The bloodiest, most brutal assault in a long series of outrages occurred on Thursday when the Clifton police stopped an orderly picket line on the Ackerman bridge, cursed its leaders, beat at least four men into insensibility, wounded scores of other strikers, and clubbed and wounded many bystanders who were not in the picket lines.
The hideous scenes of the Ackerman bridge in the early days of the strike, when women were beaten to the ground, were re-enacted on Thursday. Sixty five strikers and by standers made sworn statements Thursday relating the horrors of the afternoon. Three men lay insensible on the sidewalk, side by side, while another man who had not been in the picket line tried to staunch the blood from wounds in his face that his glasses, broken by a policeman’s fist, has made.
An old man, coming out of a cellar with a load of wood, was clubbed unconscious and thrust in a nearby doorway. Slugging with fists and nightsticks of police, foul language used indiscriminately by patrolman, detectives, and the chief of police, John Coughlin himself, brutality piled upon outrages, all these things were sworn to in sixty five affidavits made by witnesses within a few hours of the occurrence.
Unprovoked Attack On Pickets
It was an unprovoked attack as could be imagined. The picket line, three thousand strong, from three halls, was marching quietly along in an effort to picket the gates of the Dundee Silk mill. It was met by chief of police Coughlin who ordered the line turned into Ackerman Ave. as the head of the line paused, the bridge became jammed with a great mass of pickets coming up from behind. Through this mob the police flung themselves, swinging night sticks and cursing. On the close packed bridge it was nearly impossible to escape. Dozens of innocent men and women were injured.
Those arrested on the usual charges of “disorderly conduct” and “interfering with an officer in the performance of his duty” were freed on bail of $250 each until their hearing. They were Samuel Somala, William Romanik, Jacob Dodas, and Stephen Kopar.
The outrages at Ackerman bridge were no sooner over than new ones were perpetrated by the Clifton police. Three members of the Bakers Union, Local No. 100 of New York, who had come with a group of men to bring four truck loads of bread were arrested with their truck, and the bread held at the police station. Three other loads were delivered. The men arrested on a charge of speeding were Julius Grossman, Albert Rasp, and Charles Schwarczberg, and Eli Keller of the strikers was arrested with them.
Bread Truck Drivers Arrested
In a sworn statement, made after he was bailed out of jail at $250, Charles Schwarczberg, vice president of the Pechter Baking Company, which had donated the most of the bread, declares that he was following a bus at the time he was arrested for speeding. The truck and the cars with it had signs on them saying “Pechter Baking Company donates Bread to the Strikers of Passaic. Affiliated with Local No. 100.”
There was more than ten thousand pounds of bread in the entire donation, the second such amount from the same source within a week. Only one truck was “arrested.”
Hot Wire Burns Colonel Johnson
Frank P. Walsh, council for the striking mill workers of Passaic New Jersey, authorizes publication of the following telegram which has just been sent to the principal spokesmen of the mill owners:
Colonel Charles F. H. Johnson,
Vice President, Botany Consolidated Mills, Inc.,
Passaic, New Jersey.
Senator La Follette has just introduced a resolution in the United States Senate providing for an immediate investigation by the Committee on Manufactures into industrial conditions in the textile mills of Passaic and vicinity. The resolution sets forth among other charges of the striking workers that they are not receiving a living wage, and that their constitutional rights as American citizens are being violated in order to prevent exposure of their condition. It likewise recites your claim that wages are adequate and that the strike was instigated to propagandize an attack on the industry and government of the country.
You are quoted in the New York Times of yesterday as urging a Congressional investigation. I have notified the Committee on Manufactures, as Counsel for the striking employees, that we are ready to proceed immediately with the investigation.
Will you please either directly or through counsel for the mill owners communicate with me care of Committee of Manufactures, Room 124, Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C., so that we may jointly urge upon the Committee to proceed with a prompt and impartial investigation.
Frank P. Walsh.
Amalgamated Sends Two Car loads of Food
Last Thursday was an eventful day in the Strike. Mr. Charles Irwin came from the Amalgamated Clothing Workers office to tell the strikers that a carload of flour and other provisions was already in Passaic. He also announced that there was money enough for another carload, and pledged the Amalgamated support to the Strike.
This great gift of over two thousand dollars worth of provisions from the powerful Union of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers came directly after the presentation of the flag by the American Legion.
The Clothing Workers of New York are a perpetual inspiration to the Textile Workers. Twenty years ago they were unorganized. In school you could tell a tailor’s child by his thin legs and pale face. The sweatshop conditions were a scandal. The tailors organized. They killed the sweatshops.
Mrs. Breznac and the Picket Line
By Mary Heaton Vorse
She never misses picket lines. You always see her tramping sturdily along, a short, powerful figure, broad shouldered, deep breasted, a heavy built woman, strong. Her mouth is a determined line. Her nose juts out obstinately. Her eyes are two bright sparkling points. Humor and intelligence are in them and often indignation and anger. She never misses a meeting. After the meeting you could see her in the hall talking. Maybe, she’s telling about what happened on the picket line, Maybe she’s telling how her husband first made 15 cents an hour and pretty so on that is all the workers will be getting if they don’t win the strike.
Round and round she’s always at strike meetings at night. She is a delegate of the United Front Committee from the Botany Mills. Some way she embodies the spirit of the strike more than any one person. Strong, powerful, persistent and is fortified with the indignation of years. That is Mrs. Anna Breznac. She is not an individual. She embodies the working mothers whose slow anger is now kindled.
The reporters have called several of our young picket leaders, Joans of Arc of the strikers. It is fun for a young girl to lead a parade and to see the glitter of danger flickering around in the air. When you are young, any change has romance. When you are 52 years old, crawling out of bed five o’clock in the morning and walking miles and miles, passing and repassing the police patrolling the high ramparts of the mill back and forth, miles and miles, is quite a job. There is a sturdy defiance about her as she plods up and down. She is tireless. She always acts as if there is an inward indignation boiling in her. And why shouldn’t there be? [Indignation] is a part of the true story of Anna Breznac. She came to this country from Czechoslovakia when she was a very young girl. She married a coal digger and went to live in Pennsylvania. The little Pennsylvania mining towns are very nice towns. They have substantial brick houses. There are no mean tenements there, the country is hilly and wooded and full of streams, a hilly good country. Those Pennsylvania hills are good places for children to grow.
Work was slow in the mines, and Mrs. Breznac had a relative who wrote her that there was plenty of work in Passaic. She came to Passaic many years ago. During this time she has had 12 children, 9 of them are living yet. Many of them are small and still in school. Breznac found work in the Passaic mills for 15¢ an hour. Recently he has been making $18.00 a week. Mrs. Breznac makes $16.08.
This has been Anna Breznac’s life. Always more children. Children to be gotten ready for school. Children to be looked after. Children under school age to be cared for. A whole family living in four rooms and with herself working in the mills. A life full of effort and toil, of bringing up fine children. A lifetime spent to the service of the mills, piling up money for somebody else. At the end of all these years of effort, nothing to show for it except her 9 children. No house for them. No possessions. A fair living and nothing else for a life times work.
Then come the wage slash. Mrs. Breznac went on strike. She went on strike with all the power of her strong body, with all the power and high courage which made it possible for her to bring up all these children with all the strength of her powerful body that makes it possible for her, when over 50 to stand the gaff of the terrible night shift in the mills. Ten hours a night, five nights a week and a quarter of an hour at midnight for all recess. Indignation was her motor power. Mrs. Breznac is mad clear through, a fiery indignation sends a hot color to her cheeks when she thinks of what happened to the workers in Passaic.
Mrs. Breznac goes around the picket line to the halls where the strikers get their coffee. From there to the meetings and to the picket line again and to strike meeting at night. She plods through the long strikers day and she is never weary. The hot fire of indignation never dies down. It is there at the heart of the strike, smoldering, a red hot coal. There are no girls that is as tireless as she, for she knows the whole story of a workers life. That is why she is striking with the indignation bred of the accumulated injustice of years.
When Mrs. Breznac went to Washington she took with her, her indignation. She walked down through the marble hallway that led to Senator Borah’s room a sturdy figure. Come to tell the capital what the workers in Passaic go through. Come to shout to America from the Senate steps, “We don’t make enough to eat in Passaic". She strode down to Borah’s office shouldn’t she. This was only another kind of picket line. She was used to picket lines. This was another way of winning the strike. Mrs. Breznac sat in Borah’s office and told Senator Borah and Senator LaFollete about her nine children. She told how her husband had 15¢ an hour with which he first began to work in the mills. The reporters of all big papers were there looking at Mrs. Breznac sitting squarely in her chair, a hand on each knee, her head thrust out a little answering clearly the questions that were asked her. Her answer seemed almost unbelievable. She answered loud and clear, did Mrs. Breznac. She told her story to the Senators, and she did not speak for herself alone. She spoke for all those other mothers in Passaic who work all night because the rich mills do not pay enough to their husbands to support their families.
"Sure”, says Mrs. Breznac, hands on knees, chewing a piece of gum, “Sure I got to work nights.” “How would we eat—me and all my kids? You see,” she said “ the more kids you got, the more youngsters in the house, the more in Passaic a woman has got to work nights.” She spoke as though she were telling a commonplace, a murmur went through the company. Borah called it pitiful.
Yes, it is pitiful that the mothers of children have to work nights. “The more children they got, the more they got to work nights,” but it is a commonplace in Passaic. That’s the way life goes in Passaic.
Mrs. Breznac finished talking to the Senators, and by the time she had finished talking and the other members had finished talking, Senators Borah and LaFollete were sure that they ought to have a Senate investigation. More ought to be known of the textile workers of the country was what Mrs. Breznac said to them in a tone that had hot indignation behind it. No one was ever more convincing than she.
Mrs. Breznac and the others took a look around. They sat a while in the Senate Gallery and they walked around the imposing Capitol grounds. Mrs. Breznac cocked her head and looked up at the Capitol and wondered if the grave gentlemen inside there were going to do so much as give the textile workers a hearing.
Next day Mrs. Breznac knocked on the door of the White House and they let her in, but she could not see the President.
From the White House the way led to the Department of Labor. Mrs. Breznac told Secretary Davis the story of Passaic. So she went through the picket lines at Washington tramping sturdily along. All the Senators in the White House and the Department of Labor heard her story, told from the white heat of her indignation. She never misses a picket line.
Chased Off The Picket Line
When the first picket line was formed at the Forstman and Hoffman plant of Garfield, many of my friends and I joined. The cops didn’t care about us at first except when the scabs went in and we shouted “Scabs,” “Scabs,” and “Booh,” “Booh,". A few days afterwards, we thought it would be some fun to shout for the strikers and cheer them up a bit. So the next day we joined the picket line as usual and started to sing “SOLIDARITY FOREVER". The cops chased us off the picket line because we cheered and sang for the workers and against the bosses. We suggested that we make a picket line of our own, but this didn’t suit most of us, so we all stood in one group and sang and cheered more than before. We kept this up for about a week. Then one day the cops chased us and told us to go away from there. We told them that the sidewalks and streets were public property so we could walk or stand where we please, so he left us alone for a few days.
One night we all came with orange bands with the letters F H sewed onto them. As soon as the cops saw us coming they came up to us before we reached the corner and told us to go away. We stood still a while to make them sore. Then they told us to “shake a leg”, but we told them the doctor told us we had to walk slow, inch by inch. Then one of the cops said to us “Gee, but you’re tough” but we told him that our mothers never cooked us to see if we were tough or not. They also told us they’ll give us a ride on the “pie wagon”, but we told them so far, we had enough of rides and pies without them giving us any more. Gee, but they were sore!
J. L.—Age 12.
Special Lawrence Page
Conditions in the Mills
The Arlington Mill employs about 5,000 workers. You may gather from the following that the slaves in this mill are in a paradise of glory and comfort.
The men workers put in 48 hours a week as regular time. Counting the overtime and the noon hour they have a nice little week of 57 hours. For the 48 hour week they get an average of $18. Those working 57 hours get $25.08. Women average from $12 to $16 a week.
The Arlington is owned by J. Whitman Co., owners of many worsted mills in other cities, notably in Bedford where conditions are even worse than in Lawrence.
The pacific mills produce part woolen and part cotton goods, employing over 8,000 workers. In the Pacific print works many old men put in 60 hours a week night work at so low a wage that they dare not tell the amount. When they ask for more the boss tells them they better be satisfied, they are so old that they could never get another job if they are fired.
The doubling up system puts many out of work. Regular skilled workers get only four days per week in many cases.
The weavers are tending 32 to 40 looms. Just now a man is experimenting with two cheap helpers to run 102 looms. The wages are lower for this speeding up system than when one weaver manages 18 looms.
The workers say they cannot live like this much longer. They must organize so they will be able to demand better wages and more decent conditions. Get into the United Front Committee.
The United Front Committee In Lawrence
The United Front Committee of Textile Workers is busy organizing the mill workers in Lawrence, Lowell, Fall River and other textile centers in New England.
There are good beginnings in many of the mills, some in the form of shop units, factory councils, remnants of old organizations, new factory committees and so on, and all of them have delegates in the United Front Committee which binds together all of them and makes it possible for them to function effectively.
The mill workers realize that this is the best way to build up their organizations and become a united body in their fight for better wages and more decent conditions.
The dues in the United Front Committee is only ten cents a week. This helps to develop the organization and keep the workers posted on what is going on.
A determined drive is now going on for the building up of all the units in the mills. In some of the mills only a few hundred are in the units. It is important that every worker in a mill get into the unit and be represented in the larger body of the United Front. Where there are 1,000 in a mill, there should be 1,000 in the units. Where there are 5,000, there should be 5,000 in the organization.
Then there are mills not yet touched by the organization. These must be reached. It is not hard to get the workers interested. If you who understand the necessity of organization will do your little part, you can soon have your mill on the list of those on the job of organizing.
Now is the time to get busy and build up the United Front Committee and thus get the workers together for the big fight ahead in the near future.
"Passaic Must Win”, Says Lawrence
Dear Fellow Workers:
The spirit of organization is taking hold in Lawrence. The Lawrence United Front Committee of Textile Workers has been active since its inception but it took the Passaic strike to really wake them up to their duty as leaders of the textile workers—in their fight for better living conditions and against the speeding and doubling up of work.
The Committees drive for new Union members has been very intensive the past three weeks. Permits were secured and meetings held in front of all big mills. Last week a big meeting was held in front of the Arlington mills and several hundreds stood for one hour in a driving snow storm while “Mother” Bloor told them the story of the Passaic strike. This noontime we held a very successful meeting in front of the Wood Mill which belongs to the American Woolen Company. Workers were expecting us and eagerly asked for the Strike Bulletin. Hundreds of Bulletins were given away. Mother Bloor informed the workers about the latest strike developments. At the close of the meeting many workers gathered about Mother Bloor and the two strikers present and asked questions about the United Front movement.
We have held two big mass meetings here at Eagles Hall and one at Andover, Mass. J. O. Bentall, Editor of the Strike Bulletin spoke at last Sunday’s mass meeting and was well received.
A strong Relief Committee has been formed and is planning to hold a tag day in Lawrence on April 3rd and a moving picture and dance at the Winter Garden Theater some night the week of April 18th.
The Lawrence United Front Committee intends to work harder than ever to aid the Passaic strikers even to the extent, if necessary, to calling out on strike of all the textile workers of Lawrence.
Yours for the United Front,
Fred E. Beal
Sec, United Front Committee of Textile Workers. Lawrence, Mass.
New York Holds Protest Meetings Against Passaic Police Brutality
Monster Gatherings Are Thrilled as Masked and Helmeted Strikers March and Sing
New York had one big night last week. It was when the workers in that city arranged for two monster mass meetings at the New Star Casino and at the Central Opera House.
All told, there were about 10,000 workers jammed into those two halls. Thousands were turned away. There was much cheering when the leaders brought down their heavy sledge hammers against the brutality of the police in Passaic. There was more cheering when the speakers told about the fine fight the workers are putting up in the textile towns.
But when some seventy five men and women, boys and girls, hooded in gas masks that they had used during the reign of terror and gas bomb outrages and wearing the iron trench helmets that they had put on to escape the vicious clubs of the cops in the picket line, came marching through the center of the halls up to the platform the cheers, mixed with uncontrollable emotions, knew no bounds. The audience was on its feet, on the chairs, arms in the air, waving, shouting, women breaking into tears, strong men choking on their sobs, while wave after wave of cheering and shouting came rolling forth, ending only when the strikers had reached the platform and started to sing “Solidarity Forever.”
And there they stood and sang, stood there in their gas masks and in their helmets—and sang. They showed how they carried on while on the picket line and in the strike meetings. The audience tried to help them sing but couldn’t. Only the strikers could sing those songs. They had lived them and felt them, and now they sang in New York as they had been singing on the picket line. And there stood Chester Grabinsky, his head bandaged after his scalp had been split by the police club. But he sang with the rest.
There were many speakers, good speakers. Forrest Bailey and Robert Dunn of the American Civil Liberties Union acted as chairmen at the two meetings. Albert Weisbord, strike leader, spoke at both meetings, spoke well, told of the struggle, of the attacks by the police and the bosses, of the causes of the strike, horrible conditions in the mills, more horrible conditions in the homes of the workers ground down under a starvation wage, of the loyalty of the strikers, how have behaved and committed no violence, how they have stood the gas bombs and icy water from the fire hose, how the babies had been used to prevent the cossacks from riding down the strikers, how the police have even knocked the babies down—the whole sordid story of a tyrannical master class and the whole glorious story of the brave strikers.
Others spoke, Gitlow of the Workers Party, Norman Thomas of the Socialist Party, Joseph Brodsky, .defense attorney, Gurley Flinn of the Civil Liberties Union, Jack Statchel the Young Workers League, William Weinstone for the International Labor Defense, Jennie Warhawsky of the Fur Workers Union, and others, many others, and all made great
speeches and cheered the strikers and warned the masters and condemned the brutalities.
Then the workers all chipped in and gave nearly $3,000 to help carry on the fight of the workers in Passaic.
Shoes and Clothing For the Passaic Strikers
The International Workers Aid is conducting a drive for shoes and clothing for Passaic strikers. These men and women have been on the picket line for ten weeks, tramping miles in rain and snow. Their shoes are worn out, their children’s shoes are worn out too but still they tramp, up and down, never losing heart, determined to win.
They are being beaten up, they are being sent to jail, but their courage is the courage of conviction, their fight is the fight of the working class.
BUT THEY MUST HAVE SHOES AND CLOTHING TO WEAR, AND YOU MUST PROVIDE THEM.
Canvas your shop, ask your neighbors, your grocer, your butcher and all your friends for SHOES AND CLOTHING and send them to us as quickly as possible, have them repaired whenever needed.
Get shoes for men, women and children for they especially needed. Show the strikers that you are behind them in their fight by supplying their needs.
Bring or send to INTERNATIONAL WORKERS AID, Room 237, 799 Broadway, New York City.
Electrical Workers Strike
The insulation workers, insulted by the miserable wage the bosses are giving them, walked out of the Garfield Manufacturing Company’s plant this week to the number of 300 and asked that the United Front Committee take them in and make a clean sweep of the job of getting their shop organized and secure decent wages and working conditions.
They demand as a first point a [wage increase.] Then they ask for improved sanitary conditions and a change in the bonus system. Modest these demands, but the bosses in this factory are just as stubborn as the rest of the tyrants in Passaic.
These workers who manufacture heat resisting insulation are now trying to manufacture starvation, resisting insulation by forming a unit in their shop and making a beginning toward an organization that will protect them from the burning greed of the bosses.
The Legion Presents the Strikers with the American Flag
While Organizer Weisbord was speaking at Belmont Hall the afternoon of the 24th , a tall gentleman came forward and handed him a good size parcel. The audience burst into cheer when the parcel was undone, for it contained an American flag to come from the American Legion.
Organizer Weisbord thanked the gentleman for their gift. While everyone on the stage including Legion men helped put up the handsome flag, which now adorns Belmont Hall. There are some ex-service men among the United Front Committee and among the strikers, beginning with Organizer Weisbord. There are many ways the Legion, if it wishes, can help the strikers. Especially it can help by lending more weight to prevent American workers being beaten by the police for peacefully picketing the mills
Labor Aids Textile Workers
The Amalgamated Clothing Workers have notified the General Relief Committee, Textile Strikers, that a shipment of 20,000 pounds of sugar was on the way for the strikers four food stations. This organization shipped a full carload of flour to the strikers last week.
The Amalgamated Food Workers have been contributing generous sums of money. Bakers Local Union 1 has voted one hours pay from each of its members. Bakers Local 164 voted an assessment of $1 per member for strikers relief. And the 2,000 members of Bakers Local 3 decided to assess its members 50¢ each to aid the children and families of the textile workers.
American Federation of Labor Invited to Support Strike
United Front Committee of Textile Workers
Passaic, New Jersey
Executive Council, American Federation of Labor,
Washington, D. C.
Dear Sirs and Brothers:
The heroic and bitter struggle of the textile workers of Passaic and vicinity against the wealthy, powerful open shop textile interests has undoubtedly come to your attention. Over 15,000 workers are involved in the strike. They are fighting against low wages and wage cuts. They are fighting for the abolition of intolerable, inhuman working conditions. They are fighting for a shorter work day. Most important is the fact that they are fighting in an unorganized industry for the right to organize. Furthermore they desire through collective bargaining to have the industry provide them with a decent living under improved human working conditions. We are writing this letter to the executive council of the American Federation of Labor because we feel certain that it, as the leading representative of the American Federation of Labor, recognizes that the strike is part of the effort, coupled as it is with great difficulties, to establish trade union organization and conditions in the textile industry.
The abominable working conditions that exist in Passaic are general throughout the textile industry. The deplorable conditions under which the textile workers work and live have been brought to the attention of the labor movement in the numerous strikes that took place throughout the country in the last few years against brutal wage cuts that have been initiated by the textile interests at a time that the country was reputed to be going through an era of unprecedented prosperity. Unless this industry which employs about a million workers is brought into the fold of the organized labor movement, it will act as a stimulus to the open shop movement and will threaten the better living standards enjoyed by the workers in industries that are organized.
Organize Textile Workers
The organization of the textile workers is therefore of the most vital importance to the organized labor movement of America. It is absolutely necessary that steps be taken to organize this gigantic industry. The present situation calls for the unification of all the existing labor forces in the textile industry to fight the campaign of wage cuts, to increase wages, shorter hours, and to organize the million unorganized textile workers into a powerful textile union.
A step in this direction has been taken by the Federated Textile union when it decided to send out a call for a conference of all the existing unions to consider the advisability of joint action in fighting wage cuts and organizing the industry. The step taken by the last convention of the American Federation of Labor in directing the Executive Council to take energetic steps to organize the textile workers throughout the country is most significant and important. In appreciation of this, we call upon the executive council of the American Federation of Labor, in line with this decision to use its experience, prestige and power to establish the unity of all existing labor organizations in the textile industry in a campaign to end wage cuts and organize the industry. The United Front Committee of Textile Workers in Passaic pledges its wholehearted support to any move towards that end which will be initiated by the Executive Council. We pledge ourselves that if such a move is made we will do everything in our power to achieve such unity through the American Federation of Labor. Never before in the history of the textile industry were conditions so ripe for the organization of the workers.
Unity of All Labor
We must sincerely and earnestly hope that the Executive Council will consider this proposal in the spirit in which it is made.
The United Front Committee of Textile Workers is not a dual organization. It does not desire to set up an organization distinct and apart from the American Federation of Labor. We will be the first to hail enthusiastically any proposal the
American Federation of Labor will make to establish unity in order to combat the intolerable conditions that are forced upon the workers and to organize the industry.
The situation is, we are sure, of such vital concern to the Labor movement that we take the liberty of presenting it to the Executive Council of the American Federation of Labor.
Better World for Workers
We trust that the Executive Council, representative of the millions of organized workers in the American Federation of Labor will consider the proposals made in this letter as proposals coming from workers who are now engaged in struggle against industrial despotism and whose only desire is, together with the organized labor movement, to work for the establishment of improved living conditions and a better world for the workers.
We hope your reply will make possible greater and more successful efforts toward this end, as far as the textile workers are concerned.
Albert Weisbord, Organizer.
Jack Bryan Squawks
We do not want to insult either a mule or a duck by saying that Jack Bryan squawks or brays, but the noise he made the other night suggested a halfbreed between the two samples mentioned.
Bryan has found that it is not as easy to fool the workers as he and the bosses have been thinking. Next time he wants to hold a peaceable meeting he should go out and talk to the silent night by some quiet pond while the frogs are still asleep.
Not that the workers are so entirely opposed to a little joke once in a while, but that noise he made got on their nerves and they were not sure whether they were listening to one of their bosses or one of the slew pumpers that we call slide pokes when they begin to gurgle the swamp water in the Minnesota swamps early in the spring.
Anyhow, a cracked fellow like that should be sewed up before he has a chance to spill all his [slops] in our strike [home]. Bryan may be all right and all that, but he is out of place when he is in decent company.
After all, a traitor is a sorry figure. His former friends pity him, and the present pals including the bosses despise him.
Vol.1 No. 7 Passaic, N. J. Wednesday, April, 7. 1926
Senator Edwards Returns To Washington Without Real Facts
"Investigation” Lasts Two Hours In A Paterson Bank With Gossipper McBride As Chief Boss Tool
Passaic, N. J. April 1.
"Should Senator Edwards really investigate the question of housing conditions, illiteracy, night work for women, wages, and hours, he will return impressed with the need for a real investigation in Passaic.” With these words, A1bert Weisbord, organizer of the Passaic Textile strikers, greeted the proposed investigation of the strike situation by Senator Edwards, of New Jersey, the Senator who demanded that Congressional action on the Passaic strike be delayed until he made a “personal” investigation.
The Senator has come and gone. He has “investigated” the strike. His “investigations” were conducted in Paterson, where he spent two hours in a hotel room closeted with “Labor Commissioner” A. F. McBride, a representative from Forstman Huffman mills, and a local politician. He has “investigated” the strike from his mansion in Jersey City. There is no strike in Paterson. There is no strike in Jersey City. The strike is in Passaic and vicinity, but Senator Edwards seems not to be aware of this fact.
Strikers Invite Senator
The United Front Committee of Textile Workers is glad to invite Senator Edwards to all the meetings conducted by the union during the strike. We will be glad to furnish him with a guide to go to the homes of those people who are given relief. We have elected a committee of ten workers, all Americans, all citizens, all ex-servicemen, who are ready to testify before Senator Edwards, concerning their working and home and living conditions.
This offer of hearty cooperation by the United Front Committee was ignored by the Senator.
Senator Edwards is reported to have made a brief visit to Passaic. Even newspaper men were unable find him.
As he would not come to the strikers, the strikers went to him. For hours they picketed his house saying that they were the real strikers, and urged him to see them. On his return he received the committee and talked to them for some time, while they told him of the conditions and wages in the mills.
Senator Edwards told the strikers they should drop their leader. But they told the Senator that Organizer Weisbord had never preached communism or Bolshevism.
Facts About Mills and Boss—Low Wages and High Profits
The strike in Passaic has spread to Washington. Secretary of Labor Davis has listened to a committee of the strikers and has proposed a settlement which involves an immediate return to work pending arbitration proceedings in which the Secretary will pick the third member of the arbitration committee. The strikers have the proposal under consideration, but it is by no means sure that they will accept it stands. This kind of arbitration, as the anthracite miners learned to their bitter cost in 1920, is not always as fair as it appears on the surface.
Meanwhile it may not be out of order to look into the financial affairs of the chief company involved in the controversy, since the principles at stake are of nation-wide application and crop up in other industrial conflicts. The facts and figures which follow are taken from the reports of the Standard Statistics Company. The Botany Consolidated Mills was incorporated on March 21, 1924, under the laws of Delaware. Its function is mainly that of a holding company. It has acquired 90 per cent of the stock of the Botany Worsted Mills in Passaic, the assets and business of the Garfield Worsted Mills in Garfield, New Jersey, and large interests in two German textile groups, Kammgarnspinerei Stohr and Company and the Elberfelder Textilwerke, concentrollin gsome thirty affiliated companies in Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Latvia, and Holland. The foreign companies are engaged in spinning and weaving woolen fabrics, ribbons, tapes and laces. They employ, all told, about 11,000 workers. The New Jersey companies constitute complete units for the manufacture of dress goods, cloakings, and worsted yarns.
When the holding company—christened the Botany Consolidated Mills—was organized, it proceeded to issue $10,000,000 of 6 ½ per cent bonds. The bonds were sold by Blair & Company at 98 ½, and with the proceeds, the holding company bought the assets and business of the Garfield Mills and part of the stock of the Botany Mills. The holding company also issued 100,000 shares of "Class A” 8 per cent participating preferred stock, with a par value of $50 a share, and 479,000 shares of common stock without par value. The Class A stock was sold Blair & Company at 46 ½ to 48 per share; the proceeds were used to obtain an interest in the two German groups and also to make additional payments for the stock of the Botany Worsted Mills. Of the common stock, 461,187 shares were given in final payment for the Botany Worsted Mills stock, and 18,000 shares to hold options in the foreign companies. Thus a total of 479,187 common has been issued.
From the facts as given it would appear that the 1924 merger was initiated by the stockholders of the Botany Worsted Mills—probably the few large holders, as there seems to be a certain “minority interest” to reckon with. These majority holders, one suspects, organized the holding company, putting up their stock as security during the preliminary financing—apparently about 34,000 shares of the old Botany Mills issue. The financing brought them roughly, $15,000,000 in cash—$10,000,000 from the bond issue and $5,000,000 from the sale of Class A stock. With this cash they purchased the Garfield Mills, lock, stock, and barrel, for a sum as yet unknown, loaned some $4,000,000 to foreign companies and secured an option for their control, and paid an unknown, but substantial balance to themselves for the surrender of their old stock to the new company, In addition, they distributed practically all of the common stock in the new company to themselves. Thus, while they went into the deal with 34,000 shares, or thereabouts of Botany Worsted Mills, they came out with a new operating company purchased outright (Garfield), important foreign holdings in thirty operating companies, a few million in cash in pocket, and 479,000 new shares in the holding company. If this deduction is sound, it would appear that the 1924 merger was the familiar story of a shrewd reorganization whereby the accumulated surplus of a profitable company (in this case the Botany Worsted Mills) is made the subject of the cutting of a large melon in cash, accompanied by a tremendous inflation in the number of shares of common stock to a no-par basis. Thus, the ratio of return on common can no longer be referred to a definite par basis, and any possible criticism for a high index of profitableness is avoided. Meanwhile, the outside investing public furnishes the cash for the reorganization, including the purchasing of new and valuable physical assets, by buying bonds and Class A stock, while the insiders kept the control and the bulk of whatever profits may be forthcoming.
The profits of the Botany Worsted Mills averaged $3,160,212 per year for the seven years ended December 31, 1923. On the basis of the 34,000 shares of stock outstanding in the old company, this would mean an average per year of $93 per share. If the shares were $100 per, the rate of earnings would be no less than 93 per cent, small wonder that the shareholders desired to transfer their stock into a form which invited less criticism. Five or six dollars a share on 470,000 no-par certificates has a better appearance than 93 per cent on 34,000 shares of $100 par—though the total in cash received is identical.
The profits of the holding company since the merger are reported as follows:
1924 1925 (five months June 1,)
Net income $1,781,298 $433,507
Minority interest claim $281,988
Dividends paid $200,000
Balance to surplus $1,499,310 $233,507
Earnings per share
Class A stock $6.43 $2.12
Common stock $2.43 $0.46
The last reported balance sheet of the holding company, June 1, 1925, shows tangible assets of $51,766,000, and a net worth or stockholders equity of $28,809,000. Current assets are $27,000,000, while current liabilities are only $12,000,000—an excess of over two for one. Meanwhile surplus, or the total value of the no-par common stock is no less than $23, 809,000—or about $40 a share.
When the strikers go into conference with their employers, they should bear these facts in mind as contrasted with the low wages of the workers. The workers should demand that the finances of their employers be fully revealed in any discussion of wages.
How the Horses Organized
Early every morning till late at night the poor horse had to work. He worked so hard and his master gave him little to eat. The harder he worked the less he got. The horse was so tired and hungry he could hardly walk, but his master whipped him just the same. The horse could not stand being worked so hard and getting nothing so he refused to work.
The next morning his master came and harnessed him but the horse refused to go. The master whipped him so hard that his bones ached. The horse said to himself, “This is no good. I’m just getting whipped all the more.” He was walking slowly and thinking. At last he got the idea into his head. I know I’ll do: “I’ll talk to the other horses and see if they have to work as I do.”
So when his master stopped at a house, the horse saw another horse across the street. He talked with him and he said he had as hard a time as his fellow worker. He said: “I’ll help you organize and we’ll all come together refuse to
work until they give us food.” So the two horses go to work and organize and soon got food.
The horses got what they wanted because they organized, fought together—so why can’t we organize and get what we want?
A Soup Kitchen for the Striker’s Children
By Mary Heaton Vorse
As a big Polish woman put down a steaming bowl of soup before him, he looked up at her and asked breathlessly,
"M’am are we going to have milk?” "Yes, Sonny, she said, “do you like it?” “I never tasted it,” he said. "We never had any at home. I always wanted a taste of milk.”
He was perhaps eight. He was little and undersized. His meager features jutted out from his thin face and his ears were waxen, there seemed to be no blood in them. He had that look of awful wisdom and sorrow of children whose lives have been spent face to face in poverty.
The big Polish woman turned away. "God,” she said, “these kids make me cry. I tell you I cried all yesterday about these kids. First I cried, then I got mad and I won’t ever stop being mad. Look at them.” There they were, 50 or 75 of them eating their soup. Here are the results of the figures that are printed of the low wage scale. Here sit the children whose parents make under twenty dollars a week. Here in terms of lives of children is told the story of Passaic. Great mills, covering hundreds of acres, high ramparts, walls like prison walls, chimneys belching smoke, a huge capitalization. All these immense holdings at the cost of the lives of children. If you wish to light a fire of anger within you that will never go out, go and look at the children at 25 Dayton Avenue where the United Council of Working Class Housewives started the first of their soup kitchens
300 children come there every day to be fed. Most of them are an indictment of our civilization and a condemnation of the mills of Passaic. Here in prosperous America come children who look like the children did in blockaded Vienna in 1919. Here are the children who eat bread and drink black coffee for their principle diet, not now in strike time, but always.
Ask them and find out. Ask John Mureo how many under working age and what they get to eat. Ask him how old he is. He looks eight. He is eleven. He has the look of the permanently underfed. His little chest is narrow and he catches cold easily. He is eleven. In three more years he can go to work in the mills. When he looks at you with his blue eyes, that have such a questioning gaze as though he were always saying “Why did you do this to me.” You feel that you are looking in the eyes of the condemned.
What chance has John Mureo? He has been starved all his life. He never will get a chance to grow stout muscles. He will never have red cheeks. Pretty soon the mill doors will be open and he will be sucked in and when he has paid his life into the mills, he will die as so many others do during the year so there will be more dividends and the mills can grow and grow at the cost of hundreds of John Mureos.
When you see them one by one in their own homes you do not realize it quite so much. Go to Dayton Avenue and let the children tell you what is being done to the workers of Passaic. You do not have to ask questions. Watch the line of children to be fed. Watch the line of 50 or 75 children eating their mashed potatoes, bread and butter and fruit. A great feast it seems to them.
Anna Janeks you sit there so quiet, eating your piece of bread and butter. Your face is pale. Your melancholy dark eyes have shadows under them. Your little hands are like claws and your legs are like sticks. What was it cramped your chest and drained the blood from your cheeks?
Hunger, never having enough of anything. Your father worked all day and your mother worked all night, but between them they couldn’t give you enough for a chance to live, what between births and funerals.
You had to starve so the mills could grow big. The blood and bones of children like you went into the building of the great mills of Passaic. Anna Janeks and John Mureo, your suffering has not been in vain. Everyone who looks at you will feel fury that your lives and the lives of hundreds of other children have gone into making the rich mills richer. The workers of America have looked at your little dwarf bodies. They know that the mills have killed brothers and sisters of yours as surely as if they had taken a knife and plunged it into their throats. Anna Janeks and John Mureo sitting in Dayton Avenue, eating a piece of bread and a bowel of soup, you and hundreds of children who come here charge the mill owners of Passaic with murder.
Before the strike no one heard of you, but all the workers in America from the Atlantic to the Pacific are listening to you now. The workers throughout the country know that the mills have grown rich at the price of human lives.
Flower Day Blossomed Like Rose In Lawrence Relief
Passaic and Boston Girls Join in Collecting For Brave New Jersey Strikers
By Fred E. Beal
Lawrence held a Flower Day for the relief of the Passaic strikers today. Thousands of beautiful artificial roses were sold to the textile workers, who have been on short time with very low wages. Many collectors came from Boston and Maynard. The Boston girls were full of pep and showed by their method that they were experienced Union workers. Five of the Passaic strikers also collected—Anna Malick winning the highest honors with the total of over $51.00.
In the evening five girls with Mother Bloor made a tour of the English, German and Franco-Belgian clubs in the city where workers are in the habit of hanging around. The girls from Passaic were cheered and encouraged to continue their strike until victory was assured. The workers in the clubs told the Passaic strikers that Lawrence was with them and though they got little money themselves, they would contribute what little they could.
Mother Bloor held a largely attended meeting on the corner of Broadway and Common street in the afternoon and hundreds of Textile Strike Bulletins were given out. The evening meeting had to be called off on account of the rain.
All Lawrence now knows that the brave strikers of Passaic are still fighting hard—that it is their battle and only with the moral and financial support of all workers will they win. The Lawrence-Passaic Relief Committee is now planning to run a moving picture show and dance at the Winter Garden theater on Saturday May, 1st. Tickets are now ready and for sale at United Front Committee headquarters, 184 Broadway.
Police Watch Mother Bloor
Mother Bloor is now past sixty. Is grandmother besides being mother to six children and also “mother” of some fifteen to thirty million workers in this country and a considerable portion of the working class of the whole world.
Now she is in Lawrence, Massachusetts, helping the wage slaves there to get a little better chance in life. She has a habit of fighting for the rights of the workers and their children.
So the police are watching her, says the press of the bosses. She must be dangerous. It must be a bad plot she is hatching when she gets up on a street corner and tells the workers to organize into a powerful union for their own protection.
The Boston papers feel it should come into Lawrence as outside agitators and help the bosses squeeze profits out of the mill workers. So these papers warn the people that “the police are watching Mother Bloor.”
We hope all the workers will also watch her and get every word she utters. If she is dangerous to the mill bosses she is sure to be very helpful to the workers.
Watch her words. Listen to what she says. It will do you good. Don’t let the police get all the benefit. They are not so quick to learn as the workers. We know they will get an ear full, but we do not think they will know what to do with it.
Working Conditions Are Rotten in Mills
A report has just been issued by the Workers Health Bureau that shows the conditions in the Passaic mills.
Among other things the report points out that death from tuberculosis is 6 per cent higher in Passaic than the rest of New Jersey.
Tuberculosis among the textile workers are: 22 per cent among males and 35.8 per cent for females as against an average of 14.8 for general population.
Death among children is 52 per cent higher in Passaic than in the entire state of New Jersey.
To go back to the mills without winning this strike is to go back to the death house.
Full report in next issue of the Bulletin.
A Pound of Bread and a Pound of Poison
The much heralded relief store of the American Legion opened last Thursday in Passaic. Of the many strikers who came to satisfy either curiosity or hunger, few actually received relief.
But those who came with eyes open were enlightened as to the true nature of this store. Under the guise of relief a strikebreaking agency is opened here. An attempt is made by this means to spread the dastardly propaganda of the mill bosses. While with one hand the Legionaries hold out a pound of bread to the strikers, with the other they deal them out a pound of poison.
At the headquarters of the United Front Committee relief is given upon one condition only: that the applicant is in need of help. This fact is verified by the investigation committee which visits the homes of the applicants to check on the figures given by them as to the number of dependents, wages, amount of rent paid, etc. When the relief card is issued, the striker is strongly urged to go out upon the picket line in order to help win the strike.
At the American Legion store, what conditions are made for receiving relief? The first one is that the applicant must present a recommendation from his priest. One priest of the town who has been favorable to the strike has refused to give such recommendations. Are we to suppose that the legionaries naively wish by this means to keep away the atheists which they claim the strike leaders are creating, or are they rather relying upon the clergy to support them in the other base conditions which they impose upon the strikers?
The second condition is that the striker must promise not to go upon the picket line. Renounce the strongest weapon he has to win his fight; refuse to support the firm, unweakening, invincible, picket line which through all these weeks has been a menacing fist thrust constantly into the face of the bosses, is there any worker now so ignorant or so yellow as to comply with this? The workers can plainly see that the organization which proposes this is an enemy.
Next the striker must swear that he opposes the United Front Committee and wants Organizer Weisbord driven out of town. Does not the American Legion realize that the workers have already been educated upon this matter? Their petty attacks are coming to late. Not for nothing have the workers attended the daily mass meetings of the United Front Committee. Not for nothing have they listened to the daily lessons of their organizer and of the stream of speakers flowing constantly from all the trade unions of New York. They know now the benefits of organization; they know that the United Front Committee which came in to organize them where others had feared or neglected is their greatest friend. They will battle to the death for their union, and they know too, that their organizer is their most valuable leader.
The last condition for obtaining relief from the American Legion store is to go back to work. This is old stuff. The workers learned weeks ago that this is the bosses proposal. They know that once back at their machines without an agreement and without a recognized union they are in the bosses hands. Are they going to throw away the efforts of all these long weeks, these weeks of getting up at 5 in the morning in the bitter cold and go on the picket line, of day after day sitting in meetings, of running about on committees, of all the tireless work of the strike? Are they going to go back beaten to the dog’s life they had before, with no hope of betterment?
No, the mill workers will not fall for this scab propaganda of the American Legion. They are too wise to swallow this dose of poison. This relief store merely shows them plainly what the American Legion is, a tool of the bosses spreading the bosses propaganda, a strike-breaking agency. Relief will be given to very few strikers in this store.
The great mass of the strikers will continue to flock, as before, to the relief organization of the United Front Committee. The General Relief Committee which is supported by thousands of dollars which roll in daily in undiminished volume from individuals, labor unions and organizations in all parts of this country.
Strong in the support of labor and in their own organization, the strikers will carry on. Like a pebble thrown against a wall are such attempts as this one of the bosses to break our strike.
Reply To American Federation of Labor
By Albert Weisbord
The United Front Committee of Textile Workers of Passaic, N. J., and vicinity, is in receipt of a letter from the Executive Council of the American Federation of Labor.
It is deeply to be regretted that the Executive Council has failed to meet the real issues presented to it. In the letter sent to the Executive Council there was pointed out the disastrous disunity that exists among the workers in the textile industry. It has been this disastrous disunity which has played directly into the hands of the employers, and which all honest working men and women desire to end as soon as possible.
The United Front Committee of Textile Workers does not wish to make worse this disunity. It wishes to form a united front with all organizations that desire to fight in the interests of the workers, the bosses campaign of wage cuts, speeding up, and longer hours which the mill owners have launched. We believe that the textile workers have been abandoned long enough. We are glad to note that the Executive Council of the Federation of Labor has admitted that the reduction of wages which has been forced upon the workers in the textile industry is unjust, unfair, and unwarranted. We wish to remind the Executive Council that the strike in Passaic is a strike against just such reductions in wages, which are unjust, unfair, and unwarranted, and we feel that it is for this reason that the strike has received the fullest support from all sections of organized labor in this country. We believe that now is the time for organizing the unskilled workers and for forming one union in the textile industry.
We regret that the Executive Council of the American Federation of Labor has not taken cognizance of the move among the various textile unions in this country for unity. The Federated Textile Unions, a group of five unions, has already called an amalgamation conference for the near future to which are invited all of the textile unions throughout the country including the United Textile Workers, the American Federation of Labor organization, and which the United Front Committee of Textile Workers will attend.
Vol. 1 No. 8 Passaic N. J. Monday, April 12, 1926
Julius and his Company Union
There is a company union in the Forstmann-Huffman mills. This union is made up of the bosses and a few of the suckers.
In order to fool the workers, Julius Forstmann tells the strikers that all his workers want to go back and that they are crying for him to open his mills.
This is not the truth.
The truth is that Julius is very anxious to break the strike and he thinks that by making an announcement like that he will be able to fool the strikers.
He gets the papers to print his stuff and the papers that are the tool of the bosses are playing up the story of the fake union in the Forstmann-Huffman mills as if it represented the workers. They make it look so nice and innocent. They try and make out that all the workers want to go back. That they are meekly asking Julius to open the mills and let them have the privilege of slaving for him at the old wage and under the same rotten conditions.
There is no such demand by the workers. No striker has asked to be taken back till the strike is settled and settled right. The workers have had enough of the Forstmann-Huffman Company fake union. What they want now is a union of their own.
The workers have learned during this strike that the bosses have no use for a union of the workers. The fake company union is for the good of the bosses but not for the good of the workers.
Do not let Julius and his spy union bother you. It means nothing to you and will not help you. Julius likes Julius too much for that.
Stand firm! No scabs will enter the Forstmann-Huffman mills.
The [workers] in the great woolen mills have come out on strike. They surprised the bosses who thought they had these people like dogs under their feet. They came out and fought against the conditions in the mills which a human being could no longer stand. They came out and fought for more money to keep their children and themselves alive. And in the town of Lodi, which is one of the towns close to Passaic, the slaves in the great mills of the United Piece Dye Works saw this strike. They also were textile workers. They dyed the silk and finished it after their fellow workers in other mills had woven it. And these dye workers were struggling against conditions that were worse, if such a thing is possible, than the conditions in the woolen mills.
They came out on strike also, to the surprise of their own bosses, here too, thought they had their slaves like dogs under their feet. They came out and joined hands with their fellow workers in the woolen mills. The joined the United Front Committee and are fighting like devils to win. They fight like devils because they have been through hell in their mill and they are determined they will not go back to those conditions.
In the dye factory at Lodi, people have to work breathing steam in some departments every hour of the day. They have to work in places so hot that it is like—well, you know the hottest place there is. Hell hasn’t got anything on the dye room, and the steam room at Lodi. And again there are other rooms that must always be kept cold, so cold that the workers there always have colds in their chests. They call that place the “Ice Box.” Then there is a place called the “Gray Room” where they wash cloth. Vats full of boiling water and chemicals; a room full of steam and water dripping from the ceiling because of the steam. A room so full of steam that you can’t see a certain machine they have there called the drying machine which is whizzing around at the rate of 200 revolutions a second, and you are likely to run into this machine and get killed. Then there are the rooms where they dye the silk, where the workers have to breathe in the fumes of the chemicals and handle the chemicals. The workers from Lodi can show you the burns they receive as bonuses for their work in these rooms.
Dye Bosses Take Out Insurance
The United Piece Dye Works bosses in Lodi see spooks. They are afraid of their own shadow. They think the workers might hurt their kettles and board fences and buildings.
Hence they [hike] themselves off to an insurance company that insures them against loss of property, in case of riot.
If some company could be found that would hold the sheriff and the officials and the bosses themselves in check, there would be no need in taking out such a policy.
No rioting has taken place by the strikers in Passaic or Garfield or Clifton. Only the police and the bosses have rioted. If they were given about six months in the workhouse while the strike lasts, there would be no need of riot insurance.
We suggest that the bosses in Lodi be locked up during the strike, and then there will be no rioting.
Interrupts the Speaker
"You men and women in the Lodi Dye Works are not making too much,” said the speaker. “You are getting only $12 to $18 a week now, ---”
"Eight, nine, eleven dollars,” broke in a voice.
"Now, look here, brother,” asked the speaker, “do you tell me that men and women have been working for eight, nine and eleven dollars a week?” This is not April fool—that was yesterday.”
"I mean it. It is the truth,” persisted the interrupter.
"Let me hear from you, all of you in the audience, is this man telling the truth?”
"Yes,” cried the whole mass of two thousand workers. “It is a fact. That is what we have been getting,” they roared.
"Yes, the highest we are getting is $18 a week, you ask them,” challenged the steady, keen-eyed worker.
"When they knock you down with that kind of a club you have to hit back with a strike,” continued the speaker. "The thing for you to do is to organize and force the bosses to quit handing you such inhuman starvation doles.”
"You bet,” came the voice again. "We will have all the 4,000 now out on strike organized before we go back.”
The Lodi workers mean it. So that is that.
The Hard Boiled Kids Picket Chief Zober
By Mary Heaton Vorse
He certainly wasn’t over four feet high as he strolled along beside me swinging his shoulders with an independent air of a kid who has had to look after himself most of his life. A policeman came down the street toward us. He said scornfully, “When I was little I wanted to be a policeman, but now—” And then he let out a shrill taunting yell, “Cossack! Cossack! Cossack!” Then he disappeared. Other voices took the cry up and a band of kids came rushing down the street. They taunted the officer with “Cossack!” Later the kid joined me again. He seemed always to be springing up from everywhere and I saw him sitting on the edge of the platform at the strike meeting, his legs dangling down, reading the Bulletin. He was no angel. He was a hard boiled-kid.
Sometimes I’d see him at a big open-air meeting, listening to Organizer Weisbord, drinking in everything he said, not noticing anything around him. We got to talking quite a while before the day that I first heard him hollering “Cossack!”
There had been many kids always around, running in and out of strike headquarters, hanging around the halls, playing at picketing up and down the street. The kids were insolution in the crowd. Now suddenly something strange happened. All of a sudden the kids organized. They seemed all of a sudden to form a kids union of their own. Now the hard-boiled kid wasn’t alone yelling “Cossack!” There was a whole picket line of kids—hundreds of kids—yelling “Cossack!” There had often been a few kids on the picket line. Now there were hundreds. Their shrill voices cut through the air as they jeered the police. The police had beaten their fathers and mothers. They had arrested their brothers and sisters and the union kids were here to show them what they thought about it. The police charged down upon the kids and the crowd broke and ran. Then I saw the tough-faced kid in a little space. His face was white but it was a mad hornet kind of white. Fury was what was in his face and he grabbed a rock and threw it at Chief Zober’s car. That night he got a crowd together and they went down and picketed Zober’s house. Zober came out in a fury. He told them to get out. He told them what he would do to them if he caught them. They scatter in all directions and disappear like mice. Then all of a sudden they form into a picket line again and walk past his house, chanting. What’s he going to do? He can’t arrest all the kids in Passaic. And when they see the way he takes it, they keep it up. It’s a grand new game. The police had been a very educational thing to the children in Passaic. In unionism for instance. The last time I saw the hard-boiled kid, he called out: “Say, we Union Kid’s go to [parade] Saturday!”
To All Textile Workers of Passaic and Vicinity
Dear Fellow workers:
Conditions in the textile industry have become intolerable. The speeding and doubling up systems that the bosses have put into effect have thrown thousands of workers into the streets. Wages are so low that homes have to be locked up through the day while the family works—or walks the streets looking for work. After a survey the government reports that $50.00 is the minimum wage for a family of three to live decently upon and $35.00 for a single person. Many Lawrence workers would drop dead if on some pay day when they greet the paymaster they should discover a neat crisp $50.00 bill inside the envelope. Workers in the textile industry everywhere are waking up to the fact that they are human beings and must LIVE like human beings. Passaic is fully awake and in the face of gas bombs and clubs used by the police are standing shoulder to shoulder, men, women and children in their battle for better conditions, more wages and recognition of the Union.
Strike talk has been in the air in Lawrence for the past week. The bosses are aware of this and have prevented the Lawrence United Front Committee from holding its usual mill gate meetings. But the bosses make your bad condition in the mills and cut our wages, not the United Front Committee. When the police interfere for the mill men and try and prevent us from telling you the truth about Passaic it will not increase your wages, stop old men from getting fired because of their age and solve the unemployment. The United Front Committee tells you that the only remedy is to ORGANIZE—that organization is insurance against a strike. We know that a strike is coming again in Lawrence because your conditions are just intolerable, but we appeal to you fellow-workers not to go out Unorganized. Join your shop unit. The United Front Committee has the machinery and won’t let a striker starve. If strike—strike in an ORGANIZED MANNER.
Yours for the United Front.
Fred E. Beal.
Conditions at Arlington Mills Intolerable
We workers in the shop read the Bulletin each week. It is the most interesting paper for the workers we have ever read. It tells the truth about the rotten conditions in the textile industry. All Lawrence workers should support it. Conditions at the Arlington Mills are very bad and we workers can’t stand it much longer. We are doubled and speeded up so much that we are all tired out at night when our work is finished. Five years ago one man was running a dolly (washer). Today one man is doing seven men’s work for only $19.68 a week. Two years ago the workers in the Crab room were earning as high as $65.00 to $70.00 a week; Now we have to work hard for $24.00 to $25.00 a week.
In the Singe room where they did have 22 men, they now have 4 men doing the same amount of work. They work five days for $17.94.
In the Filling room where they used to do 3 rounds a day 3 years ago, they now are doing 8 rounds for $17.94 in five days work.
In the Tacking room where they used to tack 35 pieces a day, they are now tacking from 70 to 80 pieces for $17.94 a week for five days.
On top of all this we are put on short time and we are lucky to earn $15.00 a week.
We are organizing and if conditions don’t change very soon the only thing us Arlington mill workers will be to join Passaic.
From Arlington Mill worker.
Judge Davidson Refuses to Accept Warrants for Rioting Police
Bosses Have Courts Sewed Up Tight and Are Free to Violate Law As They Please
Civil rights are now abolished in Passaic! What amounts to the final proof was given on Monday when the Passaic police court officials refused to issue warrants for the arrest for Zober and twelve policemen on charges of atrocious assault merely because the complainants were strikers!
Fifteen complainants were attorneys from the Civil Liberties Union, went to the police court to keep their appointment with George M. Rice, clerk of the court, who had said he was "too busy” to issue warrants on them on Saturday, but would meet them on Monday. Abram Saks, of Paterson, as local attorney, was called into the private office of the clerk where he met Police Judge William Davidson, the clerk, and Chief of Police Richard O. Zober. Davidson did the talking.
"I will not accept any complaints in this court from any of the complainants who are involved in the strike,” he said.
"Here are two complaints sworn by people who are not strikers. Will you accept their complaints?” asked Mr. Saks.
"I will not accept any complaints in this court against any member of the police department or any special policeman as long as the matter under complaint is anything that the police did was in the performance of their duties,” said Judge Davidson.
The refusal of Judge Davidson to allow warrants to be issued will not prevent the American Civil Liberties Union from taking further action on the hundred or more cases of clear violation of civil rights in Passaic that have been investigated by their attorneys. Other legal measures will be used according to the attorneys for the Civil Liberties Union.
"Picket on the Picket Line”
As the strike went into its eleventh week, activity on the picket lines increased. How the clubs of the cops flew after they had covered up their numbers on their badges! How the bosses shuddered when they saw the workers return with a bigger, firmer line after each attack! And why shouldn’t they shudder? They know full well that you can’t trick the strikers now,—the strikers who consider every scar a badge of honor, who sing all day in jail, who lead the line in bandages after they have brutally attacked by those servants of bosses, the rioting Passaic police.
Nearly every leader was arrested during the week, and those most familiar to the police got the heaviest sentences, the usual sort of “justice” for strikers in the Passaic court. Jack Rubenstein was given a sentence of six months on the charge of disorderly conduct. Nancy Sandowsky, Sam Lachuk, Theresa Standiger, Andrew Boukowsky, were awarded thirty days each for making themselves prominent on the line.
Joe Beokosewitz fared the worst of all. He was arrested on Thursday, the day before his wife and five small children were to be put out of their home because they couldn’t pay the rent. He didn’t mind being arrested. He didn’t mind being evicted—that was part of the fight. But he did mind the way the judge replied to the lawyer’s plea that he should be permitted to help his family move. “This is a very pathetic case, a very sad case. I am very sorry for the little children and the mother. Ninety days.”
Others were arrested on the picket line. Lena Chernenko is still waiting trial. Mike Elasik and Anna Fischer and Frances Janecke and Stephen Gede were all arrested. Louis Teth, Tony Anarcon, Eva Misko, Louise Buccino, Tom Regan, and Frank Huber—they were all arrested and so were many others.
The Lodi picket lines were stronger than ever before. John Di Santo, and Frank Kelly and Feliz Panerisi have been heading rousing lines. More and more women have appeared on the Lodi picket lines. Vincent Ali, Philip Russo, Jack Caltarella, and Mary Goil were some of those who suffered arrest on the picket lines. The police there threaten to carry their clubs again.
Workers! The bosses are threatening us in every way. The renewed, uncalled for attack by the police means that they are desperate. The mass arrests and the brutal treatment ordered by the bosses means that they are making a hopeless last attempt to break the strike.
The bosses have ordered that no more mass picketing be allowed. They have no right to give such orders to the workers. The workers have a right to peaceful mass picketing They will continue the mass picketing in spite of the order given by the bosses.
The bosses are trying to fool the workers by telling them that the mills will open. The mills have been open all the time, but the workers have not entered them to start work. Only a few scabs have entered the mills. The bosses cannot run the mills without scabs.
Julius Forstmann is trying to scare the workers by announcing that his mills will open soon. He tells you that his union wants the mills to open. His company union is made up of the bosses and the suckers. The real workers do not belong to this company union. The suckers belong to it.
These suckers are compelled by the bosses to vote that the Forstmann-Huffman mills be opened. No workers have asked or voted for this.
The daily papers in Passaic are helping the suckers to fool the workers. These sucker papers are with the bosses. They want you to lose the strike. They want you to go back like whipped [dogs]. You will remember these sheets as soon as the strike is over and not read them. You will remember that these sucker papers stand with the company like the company union, and that they want you back into slavery.
Our answer to the bosses will be a stronger picket line. We will answer them with a stronger union of the workers. We will tell them that we do not need their sucker union, for we have a union of our own.
Now we must stand firm. Now is the time to show all the workers in this country that we are standing solid. Our ranks are stronger. Our union is bigger and more powerful. Our determination is unbreakable. With every attempt of the bosses to break the strike we get more determined that it shall not be broken.
We are writing victory on our banner. We are singing more lustily than ever. We are waging a battle for our rights. Our ranks are more solid. They are bigger. They will be doubled when the children come out on strike with us.
This is our answer to the bosses and their suckers. Stand firm! Tighten up the ranks! Fight on! Fight on to Victory!
Has Any One Contempt for This Court
Statement of Abram Waks March 29, 1926.
When the complainants together with their attorneys Abram Waks, of Paterson and Charles M. Joseph of New York, arrived at the Passaic police station, according to the appointments made with the clerk of the police court, George M. Rice, they were directed into the court room, and were asked to wait until the clerk was ready to receive the complaints. After a short delay, Mr. Waks was invited into the private room of the clerk and there was met by Judge Davidson, Chief Zober, and the clerk. Judge Davidson then stated to Mr. Waks that he was surprised that a reputable attorney of the State of New Jersey should give his services in making complaints against the police department.
Mr. Waks replied that these complaints were not against the police department as such but against individual members of the department who had violently and viciously assaulted and clubbed the complainants, some of whom were not in any way connected with the strike. The Judge then asked for the names of the complainants making remarks as to the activity of some of them on the picket line. He refused to accept any complaints in his court from any of the complainants who were involved in the strike. When asked by the attorney for the complainants whether he would accept complaints from those who were not involved in the strike, he further stated that no complaints would be received in his court against any member of the police department as long as the matter under complaint was anything that the police did while in the performance of their duties.
He stated further that he could not see how any rights of the complainants were violated, in view of the fact that the new Simpson act for the regulation of strike picketing made it unlawful for the complainants to be on the streets en mass. When informed by attorney for complainants that the Simpson act, if approved and passed was not yet in effect, he made no comment.
Health Bureau Gives Figures
The members of the Workers Health Bureau were here investigating conditions at the same moment when Senator Edwards made his famous “investigation". They were not interested in pleasing the bosses but in finding out facts and analyzing some of the terrible conditions under which the mill workers live. People in Passaic die like flies. They die from diseases that are preventable because the bosses won’t spend the money. Here are some of the things that the Health Bureau has to say in contradiction to the Andrew McBride who told Senator Edwards that the mills were such health resorts that hundreds of people spend the summer in them to breath the nice pure mill air.
"In the dye section of the textile industry which employs about 11,000 workers in Paterson and Lodi alone, workers are exposed to terrific heat, excessive moisture and steam and to powerfully poisonous chemicals and dyes that undermine the vitality and strength of the workers and call for immediate and drastic regulation. On top of these hazards it should be borne in mind that workers are compelled to labor sixty to seventy hours a week in order to earn from $22.00 to $27.00, an amount on which no family can maintain itself. The inevitable result is not only disease and premature death but the exploitation of child labor in order to supplement the meager earnings of the mothers and fathers. To disregard the basic connection between economic conditions and health is to ignore the very foundation of the problem.”
"Conditions in the textile and textile dying industry of this country call for thorough investigation into trade hazards, hours, wages and child labor and demand the formulation of specific and clearly defined safeguards which will guarantee health protection to the workers. The elimination of poisons, exhaust ventilation to remove dust, fumes, steam, the guarding of all dangerous machinery, the provision of all necessary sanitary facilities and the establishment of union standards of wages, hours and working conditions are imperative. For the benefit of the exploited workers now on strike in the Passaic textile mills, the Workers Health Bureau, a national trade union health agency, has undertaken an exhaustive study into existing working conditions in order to define a standard of health protection for the industry.”
We Reply to the Bosses
The strikers have stiffened up. The bosses have resorted to their weapon of brutality and intimidation. The strikers have resorted to their big weapon of constantly bigger picket lines.
When the bosses agencies have asked for a strike settlement, the strikers have always been ready. We have invited the bosses themselves to come and meet the Committee of Workers and talk matters over.
We have always been ready to negotiate and to settle the strike. We are ready now, and will be ready at all times.
But the bosses have refused to meet us. Their only word has been that the workers go back to work first and then the bosses will talk things over.
This is sheer cowardice and hypocrisy. It is not evidence of good faith on the part of the bosses.
Now since the bosses cannot break the strike by fooling the workers or starving them back, they are resume their terrorism and their lies and their underhanded methods. Now they go the limit in brutality. They have ordered their cossacks to beat down in bloody assaults men and women, young and old. They have piled up the list of arrests with bail that runs into the thousands of dollars. They have come out like desperate beasts that are bent upon big killings. It is a sordid story of tyrants and of oppression and of wrongs against helpless workers who would be like cattle in the slaughterhouse if it were not for their determination to organize and get ready to protect themselves against such beastly attacks.
While the strikers are always ready to settle if the bosses grant their demands, the strikers more determined than ever to fight to the finish for their rights. They have sized up the situation and know that the bosses can put up a fierce array of brutal cohorts to beat down the workers.
But they have also counted the host of workers and the resources of the whole working class of this country. They have even become aware of a fact that the working class of the whole world is watching Passaic and will stand by the workers in Passaic.
Therefore the strikers are meeting the bosses with firmness, always ready settle if the bosses will settle-right, but also ready to fight to the last ditch if the bosses continue their present tactics.
Vol. 1 No. 9 Passaic N. J. Wednesday April 21, 1926
12,000 Cheer Weisbord at First Meeting Since His Liberation
Wallington Is Scene of Tremendous Demonstration When Huge Mass Shows Spirit Of Solidarity
Albert Weisbord is free. He came to his friends, his fellow workers to speak to them as he has spoken every day for twelve long weeks of the strike.
A vast throng had gathered on Monday to greet him. Carried on the shoulders of strong men, he was brought through the packed mass of strikers to the platform. There was cheering and shouting as the great gathering saw their leader who had been taken from them and held in prison for a whole week.
Baskets of flowers and bundles of roses came to the platform. Hands went up. Hats were thrown into the air. Handkerchiefs waved. Twelve thousand men and women, boys and girls and children joined in the mighty welcome. The shouting and cheering lasted and lasted. Wave after wave of cheering and shouting rolled on.
It was a great demonstration. It was a fine welcome to a man who has given his all in the fight for the workers in Passaic and the rest of the strike area. The workers were solid after a week’s absence of their leader. They had not gone back to work. Their ranks were more solid than they had ever been since the beginning of the strike.
Weisbord was freed on bail on Saturday. He had been held in the Passaic county jail in Paterson for a week, and released from there on Saturday on $35,000 bail, but immediately re-arrested by the Garfield police and brought before Recorder Baker, who also held him under $25,000 bail. Baker [then] promised that the bail would be only $15,000 and the American Civil Liberties Union was there to furnish this amount. But when Baker found that out he raised the bail to $25,000, which he thought would be beyond securing. A man of means came forth to offer the remaining $10,000, but Baker would not [stand] by his word and said he did not care for the right or wrong in this case, but refused to let Weisbord out even though the full amount of bail was ready.
On Sunday the attorneys for Weisbord made another attempt to get him out. They appealed to Judge Soufert and he [reduced] the bail from Bakers $25,000 to the smaller sum of $5,000, which was some come-down for both bail and Baker. This was furnished Sunday morning and Weisbord was once more outside the bars.
At the meeting in Wallington which took place on the lots offered by the mayor when he had heard that Passaic and Garfield had driven the strikers out by riot acts and police clubs, Weisbord told the strikers that he was glad to be among them again and find them ten times stronger than before. He advised them to carry on in the peaceable manner that they had always done and win the strike and build solid union.
The boast by the bosses that the mills would open fell on deaf ears. No strikers went back. They came to the meeting to see and hear their leader. Pickets watched the gates but there was nothing to do as the scabs had quit cold and [feared] the strikers.
The screaming headlines flashed through the strike zone at one o’clock Saturday afternoon. It was like the yell of the bosses thirsting for the life of the leader who had held the strikers adamant against them. The air was electric in the mass meeting in Belmont Park. It was the last meeting before Weisbord’s arrest. Every one knew that. But there was no fear. Weisbord came. He was swept from his feet. While the crowd shouted with wild enthusiasm, he was carried to the platform on the shoulders of the strikers.
"Stand firm. Carry on the strike as before. Hold the fort while I am gone.” These were his parting words. And the workers saw their beloved leader depart.
The automobile took Weisbord at once back to strike headquarters. There, tense with determination, his galvanic will unimpaired, his mind clear, electric as ever, he dictated a last statement to the press.
"Understanding how the bosses manipulate the law and the police for their own purposes, the workers will know that this reign of terror is a sign of weakness in the mill owners……. This is the last desperate move of the bosses to break the strike…..” “While I am gone the work will be conducted with as great a vigor and efficiency as before.”
No sooner had Weisbord given out his last message of solidarity and strength than the expected move came. The door opened. Seven great hulking detectives strode into the room.
"You’re wanted at police headquarters,” said officer Potosnak, yanking Weisbord by the arm.
Another one of these sweet specimens of humanity grabbed the organizers hat and slammed it on his head.
"Come on now,” said a third, as he gave Weisbord a shove.
Never for a moment did the leader lose his self-possession. He smiled slightly. The burly dicks hustled him out of the room, prodded him down the stairs. The workers in the office stood in a group at the top, their hearts following him. “Three cheers for Weisbord !” they shouted, all their faith and love ringing in their voices.
Barely had the newspapermen time to snap a hasty shot. The strike attorney, Mr. Unger, to his indignation was given no time to consult with his client. Weisbord was whisked to jai1.
Then when it was all over, when hours had passed, the facts stood out clearly. This was an illegal arrest. No warrant had been shown; no complaints had been presented. There was no warrant; there was no complaints. Weisbord was held -
incommunicado. Anxious friends besieged the police station; no information would be given. Zober sent them to Turner and Turner sent them back to Zober. No one would assume responsibility; no one would state the charges.
And how these petty officials strutted in the glory of this great achievement. How smug was the whole atmosphere as they gloated over this illegal arrest. They had trapped the leader. Zober stuck out his chest and strutted about like a bloated turkey cock with revolvers bulging out of his hip pockets. Even the cops, the women beaters, the head splitters, were particularly cocky that day.
In the wee hours of Sunday morning, at last the attorney was permitted to see his client for a few minutes. Still, there were no charges. The officials were waiting to search the material they had taken from headquarters, hoping to get heaven knows what damnable evidence. They got nothing. Only on Monday morning, after Weisbord had been held for forty-four hours, were complaints shown to him. Trumped up complaint; trumped up charges.
Yes, they had trapped the leader! And from Weisbord in jail went out a great contagion of courage. It was an electric wave of enthusiasm greater than any the strike had yet known. Break the strike?…… the bosses had given the strike the greatest impetus they or anyone else had yet given it.
Stronger than ever, more than ever firmly entrenched in public support, with Weisbord in jai1, the workers are carrying on.
Inciting to Riot
The prosecutor: “I shall prove that the defendant is guilty of inciting to riot. Officer Clubfoot, take the witness stand. Tell the court what happened.”
Officer Clubfoot: “Your Honor, I saw a line of children starting to parade and I hit the girl over the head and knocked her down.”
The Judge: “Yes, go on.”
Officer Clubfoot: “And I hit her again and split her head and called the wagon and took her to the lockup.”
The prosecutor: “Your Honor, this shows conclusively that the defendant, Albert Weisbord, is guilty of inciting to riot, and I ask the limit of the law as punishment!”
The Judge: “This is a serious crime. It has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant has urged the workers to organize and ask for higher wages, which is un-American and unlawful. Here we have a result of it. I adjudge the defendant guilty and sentence him to be hung on Friday, April 31st “
How Sheriff’s and Bulls and Courts Act In Bergen County
By Esther Lowell
"This is a martial law court!”
Little justice of the peace Lewis M. Hargreaves pulled himself up importantly and tried to impress the crowd of strikers and their friends packing the tiny Garfield courtroom. He thought he was a moving picture hero conducting a court martial—and no back talk from anyone.
But lawyer Arthur Garfield Hays, from the American Civil Liberties Union, who has seen lots of judges, saw Hargreaves as small as he actually is and not as big as he thinks he is. He talked back and defied the justice to arrest him for contempt of court.
"There’s no chance of justice for strikers here!” Hays declared. “In all my experience in mining towns and other places, I’ve never seen anything like it for a land that is supposed to be free.”
Justice Hargreaves threatened to arrest the lawyer for disorderly conduct.
"We’d call it contempt of court in New York,” Hays replied.
"You’re in New Jersey now!” the justice shouted but did not take action against the lawyer.
I came to the bar. A ruddy faced Garfield cop stepped up to complain against me. He admitted that he had arrested me within three minuets after sheriff Nimmo had read the riot act so hysterically in front of Forstmann-Huffman mill, which he and his deputies now use for barracks.
Then I told how I had been up in front to get a good story. (You see, the labor papers for which I write want to know the truth about the strike.) I said I had stopped to help up a women the cops had knocked into the gutter. When I turned around and started walking quickly, I told the court sheriff, Nimmo screamed, “Grab her!” and the cop dragged me off to the patrol wagon.
Mary Heaton Vorse told how surprised she had been to see me arrested while I was walking rapidly on.
But justice Hargreaves wouldn’t act on the case without orders. He went out of the courtroom, probably to call sheriff Nimmo at Forstmann-Huffman mill. When he came back he refused to admit the ridiculousness of the case and held me for the grand jury on $1500 bail, which attorney Hays kindly furnished for me.
Hargreaves wouldn’t budge on Robert Dunn’s case, which had been brought up when attorney Hays was misdirected upstairs by the police. Dunn, American Civil Liberties Union officer, was held for the grand jury at $10,000. Dunn was picked up shortly after I was, while we were trying to disperse peacefully, and his offense was the same—disorderly conduct according to the charges.
The little justice refused to reduce bail for Robert Wolf, New York writer who came to the Belmont Park meeting broken up the day after the riot act was read. Wolf was held for $5,000 because he wouldn’t move on as fast as the cop wanted.
Hargreaves has an office in Hackensack in which there is a sign: “Real Estate, Insurance, Collections, Adjustments, Surety Bonds, Justice of the Peace and Notary Public.”
"And they call this justice!” exclaimed one of the young girl strikers who sat in the court learning a new lesson that school teachers and text books never teach.
Jersey justice will be a jeering byword in the American labor movement as a result of his valiant fight of the textile strikers of Passaic-Garfield-Clifton-Lodi.
Bosses Stop Shop Gate Meetings but Workers Go Right Ahead
For three weeks past the United Front Committee of Lawrence held meetings at noontime near the mill gates to inform all textile workers about the Passaic strike. Bulletins were distributed by the thousands to anxious and expectant workers who in turn brought them into the shops and tacked them on the walls or hung them on the frames.
Because of this very effective work the bosses became terrified and said: “These mill gate meetings must stop.”
When I went to the police station the following Monday for the usual permits, I was told we could hold “no more mill gate meetings.” When I asked what would happen if we insisted upon our Constitutional rights of free speech and held the meetings --- the answer was that “we would be arrested.”
A committee was then elected from the United Front Committee to visit the marshall and ask the reasons for refusal. The marshall again refused the United Front to hold the meetings and would give no reason. The reason, of course, is obvious to all clear thinking workers.
If the United Front Committee was composed of a conglomeration of political fakers it would be easy to obtain any street corner in the city. But since the United Front’s politics is strictly working-class the bosses are horrified and set their machinery at work to prevent us from reaching the great mass of workers. But they won’t succeed. The truth about the strike of 16,000 textile workers of Passaic will be told to the Lawrence workers.
Workers who read this article may rest assured that the United Front intends to fight for their Constitutional rights of free speech and that very soon meetings will again be held at the mill gates. Watch for us fellow-workers. Watch for the Textile Strike Bulletin. Fight for your rights. Organize. Join the United Front.
Fred E. Beal.
Conditions Quite Rotten
Fellow Workers of Passaic:
As a Lawrence mill worker and a reader of the Textile Strike Bulletin, I have taken a great interest in the conditions which existed in your mills before you started your heroic battle against the greedy millionaire mill owners. I feel sure that you are also interested to read about the conditions of work of your fellow workers as they exist in the mills of Lawrence.
I am a weaver in one of the largest mills of Lawrence. The department where I spend my young days is situated in the basement where daylight is almost shut out and poor electric lights burn all day long. As soon as you enter this department you can feel the foulness of the air.
We work on twelve looms. The warps are black, the work is very bad. We earn about $9 to $17 a week with the sweat of our brow. Several months ago we took charge of 6 looms and earned then about $30 a week. Now the number of looms are doubled and our wages amount to about half.
As a result of the speeding up systems introduced by our bosses who are always seeking for ways and means to enlarge their big profits, many workers in our mills are unemployed or partly employed. Our conditions here are quite rotten.
I often wonder fellow workers of Passaic when are we workers in the mills going to realize that if we only stick together and organize we can do away with our present unbearable conditions.
Yours for a victory,
A Lawrence Weaver
Providence Collectors Stopped by Police—At Senator Metcalf’s Mills
Six members of the Passaic Relief Committee were held by the Providence police this morning for an attempt to collect money and distribute Strike Bulletins at the gates of the Wanskuck Mills, owned by U. S. Senator Jesse Metcalf of R. I.
"You cannot collect money or distribute that paper here.” said the plain clothes thug as he showed his police badge. In answer to a question by one of the workers he replied that the company, (Metcalf) owned the land and street for ten miles on either side.
The committee went outside the rail which bounds the factory and there tried to do their work. Immediately a police patrol wagon with six stalwart minions of the law were on the scene. The Sergeant asked for a copy of the paper—it was given him. When asked whether it was alright to proceed with the distribution the sergeant ordered the questioner to get off the sidewalk.
"This is a newspaper,” he said to the plain clothes man, “we cannot take them for giving this away."….Again, he ordered Murdoch to get off the sidewalk, where he was listening to the conversation and pushing for a decision as to whether it was within the law to distribute a newspaper. “Get to hell out of here,” he roared, in quite brave fashion. The committee refused to budge till he said whether they were violating any law of the state.
The sergeant then proceeded to take the names and addresses of the committee and their places of work….. (you were fooled sergeant, dear), and then he left to confer with his captain as to what he must do.
The patrolman left in charge proved to be quite human and sympathetic to the strike where he has two cousins in the Passaic Line. “We have to protect Metcalf’s mills or he will have us fined or fired,” he stated. “You don’t want to ride in that machine, Nelly,” he teased. “No,” said Nelly, “but if I have to I am ready to go the whole road for this strike if I must.” “That is the spirit that wins,” commented the “cop.”
Meanwhile the mill came out and a sympathetic crowd of textile workers gathered to see what would happen. Despite the presence of the police and without being solicited these workers contributed $3.85 to the strike fund. Back came the bold sergeant, quite hot under the collar, and roared to the workers, “Get to hell out of here or I will have you arrested for obstructing the sidewalk,” and turning to the collectors, “You get into this car and see what the captain has to say,” so we rode in a Packard car to interview the big chief.
"Why did you come down here? Who sent you into Providence to start trouble?” the captain asked Murdoch. "Did Reid tell you you could do this? What right have you to help this strike?”
When it was explained that there was a committee at work in Boston on which he as a member of the Machinists union served and that all the sincere unions in the city were helping the strike, the captain changed his tone. “But you attack our government, the President and the police,” he wept, pointing to the Bulletin which lay on his desk.
"President Coolidge should use his position to order an investigation of the textile industry, and the Passaic police have no right to club working women and children for walking on the street,” was the reply.
"There is prosperity in the textile industry and this is due to the existence of a Republican administration and the leadership of President Coolidge,” said the captain.
"Does $10 a week spell prosperity to you?” he was asked.
He asked again, “Why don’t you go back to Scotland if you are not satisfied with this country?”
"Scotland is just as bad as America,” was the reply. The workers are organizing all over the world to change their conditions.
"This is the Nellie that they are all talking of,” he greeted the four women workers. “Where do you come from?”
"Northhampton, the home of President Coolidge,” was the reply.
He then proceeded to question the girls as to their position on the relief committee. “You’re not allowed to collect in Providence without our permission,” he stated.
During the questioning they tried to connect Reid with the distribution of the Bulletins at the mill gate. This is an attempt to frame him as inciting others to violate the state law. Reid was the workers candidate who ran against Metcalf for the U. S. Senate in 1924.
Metcalf introduced the two loom system in his mills in 1903 and locked out his workers for 13 weeks, only taking half of them back, at the end of the period. Reid as a school boy collected money for the locked out workers. Today, Metcalf tries to frame him because he is the workers leader in Rhode Island against the wage cuts and lengthening of hours. The workers of Rhode Island should remember this incident at the next election.
With The Young Strikers
What a Young Girl Striker Saw
I have visited many families that are in urgent need of relief but there is one family in Garfield on Prospect Street that is a most pitiful sight. There are six small children in this family ranging from the ages of twelve to two. The father is a widower. His wife died two years ago when the seventh child was born. He is a middle age man of forty now but has the appearance of a man of sixty. His hair is gray and his features show that he has gone through many hardships since he came to America. His shoulders are bent and he drags his feet as he walks along.
His children seem to be happy despite the condition they have been forced into. They wear dresses and clothes provided for them by a union relief store. This family lives in the cellar of a brick house that is weather beaten and falling apart. Bricks are missing here and there and the wind comes right into the house from the outside. Inside the house the walls are wet from the dampness and the water falls down on the floors while the children are playing and crawling on the bare floors. Sometimes as they crawl their hands slide over the floor and they get splinters into their little hands.
The furniture consists of two beds, one chair, two benches, one table, seven cups and saucers, plates, a few knives and forks. The windows have a white piece of linen to shade it at night. I asked about his wages and he replied that if he works forty-eight hours he makes twenty-two dollars but that for the past two years he had been working part time, two and one half to four days a week. Therefore it was impossible for him to raise and feed his family properly. He came out to strike for a living wage.
Are Officials Strikebreakers
What do the officials of Passaic intend to do to the workers that are on strike here? Do they think that by bringing in armed thugs to shoot down the strikers they will end the strike? Don’t you, the officials of Passaic and vicinity think that the workers have a right to strike for a better living condition? Don’t you think that we have a free constitutional right to walk peaceably up and down the very streets that we pay taxes for? Haven’t the workers even the right to organize?
It is a disgrace upon the American soil for these officials in Passaic to order to club down, to beat and gas honest working men and women and even children. It isn’t necessary to enlarge the police force. It isn’t necessary to put the firemen on police duty nor bring to Passaic armed thugs, for there is no violence nor riots committed by the strikers. If there was any violence or riots in Passaic it was done by the police of Passaic and the Chief of Police himself, Richard O. Zober.
I would like to ask whether the officials of Passaic are trying to break the strike playing hand and glove with Col. Johnson or are they with the workers? Only a strikebreaker would order to club down innocent workers. The people of Passaic have the opinion that these officials are nothing but grafting strikebreakers, which in my belief is the right opinion. If not, why do they do these things which are unbearable to the human eye to look upon and which happen in Passaic.
All during the strike the strikers have been peaceful, even when the police have provoked and still are trying to provoke the strikers into violence. The strikers have learned their tricks. Now the police beat them down like dogs, just because the strikers are determined to stay out of work until the bosses get ready to settle and settle right. The closing down of halls or the breaking up of picket lines is not going to break the strikers spirit. They have put Weisbord in jail thinking it will break the strikers spirit, but instead it gave a stronger determination to the strikers to bring this struggle to a VICTORY.
A STRIKER ---MICKEY.
Children Go to Washington
As a protest against the reign of violations and terror which has swept over the strike area, beginning with the arrest of Organizer Weisbord, followed up by the raiding and rioting, the taking away of constitutional liberties, 20 strikers went to Washington --- 12 of them were children accompanied by their mothers. The little band of children dressed in their poor clothes, told the story of the strike to the whole world. These children, destined themselves to be mill workers, went to the White House and picketed it. President Coolidge did not receive them, and they picketed the White House. The children bore signs which read:
"Our mothers work nights, our fathers days, who can care for us at a [70 %] wage cut. Took away our milk. Yes, we want to live!” another asked the President to come to Passaic and see how we live.
The eyes of the workers of the entire country saw the signs carried by these children. The conditions they reveal arouse horror and indignation throughout the country.
Another group of men and children went to see Governor Moore. The Governor was ill—they were unsuccessful in reaching him. The strikers and strikers children who went to Washington and those who went to Trenton did not see the high officials they tried to see, but all the workers in America saw them, and knew of their mission and the happenings of this week, the violations and ruthless strike breaking.
Bergen County By Robert Wolf
You have to walk fast in Bergen County and I never did like to walk fast. I got pinched by a traffic officer for exceeding the slow limit. Traffic Officer Milton ---, I forget his last name. Milton is a good little traffic officer—he is too prompt, even for the sheriff. While Arthur Garfield Hays, our lawyer, was arguing with the sheriff, Milton kept saying, “Well, let’s clean ‘em out, sheriff; let’s break ‘em up.” Milton reads detective stories—you can tell by the way he swings his club.
We came out from New York last Tuesday to hear the meeting at Belmont Park. There were eighteen of us—I know because I counted for the tickets—and you have to be at least thirty to violate the riot act. But what did that matter to Milton? As soon as the sheriff said “Move on,” he began to shove. I moved, but didn’t move fast enough for Milton. And so I got pulled in.
At the Garfield lockup I met hilarious friends—not the cops, but Bob Dunn, Jack Rubenstein, Clarence Miller, and four other strikers who had been pinched the day before. I gave them the news and they gave me the prison library, a copy of Life, and of Detective Story Magazine. It is very pleasant to meet your friends in jail, pleasanter than you might think in case you haven’t been there. On the other hand I don’t think it would be so good to be in jail alone.
We waited, because there was nothing else to do. Presently the cops called: “Robert Dunn.” From what Bob told us afterward, they shot him through in record time downstairs, while Hays, our lawyer, was deliberately misdirected to another room. They fixed his bail at ten thousand dollars. Ten thousand dollars! Somewhere in that Constitution they profess to be so particular about there is a provision against excessive bail. But what do they care?—they decided Bob was an important strike leader, and one and all, sheriff, cops and justices of the peace, they are engaged in this vast conspiracy to break the strike.
Bob came back, and they called me. When I left the lockup they were all there—Bob and the other six. When I got back again they were all there again, only Rubenstein was nursing a bruise on the back of his neck. In the meantime, while Hays was engaged downstairs with me, they had shot the six through, secretly, upstairs, without allowing them any council, sentenced one of them to sixty days, fixed bail for the rest at ten thousand dollars and slugged Rubenstein in the back of the neck.
This was all too fast for me --- I was getting bewildered. They explained to me what had happened to them, and I explained to them what had happened to me. Bob said to me, “I hope they get us out of here before nightfall—I’m afraid they’ll bust in and beat Rubenstein up.” A big, burly lieutenant came to the door with a grin on his face, and said,—oh, it was all in joke of course --- "Well jack, glad to see you again. You’ve been busting in here too often. The next time you come in here we won’t leave a thing left.”
Then we saw an excellent example of what the textbooks call class justice. We began to have callers --- people from New York. They came by twos and ones and dozens. And fortunately --- fortunately for us—they were well dressed. Immediately our cops began to be more polite. There is nothing like a shined shoe or a white collar to win a cop’s respect. I am especially grateful to the young lady who brought Bob Dunn a chocolate rabbit. That completed the demolition of the cops.
But not for Jack Rubenstein. Jack is a striker, and an active boy, and the cops were out to get him if they could. When hey piled us into the wagon to take us to Hackensack they put handcuffs on us all. They put ordinary handcuffs on most of us, but on Jack they screwed them tight. His wrist went white, and he couldn’t move his hand, but the cops just grinned. “Aw, shut up,” they told him. When they took him off at Hackensack there was a red groove around his wrist a quarter of an inch deep.
That’s how I got to Hackensack as the guest of the sheriff of Bergen County. And the best joke of all (the joke I may say is entirely on me), is that it was from this very same county that I enlisted in the army eight years ago under the picturesque illusion that I was fighting for democracy.
A Fellow Worker Gone
Frank Dito is no longer among us. He was faithful at the meetings and on the picket line. He was a fellow worker that never shirked his duty. Now he is gone.
Frank Dito died a martyr to the cause of the workers. The abuse and the clubbing that he was so used to in many assaults upon him and the thousands of pickets who have braved the outrages of a brutal police and a more brutal officialdom never deterred him from going with the rest of the workers whenever needed. How much he was clubbed the afternoon before his death and how much that contributed to his untimely death is still to be determined.
It must also be remembered that he was a hard working man, always doing more than his share in order to earn enough to keep his family. He is among those who gave up his life to the greed of the masters who gave him such starvation wages that he could not things necessary to keep him strong and healthy. In addition to the low wages he had to endure the unsanitary conditions in the mills where life is always in jeopardy. All of this contributed to make out of a strong man another victim of death.
No wonder he went out with the rest when the strike was called, and did all in his power to win the strike in order that his children may have a better chance at life.
We bow our heads in commemoration of a working mans life that was too swiftly cut off by the greed of the unfeeling bosses.
The funeral was one of the largest in the history of Passaic and shows what solidarity of the workers means in life as well as in death.
The sympathy of the 16,000 strikers and of the whole working class goes to the bereaved widow and to the fatherless children. We are all fighting to make your lives more secure and your condition better as the years pass by.
Great News! “They Open the Mills!”
For about 12 weeks the GRAND news papers in Passaic have stirred the world with the glorious news that the "Mills will open tomorrow.” Or “the mills will open Monday.” Or “the mills are running and the workers are going back.”
All these fresh news are standing in type and are used to thrill the bosses with. These daily papers certainly can amuse themselves with simple toys. If they ever get glum or lose their smiles, all you have to do is to put in the stand “news” that “The mills are going to open tomorrow.”
And the funny part of it is that these serious editions think the workers are not hearing about whether the mills are open or closed. This news does not interest the strikers. The bosses can keep the mills open all day and night and Sundays. They can open the gates and the doors and the windows and the roofs and the walls and the cellars and the wash rooms and the spinning rooms and the toilets and the whole caboodle.
Nobody hinders them. They can hire all the scabs they want to and Col. Johnson and Julius Forstmann and all the bosses in the whole swill barrel can go in and go to work.
The more you fuss the more it costs you and the sooner you will come to time.
But one thing is sure and that is that you cannot run the mills and produce clothes as long as we, the workers, do not go to work. And we are not going to work until we win the strike.
Just open your mills all you want to and let the papers print your old stuff as news but you cannot fool us and we are going to stick till you come to terms. Just do not think that we are such [muffs] that you can scare us or fool us. Gosh no!
What Sort of Injunction is This?
The injunction has arrived. It is probably the most drastic ever issued in a labor dispute.
Any unbiased person with ordinary reasoning powers would say at once that it is issued in violation of the Constitution.
This injunction “enjoins and restrains” persons from “consulting” with an employee from the complaining firm. Since when has it become illegal and criminal to “consult” with a fellow worker? That is an order that no judge and lawmaking body has any right to issue. It is in violation of the constitution.
The workers are enjoined and restrained from “advising or consulting with, or encouraging any striking employees of complainant and from contributing money or advice to said strikers or toward the success of said strike.”
Does this judge not know that it is legal to strike, and that it is legal to picket peacefully? Why does he issue an injunction against hat which is entirely legal? Many people will want to know. What will he answer them?
Will he say that the workers shall go back to the hell holes they came out of? Does he want to assist in injuring the cause of the workers? Does he consider that the demands of the strikers are not just? Would he try to drive them back to work at $10, $12, $15 a week? Does he want to injure the business of the workers?
He is very anxious about the business of Forstmann-Huffman. Why is he not a little anxious about the life and business of the workers?
That Rioting “Riot Act”
"Sweep ‘em away boys,” was what Sheriff Nimmo cried when he had finished reading the Riot Act to the tune of inconceivable malice and fury.
Clubs swing, twelve arrests followed, women were knocked down, strikers rushed in alleys; a scene of terror and disorder followed.
Then Sheriff Nimmo was reported by the press as having said, “Well, I guess this will break the strike.”
Every worker in Bergen County heard these words. Not only the textile workers, but all the voting workers heard from the sheriff’s own lips that he was glad to break the strike and was working as a strike breaker.
They will record their opinions at the polls in the next election. It is not probable that Sheriff Nimmo will not break the strike though he tried to, but trying to break the strike may break Sheriff Nimmo.
Bread for the Strikers
Manager E. Lictmann of the Pechter Baking Company in Bronx announces that his bakery will be given over to baking bread for the Passaic strikers all day Tuesday and that the bread will arrive in Passaic Tuesday night.
The same will happen in the bakeries of Fleisher on Freemont Street and Greenfeld on Fox Street, Bronx.
It seems that all the friends of the workers are determined that the strikers shall not be starved back to work. When they go back, they will go back with a union and with power. These bakeries have helped in a fine way to make that possible.
The press of the bosses tries to inject disorder into the meetings of the strikers, whenever it is possible. But the strikers have disappointed the little sheets terribly and there has been fine order all the time.
This annoys the little ones and to get in their silly stuff they wind up their punk stories repeating and always repeating their childish gibberish that “there was no disorder and no arrests!”
And this they repeat as if no meeting of the workers could possibly be held without disorder. Could they not learn that if meetings were for twelve weeks every day without any disorder that it is not news to record that fact. When there has been no arrest for any disorder it cannot be news to state that there has been no arrest.
Let us wind up this squib in the same manner that the Passaic dailies do. Here is a sample:
"The board of directors of the Botany mill held its meeting yesterday and a quorum was greatly disturbed over the rotten condition and the low wages that have come to light since the strike started and they were more glum when they realized that they will be forced to be more decent and pay better wages or be compelled to shut the mill for the season. There was no disorder and there were no arrests.
Vol. 1 No. 10 Wednesday, April, 28, 1926
Victory! Fellow Workers!
In the fourteenth week the strike is in better shape than it ever has been.
The scabs have quit the mills cold and the bosses stand helpless.
The workers are joining the Union in great numbers. All are shouting for the Union.
Food is supplied to all who need it and no one is without support.
The bosses are weakening and are beginning to talk settlement.
The strikers are willing to consider any sincere efforts to settle but will not be bluffed or fooled.
We will win this great battle and go back to work only when we have our Union recognized.
Is Washington Asleep
What’s the matter with Washington? Why aren’t these senators willing to investigate Passaic mill conditions? Are they afraid they will find out things they don’t like? Can’t they talk about anything but booze?
We workers want to know what Washington is doing? We’re striking for a decent living and a union. Why can’t Washington look and see how just our demands are? Come on, senators.
Civil Liberties Pulled Down
It is rumored that Under Sheriff Donaldson and some of the lads with sawed off shotguns that hang out in the Forstmann & Huffmann office with him have been offered jobs in the movies—as extras for riot scenes.
Anyone who has seen them doing their stuff will boost them for the job. Particularly anyone who saw them breaking up the peaceable meeting at Garfield when Norman Thomas was arrested. There was a good crowd of strikers there and New York sympathizers. And Donaldson and his shotgun force, with a lot of Garfield policemen for good measure.
Thomas climbed a dead apple tree to speak from. He said it was a legal meeting; that the lot had been rented for the day and they had a right to meet.
Donaldson and the shotguns listened but didn’t start rioting yet.
Then the speaker praised the strike and congratulated Albert Weisbord for the efficient and peaceable conduct of the struggle.
Shotguns began to twitch and night sticks to wiggle. Donaldson drew a whistle but held it for a moment till Thomas announced that the $30,000 bail under which Weisbord was held was "A mockery of American justice.”
"Toot, toot!” said the whistle and the roughhouse began.
One cop pulled Thomas from the apple tree and the rest of the mob of blue coats and shotgun carriers pushed into the workers, shoving them right and left.
"Don’t blame me, I’m under orders,” one of the police told the newspapermen.
Later that day we heard how the police get their orders. We were sitting in the Hackensack office of Justice of the Police Hargreaves. A big policeman who had come from Garfield was using the telephone and telling someone:
"Call up the Forstmann & Huffmann plant and get my orders.”
So we learned that it was not “riot law” but “Mill law” that is in force.
Thomas stayed in the Hackensack jail over night under $10,000 bail. But next day he was out and Robert W. Dunn of the American Civil Liberties Union too. Even the most conservative capitalist newspapers are laughing at the idiotic tactics of the police in making a riot out of a peaceable meeting on private property.
Cops and Guards Go on a Strike in Lodi
Lodi cops and guards who are used by the bosses of the United Piece Dye Works to escort scabs and strikebreakers to and from the works day and night went on strike Saturday when a demand for $2.50 increase was refused by the dye lords.
The pickets have been busy inoculating these guards with the notion that the wages paid now which is $5.00 per day is not enough and these same pickets have put their heads together with the cops and guards to formulate demands for the increase.
The Company Union and the Young Workers
The company union is formed by the bosses to keep the workers from organizing into a real workers union, and at the same time it makes them feel that they are organized. The constitutions of these so-called unions are such that they are simply lickspittles of the bosses. When the workers do try to form a union and go ahead on strike, they use this “union” as a strike breaking agency.
The needs of the workers, young and old, is more wages, shorter hours, and more sanitary conditions. These are achieved through the struggle of the real union, and what more these union workers gain in self-respect, and self-reliance in the struggles through these conditions.
The company union on the other hand not only kills in the worker that feeling of self-reliance and self-respect but it also makes the workers better and more willing slaves. Hand in hand with company unions go the speed up system called “efficiency production.” To the workers it is known as the bonus system, piece work, and time-rate work or by some other similar name. All this is for the sake of increasing the bosses profit.
The company unions are especially detrimental to the young workers. The young workers get extra service in getting their self-respect killed by this kind of bosses union. It offers them plenty of dances, hikes and excursions, baseball, football, soccer and every other sport. It offers him magazines and newspapers especially edited for them, containing plenty of jokes. On holidays, speakers tell these young workers how they can become presidents of the concern by working hard and faithfully and similar bunk. All of this tends to make the young worker dull and stupid.
Sport that is to develop the body becomes a thing that diverts the minds of the young workers from their working class interests. The little leisure time that the young workers have is used solely and of course this is offered by the company union.
While a real worker’s union tries to develop its young members by pushing them forward, giving them a chance to study and learn things. It makes them fight for the demands of the union and for the special demands of the young workers and thereby develops the self-respect and self-reliance. The company union takes special efforts to see that the young workers have plenty of amusements and nothing else during his leisure time. The young workers are usually not given a chance to work on any of the important committees of the company union. The company union pushes forward to the responsible positions only those whom they are sure to control. These are usually trained stool pigeons and spies and those who are willing to become traitors for a petty job.
The young workers are usually more honest and sincere. They are not yet spoiled much by the bosses propaganda and for this reason they are kept in the background. All in all it is now the duty of each young worker to fight against these fake unions and get into a real workers union that will fight for better conditions for the young and old workers.
Babies Put to Work
The conditions in Lodi are so bad that can’t get enough men and women to work for them but have to hire what I would call babies. The ages of these boys and girls are fourteen and fifteen. They are compelled to do the work that older people used to do. So these youngsters quit their job and went on strike for two reasons, first the work was too much for them and second, the wages were very poor. They were getting as an average wage 18 cents an hour which I say isn’t enough to feed a dog.
The Chiefs Son is Hungry
One day last week old man Z’s son, the most popular man nowadays was very hungry. I was waiting for the bus at a corner. The chiefs son stopped a galloping horse hitched to a peddlers wagon. I thought that he would give the driver a ticket for speeding, but instead he took two rotten apples from the wagon. Just then my bus passed but I missed it because I was anxious to see what will happen. The driver was afraid that the “son” would get sore so when he saw the rotten apples he chose and told him to take better ones.
"That is good enough for me,” answered the son. He ate a good part of the apple heartily, but when he came to the rotten part he got sore and threw it into the sewer. He must have been very hungry that morning and it was time for lunch to be served, and the Gera mill was too far off. He did not pay for the apples but went away. A group of elderly women observing the same scene also asked the driver for a few apples. The driver said that if he did not let the Cossack take the apple, he would be arrested. Stand firm! The Cossacks are getting hungry.
Outrage Against Weisbord Strengthens the Strikers
Well, fellow workers, they have our organizer in jail. Ha, ha, the bosses think this will break the strike, but on account of his arrest, we will stand a hundred per cent stronger. Poor, miserable Johnson thinks because Weisbord is jailed he’ll break the strike. He won’t break it, not by a long shot. He thinks he’ll get us back to work for his measly wages that he pays us but he is mistaken. Even if the bosses were to give in today, we would not go back to work unless they release Weisbord.
"THUMP, THUMP, THUMP” Big heavy steps on the stairway. They enter into strike headquarters, seven big, fat detectives weighing about a ton and a half. They grab a man weighing about 125 pounds, who is organizer Weisbord himself, and lead him into an automobile.
Well half an hour has passed. Back come three more detectives, chase everybody out of the office and start to search and turn everything upside down. We asked them for a search warrant but they could not show it. About two hours after the raid they showed the warrant in the police court.
A few persons went to see Weisbord at the jail in Paterson. Weisbord knows he’s in for positively no wrong. He tells us, “Stand firm, hold the fort, don’t give in to those parasite bosses.” Who wouldn’t stay out for a man like that? Our answer to Weisbord is: We will stay out on strike not only until they give in to our 7 demands but until they release him.
The solidarity of the people is wonderful. Why, while a meeting was going on in the Russian Hall, a meeting for the strikers of the Gera Mill, New Jersey Spinning and Passaic Worsted, a woman stands up in the audience and makes a motion to buy flowers for Weisbord, $33 was collected. A big basket of flowers was bought for $10, the rest turned over to the relief fund. When these flowers were brought to him in jail, the police court would not give them to him.
Three cheers for Weisbord—Hurrah!, Hurrah!, Hurrah!
We are helping with the relief work in the office of the Passaic Textile Strikers and to think that this is the twelfth week of the strike. It is wonderful to see the relief that comes in every day from all over the country just as strong, if not stronger than even it was at the beginning of the strike. It is most encouraging to read the letters praising the struggling strikers in their efforts to get a decent living for themselves and for their children.
We will fight to the finish in site of the riot guns and the brutalities of the Cossacks and the other mean low tricks on the part of the bosses in their efforts to force us back to the rotten conditions and the low wages in the mills of Passaic.
The bosses think that by arresting our brave and gallant leader, Mr. Weisbord, and some of our best leaders that they would discourage the workers, but they made a great mistake, for the fighting spirit of the strikers is stronger than ever before and we won’t go back to the mills until we win.
If the bosses who never work can spend six months vacation in the Orient, we who produce the wealth that they waste are entitled to the American standard of living, we hear so much about. Are we not?
So stick together fellow workers. Union means strength.
Grace and Adeline.
Another Fool King
Once upon a time there was a king who was very proud and very stupid.
And there arose difficulties in his kingdom between the barons and the slaves and there was much and bitter struggle between them.
Now it came to pass that the slaves had chosen a leader to help them carry on the struggle against the barons who had become too cruel to the common people, and who had decreased the substance whereupon the laborers had to live until there was little left but starvation.
When the barons would not give the slaves what they had need of to live, they said among themselves, “We shall rather starve to death fighting for bread than starve in the mills while working for the lords.”
And behold!, for thirteen weeks the slaves refused to work and their leader instructed them and said, “If you stick together and organize into a solid union, you will be able to force the barons to give you the things necessary for you to live upon.”
Then a great cry arose from the throats and bellies of the fat barons and they went unto the king and said unto him, “Help us get the slaves back to work or we have to go to work ourselves.”
And the king hearkened unto the gurly voice of the barons and called upon his general and his soothsayers and bade them come and help him get the barons out of the hell of a hole they had gotten themselves into.
When the slaves heard thereof they answered and said, “We are always ready to meet with the king and any or all his generals and soothsayers and with the barons themselves and although you come to us with war horses and enemies of peace to talk to us about peace, we still forgive you and hold ourselves in readiness to meet in a peaceable way you and your committee.”
Then the king spake and said unto them: “I am a mighty potentate in my kingdom and have the power of life and death over my subjects, and I therefore command you to eliminate from your peace committee your leader, though he be neither a soldier nor a prizefighter for I fear him greatly, because he might show both you, the slaves, and my own generals of war how stupid I am and how humble I am before the barons who are my masters though I make the people think I am their king.”
But the slaves answered and unto their king, “[Lo] for these thirteen weeks our leader has been with us and he is a kind man and honest and he will in no wise hurt even so much as the skin of your nose or of your little finger. We want him with us and he will help us settle the difficulties we have with the barons.”
And the king said unto them, “Always when I negotiate for peace between my armies and the armies of the enemy I stipulate first of all that I shall retain all my generals but that the generals of the other army must be killed before I proceed to talk peace.”
Whereupon the slaves made long noses at him and said: “You are a coward and a [weakling] and no damn good king.”
Working Class Housewives Urge Women to Organize
WHERAS, the working class of the Passaic textile mills have special interests to protect as factory workers such as the securing of a living wage, the abolition of the present unsanitary conditions, the enforcement of the law preventing night work for women, etc., and
WHEREAS, they also have the problems of mothers, housewives and home keepers, such as the prevention of the labor of their children and themselves, insuring of an adequate wage to the male members of their family so that mother and child labor would be unnecessary, etc.,
Therefore be it RESOLVED by this mass meeting of the United Council of Working Class Housewives of Passaic and the strikers of the Passaic textile mills that
The working class women in the mills should form groups of working class women. That these should affiliate through joint delegate conferences with the units of working class housewives so that the working class women, through their organized strength, fighting side by side with the men workers, can protect themselves and their class.
WE ESPECIALLY URGE the working class women in the textile mills to affiliate with the United Front Textile Committee which is at present leading their strike, protecting their interests, and to aid in the building of a single, united, powerful textile union in Passaic.
Who’s Afraid of Weisbord
The children were quite amused when they heard that Governor Moore was afraid to meet Organizer Weisbord.
"How old are you, little girl” asked the speaker, pointing at one of the children at the front of a monster strike meeting.
"Ten years,” came the firm reply.
"And are you afraid of Weisbord?”
"No” she laughed.
"You, down there, how old are you?” asked the speaker, pointing to another.
"Fourteen,” she said.
"And are you afraid of Weisbord?”
The same answer came as before. The speaker asked boys and men and grown girls and women strikers if they were afraid of Weisbord? They all said no. “Is there any man, women or child in this great crowd who is afraid of Weisbord?” called the speaker, and a loud shout of no came from them all.
"But the governor, he is afraid of Weisbord. Poor, little governor,” continued the speaker. “Do you think the governor is afraid that Weisbord would bite him or hit him or pinch him? No. That is not what the governor is afraid of. He is afraid of Weisbord’s intelligence. He is afraid he cannot fool Weisbord and that Weisbord would show up the crookedness of the governor. For nobody who wants to be honest would refuse to meet with a man who has the confidence of 16,000 workers and their families here and hundreds of thousands of workers all over the country.”
The governor played a poor game and everybody says so.
Cigar Makers Call for Solidarity
New York. April 16, 1926
To the Cigar Makers and all other Workers of Passaic!
We wish to inform you that the “Natural Bloom” Cigar Company of New York have locked out their 30 cigar makers because they would not submit to any further reductions.
This firm is now operating a factory in Passaic under the name of M. Perez & Co., located at Wall and Eighth Streets.
Their object in opening that shop is to break our unity and destroy our organization so that they may do with us whatever their heart desires.
We appeal to you fellow cigar makers of Passaic, particularly you who are working in the M. Perez & Co. factory to show your solidarity.
We ask you not to be misled by the fine promises the bosses are making to you at present in order to help him defeat us.
Like many other cigar factories that came to Passaic and disappeared in a short while, they do not intend to remain there and will not have any consideration for you being left without a job.
Remember that just like your father, mother, sister or brother who are engaged in a bitter struggle for the right to be organized for a living wage and decent living conditions, we too are fighting for the same rights for our families and ourselves and we are confident that you will help us in this fight for justice.
With fraternal greetings,
Natural Bloom Cigar Co.
Amalgamated Tobacco Workers Union
S. Sussman, Secretary.
Vol. 1 No. 11 Passaic N. J. Friday, May 7, 1926
All Textile Workers in the Organization
Ten Thousand Workers Have Enrolled
Union Going Strong with Workers Joining Every Day
Thousands of union cards waved in the air in Wallington at the huge mass meeting on the 26th of April. It was the beginning of a union drive. This union drive showed the will of the strikers. All day long, files of new union members stood at headquarters getting their union cards and in all the halls where cards were obtainable files of strikers waited. At the beginning of the fifteenth week of the strike, on the one hundreth day of the strike, more union members were enrolled than in any other one day. Hundreds of strikers got union cards. Peace talk was in the air. Two negotiating committees were in the field, beside the one in Lodi.
The emphasis on union has grown throughout the strike. The cry for union, union, union, is like the beating of a heart among the strikers. Anyone who comes to headquarters knows that there are always people waiting for their union cards around the table. There are always people buying the union stamps.
At the beginning of the fifteenth week of the strike there are 10,000 people enrolled in the unions, 10,000 men and women in Passaic and vicinity bent on making a union permanent, 10,000 men and women filled with the spirit of solidarity.
One hundred per cent is what the strikers want. With settlement approaching, everybody who has not joined the union is hurrying to get a union card to have a voice in the settlement.
Fourteen weeks have come and gone since the strike started. Every week has had seven days and the strikers have been at meetings almost every day. They have heard about the union. They have been informed what a union means. How much they can do with a union. How weak they are without a union.
There is a new light in their eyes. There is a new intelligence in their eyes. They recognize that there is no hope for them without a union. They recognize that there is all the hope in the world with a union.
It is a great discovery. They had discovered nothing like it before in all their lives. They realize what a union will bring them. No longer will they have to stoop to the feet of the bosses. No longer will they have to take the insults from the foremen. Now they will be able to speak, to protest against wrongs, against wage cuts, against being fired. Now they will be able to stand erect as men and women.
So they have decided to have one hundred percent union. They want every worker in the union. There must be no workers outside the union. All must be in the union and be loyal to the union. All must build up the union and make it a power and a great aid.
Already they have won much because they have been organized. They have withstood the whole series of attacks by the bosses. They have withstood all the brutalities of the police and the judges and the sheriffs and the gun men. They have kept the shops free from scabs and held the mill barons at bay. They have run the relief service and their meeting halls and carried on their strike in a most marvelous manner. Already the whole world of labor respects them and every organized worker welcomes them.
There is inspiration in the union. All meet on the same footing in the union. All nationalities meet there. All races meet there. The Polish workers are one with the Hungarian workers, the Russian with the Italian, the colored workers are one with the white workers—all in the Union of workers, all strong in the one big Textile Union.
Over ten thousand already are in the union. The other workers must come now. The workers in Passaic and in Garfield and in Lodi and in Clifton who have not signed up must come now. All must be in the union when this strike is settled.
Come, brother and sister, if you have not signed up, and join the mighty ranks. Come and be one of this mighty and victorious throng.
The Union! The Union! The Union! One hundred per cent UNION!
Sheriff Nimmo is Driven From Belmont Park in Disgrace
Little King of Bergen County Sprawls All Over as Throne Totters
Garfield came back from Czarist Siberia. It is in the United States again. Believers in civil liberty won. The strikers won.
It all happened on the afternoon of April 30, at Belmont Hall where no meetings had been held since little Tsar Nimmo read the Riot Act on April 12.
Little Tsar Nimmo was ready to repeat his illegal act. But the disciplined, orderly textile strikers gave him no excuse or provocation. Two abreast they “picketed” Belmont Hall, assured by their leaders that a meeting would be held that afternoon and a full test made of little Tsar Nimmo’s shotgun riot law.
The test was arranged by the American Civil Liberties Union and directed by its officials and attorneys John Larkin Hughes, Forrest Bailey, Charles Joseph, Robert Dunn and others. The speaker of the afternoon who was instructed to talk no matter what the orders of Nimmo or his underlings was the Rev. John Haynes Holmes of New York City. Rev. Holmes had purchased a one way ticket to Passaic and was prepared if Nimmo lost his head again, to spend the night in the Garfield lock-up or the Hackensack jail. A contract had been signed between the Civil Liberties Union and Magyar Ladies and Gentlemen’s Association, owners of Belmont Hall. The contract provided that the manager of the hall should open it for a meeting. Rev. Holmes and his friends arrived to speak, but at the same moment word came that Attorney Hughes had just obtained an injunction restraining Nimmo & Co. from interfering with this and all other assemblies held in Garfield. It was decided to wait for the injunction to be served.
It was a long wait. Outside the thousands of strikers slowly moved up and down laughing in the faces of the $10-a-day bought-and-paid-for deputies of the Forstmann & Huffmann Company.
Nimmo himself commanded the operations of his gunmen for a while. When the crowd cheered the arrival of Dr. Holmes and Norman Thomas the little man nearly went out of his mind again. He jumped on the porch of the hall, fumbled in his pocket for the riot act and threatened to read it again. A suitcase full of gas bombs was opened and lay ready at his side. The strikers, not wishing to encourage the little Tsar to act the fool again, fell back quietly while the sheriff cooled off.
Earlier in the afternoon his temper had boiled over as he stormed through the rooms adjoining Belmont Hall, trying to bulldoze and intimidate the fearless manager of the hall. “If you open this hall I’ll arrest you at once. Contract or no contract, I’m givin’ orders here.” And so on. The little man is a great raver. But he couldn’t scare the strikers or the Magyar Ladies and Gentleman’s Association!
And the crowd kept on waiting, slowly walking up and down River Road. Strike leaders moved among them assuring them the meeting would be held—to keep on stickin’ around.
Inside the beer parlor of Belmont Hall sat the liberal friends from New York and nearby towns. Representatives of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, the League for Industrial Democracy, the Methodist Social Service Federation, a member of the British Parliament, interested attorneys and publicists, members of the Community Church and the Civil Liberties Union. They waited for the signal for Dr. Holmes to do his stuff and for the injunction to arrive from Jersey City.
Finally it came. Attorney Hughes jumped from a car and hurried toward under-sheriff John Donaldson. Nimmo had disappeared from the scene.
Donaldson’s lips trembled as he regarded Mr. Hughes. He refused to put out his hand for the proffered document. Mr. Hughes stuck it under his arm.
"Who are you? I don’t know your name,” came from Donaldson.
"I’m an attorney and this an injunction. Read it,” answered Mr. Hughes.
Slowly it dawned upon the bulky under-sheriff that the strikers and their supporters had beaten him. He read the words which directed him and his chief to refrain from ---"molesting, interfering with, harassing, arresting,” or “threatening to arrest…… the complainants….."or "any striking worker in said strike or any sympathizer therewith in the lawful exercise of his….. constitutional rights of….. freedom of speech and lawful assembly.”
The workers, cheering, pressed toward the hall. After stalling awhile and arresting the first worker who opened the doors, Donaldson capitulated and ordered the armed gunmen to fall back. The thousands of singing strikers were rewarded for their long wait. Into the hall they swept packing it to the rafters. They sang four songs at once. They called for Weisbord.
The committee in charge of the meeting answered that call. Weisbord and Elizabeth Gurly Flynn were summoned from headquarters.
They had been waiting there three long hours. Instructed by the Civil Liberties Union to keep out of the free speech fight, they had stayed in the office and the minutes passed more s1owly for them because they were off the battle line.
But now they were called in to enjoy the victory. With a roar they were welcomed to the hall and to the platform.
First, however, Rev. Holmes spoke, telling the strikers of their magnificent strike and this splendid victory for law and order. “You do not stand alone in your struggle,” he said, "and while the entire country looks on, and the entire working class is waiting for the final word, you must stand together until victory is won.” Dr. Holmes scored the police atrocities and the unconstitutional acts of Nimmo and his crew.
Robert Dunn and Forrest Bailey of the Civil Liberties Union told the strikers they had won Garfield and that they must keep it till the strike is won. Attorney Hughes and Joseph emphasized the importance of the rights won by the workers through their 100% solidarity and strength, and Norman Thomas recounted the story of his speech on the apple tree and his arrest a few days previous.
Gurley Flynn told the workers they had taken the American flag out of jail, pointing at the red-white-and-blue banner given to the strikers months ago by the local Post of the American Legion, “but I noticed that the American Legion, which gave it to us, did nothing to get it out.”
Then Albert Weisbord amid shouts announced the meetings to be held in Garfield every day until the strike is won and thanked the “outsiders” for the part they had played in restoring free assemblage to the Garfield workers. He also thanked the owners of Belmont Hall for their cooperation and courage in the face of the threats of the Forstmann and Huffmann tools, Nimmo and his men.
"The sheriff was called in here,” he said, “to maintain law and order. He did it with rifles and satchels of gas bombs, with riot acts and illegal arrests. He has failed to break the ranks of the workers. His offensive is broken. This meeting marks the beginning of his retreat and the end of his reign of terror. Beginning tomorrow we shall meet daily in Garfield and our strike will be stronger than ever.”
Three Cheers for the Managers of Belmont Park
The management of Belmont Hall stood up like men against the little sawed off sheriff with his sawed off riot guns in the day of real battle. The strikers appreciate the courage of these men who faced jail for a principle and never flinched.
Steve Huebner, president, Joseph Gengler, Manager, and Joseph S. Zanto, secretary, were lustily cheered when the hall was opened after the long siege when the sheriff threatened all men who did not fall to his feet with extermination.
The whole Magyar Ladies and Gentleman’s Association has the well earned gratitude of the strikers and will be remembered in the years to come as real friends in time of need.
A Christmas Present
Dear Fellow Workers:
I am a mother of five children and had to go to work in the mill to buy bread to feed them, for my husband was just
getting 42¢ an hour. He had to work thirteen long hours, on the night shift and I worked ten hours a day. And what did I get then? I didn’t get enough to support them. I was a weaver on three looms. When I did make a pretty fair pay they docked me off no matter if it was necessary or not.
Once they gave out a Christmas present of $2.50 and after doing that came around and found something wrong with my work and cut off $2.40 so my Christmas present was 10¢. That’s the way our bosses think we should make our living.
Pay $20 rent and buy shoes and clothes for your children when your not making enough for one person! We will fight the bosses now and we will stick together until we win our demands.
Mrs. Susie Kost.
Strikers Win Modification of Injunction Through Judge Bently
Chancellor John Bently rendered his decision on the Forstmann-Huffmann injunction Thursday and modified it so as to permit peaceful picketing which makes it possible for the strikers to go ahead as before, since they have never attempted to violate any law in their strike duties.
This is a sweeping victory for the strikers and is an evidence of the fact that organization means power.
The record of the strikers as peaceful and law abiding together with their record breaking organizing achievement is known far and wide and the judge realized that the rights of the strikers had to be upheld as far as he could.
The fight for the strikers has been heroic and has helped greatly to bring about this encouraging modification of the injunction.
This victory for the strikers together with the ousting order against Sheriff Nimmo means that the strike will go on in the strong way it has proceeded for the past fourteen weeks.
All along the line the strikers are winning.
How the Twelve Loom System was Put Over in the Arlington Mills
It happened about a year ago when work was very slow throughout the city of Lawrence, when the workers were trying to fight off starvation, that the bosses hit upon this happy plan of taxing the strength of the workers to their limit and sapping some more profits out of them for the mill owners. And if the bosses could put it through it would mean that they would meet with favor in the eyes of the officials higher up.
As I was working there then, I had a chance to observe how the plan was put into effect. There was one worker, a young weaver who came every morning and noon looking for work. This weaver was down and out. He didn’t know where the next meal was coming from. Then one morning the overseer called that weaver over and gave him some sweet talk on running twelve looms, promising the best of work and a standing weekly wage (almost a living wage according to the government figures). The weaver being at the starvation point was forced to accept this proposition. After getting the looms going, this weaver was watched for a short time. The overseer became convinced that it was possible to run that number of looms. He called another weaver and put the same preposition before him. This continued for some time until the system was fully introduced. Thus the workers, because of poverty and unemployment and because they are not organized were forced to be made into better tools for profit.
A price list was put up on the twelve loom basis. It amounted to a fraction more than half of the six loom basis. The bosses profits however, doubled. The workers have to work twice as hard but get paid one half of what they used to. Because of the speed up systems, because the bosses care for profits only, hundreds of workers are forced out in the streets knocking about for work.
Bosses Want “Educated” Workers
The bosses of the Arlington mill have all of a sudden decided to educate us the workers of the mill. Several weeks ago we were told that unless we attend the classes given at lunch hour we can’t become citizens of this country. Some of us were even threatened with our jobs.
After sacrificing our lunch hours for several weeks what have we learned? We learned that this is a free country and yet we find that the strikers in Passaic are being clubbed and jailed while they are peacefully assembled or while they are peacefully picketing.
The strikers in Passaic are treated like criminals because they are fighting against starvation wages. This in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” In Lawrence the noon day meetings were stopped.
Workers in Lodi in Fine Fight for Strong Union
Lodi is a town partly owned but completely controlled by the United Piece Dye Works. The own the dye works which is the main source of income of the Lodi population. And through the ownership of the mill, they own the labor power of 3,500 workers out of a population amounting to less than 10,000. Their control extends to everything worth controlling—especially the mayor, the priest, the local sheet, “Lodi Bulletin” and the judge. The latter is employed as a foreman in the mill.
This one-mill town and almost company town is now the scene of a splendid labor struggle. The 3,500 slaves of the dye house have come to their own. Men and women, young and old, black and white, Italian and Pole, have lined up in back of the six demands including recognition of the union. None of the tricks played by the company have so far succeeded in weakening the solidarity of the strikers.
An army of spies of different races and nationalities, employed by the company is at work. Their success in persuading strikers to go back to work is zero. They have succeeded in getting a few to go back, but these few remain at work only until they are visited by strikers and told that when the union men go back to work the scabs will have to get out.
The workers of Lodi know what they want and know how to get it. The mill is crippled and the company is not making any profits. Lodi will soon be redeemed from a company town into a union town.
The Spy System in Action
John Sherman, of full age, having duly sworn, according to law, on his oath deposes and says:
1. I now reside at 40 Spencer Place, Garfield, N. J. I am a citizen of the United States, and I have lived in Passaic and vicinity for 23 years.
2. In September, 1919, I was employed by Mr. Frank Andreas, secretary of the Industrial Council of Passaic Wool Manufacturers, in the capacity of clerk, interpreter and investigator. This Council of Passaic Wool Manufacturers included seven woolen mills as follows:
Botany Worsted Mill, Forstmann and Huffmann Company, Passaic plant; Forstmann & Huffmann Company, Garfield plant; Garfield Worsted Mills, Garfield N. J.; Gary Mills, Passaic N. J.; New Jersey Worsted Spinning Company, Garfield N. J.; Passaic Worsted Spinning Company, Passaic N. J.
3. The office of the Wool Council at that time was on Lexington avenue, Passaic, N. J. and is now located at 275 Monroe street, Passaic. My duties consisted of obtaining from applicants for jobs full particulars concerning former occupation, why they left their former jobs, how much they had been earning, description of the person and habits of the person. This application with the said information was then submitted to Mr. S. I. Szotkowski who was the manager of the Employment [Bureau] of the Industrial Wool Council. The information which the bureau required concerning an applicants previous record was obtained by sending to his former employer [blank] known as Form No. 2 with the request that they fill it out and return it. On the back of the application and the information derived by means of Form No. 2 we would determine whether the applicant was likely to be a trouble maker. If so, our instructions were to refuse to give him an employment card. In 1925 and 1926, the method was adopted of giving the applicant a card, but indicating by a secret number system what objections there were to him or her. The employment clerks at the various mills hired or refused to hire, depending upon the code number which appeared on this card, known as Form 3.
4. I know that each of the members of the Wool Council had detectives and spies in the mills who were charged with the duty of watching the employees and talking to them, and of reporting to the management any actions or language which might indicate the possibility of his causing any trouble. These detectives and spies were especially instructed to report any person who complained about his wages or working conditions, whether he ever mentioned forming a union, whether he worked steadily at his machine, whether he had any ill-feeling towards the company, whether he was a crank on the labor question, whether the machines were kept running to the fullest capacity, whether favoritism was shown to any employees by the foreman, etc. Whenever any person was discharged or left his job of his own accord, I would receive a report from the mill where he had been employed setting forth by means of a code number the reason or reasons why he or she had been dismissed or had left.
5. If any person came to the office of the Wool Council with a quit-card which did not indicate any reason for his discharge, we were required to call up the mills he had left and inquire why he had been discharged. After a man had once been dismissed by one of the members of the Wool Council, and he again sought employment, we would give him a card, but would indicate thereon in code what offence or offences he had been charged with committing in the other mill or mills. If any of the members of the Council were badly in need of help and a person applied for a job whose card indicated that his or her record was not clear, the mill would apply to the Council’s office for a full report of that person’s activities during his or her employment in the various woolen mills, which report we would furnish. If any person was guilty of any serious infractions of the rules or policies of the member mills, it was virtually impossible for him to obtain employment with any of the other member woolen mills. No applicant for a job was ever accepted at any of these woolen mills without a card from the Woolen Council.
6. Many applicants who found it impossible to obtain a job came to the office of the Wool Council and inquired for the reasons for their being blacklisted. My instructions from my superiors were never to admit any person that had been blacklisted. I was instructed to make up my excuses in each case why the man or woman had been unable to obtain a job.
7. I was also charged with the duty of investigator of finding out all that I could about persons who had never worked in the woolen mills before. If there was any suspicion that the applicant might possibly cause any trouble or influence other employees or create dissatisfaction with wages or working conditions, my instructions were to report unfavorably.
8. The work of the Wool Council was financed by the member mills, each contributing in proportion to the number of employees. The staff in the office of the Wool Council consisted of seven people. I was employed continuously from 1919 to 1926.
Subscribed to and sworn before me this 23rd day of April 1926.
Sophie Tapowitz, A Notary Public of N. J.
The Deserted Mills
The deserted mills are the textile mills of Passaic and vicinity whose occupants have abandoned them (that means you, the strikers). The color of the buildings is growing dim, wiped by the Cossacks coats. The windows are coated with dust, for there is no one to clean them. The grass around the walls already has reaches the first floor. No more do we hear the roar and shrieking of the machinery run by the slaves (that means you, the strikers) but only the squeaking of rats and mice (that means the police and the scabs fighting with their sweeties). Now you strikers don’t go back because there are ghosts in those mills that will get hold of you. Stand firm even if the building collapses and all the rats will then run to you for help. Solidarity wins!
New York Bakers Contribute Thousands of Loaves of Bread
The textile strikers did not miss their bread last week. Nor will they be without bread for the coming weeks. The executive committee of the Bakery and Confectionery Workers International Union has voted that each local union, in cooperation with the master bakers, is to bake bread one day a week for the strikers.
Local 305 in cooperation with the Pechter Baking Company, brought 1170 loaves of bread to the strikers Wednesday. On Thursday Local 169 came with baked goods valued at $1200. The Jennings and Pechter’s helped make this donation. On Friday the Cooperative Bakery of Brownsville, in cooperation with Local 87 added its two thousand loaves to the weeks total.
With generous contributions such as these, the mill barons will have to wait a long time to starve the workers back into the mills.
Call for Textile Workers Conference
Federated Textile Union of America
Philadelphia, April 13, 1926
To all Textile Unions, Greetings.
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
The Federated Textile Union of America urgently request that you have representation at an Amalgamation Conference, to be held Saturday and Sunday, June 5-6, 1926, 2 p. m. at the Hotel Imperial. Broadway at 32nd street, New York City.
If the textile workers are to improve their conditions, and be prepared to resist wage cuts, increased working hours, speed up systems, etc. Jurisdictional and factional differences must be wiped out, let us join hands and forces for a United Purpose.
How can we expect the unorganized textile workers to join our present divided unions?
"United we stand, divided we fall.” A textile Union for the Textile Workers should be our aim and purpose. To foolishly stand alone and think we are right must make the employers laugh.
Something is radically wrong with the policies now being pursued by union organizations, and its present leadership. We deplore the fact that a million textile workers remain mute to our appeals for unionization, and close our own eyes to the same paramount appeal staring the many divided union organizations now in the field.
Have a representative, or representatives at this conference and help make a real effort to correct the unstable conditions now confronting the Textile Workers of America.
Cordially and fraternally yours,
Here’s Your Hat, Sheriff! Just Stay Far Away.
Sheriff Nimmo has reported to say that things have quieted down. Everything has quieted down since he and his armed deputies have left. The most violent thing that the strikers know was the reading of the Riot Act by Sheriff Nimmo. The Riot Act states persons may be arrested if they do not disperse within an hour. No sooner had Sheriff Nimmo said the words “God save the State” and he shouted “clear them out boys” and immediately began knocking down men and women and clubbing the strikers and arresting people right and left.
The deputies have been dribbling away during the week. They came with much bluster. They sneaked away with their tails between their legs.
The members of the Garfield City Council, together with other representatives of the people of Garfield, got particularly tired of seeing their town patrolled by men with guns. They adopted a resolution Tuesday, May 2nd:
"Whereas the deputies have been removed in East Paterson and Passaic. Be it Resolved that Sheriff Nimmo be requested to withdraw his deputies and leave Garfield immediately.”
A letter was sent from the Council as follows:
Sheriff George P. Nimmo,
Bergen County, New Jersey.
Pursuant to instructions from the Garfield City Council, I am writing to ascertain who ordered the armed deputies to the City of Garfield and who is paying them for services rendered?
Very truly yours,
Joseph J. Novack,
Mr. Joseph J. Novack,
Garfield N. J.
Dear Mr. Novack:
Replying to your favor of the 30th, I beg to say that the request for assistance came from Mayor Burke.
Regarding the pay of deputies, I presume that the bill will be presented to the proper authorities at the proper time.
Very truly yours,
George P. Nimmo.
Councilman Quinlivan stated that he believed that the Sheriff was “simply dodging the issue.”
Good riddance, Mr. Sheriff. We will not forget your unwelcome intrusion. The workers will not forget your riot acts and your gun men; your beatings and brutalities. We want you to stay away—far away and for a long time. We are going to make it impossible for you to return in the brutal way you came this time.
All Forces Unite to Defend the Arrested Textile Workers
The unification of all forces working for the defense of the arrested strikers and strike leaders and the protection of civil rights was effected at a joint conference of all interested organizations held at the Civic Club yesterday.
A joint committee to coordinate the work has been formed with Elizabeth Gurley Flynn as secretary. The following organizations are represented in the joint committee by the following representatives:
The United Front Committee—Albert Weisbord. The American Civil Liberties Union --- Forrest Bailey. International Labor Defense—James P. Cannon. The League of Industrial Democracy --- Norman Thomas. The Emergency Strike Relief Committee --- Mrs. Michellson. The Passaic Strikers Relief Committee --- Alfred Wagenknecht. The Federated Press—Art Shields.
Robert Dunne and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn are also members of the Joint Committee.
Under the arrangement agreed upon, the defense of all the cases arising directly out of strike activity will be handled by the International Labor Defense, while the free speech and civil rights matters will be handled by the American Civil Liberties Union.
A nation-wide campaign to raise defense funds and organize a protest movement is to be commenced at once. The International Labor Defense has announced already the preparation of a pamphlet exposing the atrocities of the police and the attempt to railroad Brother Weisbord and others to the penitentiary.
The United Front Committee of Textile Workers endorsed the formation of the Joint Committee and also passed a motion thanking the International Labor Defense for taking up the defense of the arrested strikers and strike leaders and authorized it to make a campaign for funds to finance the defense work.
Shoe Workers Mend Shoes
Members of the Shoe Workers Protective Union, workers of the Clover Shop are repairing shoes of the STRIKING TEXTILE WORKERS all day Saturday and Sunday.
Leather and materials donated by the workers themselves.
142 Livingston St. Brooklyn, New York.
Bread is Winning the Battle for the Textile Strikers
Money, food, clothing, and other essentials of life keep pouring into the relief chest of the 16,000 strikers of Passaic and vicinity who are as firm and determined in the sixteenth week of their struggle for a decent life, as they were when the strike started. Generous financial contributions are arriving from every corner of this country and from points in Canada. Food, clothing and necessities are coming in constantly. We have received in large quantities, bread, meat, flour, canned goods, sugar and other foods, while the barbers from New York have come over to cut the hair of the strikers and the shoemakers have come to mend the shoes of the strikers and their families. Clerks, students and friends are also rendering valuable assistance in doing the vast amount of clerical work that accumulates daily.
The most recent and most important relief activity that has been undertaken, is the creation of a children’s kitchen. The one organized at the present time is operating at full capacity, feeding the mouths of 400 of the strikers young ones. Another is being organized and if the friends of the strikers continue their good support, we shall be able to create a sufficient number of children’s kitchens to take care of the 400 children who need this service.
The spirit expressed in the hundreds and hundreds of letters received daily from friends reflects upon the strikers themselves. It adds to their spirit and lends them courage.
With their ranks intact and with their expressed determination to fight this battle to a finish, victory is certain. The strikers are very grateful to their friends for the support that has been rendered and they place their hope in these friends for continued support.
International Workers Aid—May Day Celebration
The international Workers Aid celebrated May Day by taking seven truckloads of food, shoes and clothing, including one of bread, to Passaic for the relief of the strikers. Promptly at one o’clock the trucks, together with two cars filled with I. W. A. workers, left the headquarters at 799 Broadway to join the demonstration in Passaic at Belmont Park. Each truck was covered with signs bearing the inscriptions "Relief for the Passaic Strikers,” “Relief for the Workers in the Class Struggle,” with the name and address of the I. W. A.
In Passaic, a monster demonstration was taking place and as the trucks went through the streets cheering greeted them on all sides, and upon their arrival at the park, both sill and moving pictures were taken. At the children’s kitchen, candy was left for the kiddies and pictures taken of them with their faces happy and hands full of goodies.
Although on strike themselves, the foremen and designers of the Furriers Union collected $26.85, Workmen’s Circle Branch No. 423 brought in $25.00 in addition to $11.00 previously given; employees of Cohan Roth & Stiffson, $25.00; Jewish Workers Progressive Club, $29.00; Unity Shoe Co. shop crew, $27.00; Polish Br. I. L. D. D., $13.42; collection taken at ball, Russian Polish Branch Cloakmakers, $28.11; Pioneers District 2, $36.00; Bonaz Embroiderers Union, $25.00; W. C. Branch No. 628, $27.00; W. C. Branch No. 375, $25.00; W. C. Branch No. 421, $15.00; and Local 54 S. W. P. U., $19.50.
What have you done this week to help win the strike? What are you doing now? Their strength to hold out for victory depends on the support you give them. If you have given already, give again! If you have not given, send a donation at once. Bring, or send, all donations of money, food, shoes and clothing to International Workers Aid, Local New York, Room 237-799 Broadway, Tel. Stuy, 9964.
Strike on Radio
Passaic, N. J., May 5.
A chance for the whole country to hear the issues of the Passaic strike discussed will be given next Sunday evening, when Albert Weisbord, strike leader, and prominent people associated with the strike will speak from the radio station of WNJ, Newark, New Jersey.
Rabbi Stephen S. Wise of New York, Arthur Garfield Hayes, New York Attorney, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Weisbord will be the speakers and Alfred Wagenknecht, relief director, will be announcer for the program.
This two hour program which will begin at 10 o’clock in the evening, daylight savings time, brings together some of the most prominent persons who have been active in the strike, and they will discuss every phase of it.
Weisbord, the beloved leader of 16,000 strikers will be heard. He is a forceful and fiery speaker and he will talk on the issue at stake in this strike, now in its fifteenth week of struggle.
A Word to the Bosses
It is evident that you do not know just what we have determined to do or you would at least condescend to come to a conference with us.
We think you have acted in bad faith when you refuse to meet with us. We are not dangerous and we have no intention to hurt you. You know that.
You say that you will not meet us in our United Front Committee. If you have decided upon this entirely, then you have decided upon it and that is all.
But you may change your mind. We are sure you will. It would be better that you changed your mind now than later, because the longer you remain stubborn the harder it will be for you to see your mistake.
You say that you will meet with the workers individually. It is cowardly for you to say that. You will meet one by one but you do not dare to meet with your workers as a union. The only reason that you give for this is that you can lick an individual into almost any agreement, but you could not lick the union into a heap of slaves.
We do not care to go to you one by one. You have not treated us in the past in such a way that we dare to try it over again. We are afraid to come to you singly. We have reason to be afraid.
We came to you singly before the strike and you fired us every time we demanded the least redress from you. You were proud and haughty. You talked to us as if we were dogs. You insulted us and lorded over us as if we were nothing.
And you have not treated us right since we went on strike. You have been very cruel and unfair and tyrannical. We know who used the policeman’s club on our head. We know who threw gas bombs at us and who turned the water hose on us. We know who arrested us and put us in jail and treated us like cattle. We know who put the men with sawed-off shotguns in the street. We know who read the riot act and locked our halls for us. We know who drove us out of town to hold our meetings.
This was not a nice way to coax us back into the mills. You have not even the decency to be ashamed of your shameful acts.
And now you come and want us to go back as individuals. But we are not coming as individuals. We frankly say that we do not dare to come as individuals. You would not dare to come as individuals if we had treated you as you have treated us.
No. We are not coming in that way. We will stay out till hell freezes over before we will go back as individuals. We will go back as a union. We have decided upon that. You have forced us to decide that way.
We can afford to stay out a long time if you force us to do so. We have plenty of bread and more is coming. You cannot starve us back as you said at first. We are not going to leave town or take up another work so you may make slaves out of other workers. We are going to stay right here and see if you can get by with slave driving as you have in the past.
But on the other hand, we are not stubborn. We are ready to talk the matter over with you. We have always been ready. It is your move next.
The Strike in Passaic and in England
There is a strike in Passaic and vicinity involving some 16,000 workers. There is a strike in England involving over 5,000,000 workers.
There is a big difference in numbers, but there is no difference in the cause of the strike and there is no difference to the opposition to it.
The cause of it here was hunger. The cause of it in England is hunger. When the workers cannot live with the miserable wages they get and the unendurable conditions the impose upon them, they go on strike.
No outside agitator can come in and call a strike. It is hunger and injustice that brings about a strike.
The miners in England have been hard pressed for years. Last August a crisis came. A strike was threatened. The government stepped in and paid the difference between what the miners demanded and what the bosses were willing to pay.
Now the government’s time is up. During this period the miners were getting an average of $18 per week. A cut of twenty to thirty-three and a third percent was made. This means that the miners would now have to work for $12 to $15 a week. They said, "we cannot do it. We would rather starve in the street striking than starve in the mines working.”
You heard something like that in Passaic.
In England the government got out its army and its guns—just like in Passaic. The government is with the mine owners and against the workers—just as in Passaic.
The workers in England see the need of organization and are fighting together as unions against the bosses --- just as in Passaic.
How Many Went Back?
Now if all the workers have gone back to the mills that the bosses try to make us believe have gone back, they would have twice as many working as the whole number now on strike.
And if the mills are running so swiftly and beautifully, what are the bosses kicking about?
And if the mills are open why do they have to set a [way] to open them?
And if the workers are all at work why do they have to get out an injunction to keep the strikers from talking to them and have the strike continue?
And if the workers are going back why do you have to get the sheriffs to read the riot act?
And if the workers are all working why do you have to …ese the halls and parks where the meetings are held since nobody comes to the meetings?
And if all the strikers are back in the mills where did the 10,000 who packed the lots in Wallington and the 1,000 who got together in Lodi and the 2,000 who assembled in halls come from?
Gee! There must be a lot of people in Passaic and all around who do not get into the mills. Maybe they do not like to go into the mills. Maybe they do not fall for the gaff of the bosses and the serious editors in Passaic.
Maybe they see the joke and maybe they laugh at the news that the mills are open.
Its hard to tell just what’s going on in the heads of these strikers who have started to think. And about 16,000 have started to think. And to Organize!
Nimmo Puts Off Hearing
Sheriff Nimmo against whom an injunction was issued forbidding him to becoming the king of Bergen County and shoot down everybody that did not fall down before him and suck his toe told the judge that he wanted the hearing on the injunction to be postponed till May 21.
The sheriff cannot get over the fact that he was fired and that the strikers had a lot to do with it. He wants to pinch his nose to see if he is awake and he feels that he will not be able to decide this before the aforesaid date.
If he has as much sense as a cow he will ask that this [postponement] be till May 21, 1999 or thereabouts.
The strikers and the people of Garfield won’t object.
Textile Strike Bulletin
Vol. 1 No. 12 Passaic N. J. Friday. May 14, 1926
Fight On and Win
We Are Not Fooled by Any Bluff or Threat by the Bosses
The Slavic Committee reports that the bosses have slammed the door to mediation in their face. This Committee has lost hope of settlement with the mill owners.
The Slavic Committee has been especially anxious to find an opportunity to negotiations. It is composed of sincere and intelligent men. Judge Cabell has been at the head of it and has conducted its work in all earnestness.
But the bosses would not listen. They tell the Committee that there is no hope of getting them to talk to the workers. For several weeks the workers and others have looked for better results. The United Front Committee of Textile Workers has made it as easy as possible for the bosses to meet them. Organizer Weisbord stepped aside in order to leave no excuse for the owners. The bosses had indicated that if he stepped aside they would come and talk things over.
Now they balk. They have had fifteen weeks of idle mills. They have had fifteen weeks of opportunity to show what they will do. They have answered that they will do nothing.
Very well. The workers know what to do. You cannot fool us. You cannot bluff us. We are right here a thousand times stronger than we were fifteen weeks ago.
You, the mill owners, are not in the very best position possible. You may not know it, but the entire community is now getting quite tired of your stubborness.
Out of the sweat and blood of the workers you have become fabulously rich. You have piled up fortunes for yourselves and become powerful in your fortunes. You have accepted the abundance created by the workers and grown mighty in your possessions.
And now you are paying us for all this. You have already paid us—for many years you have paid us. You have paid us in low wages and hard work and bad working conditions. You have paid us in dirty hovels and broken down men and women. You have paid us in tuberculosis and malnutrition. You have paid us in the highest death rate in the state from your unsanitary mills. You have paid us in child labor and stunted lives. You have paid us in night work for pregnant women and in starvation wages for men.
You object when we want to organize and protect ourselves. You will not even condescend to talk to us. You feel pretty big—and pretty secure. You have faith in the goodness of the workers—and in our ignorance. But you may find out that we are not as ignorant as you imagine. We have been learning. For fifteen weeks we have been learning. We have been learning what you would never teach us. We have learned to organize.
And it is you who have driven us to organize. You were so grasping that you took too much life out of us while we were humbly working for you. The community around us was asleep and did not know what you were doing till we went on strike and told the reasons for our going on strike. We asked the preachers and the business men and the welfare workers and the health bureaus to look for themselves. They looked. They stood in horror. They had not been able to believe that you paid us such miserable wages till they saw our pay envelopes. They could not believe that you fingerprinted us till we showed them our work cards.
They stood in horror. They stand in horror yet. They swear that this shall not continue. They stand by our side and fight. They have helped us to get a check upon your Cossacks. They have helped us to drive the sheriffs out of town. They have helped us to mediate. They surely thought you would meet with them. But you have insulted them as you have insulted us. Now they see who you are and what you are. In all your nakedness and shame they see you.
Judge Cabell and the Slavic committee comes out to raise a cry for the strikers. They see the justice of our cause. They will help us to arouse this entire community and shake it to its very foundations.
The unions all over this country are backing us in our fight. They have sent support for us during the fifteen weeks. They will send support to us till we win. The workers of America have helped us feed the strikers and give them all they need. We have kitchens for children who tell us that they get more and better food than ever before in their lives while their parents were slaving in your mills and getting your starvation wages.
We knew when we went out on strike that you would go the limit. We figured on that and prepared for it. Now we hurl our challenge at you. We have justice on our side. What have you:’ You have the contempt of every right thinking man and woman in the world. You have earned it. You are earning more of it. You can quit earning it and start on the better road. Will you do that?
We call your bluff. You cannot fool us. We know your game. We defy your obstinacy. We will fight on till we win.
Rubinstein and Miller Cases Dismissed by Justice Parker
Another evidence of the lawlessness of the Garfield and Passaic authorities as well as the constantly increasing power of the mighty union of the textile workers came to light when Justice Parker of Trenton dismissed the charges against Jack Rubenstein and Clarence Miller last Friday.
Rubinstein and Miller were held under $10,000 bail when first arrested for participating in the strike, but this bail was reduced to $1,000 under which these fellow workers were at liberty. The police of Passaic and Garfield trumped up such charges that when Judge Parker saw them he said:
"I conclude that on the face of the papers before me these men are not legally charged with a criminal offense: they will accordingly be discharged and the bail exonerated.”
The bosses went too far when they ordered their cops and their other tools to slam the jail door on the workers. Every time they perpetrated one of their nasty deeds the strikers grew stronger and the union added more members, until now the power of the workers is recognized and the authorities are looking at the whole matter in a more logical way.
The Unsanitary Condition in the U. P. D. W. of Lodi Dye House
We start promptly at 6:20 a m. and work straight through for at least eleven hours and forty minuets, without a lunch hour as we are expected to call when we get a chance during working hours.
We have to prepare the machines the night before so that we can start on time the following morning.
First we fill the box two-thirds full of water, then put the pieces on and sew them together. The next morning we steam up to boiling point, then put in one quart of phosphate of lime and one quart of chemical soap.
Drop pieces into box and let it run for half an hour and steam it to 175 degrees, then let it run for twenty minuets and take sample.
Pour in more color and steam it to 165 degrees.
Continue process until it matches original sample.
The danger is when we have to carry steamed color for our machines in between two rows of machines, and the steam is so dense that you can’t see where you are going.
You walk into the machines and spill the steamed dye all over yourself and burn yourself.
Then there is the handling of the hydro-fluric acid, which is so powerful that it burns through glass and we have to handle it without protection.
I dropped a drop about the size of a pin-head on my foot which caused blisters to form over my foot and when they were removed there remained a hole about the size of a dime.
You are not allowed to leave your machines alone, even to go to the lavatory until you could get someone to take your place in the meantime.
Are these sanitary conditions? I should say not, and so does everybody employed in our department. We must have these conditions improved and we shall through our union.
Where Ladies Have to Work
By Katharine H. Amend
"I’ve traveled a lot—New York and Hartford and Rhode Island and even Philadelphia—but I tell you, hones’ to God, I never saw no place where ladies have got to work like they do here. Lots of places ladies work sometimes,—maybe they have just one or two kids and they can leave ‘em with their mother or his mother so they can work and get ahead a bit,—but here in Passaic they have got to work. My sister here worked when she was expecting with her eighth and was that big that she couldn’t hardly reach round herself. That’s hard, too, when you re that way, stretching and reaching and standing on your feet ten hours without stopping even to eat your san’wiches. She had a real good foreman at the last and he used to pretend not to see if she stayed a few minutes in the toilet to rest. God knows she had to be pretty tired to stay long in the toilet at the Botany. Smells and water on the floor and dirt! But the other foreman—why, he’d yell at her not to stop when she was tryin’ to eat.”
She waved to a passer-by and then resumed:
"And she did her housework, too, mind you. Come home and get him up and something to eat and the kids clean for school and feed the little ones and make the beds and get the dinner. Then maybe she’d lay down a bit in her clothes with the babies on the bed back of her till the big girl got home from school. Olga was eleven and could do pretty good, cook the supper, you know, so my sister could sleep till she had to go back to the mill at seven. It ain’t right but I ask you what she could do? Her husband, countin’ slack time couldn’t get more than twenty-seven a week and you know with shoes and rent and all you just can’t get along on that. That’s what I say—here ladies have got to work. I ain’t a striker myself—my husband, he’s a cook—but I go on the picket line every day. His people are all in it and it ain’t right, so it ain’t. Working like that—you know,—all the life goin’ out of you to earn a living, that ain’t a living. Horses couldn’t work that way. I ask you, ain’t it right if you put all you can into a job to be able to get enough to live so you got strength to go on working? My sister-in-law ain’t been in the church even at Easter for two years and I guess now she don’t care if she ever goes again. Some of these priests ain’t for the people. They say, ‘Go back and then talk it over’. But my sister-n-law she’s lived like a dog that long that she says no hell can’t be worse and she’ll starve till they go back with the union. Some think it would be good to go back if they wouldn’t take off the ten per cent but my sister-in-law says the bosses would just take it next month and they would be starving for nothing now. No, ma’am, where ladies have got to work like they do here nothing can’t be worse.”
"Excuse me a minute. Angela, what did you come out here today? You ain’t going to help the strike by getting pneumonia.”
Angela, little and black-eyed, protested, "I don’t want to miss the parade.”
For conversation I said, “Won’t the truant officer get you if you stay out of school?”
The argumentative picketer and the small girl exchanged grins at a stranger’s ignorance.
"Angela doesn’t go to school. She’s fifteen and her mother’s feet have give out. Somebody’s got to work and her father is dead two years and there are two other little kids. Her father was in the dye works and standing in the hot steam and the wet floors and going home afterwards in the cold seemed to go to his lungs. His street clothes had to hang in the steam, too, you know, and he wasn’t ever dry. Angela here works cleaning needles. That ain’t so damp but she has to stoop all day and it makes her back ache so she can’t hardly unbend when its night.”
"What hard work!”
Angela herself volunteered, “It isn’t the work that’s so hard—it’s the leaning and the dust. But the very worst is the bugs—big, black wood-bugs. I hate them—and the roaches. They smell so and they go so fast and sometimes they crawl up your skirts.”
These stories are not exceptions as I, Thomas-like, had believed when I heard them from others. They are a part of an overwhelming serfdom forced on helpless people within fifteen miles of the prodigal luxury of Fifth Avenue. This women who had traveled much—even to Philadelphia—had the instincts of a publicity agent but in her eagerness to prove her points she used material that a professional would have had to pass by with regrets.
For example, there was an Italian woman. Pressure must be truly terrible to drive a middle-aged Italian woman to public revolt and the picket line. She had the face of a person dead a thousand years, yellow skin drawn too tight over a thin nose and hard cheek-bones, temples sunken and eyes helpless, hopeless. Editors would label a photograph of her a fake and refuse it. Angela told me that she supports five children by her night work. Driven every moment by a foreman, by the need to cook, to sew, to clean, never rested, sucked dry of every feeling but desire to sleep, she is still unable to make enough to care for her hungry brood.
Her English is very scant but it hardly needed Angela’s interpretation to supplement the gestures that accompanied her words as she told her bitter story, ending with the crowning woe that she had not even been able to stop to drink coffee with her midnight bread and cheese.
The foreman he yell, “You Godamsonabeech, what for you stop that machine?”
A wise soul once said that there is no successful agitator but injustice and anyone who wants to find out why there is a strike in Passaic in the textile mills, needs only to ask those who stand in the picket lines in this town where ladies have got to work.
Mills Try Company Union Trick
By Robert Dunn
Company unions in the textile industry increased from four in 1919 to 28 in 1924. Not only concerns such as Forstmann-Huffmann Co. cotton manufacturing companies north and south have used the company union weapon against the trade union.
Notable among southern mills using the John Leitch Plan (house of representatives, senate and cabinet) is the Riverside & Dan River Cotton Mills of Danville, Va. Workers in its mills sign a pledge binding them to the company’s policy of “Justice, Cooperation, Energy and Service.” The workers have upon several occasions voted themselves substantial reductions in wages, As a result of this Company union, the United Textile Workers locals in Danville were forced into liquidation! Durham Hosiery’s company union plan went under in a wave of unemployment accompanied by a 43% wage reduction.
Under the trade union, a skilled dresser tender or beamer averaged $32-$35 for a 48 hour week. Today the same class of workers toils 54 hours and receives a minimum of $18 and a maximum of $28. The new processes introduced with the “inside plan” of agent Parker Straw to save the company money divides the workers into four grades, the majority being put in the lower grades.
Loomfixers who formerly mended 60 looms and received an average of $37.50 per week now care for 90 looms of the same type and receive $10 less per week, or an average of $27,50 per week. Weavers of ginghams formerly operated six looms. Now they run 10 and 12 with less pay for the 54-hour week than they formerly earned in 48 hours in January 1922, before the plan was adopted. Worsted weavers who formerly ran two looms now run six and get from $4 to $8 less per week in wages.
Pacific Mills in Lawrence, similarly have used their “advisory” employee representation plan, which serves to distract workers while wage cuts are put over. Under the Pacific plan, the workers lack even the right to cast a ballot on wage reductions. Under some company unions the management permits a ballot, but acts according to its own desires.
A Pacific Mills executive recently explained that the company was gradually ridding itself of “labor disturbances” by the use of the plan. One trick employed in introducing the plan was to pay the workers committee’s expenses on an “investigation tour” through the plants of the General Electric Co. and the United States Rubber Co. "Of course” the executive explained. “We sent them to the mills where we knew they would see what we wanted them to see.”
Trade union officials in the Pacific write that “the company union is regarded as a Big Joke by many workers.” The union has members but not recognition in the mill. The company’s welfare work is confused in the workers minds
with the company union, trade unionists admit. The company tries to sell the company union on the basis of hospitals, sanitary arrangements, benefit associations, and other welfare features given irrespective of the company union. “Then the company wants to put over radical changes the council has not a word to say,” the trade unionists state. They conclude that “it is up to the workers to organize and ignore the company union.”
Injunction Permits Picketing
The permanent injunction which the Forstmann and Huffmann Co. was finally able to obtain is an exceedingly barren victory, for the mill owners. One of the local newspapers calls the injunction almost as sweeping as the original restraining order. In reality nothing could be farther from the truth. The permanent injunction makes a mockery of the original restraining order.
The restraining order forbade picketing; the permanent injunction permits picketing, and although only eight pickets are allowed at each gate, frequent changing of pickets is not restrained. The restraining order forbade any mention of the strike. The permanent injunction permits peaceful persuasion, going to the extent of saying affirmatively that it is the intention of the court that the strikers may peacefully persuade workers from going to work.
The court states not only that there is a strike in the Forstmann and Huffmann Mill, not only that the overwhelming number of employees of Forstmann and Huffmann are still on strike at the time of issuance of the injunction, but that the strikers are singularly free from acts of violence, and consequently the permanent injunction that was issued is but a formal document which merely prevents by injunction what the criminal law already prevented. Of course the union will not sanction strikers throwing bombs and other criminal acts of violence which the injunction restrains. They have not done so in the past as the court itself points out and they will not do so in the future.
We anticipate that the police in their eagerness to serve the mill owners will try to put many more restrictions upon the pickets than the court itself does. The United Front Committee of Textile Workers desires to affirm now that the strikers will stand firm in maintaining their rights which the court has defined. We shall not be moved away from the mill gates. We shall not be told how to picket just as long as we picket peacefully and orderly and come within the terms of the injunction. We shall protect our workers who are molested by the agents of the bosses by all means within out power. We wish to point out also to the [overzealous] police that they not entitled to arrest anybody except those who violate the criminal law. The court itself may well take care of those who violate the court’s civil decrees. We shall hold every officer responsible for any molestation or false arrest they may make. We shall see to it that law and order is reestablished in the textile strike area.
The Night Work Abomination
Night work by mothers is one of the abominations against which the strikers are protesting in Passaic. It is an abomination practically universal among the wool workers. Nearly every mother tries it at some time or other, some alternating between night and day shifts according to their capacity to stand the added strain, and the needs of their families. The wide prevalence of such work may be observed by the fact that one may stop at any house where the workers live, one may knock at almost any door and one will find a worn out and weary woman who before the strike was employed on the night shift.
Sixty such women were questioned recently as to the effects of such work on their health and on the welfare of their children. Here are examples picked at random from the visitor’s notes which show better than statistics why night work has been condemned throughout the civilized world:
Mrs. P. who lives in a miserable tenement on 2nd street, has seven children. She lives in three dark rooms, two of which are windowless and pays for them $15 rent. The youngest child is fifteen and expects soon to go to work, the youngest is two months old, Mrs. P. although twenty-three years in this country speaks little English. All these years she has worked in the mills, slaving in them as her babies came, and as soon after they were born as possible. Her rooms are squalid and cluttered, unlike most Polish homes which are usually spotless. Mrs. P. is too wearied and ill to clean house. All in a heap she sat, one baby on her knees, and two others clinging to her skirts. One white faced girl of nine, her eyes red from malnutrition interpreted for her mother. With an apathy like hers, the child repeated the story of low wages, insufficient food, an increasing family, and the necessity of the mother’s working at night. Nothing perhaps is more tragic than the faces of these long starved children. Even the babies of two or three reflect the dreariness and misery that has surrounded them ever since they came so unwanted into the world.
Mrs. L. also has seven children, ranging from four to fifteen. She earns $17 to $18 as a spinner on the night shift. Her husband works from 2:30 daily to midnight, so that half of each night, the children are left in the care of the fifteen year old girl. On the day of the visit, the mother was drearily washing. The strike, she said, had given her a little chance at night sleep, but always she was “like dead person for tired.” Two or three of the younger children stood dully about, their eyes staring with hunger. Another child was stealthily eating from the frying pan on the stove. She would watch her mother furtively, and then like a starved animal filch a bit of food. Her peculiarly sharpened features, dead white cheeks and nose pinched and blue looked like the famine pictures from China.
In one small cottage lived six night working mothers. They were all congregated on the steps when the investigator called and one by one they told their stories. Their stories were all the same. Three, four, five, six, seven children, husband earning a pittance, perhaps $18, perhaps $20 a week, perhaps only 27¢. The mother therefore forced into the mill to stand for the long hours of the night and earn at the end of five endless nights, $12, $15 or perhaps also only 27¢. And by day, “how can sleep, with wash, with cook, with kids?” “Night work hell for woman, but what can do?”
The following daily routine of a night worker supplied by one woman is typical:
She works as carder in the Botany mill, the heaviest work imaginable. All night she stands, from seven o’clock in the evening until five the following morning. She then returns to her home, where six children, ranging in age from three to thirteen, and her husband awaits her care. In exhaustion she “falls on the bed,” until six o’clock she must get up, prepare for husband’s breakfast, get him off, and then get three children ready for school. When they are gone, there are still three younger ones to look after. For an hour or two she may try desperately to get a little rest with them at play in the same room with her, or even in bed, to keep them quiet. “But you know, baby no keep still. All time call, Mama, get up.” Presently she staggers to her feet, and sets about washing, or cleaning, or preparing something for the children to eat who come home at noon from school. After dinner she may attempt another nap, or abandoning any such hope, may continue her household duties and oversight of her three children at home. Occasionally she says she puts them in charge of the one of six and lets them play in the street below. “But how I know while I try sleep, they [may] get kill from automobile.” Then comes the evening meal and [then] seven o’clock return to the carding machine. By Saturday she says she “no can move from tired. Like horse must work, but me no strong like horse.”
One evil, universally recognized, was the prevalence of pregnant women on the night shift. The coming of a child is always a source of acute financial anxiety among Passaic workers, and it is only natural that night work among mothers should increase at such times. The practice is common also, of women working as near the birth of their babies as possible, the foremen apparently making no objection to women far advanced in pregnancy standing all night at a ring spinning machine, or running up and down with a spinning mule. Three women told of witnessing births of children in the mills, and several confessed to having worked up to the day or night before their own babies arrived. Several women ascribed the death or weakness of their children to the strain of heavy mill work during pregnancy, but asked with the cynical shrug so common among them, “What can do? One pay not enough.”
These findings merely confirm those of studies made for years which have discredited night work by women in every civilized country in Europe. England has forbidden the practice since 1844, and fourteen other European nations repudiated it in 1906.
For years enlightened citizens in New Jersey have tried to put New Jersey on at least as enlightened a plane as the neighboring states of New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut which forbid night work by women in manufacture. In 1923, a night work law was actually put on the statute books of the state, but the bosses, four of them members of the Wool Council of Passaic, took advantage of a technical error in the drawing of the bill, to secure a writ of certiorari restraining the law’s enforcement. Thus the abomination continues.
Lodi Hears Good Speakers
A woman’s meeting was held in Lodi last week. It was the first meeting of the kind ever held there. It will not be the last. Elisabeth Gurley Flynn and Arliano Magliacano who spoke in Italian were the principal speakers. The women come to the woman’s meetings and hear about the relation of women to strikes. They understand that Women Win Strikes and that women lose strikes. A man cannot strike well if his wife is scabbing at home. If his wife puts on a dreary face and says “Oh, when is the strike going to be over?” every other minute it takes the heart out of the man. There are very few women in Lodi and Passaic who do this. The women who come to the woman’s meetings are the very backbone of the strike. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Magliacano told the women not only to go on the picket line with their husbands, but each one of them to make up her mind that she would persuade ten other people to go.
"When you go to the store, when a neighbor comes to see you, when you meet people on the street, talk to them about the picket line. Persuade them to go. Keep the picket line in your mind. In Lodi some people don’t go out on the picket line because they’re afraid of what the neighbors will say. So many of us ought to go out on the picket line that everybody will be afraid not to go for fear of what the neighbors will say.”
In the woman’s meeting last week in Passaic, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Kate Gitlow were the speakers. There is no better audience of all the fine audiences that gather daily than that of the women. There is no audience more responsive. When you look down into the sea of faces, at the good-looking young girls and the fine middle aged women, the mothers of families, and the grandmothers, you realize what a fighting spirit the textile workers have. This is the spirit that wins the strikes, the spirit that brings the women to the meetings and sends them out again to cheer up such women that are gloomy, to explain the strike to those that are ignorant, and to check at the very beginning any tendency to defeat the fight.
"For all the house to house visiting that the bosses do, let their be twenty times as much house visiting by the strikers.” When you looked at the [faces of] these women, you knew that [each] one of them had made [up their] mind that she would [spend many] hours of the day working [for] the strike and to win it.
Criminal Anarchy in New Jersey
(The Locomotive Engineers Journal for May, 1926)
Does the following recital of facts sound like Siberia under the Czar, Italy under Mussolini, or the Congo under the lash of the slave-driver?
Thirteen thousand workers so wretchedly underpaid that they live in chronic poverty without sufficient food, clothing, medical care, of shelter, are given a 10 per cent wage cut by employers who squeeze from 20 to  per cent annual profits from their sweated labor. The workers send a committee of protest to the management. The committee is fired on the spot for daring to protest. Then, in desperation, the employees strike. The strike is peaceful and orderly. The employers, however, without provocation, get the public police to attack the strikers, wantonly clubbing them, gassing them with tear bombs, riding them down in the streets, and drenching them with plug streams of water in cold weather.
The employees will persist in their strike for a living wage. Then the employers take “law and order” into their own hands. They get thugs, armed with sawed-off shotguns employed as deputy sheriffs. Their police suppress all meetings of the strikers, even though held in private halls or on private grounds. They brutally club strikers attempting peacefully to picket their plants in accordance with law. They beat up newspaper reporters seeking the facts, smash their cameras, and order them out of town. They then arrest the leaders of the strike without warrant, hold them incommunicado, fix their bail from $10,000 to $50,000 each, and even refuse to make known the charges against them until they are arraigned before a “mill” magistrate. When eminent publicists and even clergymen come to protest against such outrages, they, too, are clubbed, arrested, ordered out of town. When 15,000 of the strikers children parade the streets beseeching justice for their parents they are attacked by the police, their leaders arrested and thrown in jail.
The forgoing facts do not describe condition in Czarist Russia, enslaved Italy, the Congo, or even in Belgium under the German invasion. They are occurring now in state of New Jersey, presumably a part of the United States, and are all attested by the conservative New York Times. The strikers and their children appealed to President Coolidge to protect their constitutional rights, but were refused an audience. They then appealed to the Senate, and Senator La Follette immediately introduced a resolution for a full federal investigation, which has been temporarily blocked by Senators Edge and Edwards—the latter posing as a “friend of labor” around election time.
The textile barons of New Jersey refuse to meet their employee’s representatives because they are “communistic.” Stale stuff. But the evidence is complete that the big mill owners are guilty of criminal anarchy. They have arrogantly trampled on democracy, violated the constitutional rights of their “subjects,” and destroyed the last vestige of impartial justice. The Editor andPublisher, organ of the American Newspaper Publishers Association, after recounting the vicious assaults of the Passaic police on newspaper men and women, rightly concludes
"The social and economic situation in those mills must be rotten to the core. They cannot bear the light on a reporters camera plate. The protected industry that gets into this kind of a war must be pretty desperate. The business calls for an investigation by the federal authorities to its depth. The day has not yet come, under the Stars and Stripes, when the club and the knout substitute for constitutional guarantees.”
The Women Textile Strikers
The strike has brought a new life to Passaic. The union has brought new hope and a mighty promise for the future. The women as well as the men are fired with this new hope and are throwing themselves into the work of building the future.
The old life which the bosses forced upon the workers bore most heavily upon the women. They too had to work in the mills. Even the combined earnings of the husband and wife were not enough to bring up the children. Life was a constant battle simply to keep alive. The women spent the energy of giants in this task of keeping a home together. They wasted all their good sharp wits in scheming how to keep the family alive on the poor wages the boss doled out. This is not a fit use for the great courage and strength of the working class women. It is like throwing oneself continuously against a wall which does not yield.
But now that there is a union in Passaic, women and men are turning all their powers together to break down that wall. Women as well as men have come out of the old, dark narrow life. They are no longer struggling alone, struggling merely to keep alive. They are fighting now hand in hand with other workers. They have joined the greatest struggle the world has, the struggle [of the] workers against the bosses.
Nobody has been more valiant and steady on the picket line than the girls and women. Their ringing voices have heartened many a picket line. They are working tirelessly on relief work. They are feeding the children in the kitchen. They are working on committees. When the strike is won, the union will turn its strength to really constructive work. Then the women, the mill workers and the housewives will show what the mighty heart and the tireless courage of the working class women can do.
Cossacks are Getting Near the Scab Girls
No wonder there are some girls scabbing in the mills. Scabbing, but you do not know why, and I do. You will be very surprised if I tell you why, and the reason simply is that the Cossacks of Passaic are trying to kidnap the scab girls. They take them for a ride in their tin Lizzies and rattling Fords, for they are afraid their girls might be won by a striker. But I guess none of you strikers would want that dirty rotten scab for your sweetie. Beware, girls and don’t go scabbing. Let the Cossack get the scab and you stand firm.
Dear Fellow Workers:
Don’t get discouraged but come out on the picket lines and fight, for there have been worse struggles than ours in other strikes. I remember at the coal mines when the miners were getting started to organize years ago, the companies got the deputies out and the deputies sure were rough. The companies had lots of ground and the strikers had to live a long distance from the mines. They used to go there to picket the same as we do, and the deputies would come after them with clubs and stone them. There was no such relief then as we have now and we had nothing to eat. The miners finally got their union and what a help the union is! So that is what we workers want here, a union. A BIG TEXTILE UNION!
A Woman Striker.
The Strike Breaker
A prominent clergyman once gave the following statement as his vision of scabs or strikebreakers after having been compelled to associate with them for a short time:
"After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, the vampire, he had some awful substance left, with which he made a scab. A scab is a two-legged animal with a cork-screw soul, a water-sogged brain, and a combination backbone made of jelly and glue. Where other folks have their hearts he carries a tumor of rotten principles. When the scab comes down the street, men turn their backs, angels weep tears in heaven, and the devil shuts the gates of hell to keep them out. Judas Iscariot was a gentleman compared with the scab, for after betraying his master he had the decency to hang himself—and a scab has not. Esau sold his birthright for a mess of potage. Judas Iscariot sold his savior for thirty pieces of silver. Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of a commission in the English army. The modern strikebreaker sells his birthright, his country, his wife, his children and his fellow workers for a promise from a boss. Esau was a traitor to his God. Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country. A strikebreaker is a traitor to his family, his country, himself and to HIS CLASS. A real man is never a strikebreaker.”
Philadelphia Cops are Also Touchy
The cops in Philadelphia have thin skins. They have also a very tender feeling for their brother cops in Passaic. If you want to verify this assertion go to the little town beyond Trenton and see for yourself.
The occasion was a meeting of the textile workers in Philadelphia held last Tuesday for the purpose of raising funds to help the Passaic strikers. The speakers were J. O. Bentall and N. H. Tallentire, and it was Tallentire who drew the ire of the bluecoats. He told about the brutality of the Passaic police, when—thump, thump, thump, came three fat cops and a very plain clothes man. There were flashes in their eyes and sticks in their hands.
"Stop that you --------” demanded the four of them all in chorus. “Youse cannot talk that way about any police in this country,” they roared.
It was a fine demonstration of the solidarity of the bosses and their cops, and the workers saw the point when Bentall showed them that the workers of Passaic have already learned that since the bosses are so well organized, it is only to be expected that the workers will follow their good example and organize for themselves.
And then the Philadelphia workers shoved their hands clear to the bottom of their pockets and pulled out all the money they had to back their brothers in the big fight in the foreign country which they call Passaic.
At the two meetings that were held there that evening they gathered nearly $300 to be shipped to the foreign country of Passaic.
The Brazen English Lords
After having agreed to continue the subsidy to [the] miners and thus having gotten the unions to call off the general strike, the premier and the king and the press begin to brag that the government broke the strike.
It did no such thing.
It simply lied.
The British miners went out when their wages were to be cut. The general strike was called to protest against the wage cut of the miners. When the miners were given their demands --- or promised that the government would give them their former wages they took the government’s word for it.
Now the bosses come along and fire all the intelligent strikers and refuse them their old jobs. The bosses in the other industries are doing the same. They think they can get by with that, but the British workers are showing them different.
Half a million of the railway workers have refused to go back because the bosses have “punished” some of the members of the union by refusing to take them back. If the bosses have no better sense than to insult the workers that way, old England the two weeks of general strike just closed were two weeks of a beautiful picnic compared to the pretty little fight that the bosses will have on their hands if they begin to monkey with the union buzz saw.
The bosses are bitter when they find the workers strong and not to be driven like cattle. If the bosses in Passaic could drive the workers back without a union, life would not be worth living under the revengeful heel of the bosses.
Fight unto death if necessary, but we do not go back without a union.
Who Started This Strike
Who started this strike? The bosses say that the foreigners started it.
Good and well. That is quite right.
One of these foreigners is Julius Forstmann. Another is Max Stoehr. Another is Fabian Johnson. All these are foreigner. These foreigners came here protected by the high tariff. They paid such miserable wages that the workers could not live on them. These foreigners put pregnant women to work nights. They make it impossible for children to grow up and become strong.
In the long run the worker could not stand it. They were driven to strike. Who caused that strike?
The foreigners—the mill owners who are foreigners.
Now the workers do not make any distinction between foreign and native born. They are all the same. A foreign born worker is just as good as a native born. A native born boss is just as bad as a foreign born boss. But since the bosses try to blame the foreigners for the strike we might as well clear that matter up.
Will Herr Julius Forstmann please answer if he has any answer to give.
by Adolf Wolf.
Passaic is the battle-field
Of boss and working class
Our war cry “We shall never yield”
We vow “they shall not pass!”
Your bloodhound thugs can bark and beat
And throw us into jail
But bravely their assaults we’ll meet
Their dirty work shall fail.
We do not battle for the Lord
But for a living wage
This drives the greedy master horde
To curse and fume and rage.
In this great war for human right
Alone we do not stand
All are concerned in this great fight
All workers of this land.
Should we be vanquished on this field
By the army of black Greed
Then workers everywhere must yield
To those who make them bleed
Workers join us in this fight
Its yours as well as ours
We’ll win if we will all unite
Against the ruling powers.
Will Vote As He Strikes
Dear Fellow Workers:
We are hearing lots of things about Weisbord, and that ought to make us stick to him more than ever. He is with the working class against the bosses. The bosses are trying to do everything they can to get Weisbord out of Passaic but we should stick to him to the end as he is with us fighting for us. We must not listen to Bryan as he is against our United Front Committee, “Why did he change so suddenly?” I guess he is getting paid by the bosses to hold meetings and talk about our leader Weisbord. He is nothing but a strike-breaker. The Mayor and the rest of them ought to be glad we have Weisbord as he is the one who is keeping the strikers orderly. If we do not have him, there would not be any scabs left, as we would show these bosses how to treat the scabs. But we want a union and will do everything the union says.
The bosses would rather pay the police to club us than pay the working people better wages. If we have a union and all stick to Weisbord we will have better wages and conditions. We are fighting for our rights and must win our demands. We worked long enough for $14.65 a week. What can you do with $14.65 for 48 hours work when rent is $35 and $40 a month. I would like to those bosses support a family of six or seven children with that pay.
I am a citizen and voted for the Mayor, but the next time I wish I had a hundred votes to keep him out of office. Is he with the people as he said he was? No, he is with the bosses and orders the police to club us for peacefully walking the streets.
We must all stick together and to Weisbord, and then we are sure to win as we are in the right.
Textile Strike Bulletin
The United Front of the Workers Against the United Front of the Bosses
Vol.1 No. 13 Passaic N. J. Friday, May 21, 1926
Down with Despotism
Fight Persecution, Brutality, Low Wages, Bad Conditions and Suppression of Rights
Associated Societies Hold Monster Mass Meeting to Support the Strikers
Alien Bosses Flayed by Ministers and Laymen Alike
Thirty thousand citizens of Passaic and its vicinity placed themselves officially on record as supporting the striking textile workers to the limit on Sunday at a huge mass meeting in Belmont Park Hall.
The Associated Societies and Parishes of Passaic, Garfield and Clifton and vicinity, comprising more than forty societies benevolent, social, religious, political, and churches, met to endorse the strike, and to pass resolutions urging the Senate investigation of the strike now pending.
A real citizens meeting, called by the Association itself, it represented the actual feeling of the mass of the people in the strike area, as to the justice of the strike. This great body, with ramifications extending throughout the entire nation, created the Citizens Conciliation committee which worked for more than a month to bring the mills and the strikers together, and finally encountered the iron refusal of the mill owners to meet the union for settlement of the strike. The Association then declared that it must abandon its position of neutrality and support the strikers with its full strength.
The first move of the Association was to send a committee of thirty citizens, to Washington to demand senatorial investigation, it was announced at the meeting. The committee left on Monday night. Plans also include the collection of relief funds for the strike relief organization.
The Association is making plans for a huge parade in Passaic on next Sunday as a part of the campaign for additional Passaic support. All the societies of the Association will be represented and strikers will march in the parade.
The resolutions adopted by the meeting, and signed by representatives of the members …….. are as follows:
Be it resolved by the undersigned members of the Associated Societies and Parishes of Passaic, Garfield, and Clifton and vicinity, in solemn meeting [assembled.] That
Whereas a strike of employees in the Textile Mills situated in our Cities exists and has existed for now a period of sixteen weeks; and
Whereas it has been charged that the strike was instigated and is being supported by Communists; and
Whereas it has been charged that the mill owners have lobbied for a high tariff under the plea that the high tariff was necessary to enable their workers to have a decent American standard of living; and
Whereas it has been charged that these German-owned mills have not paid anywhere near the wages necessary to live decently; and
Whereas the brutal atrocities committed in this city, from which the strikers have been absolved by the Court of Chancery, leads to charges that these alien-owned mills are retaliating by these brutal measures in punishing American patriots, former employees of these mills, for the part they took in suppression of Kaiserism in the late World War; and
Whereas a resolution has been introduced in the Senate of the United States of America, providing for an investigation of the strike, its cause and duration has been referred to Committee and no action tending to adoption of said resolution has been taken for a long time; and
Whereas we feel that an investigation of the situation in the local textile industries would disclose irregularities, oppression and conditions which cannot be tolerated in any civilized community, much less so in any portion of our United States;
Therefore, Be it Resolved, that we earnestly call to the attention of the Senate of the United States, the conditions above enumerated, and do humbly and firmly and sincerely urge the adoption of the pending resolution in the Senate of the United States, providing for the investigation with all due dispatch of the Passaic Textile Industries and of the strike, and such action taken as the conditions found will necessitate to bring about justice to those affected and prevent the spread of the doctrines of Communism.
William R. Vanecok, Chairman.
Gustav Kosik, Secretary.
John Wroblewski, Secretary.
Representatives of member societies.
Great Strike Parade Sunday
The whole city of Passaic together with Garfield, Clifton and Lodi will come out Sunday afternoon in a monster parade for the striking textile workers in which all the strikers will participate with floats and banners.
The parade is arranged by The Associated Societies and Parishes of Passaic and vicinity. This organization has come out wholeheartedly for the strikers and invites all the citizens of the textile district to participate in the big demonstration.
Forty-two societies and churches are taking part it this parade which promises to be one of the largest ever held in community.
The parade will start near Monroe and Third streets and will wend its way to First Ward Park, entering at Sixth street. A mass meeting will be held at the close of the parade.
Larger and larger numbers are coming out for the strikers to show that they want us to win in this mighty fight for a union and decent living conditions.
Let all the strikers join in this great demonstration.
The Children’s Mass Meeting
On sunny Saturday morning under the big poplars in Belmont Park, a sea of little faces [surrounded] the platform. Thousands of little arms raised waving to the man grinding the movie camera. Thousands of little voices chanting One-Two-Three-Four—who are we for? Union! Five-Six-Seven-Eight—whom do we appreciate? WEISBORD, Gurley Flynn, Wagonknecht, “Professor” Lewis—and all the others who had come to speak to them…… This was the first great mass meeting for strikers children. Some called them children, some called them kids. Others called them young strikers or young pickets. Young comrades and young fellow-workers. They had come to hear about the plans for children’s camps, children’s milk, vacations in the homes of friendly labor union people in other towns and other measures to be taken to care for the young folks while the fight-to-the-finish is carried on.
Alfred Wagenknecht explained it all --- how the children of the poorer workers would be taken first to the half dozen camps already prepared for the summer, how more camps would be found, how hundreds of children who had never been away from their crowded homes in summer would this year be taken on a vacation at the expense of the Strikers’ Relief Committee—how they would eat good nourishing food, many of them for the first time in their lives, how they would sleep in the open air and grow strong in the woods while their relieved mothers would be able to stay at home and, with less care and worry, carry on the fight for the union and for the victory that is coming.
The children listened and were wild with joy. “I’m going to camp.” “I’m going to live at Miss Flynn’s house,” cried some of the little ones sitting on the edge of the platform. “My mother said I could go.” “So did mine.” The atmosphere was electric with warm anticipation.
C. J. Hendley of the Teachers union of New York City, who teaches school and prepares correspondence lessons for the Workers’ Education Bureau of the A. F. of L., and Alfred Baker Lewis, also a teacher and writer, told the children that the New York folks would gladly welcome them to their homes and help them in their struggles of their parents to gain a decent livelihood and a union. They told them to remember the historic example of George Washington at Valley Forge and the others who fought for “representation” 150 years ago—how though hungry and starving and weak and weary the men who worked for independence in those days had won their goal. The little pickets applauded these history lessons.
Then the wife of Rabbi Stephen S. Wise of New York, who has been raising money for the children’s milk fund told them how wonderful was the stand of their parents and what it would mean to them all to enjoy, in the future, the benefits of the union conditions the older folks would win out of this strike. Mrs. Andrews of the Fellowship of Reconciliation told of the way the children of the rich enjoy their summers and the wealth that is showered upon them to give them health and strength. “The poor children are just as fine and just as brave and beautiful as the children of the rich. You should have equal advantages and you WILL have if this union can be established to gain the better things of life for your fathers and mothers and yourselves.”
Then came Albert Weisbord for whom the children had been crying all morning. What gay and happy shouts went up as he picked his way carefully through the crowd to the platform. Yet before he could begin speaking, the police, evidently with a deliberate desire to disturb the happy and peaceful meeting and throw fear into the hearts of the children, came over and arrested Jack Rubenstein, picket captain, who was standing, watching the demonstration for Weisbord.
It was just the moment when the bulls thought they could cause the most commotion. But the children were not excited. Albert Weisbord explained the frame-up of their friend Jack Rubenstein, who had beet led away to the patrol wagon. The children, used to arrests and the tyranny of the Cossacks, seemed to realize it was just a continuation of the previous day’s terrorism when many of their mothers and friends had been beaten up standing in front of their own houses.
Then Robert Dunn of the American Civil Liberties Union told the police in front of the children, that the minuet interference’s with free speech, assembly, the right to walk on the public sidewalks, and the right to picket peacefully in all the strike towns, were discontinued, his organization would withdraw from the scene! But that he doubted if the mill-controlled mayors and magistrates and deputies would relieve him of the duty of coming to Passaic and Garfield pretty regularly until the strike was won.
Elizabeth Gurly Flynn pointed put the hypocrisies of the big absentee German mill owners with their castles in Germany and their summer homes in America, and contrasted the condition of their homes and their children with
the pale faces of the strikers children, while Albert Weisbord showed the children how much they DIDN’T learn from their school teachers about the realities of life—the profits of the mills and the blacklist and spy systems of the Wool Council. But the children are getting their lessons in Americanism, not from the tracts of the National Security League but from witnessing the clubbings of the police and the ruthless and illegal actions of the local justices, and petty law officers. From such scenes as those of the previous day on Dayton Ave. they would learn more about Americanism than in their whole life at school.
A Call for a Conference to Support the Passaic Strike
To All Labor Unions, Workers Fraternal Organizations, Textile Strikers Relief Conferences, Other Sympathetic Associations:
Greetings to all our Friends.
Shall the textile workers have the right to organize?
Shall the right to bargain collectively, a right established and accepted everywhere, be abrogated by the textile mill owners? Shall the right to picket, legal under the laws of New Jersey, be violated by the textile barons? Shall the right to speak and hold meetings be abolished? Is New Jersey in the United States?
We, the Textile Strikers, want to confer with you about these matters. We want to confer with you also regarding the support—now necessary—now that the mill owners have closed the doors to negotiations for a strike settlement. It is intention of the mill owners TO WIPE US OUT, to kill our attempt to organize.—Now we need your support—your [advice] more than ever.
You surely want us to win! And permit us to tell you that the bitter fight being made is a fight against all of labor, against us by the textile barons, against labor unionism. If we can organize the textile workers in Passaic and vicinity, then the textile workers in other textile centers will be encouraged to organize. Then the steel workers, the rubber workers, the oil workers—millions of unorganized workers will be encouraged to organize. The textile barons know of this as do their colleagues, the steel, oil, rubber barons. So this fight is your fight. If we win, you win. If we win, organized labor wins.
We are calling the conference to take place in Passaic N. J., Saturday, May 29th at 10 A. M. The 10,000 Textile Strikers ask your organization to elect a delegate to this conference. Besides the questions touched upon in the first paragraph, the BIG QUESTION of aiding the strikers children will be placed upon the agenda.
COME TO THE “SUPPORT THE PASSAIC STRIKE” CONFERENCE. Prove to the Textile Strikers who need your support, and to the textile barons who hate to see you give it, that you are a hundred percent behind us and will fight on with us until we win!
Albert Weisbord, Chairman Strike Committee.
Gustav Deak, Secretary.
Lawrence Reorganizes United Front Committee For Better Fight
Eager to follow the example of Passaic, the United Front Committee of Lawrence has reorganized itself at its last meeting with a view of carrying on a real and earnest campaign of propaganda and organization among the Lawrence Textile Workers. The best working class elements representing the militant workers who have, fought in the front line of all the workers struggles in Lawrence, are again throwing themselves into the work of organizing the unorganized textile workers.
Among the organizations affiliated with the Lawrence United Front Committee are the Fronco-Belgians, the Italian workers club of Lawrence, the Russian club, the Armenian workers club, the Lithuanian workers, the Arlington Mill Unit, the Pacific mill workers unit, the loom fixers union A. F. T. O. and many individuals identified with the Lawrence Labor movement, and Passaic workers who are members at large. The reorganization plan consists of the following 13 points:
1. Any organization of Textile Workers, such as: local unions, mill units, language groups and any working class organizations, social, fraternal and economic are eligible to affiliate to the Lawrence United Front Committee of Textile Workers.
2. No anti-working class organization and no company union can affiliate with the Lawrence United Front Committee of Textile Workers.
3. No officer of or anyone having official connection with a company union can be a member of, or a delegate to the United Front Committee of Textile Workers.
4. Members of the United Front Committee who are at present connected with or are officials of a company union must publicly resign from such company union and from any official position in same.
5. The United Front Committee is a delegate body: only regularly elected delegates from bona-fide groups shall have voice at the committee meetings.
6. Representation shall be three delegates from organizations up to 50 members and five delegates from organizations having over 50 members.
7. Organizations shall have the right to elect as its delegates any good standing member of the United Front Committee or any member at large.
8. Any individual identified with the labor movement may become a member of the United Front Committee by being a member at large. Members at large have voice and vote at the general membership meetings of the United Front Committee. Members at large pay their dues directly to the United Front Committee.
9. An executive committee of seven shall be elected by the United Front Committee, not more than three to be nominated by any one unit, or organization.
10. The executive Committee shall meet regularly at least once a week, to be called by the secretary.
11. The full United Front Committee shall meet regularly once every two weeks upon call by the secretary or the executive committee.
12. General membership meetings shall be held once every two months or upon call by the United Front Committee.
13. The United Front Committee shall proceed to organize shop committees, department and mill units in all the mills in Lawrence and vicinity.
Lawrence United Front Committee Fights Company Union In Pacific Mill
The Lawrence United Front Committee of Textile Workers has declared war against the company union in the Pacific mill. The United Front Committee and all Lawrence workers recognize the Pacific shop council or Company Union as a tool of the mill owners used to offset Unionism and to the workers from organizing. The company union is operated, owned and controlled by the bosses and is always used to O.K. wage cuts, speed-up systems and the fleecing of the workers.
The United Front Committee declared in [unmistakable] terms that it will fight to the bitter end against this menace, and that it will not tolerate any individuals who have any connections with the Shop Council or the bosses Company union. Accordingly by a large and decisive majority vote at its meeting of May 8th, the United Front Committee decided to purge its ranks of all elements who are close to the boss, and voted that the Chairman of the United Front Committee, who is a member of the Plant Committee representing the Lower Pacific, shall resign from the company union.
The representative of the Dyers department on the shop council and the member of the Plant Committee defended the Shop Council, and the Pacific company union, and attempted to break up the meeting of the United Front Committee. They proved themselves to be enemies of the Lawrence Textile workers by defending the Bosses, and attacking the Passaic strikers who are in Lawrence working for the relief. The overwhelming majority of the United Front Committee however, refused to be terrorized and forced them to choose between the Bosses shop council and the United Front Committee. A small group then withdrew from the meeting and declared themselves outside of the United Front Committee.
The Lawrence Textile workers will only gain strength by the elimination of the company union from the United Front Committee. The workers of the Pacific mill have already repudiated the bosses shop council and will have nothing to do with it. The best elements of the Lawrence workers are rallying to the United Front Committee. The struggle against the company union is a signal to the militant elements who have fought best for better conditions for the Lawrence workers, to put their shoulder to the wheel.
A United Front of the workers against the united front of the bosses.
Forward to the organization of the Lawrence Textile Workers.
Forward to higher wages and better conditions.
The Speed-Up Terror
The Pacific Mill owners are not satisfied with the large profits which they have made in the last few years. They have a planning board made up of efficiency men who watch the workers time and measure their [moves]. They are forever adding speed-up systems which throw out men from work and reduce the pay envelopes of those who remain at work. Of course every speed-up system added means not only smaller wages but also harder work. The efficiency men look upon the workers not as human beings but as tools for profits for the mill owners. The efficiency men get from five to ten thousand dollars per year. The Pacific Mill bosses are forever cutting the wages of the workers because they claim they do not making enough profits. Yet we find according to their own reports that they had twice as much wealth last year as in the year of 1919.
In 1919 they were worth $46,483,605. In 1920, $48,464,322; 1921, $47,453,837; 1922, $54,623,961; 1923, $67,463,388; 1924, $80,107,225. Every year in the last four years on which the report was made that over two millions were paid out in dividends.
A Pacific Worker.
A Question: Fellow Workers
After slaving many years in the A dye house of the Arlington Mills running a kettle, a worker was fired because he is not young anymore. His young days were swallowed up by the cloth. His young days were coined into hundreds of dollars for the mill owners who never see the mill. In the winter time they are at the Miami Beach and in the summer time down in Riviera throwing away the millions which they squeeze from the workers. In the year 1924 according to their own report, the company earned $1,432,611. During that year many wage cuts were handed to the workers on the claim that the company does not make enough.
On what will he live now? On the profits which the boss made from him? Try to get it. One more is added to the army of unemployed who are knocking about for a chance to be employed, for a chance to be turned into more glittering coins for the mill owners, the parasites.
An Arlington Mill Worker.
Women, Fight for Your Children!
The little children of these textile towns, the streets are swarming with them. The barren streets of Garfield, the straggling streets of Lodi, the hot, crowded streets of the East Side, all are swarming with the little children of the textile strikers. They are not healthy, strong children. They are not rosy-cheeked, fat and strong as every mother would like to see her child. They are growing up sick, these children of the textile workers. The children of the Slavs, with their big brown eyes and golden hair, the children of the Germans, blue-eyed and yellow-haired, the dark-eyed and black-haired children of the Italians and the Hungarians. ……. and all alike these children have pale, thin little faces. There are dark rings around their eyes such as should never be seen in a child’s face. They are listless and tired, as though they were old already in their childhood. Their little bodies are thin and without energy.
Mothers of Passaic and other textile towns, you know why your children are growing up sick instead of strong and well. You know too, why so many of your babies cannot even grow up at all, but fall victim to some sickness when they are still very little children. You know why 50 percent more children die here than in other towns of New Jersey. Behind your pale little children you see the crimes of the bosses who are draining your children’s life just as surely as though they came into your home and strangled them. With their low wages and wage-cuts, they will not allow you to buy enough food to make your children healthy. They have starved your children.
You yourself still have a strong body. You come from the old country. There you were poor, yes, but you still had good air to breathe and worked out of doors and had food to eat. Here, in this textile hell-hole in America, you live in three little crowded rooms. You live on bread and black coffee. You cannot afford milk, butter, the things that are good and make people strong. You cannot feed your children. How can your children meet life when they grow up with their weak and sickly bodies? The bosses are preparing a hell for your children worse than the hell you yourself are living in.
Mothers, the union is fighting for life for your children, while the bosses would bring them death. This strike is a fight for living conditions so that children can grow up strong, rosy and happy. The mothers of the strike will never give up the fight for their children. Every mother of these towns who is a textile worker belongs in the union.
There is no force in nature stronger than a woman fighting for her child. Mothers of the textile towns, look into the faces of your children, sickly as they are and pale, and swear that you will never give up the fight until we have won the union which alone can make your children strong and well.
A Young Negro Writes
I am a young colored worker in the United Piece Dye Works. I worked in the acid room which is about the most dangerous work in the mill. We have to dip the bundles of silk in a solution of acid. We have to work with rubber gloves and shoes so that the acid will not burn us.
The white foremen and the petty bosses discriminate against us in the bargain. We get the worst jobs in the mill.
We will stick together with our white workers in this fight. The enemy of the white worker as well as the Negro worker are the bosses. We learned something in this fight. We learned that the boss is our true enemy. We’ll fight side by side with the white workers and we’ll fight to a finish.
Los Angeles Calif.
General Relief Committee of the Texti1e Workers,
Passaic, N. J.
We are herewith enclosing check for $300, which is the proceeds, so far received from the Banquet and Concert arranged by the Women’s Consumers Education League as per enclosed program. Part of the proceeds amounting to $75 was sent to you a couple of weeks ago, and since there are still some tickets to be collected for, we expect about $75 more. This money will be remitted to you immediately it is received.
Your night letter of April 23 acknowledging receipt of the $75 received and same was read to the audience, on the night of the concert. The result of this and appeal made, a collection of $115 was made, which amount is included in the enclosed check, that is in the total proceeds of the affair.
The writer on behalf of the Women’s Consumers Education League takes this opportunity of congratulating the strikers upon their heroic fight, and can assure you that we pledge our wholehearted support until such time as the battle and our battle shall be won. We know that the mass of workers are with you, and will be with you until the finish of the fight.
Women’s Consumers Education League.
Per Anna Lyons.
Chairman of Committee.
The Lawless Cossacks Drive Workers like Cattle
The eight picketers and the Sergeant of Police met each other in front of the Forstmann-Huffmann mills. It was Friday afternoon. Friday, terror had broken loose again. The streets were full of people talking about arrests, talking about the picket lines that had been broken up, people clubbed. Some said the police had entered a house and dragged people out. Others had seen a women roughly handled. There was the feel of violence in the air. The terror of a month ago seemed about to break loose again and all the strikers felt it. Jack Rubenstein had been arrested again.
Through the swarming streets flew the rumors of fresh police violence. Quiet people walking along had been met by police and told them they could not pass through Clifton. No wonder the people from everywhere are standing in knots on the sidewalk that all the side streets were filled and that every window was as full of people as though it was a box at the theater. A funny sight. The houses with their windows bobbing with heads. People waiting for something to happen.
The restraining injunction which made it a crime for any member of the United Front to speak to anyone from the Forstmann-Huffmann mills, had been modified. Eight pickets were to be allowed. In spite of the new injunction allowing picketing, the pickets had been chased away by police.
The afternoon of Friday was the test. Friends from New York had come out to see whether or not the police were still there to prevent picketing. Mr. Josephs, the lawyer of the Civil Liberties, was with them. The Sergeant, met the picketers gruffly with:
"You can walk as far as the telegraph pole, see, and back as far as the gate,—’At oughta be enough for you.”
There followed a long wrangle between Mr. Josephs and the Sergeant. The pickets waited. The people on the streets moved restlessly. Cops on motorcycles swooped up and down. To one side stood Mr. Rheinholt of the Forstmann-Huffmann mills, watching the proceedings.
"Well,” added the sergeant threateningly, "you heard what I told you, your pickets do like I said, or you get 16 weeks.”
The brief line of pickets began their march up and down in front of the mills. A roar of applause went up from the sidewalk, old women leaned out of the windows and clapped their hands. People on the sidewalk and people in the windows for blocks cheered. The people in the houses began singing Solidarity.
The pickets walking along so tranquilly, meant that the injunction had been lifted. The people on the sidewalk watching them, were almost another form of picket line.
Presently the first group of pickets were relieved by another group of eight. These too, got their share of applause. The crowds on the street grew a little denser. They did not block the sidewalk but people in Garfield and Passaic are not allowed to stand in front of their own doorstep, so it seems. Friendly people cannot watch the picket line without the police wanting to do something about it.
"Break ‘em up, break ‘em up,” the Sergeant hollered. And the motorcycle cop rode swiftly along the sidewalk, warning people into their houses, making them go into stores.
"Go on in, go on in, get off the street,” the motorcycle cop warns an old woman.
"Now, I can’t stay on the street any more, now I got to go in the house when the cops tell me,” she grumbles.
A cop on a motorcycle is worse than a mounted policeman. Presently the people were out of the house again.
"Break ‘em up, break ‘em up,” calls the Sergeant and again the motorcycle cop rides arrogantly on the sidewalk and grumbling, protesting. The people go into the houses and not only the strikers, but the store keepers and other working people living around there are driven in. Were they disorderly? Of course not. They were standing around like they would do on a Sunday, watching like they might have watched anything interesting that passed the house. Why did they have to go in? They were driven off the streets because they were watching picketers. Meantime, the picket line moves up and down, sturdily, and the people watch from the windows and doorways.
Textile Workers Conference to Amalgamate All Textile Unions
TO ALL TEXTILE WORKERS ORGANIZATIONS:
Twenty-eight thousand textile workers will have representatives at the Amalgamation Conference of Textile Workers Organizations which will meet at the Hotel Imperial, Broadway and 32nd street, New York City, June 5th and 6th, 1926.
All the important textile unions will have delegates present and many textile centers will be represented. Lawrence, Mass., the large woolen and worsted center, the scene of many bitter struggles of the mill workers against the millionaire mill owners, will be represented. Providence R. I., with its large woolen and braid mills has also elected delegates.
All the local unions of the American Federation of Textile Operatives have received the call for the Conference and are responding.
The Knit Goods Workers of Philadelphia have elected their representatives.
The Amalgamated Lace Operatives will be there.
The Tapestry and Carpet Workers Union have already elected their delegates.
The International Mule Spinners Association will have their delegates present.
The Associated Silk Workers Union will be represented and will participate in the Amalgamation Conference.
The newly organized union, The United Front Committee of the heroic Passaic strikers, already ten thousand strong, will participate and give a militant tone to the conference; living proof that the textile workers can organize as well as fight.
Every section of the country will be represented. Northern New York State with mills in Utica, Little Falls, Amsterdam, etc.; the silk mills of New Jersey, Connecticut and Brooklyn, N. Y.; New England, the cotton mills and print works of Fall River, New Bedford, the Blackstone and Pawtucket Valleys and in New Hampshire --- all will have their representatives present—battle scarred veterans of the struggle to organize the textile mills.
The leaders of many a hard-fought battle will come together in conference to lay the basis for one mighty union in the textile industry which will organize every textile mill in America.
Elect your delegates and send them to Hotel Imperial, New York City on Saturday June 5th .
The need for organization is urgent. The opportunity is great. Wage-cutting, speeding up, long hours, bad conditions are prevalent throughout the entire textile industry.
The workers are ready to organize.
The splendid example of the 16,000 Passaic strikers should be an inspiration to every textile worker and every textile union in America.
Meet Albert Weisbord, the organizer of the Passaic strike, at the conference.
Meet all the real militants fighting for the cause of the exploited textile workers.
Get behind the movement to organize the unorganized. Send us your representatives.
Make the Amalgamation Conference of Textile Workers Organizations in New York City a big success.
Make Saturday and Sunday, June 5th and 6th red letter days for the textile workers and the labor movement.
Let us get together and organize.
FEDERATED TEXTILE UNIONS OF AMERICA
Joseph La Brie, Sec’y-Treas.
Strikers Statement to the Public
For many years we were dumb. We were oppressed by a system of terrorism and espionage unequalled in this country. We were cursed with low wages and inhuman, unsanitary working conditions. We had to work long hours. Our women folk were forced into the mills to work all night. We were so tired we could have no home life, no time for children, no time to develop ourselves as men and women should. If many of us remained illiterate, if our homes were broken up, if many of our children filled an early grave, it was because the mill owners, having us absolutely in their power, willed it to be so.
But we are determined with all the strength that is in us, that this shall be so no longer. The ten per cent wage cut that the mill owners forced upon us, awakened us to our peril and called every man and woman of us into the fight to defend our homes and our lives. If we have to starve to death, we shall not starve slaving inside the mills, but rather we shall [die] struggling for life and liberty.
In this fight we find it necessary to organize ourselves into our own union, into the United Front Committee of Textile Workers of Passaic and vicinity. Without such a union we are helpless, with no safety, with no security, with no chance to work out a destiny of our own.
We understand full well what the fight for a union means. Our fight for the right of collective bargaining is a fight to check the irresponsible power of the bosses. It is a fight to defend our best people who would be outlawed and blacklisted. It is a fight to hold whatever we may win in this struggle. We are determined to win in Passaic now that right of collective bargaining which has been won long ago by most of the workers in this country.
There never can be peace in the industries in Passaic until the workers here, as they have elsewhere, become a part of the organized labor movement.
We must have a union, we will have a union.
THE UNITED FRONT COMMITTEE OF TEXTILE WORKERS OF PASSAIC AND VICINITY.
Save the Children!
Are they the children of an American city, these children of the textile strikers of Passaic and vicinity, or are they the specters of some famine haunted country we have read about far away? Their pale, pinched little faces are like those pictures we used to see of the children dying of hunger in Germany, in China, in Armenia.
But walk about the streets of these towns. Workers of America, see the children swarming on every hand. See them at the meeting halls, listening to the speakers, with eager eyes shining intently in white, peaked faces. See them at the children’s kitchens, see them smile as they crowd in and sit down wonderingly before a bowl of good soup and a cup of milk and go out happily clutching an apple. See them as we see them here, and you will know their reality. Thousands of little children of strikers would meet you on every hand. In their faces—not children’s faces most of them, but worn, old looking faces of people burdened by life—you will find a strange look of questioning. They are questioning you, Workers of America. All these thousands of children are asking you:
"What is to become of us? How do you think we are to grow up? Our fathers work days, our mothers work nights. But together they cannot make enough to feed us. We live in flats of three little crowded rooms. We live in darkness and dirt. We never see our parents. Look at us, our bodies are thin and underdeveloped, so that we look three or four years younger than we are. We have no strength to grow up. Workers of America, who is to take care of us? Our parents are fighting for us with all their strength. They are fighting a terrible enemy, the textile bosses. Do the bosses care whether we live or die? They make profits on our lives; they do not care. Workers of America, we want to grow up strong so that we too can take our place in the ranks of the workers and fight for freedom. We want to survive ---it is you who must help us!”
The children are asking for a milk fund for the babies and the little children under seven. Think of it, babies of the textile strikers are brought up on black coffee and bread. The wage cut took their milk away. Thousands of dollars for milk for the thousands of little children under seven! More money for the kitchens that are feeding the children of all ages. Thousands of dollars for meals for thousands of children!
Then, we have a plan for something that will make the children open their eyes and smile with such happiness as they never knew before. We want to send away the children of the Passaic strikers for summer vacation. Think of it! To go to the country! To leave the hideous, hot little den that is called home; to go where there is swell air and plenty of food and care and rest. For the children of Passaic, that is a dream of Paradise. For their parents it means new strength to fight on, without the worry of hungry children to drive them back to work.
Workers of America, we depend upon you to realize these dreams. We must raise money so that no child will be hungry, so that no baby will be without milk. We must have help in finding summer camps and money to send
our children to them. You have stood by us like soldiers fighting the same battle. We know the workers are with us.
Send us your dollars now so that we may save our children for the fights of the future. Save our children so that we can win our strike.
Funds for the children should be sent to the General Relief Committee of Textile Strikers, 743 Main Avenue. Passaic, Secretary, Gustav Deak.
Will “Employ Only a Few”
Yes, now they come with another new one that is as old as the hills.
The bosses declare to the public that when the mills resume operation they can take back only a few.
Therefore they do not want to deal with those whom they cannot take back.
Therefore they will not talk the matter over with the union.
But suppose the union tells you that you have to take them all back. Suppose the union calls for such distribution of work and such hours that all may be employed. Then what will you do?
That is what the union is for. The union is for the purpose of taking care of the workers and see to it that the bosses may not throw out the best and most intelligent of them and drag the rest down into slavery again.
It is unthinkable that the bosses should have such hard hearts that they would not take back all the workers after they have been weeping so many round tears over the great loss to the workers during this strike. How could they be so cruel or thoughtless?
The idleness of the workers during the strike has been called a horrible calamity. Will not the idleness of the workers whom the boss cannot take back be a horrible calamity also?
The bosses never knew they talked so much foolishness till the workers began to show them. But now we are in shape to tell them that they cannot pull any more wool over our eyes. We want them to economize and use the wool for cloth instead.
If the bosses cannot employ the workers after the strike is won by us, why worry about the strike? Why issue those long lamentations about the bad condition in the textile industry and why bewail the predicament of the workers who are on strike?
It is no worse for a worker to be idle while on strike than to be idle after the boss has fired him, is it? While he is on strike there is relief and support for his family. When he is fired or laid off, who supports him then? Does the boss give him bread? Does the boss give him milk for his babies?
What is eating the boss is not the hardship of the workers but the slimness of his own profits. The boss can weep his cellar full of salt tears over the workers but we cannot get excited about it. We will not limp around with a broken heart if the boss drowns in his flood of tears shed over the poor workers.
What we are after now is the recognition of the union, and the bosses might as well get that straight, first as last. If only ten go back they will go back as a union. If ten thousand go back they will go back as a union. If all go back they will go back as a union.
The union will see to it that when the workers return to the mills they will work under decent conditions, and not under the tyranny of the unscrupulous bosses.
The Right to Work
Now aren’t the bosses wonderful. They say that every one who wants to shall have a chance to work and the "right to work.”
Then in the same breath they say that they can employ only a very few when the strike is ended. What about the other workers? Will not they have a “right to work?” Will not the pretty mayor of Garfield and his judge please tell the public that “workers who want to work shall have a right to work?”
Let those supreme hypocrites come along and show us that they mean what they say. If they are worth the salt that might keep them from smelling like a rotting carcass they will come forth and tell the bosses to take back all the workers and give every one "the right to work.”
What these white sepulchers mean is that the scabs shall have the right to scab and help break the strike if possible. Neither the bosses nor the mayors nor the judges give a hang for the “right to work” when the bosses throw the workers out on the street after they have used them enough.
What are you going to do with the workers who may not be employed after the strike is over? Are you going to see to it that they shall “have the right to work?”
We might inform you that every time you blabber about protecting the “workers who want to work” the strikers laugh at you and call you hypocrites. The idiocy of the masters and their lackeys has become the laughing stock of the workers.
Try something else and give us a change, please. You are getting tiresome.