Hellraisers Journal: Thousands of Chicago Garment Strikers Win 48-Hour Week With No Loss of Wages

You ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age.
Put on your fighting clothes.
-Mother Jones


Saturday December 18, 1915
From the Chicago Day Book: Thousands of Striking Garment Workers Win Shorter Hours

The Day Book of Chicago, Illinois, reported in its December 16th edition that, although recognition of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America has not been granted, nevertheless, thousands of Garment Workers have won the 48-hour week with no reduction in wages:

Chicago Garment Workers Strike of 1915, Day Book headline, Dec 16.png
Sidney Hillman, young.png

With millions of dollars of trade already lost for this season and with losses piling higher every day, individual clothing manufacturers are now meeting union shop committees on strike settlement.

Lamm & Co. and Myer Bros, took back their striking workers today. Instead of a 52 and 54-hour week there will be a 48-hour week. A new wage scale goes in. Strikers will get the same pay for the new short week that they used to get for the longer week.

No agreement has been signed. It is expected the Wholesale Clothiers' ass'n will fight to the last against any recognition of the union through any regular written and signed contract.

Sidney Hillman, president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, said today:

Union recognition perhaps has been lost But we have received concessions. Negotiations are on now between shop chairmen and committees on one side and individual employers of the association on the other side.

Shorter Work hours, higher wages and more even distribution of work are direct benefits the strikers win. Besides, it is understood in every shop where strike has been on that foremen and examiners will not be as ready to bullyrag or cheat as before the strike.

Chicago Garment Workers Strike of 1915, Harpers Wkly, Dec 11.png

Royal Tailors' shop is hardest hit by the strike. Machines in the big coat shop at Polk st and 5th av. have been loosened from the floor to be sold. Reports are that the company will quit operation with modern machinery at this shop and go back to its sub-contract method of letting out job lots of work. In this the company is back where it started ten years ago. Whether its cash deficit has been supplied by the Wholesale Clothiers' ass'n or whether it gets no strike fund, like Geo. Knab in the waitresses' strike of last year, is not known.

After Lamm & Co. and Myer Bros, yesterday agreed, with their shop committees to resume operation with strikers back at machines, Henry Barret Chamberlain, press agent for the bosses, sent a story to newspapers that all big shops had arranged to give their workers a 48-hour week before the strike began. When strike was called they determined to withhold the 48-hour week, but it is now to be given as an Xmas present.

Martin Isaacs, lawyer who operates secret service and blacklisting agency for the Wholesale Clothiers' ass'n, said today:

I am glad at last officers of the union have discovered what everybody in the clothing trade has known for weeks past, that the strike is over. There has been no agreement of any kind, no collective bargaining and no recognition of the union. The open shop is more firmly established now than ever before. There will be no discrimination against those, few who remain on strike through misleadership, intimidation or violence. The few still out will be given positions as fast as conditions warrant. We shall continue to improve conditions without union domination.


[Photograph of Sidney Hillman and strikers parade added.]

Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, emblem .png

The Day Book
(Chicago, Illinois)
Dec 16, 1915

Chicago Garment Workers Strike of 1915, Day Book headline, Dec 16
Sidney Hillman
Chicago Garment Workers Strike of 1915, Strikers parade, Harpers Wkly, Dec 11
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, emblem

See also:
The Clothing Workers of Chicago, 1910-1922
The Chicago Joint Board, ACWA
Chicago, 1922
Chapter V: Strike of 1915

Bread and Roses, Lyrics by James Oppenheim

"Bread and Roses" from Pride

Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies: Give us Bread, but give us Roses!

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Hi JayRaye -

I just found this poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz - very famous in Pakistan and India but new to me - you'll find some of his poems in this piece I wrote:


He spent a lot of time in prison or exile, like a lot of other good men and women.

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