The most important Yiddish language newspaper in New York City, arguably the most important in the world, was the Forverts, the Daily Forward. Edited by Abraham Cahan, the paper's politics were socialist and therefore pro-union. But, many non-socialists read the paper religiously.
Forverts, 23 November 1909, 1.
GENERAL STRIKE OF THE LADIES WAIST MAKERS
The string has ended at last. Long have the eighteen thousand [male] workers and [female] workers planned, who sweat by the ladies waist. Their patience has come to an end: they have declared a general strike.
A general strike is a sharp means. This is a knife with two blades, a stick with two ends. With one end it hits over harsh pockets of the blood-stained capitalists, and with the other over the emaciated backs of the depressed workers.
And many thousands of waist makers, men and women, who have experienced [hardship], enthusiastically voted yesterday for a general strike. And if they are surely up in strike, like this, their situation was so desperate they didn't have any other road to take except to go out and strike.
Capital has them pressed and has them impressed to the wall. And instead of suffering further hunger and hardship, as slaves, they have decided it would be better to oppose possible misery, with erect backs, with proud-looking faces -- as fighters.
And they will not suffer any hunger or hardship. The bosses do not have a way out. They will not find a person who will do a stitch of work. Among the eighteen thousand men and women, who yesterday have declared a fight, you will not find any betraying hands. Hand by hand, heart-by-heart, these thousands of workers will stand up and fight. And against such a solid power, capital is powerless. Capital is powerless, and self-defense must, sooner or later -- and faster sooner before later -- search for means to settle.
And we are not permitted to allow the brave strikers to suffer any hunger or hardship. Their struggle is our struggle; the blow that they will give capital is their [picket] line will also speak up in other lines. The enthusiasm and the willingness to fight of the suffering waist makers will give willingness and eagerness to other divisions of our worker-army to stand firm. And the fear of the ladies waist bosses will spread to the hearts of all other bosses.
* * *
Never have our workers shown such enthusiasm as at the Cooper Union meeting yesterday evening. At least 2,500 men and women who work in the Ladies Waist industry [were there]. They filled up the big hall of Cooper Union. And many, many hundreds blocked up the street outside of the hall because there wasn't enough room in the hall.
In the hall, the masses were electrified with the enthusiastic speaking from the chairman and the moving speakers.
* * *
After Mr. Koukli's speech, a [female] worker[Clara Lemlich] came up to speak. She made an official motion to call for a general strike.
Comrade Feigenbaum [chair of the meeting] then declared the instructions that they should carefully read over before they vote for a strike. They should know that they will come out to suffer in times of strike. They, that have fear for hunger and cold, should not be ashamed and vote against [the general strike]. But, she should, if she votes for a strike, know that she is swearing faithfulness one to the other, trust, and she has an obligation to fight the struggle until the end. And lift up your hands for the strike. Hereby swear that these same hands shall wither, if they will do a stitch of work in times of strike.
The whole time, thunderous voices drowned out the speaker. "We are unanimous! We will not work! We will be solid!"
The chairman raised the question of the general strike for a vote. He called for those in favor of the general strike to raise their hands. They raised a whole, dense forest of hands.
Forverts, 10 January 1910, 1
NEWS FROM THE LADIES' WAIST MAKER STRIKE IN NEW YORK
Again the "Triangle" Company. With blood this name will be written in the history of the American workers movement and with feeling will this history recall the names of the strikers of this shop -- of the crusaders, who are struggling already eighteen weeks.
Miss Ada Kahn from 136 Orchard Street faithfully talked to a Scab. Thugs attacked her and she took hits. Policeman number 7490 came running to watch. But instead of chasing the thugs, he grabbed the girl by the neck. And deep marks stayed on her neck from his fingers.
Afterwards, if this was not enough, people then had her arrested. And if this was also not enough, the heartless magistrate Hauz had the audacity to fine her five dollars.
Lzier [sic] Fred. Tailor protested against the judge.
Hauz answered: Complain, if you will, before Police Comissioner Baker.
And near John Fried's Shop, 65 Bleeker Street, obedience came to pass: pickets went at ease around the shop. The Jewish foreman, Young, turned against them and incited the Italian Scabs.
"Sheeny" the Scabs were called. A scuffle broke out and the Scabs used legs from the chairs.
Nonviolent girls were murderously hit: Miss Fanny Izman, Miss Sara Pliskin, Miss Sara Svitski, Miss Rose Shar. Only Miss Shar is from another shop. She came only to do her picket work duty.
The striker Max Harrison from Brookstone's Shop, 96 Green Street, traveled near City Hall Subway Station (very far from the shop) and was attacked by a thug. Yesterday he was also attacked by the same thug. He hailed over the policeman (number 1164). The policeman took the thug. He [the policeman] got a feel of the packet and found a black jack. The thug didn't resist being taken to the station-house and hit the striker. The policeman and the lieutenant had him [the thug] shackled and drove him away in a wagon to the police station. Today, 9:00 he will appear in Jefferson Market Court.
Yesterday the strikers organized a financial committee of 100. This committee had the task of organizing a thousand girls, who should make committee-group collections everywhere. Chairman of this 100 person committee is the Druggist Louis Epstein, from 178 Henry Street.
The Rochester Branch of the [Jewish Labor] Bund had decided to give a half of the proceeds from their concert and ball, the 14th of January, for the strikers. At the same time he is urging all members to make collections.
The 100-person committee from the Arbeter Ring [Workmen's Circle] conference informs people that one can participate in strike-stamps today and every day from 2 to 10 in Harkwoder's 8th Assembly District, 313 Grand Street.
The Brownsville Help-Conference will be today at 7:00 PM, in 1844 Pitkin Avenue, at Bakers Meeting Hall. Every organization must send delegates. Those societies and unions that don't have enough delegates should send their officers.
Mrs. Pastor [Rose Pastor Stokes] reports to us that the owner of Jacob's Moving Picture Theater, Park and Wendover Avenue, had allocated for the strikers 50 percent of the proceeds, that will be brought around Thursday after the play at eleven o'clock PM.
Today in the afternoon, in Grand Manhattan Hall, 309-311 Grand Street, you will find the big "Afternoon Ball," organized by Dvinsker Bund followers Young Men and Young Ladies Benevolent Association to benefit the strikers.
Tomorrow evening in New Clinton Hall, 151 Clinton Street, a rich musical concert will be given with the effect of Morris Nitke. The concert is arranged for the strikers of Knicker Waist Company. The tickets for New Pitagaram Hall, 177 East Broadway, will be valid for Clinton Hall.
Thursday, the 13th, in 73 Ludlow Street, there will be a benefit concert and ball for the strikers of Shleyng and Livingstone's Shop.
The same evening there will be in Beethoven Hall, 210 East 5th Street, a concert and ball, arranged for the Federation of Manhattan Musical Unions. A symphony orchestra of 50 men will participate. The profit will go to the strikers.
The 23rd there will be in Grand Central Palace a gigantic venture, arranged by the Geseteltete Shops. Workers from Geseteltete are working already. Don't forget your brothers and sisters, who stand up in struggle.
The 12th in Arlington Hall, you will find the theater performance, arranged by the German comrades [in the United Hebrew Trades].
The 21st in Hennington Hall, 214 East 2nd Street, will be a full dress and civic ball, arranged by the Dress Makers Unions.
This Tuesday in Mr. Thomashevski's People's Theater, a matinee will be given to benefit the strikers. They will play "The King," from Yushkevitch.
The same Tuesday, a matinee will be given in the Third Street Vaudeville House of Mr. Coopersmith and Birenbaum.
Wednesday in Apollo Hall will be a concert and ball for the strikers of Simons and Klein Broders.
The 11th of January in 206 East Broadway will be a concert and ball for the stikers of Wiesen and Company.
And here you will send a good message until the end.
Mr. Max Rosenberg, from 19 West 21st Street, settled with the union. Afterwards, 350 workers might return to work. This firm is one of the biggest shirtwaist shops in New York. The thug is a member of the Bosses Association.
Forverts, 12 January 1910, 1
A HALF DAY OF YOUR WAGES FOR THE STRIKERS
The United Hebrew Trades has issued a call to all 65,000 workers who are organized in the Jewish trades. In this call, it describes the good outlook of the brave waist maker strikers, who have been struggling already eight weeks, and also about their sorrowful financial situation. It also sets demands for every worker -- those who feel a spark of worker solidarity in their hearts, a spark of people who feel inspired to give up for the strikers a half-day of wages over the course of the next week.
Here is the call:
Monday, at the meeting of the workers union, the representatives from the Ladies' Waist Makers Union reported that the strike stands in a good condition. The attitude of the workers is to be admired. This is exactly the time, when the spirit of the season begins. The manufacturers are now extremely terrified. The strikers are fenced in. Their pickets don't have fear of the hired mercenary thugs. They can't stop any workhouse announcer. There is but one powerful enemy of the strikers -- this is hunger.
Everyone understands that when the strikers would only betray their unions they would now give the bosses the best advantage. But the bargaining [female] workers and [male] workers struggle bravely for the right to organize.
Workers! Eight weeks how thousands of sisters and brothers struggle. Among the battlers there are girls who earn for families; men who are fathers of large households. Before the strike broke out, they also had their little earnings -- this is still when one of the main great things of this great strike -- after, people need to declare how bad, how bitter they are now.
Will we then tolerate that the strugglers should, on the threshold of their victory, which is the victory of all Jewish workers, must wear shame on the head for their tyranny?
We are not permitted to tolerate this. All Jewish workers from every city should break off a bite of their bites [a portion of their earnings] and send this to the strikers.
The United Hebrew Trades, the mother of all Jewish unions, extends her begging hands to request help for her children, for the Ladies Waist Makers Union.
The United Hebrew Trades calls upon Jewish labor. This is the week from Saturday, the 15th until Saturday, the 22nd of January, every worker, man or woman, should give down a half day of his or her wages and send this through the workers' union for the strikers.
The Jewish workers, who are able to give away so many hard [-earned] tens of thousands [of dollars] do so in order to end the strike. Men from Pennsylvania, for the guard men (Watchmen) Federation of Miners and the Russian revolutionaries, will not let the brave strikers die of hunger in front of their [own] eyes.
Your heart should feel pity for these helpless ladies, for these exhausted men, for their children, who pray for bread and don't receive any.
With your help, the Ladies Waist Makers and their strike will win. Better times will arrive for these brave fighters and they will repay your duty with gratefulness.
Friends! No one who works for a living should be absent in sending their half day wages for the strikers! Money should flow from every corner where Jewish workers are found.
United Hebrew Trades
S. Schindler, secretary
B. Weinstein, organizer
N.B. -- all money should be sent to the "Forward," 175 East Broadway, New York. All names will be acknowledged shortly in the newspaper.
Forverts, 15 February 1910, 1
VICTORY OF THE LADIES WAIST MAKERS COMPLETE
The big fight has ended. The huge general strike of the ladies waist makers is won. They have stood up, the [male] fighters, the [female] fighters, to hunger, suffering, and persecution. They have struggled solely for a just cause: they have struggled for their human rights.
And they have won. And this that they won, they will not so easily give back. They paid a dear price for their victory; high they grew up by themselves in their eyes and in the eyes from around the world. In the future they will not give up to let themselves plunder from this, what they have themselves accomplished.
They have won a lot of things. They will work now shortened hours. They will receive better benefits, and the conditions in the shops will be healthier, more moral, and more humane from now on.
But the main gain is the union. They have accomplished a union, a huge one in membership, a mighty spirit. She closes now 320 settled shops. Already with 18 from these 320 shops, the union found possible and if need be, to make agreements with certain compromises. The remaining 302 are complete union shops. The count of members who were already notified has reached 30,000. Of these folks stand a good 21,000. Twenty-one thousand devoted union members -- this is a powerful army. And you can count on such an army. Such an army can already be amenable to her worlds; she will already be capable of protecting all the workers of the trade. She can be able to mold together other servant workers in their struggles.
There is but still an important gain. And this is -- that the ladies waist makers who are out on strike became conscious people. People with principle, people with ideals. Before the strike there were mass slaves; now we have an organization of enlightened workers. They have become richer, the strikers, in spirit: a second soul received; they now feel hope and aspiration on their hearts. They have reached a goal in life.
The strike has ended. There have remained about 9 or 10 shops, where the strike still goes on. And it will go on, until it will be victorious. But the general strike has ended. The strike of the 9 shops will be managed in such a way that it is beneficial to a single shop. And the union will now, with even more vigor, give of themselves to help win the last few shops.
Therefore the general strike has ended with remarkable results. Who do the strikers have to thank for their victory? Of course, understand that earlier, before they had everybody to thank, [they had] themselves alone: their energy, their willingness to fight, their unity, their devotion, and their keenness.
But we also need not forget the big moral and financial support, that a whole array of organizations and individual persons have given the strikers. No support is needed anymore for the strikers; they need themselves more than anything else. But instead of hardship now, they came back out for all their sympathizers, to wish their supporters a heartfelt "thank you."
On behalf of the fighters, the unions are pressured to thank the press. With the exception of a few Yiddish papers, the entire Yiddish press had sympathized with the strikers, and the union thanks the press, especially the organ: "Forverts," "[New York] Call," the "Folkstsaytung [People's Newspaper]", and the "Fraye Arbeter Shtime [Free Workers' Voice]" for their services. These three socialist and anarchist papers have supported the strike.
The union also thanks the socialist party, especially the "Women Socialist League," the "Women Trade Union League," the "Central Federated Union," from New York, the "Central Federated Union," from Brooklyn, the "International Garment Workers," the "United Hebrew Trades," the "Association for Political Equity," the "Arbeter Ring [Workmen's Circle]" and their many branches, the "Trade Union League," individual unions, various socialist and progressive organizations, theater managers, theatrical unions, music halls.
The union thanks the doctors S. Feldman, 8 Attorney [Street], and Petloik, 84 Orchard Street, who have supported the astonished strikers; it thanks the lawyers, who have defended them [the strikers] in the courts and given them advice: Meyer London, J. Penkin, Y. Sakin, Max Mayzel, Fanny Horowitz, Miles Dousman, Martin Littleton, Bolton Hall, Sam Untermaner, Fred Tailor, Bievs, Todd, Svine, and S. Alperin.
The union expresses its fullest thanks to the Herren Markum Marks, John Mitchell [United Mine Workers of America president], and Morris Hillquit, who have many times laid themselves down to help the strikers settle on a better way.
Lists of individual persons who have merited a "thank you," and there are so many, take up whole pages. All of them the unions give a common "thank you." One by one they are called out, name by name. This is Kalman Rozenblut, from 102 Attorney Street. This man kept one arrested worker from imprisonment.
The strike has ended and now the union will take organizational work. Such work the union has more than enough of. Some shops are not out on strike, others are not without a good reason to organize. The union does not condone them and calls them in. Now is the best time to organize themselves. Strike when the iron is hot.
Forverts, 4 March 1910, 1
TWO OF THE "COOPERATIVE" BOSSES GET TIRED FEET AND COME TO SETTLE
RACKETEERS GO AROUND COLLECTING MONEY IN THE HOUSES
The "cooperative" shop of the Pants Bosses, who had become unfortunate and tired several days ago, in 51 Pike Street, began yesterday to fall. Of the eight bosses, who have alone worked by the machines, there are two who became tired. They have sensed that working at the machines is not a big delight. They started to suffer so much [with the machines], they came to the unions to settle. These bosses are Winickoff and Brick, from 5 Pelham Street, and Dabrawitz from 21 Bowery.
Now the remaining six bosses must do the work alone. Scabs take the opportunity, even the bosses alone give up strikebreaking as fast as they can.
The interesting thing is that every boss who comes to settle with the union speaks from the heart to the workers. He declares that the other bosses spun his head around and that he feels sorry that he let himself be fooled by the other bosses from the beginning. The bosses that are now so stubborn are now sorry. In a few days they will come to their common sense and they will see their struggle is a waste. They will also pull the hair out of their heads because they didn't settle before and they lost the profits for many weeks for nothing.
Some bosses decided on a new plan -- how to scare the workers. They tell a story that the [working] season is almost over and they will have the shops closed until next season. This is full of holes [a stupid bluff]. Because of the strike, many warehouses didn't open. It will be a long, long time before this year's season will be over.
The union declares that it is very happy with its surprises, not only from the strikers, but also from the workers that have already settled with the shops. Every [working] shop gives a portion of wages for the strikers. Some shops give five percent and some eight. Some give as high as ten percent. Every week a lot of money comes from these shops. Support also comes from the unions and from different progressive organizations. If it goes like it's going now [the strike contributions], the strikers can hold on until next season.
Tonight the label [union] workers will have a special meeting at 269 Broome Street, to look for ideas to help the strikers in their fight.
The union leaders found out today that people are going from house to house to collect money for the strikers of the pants makers. We would like to warn our readers that these friendly people are swindlers. The union did not send anyone to collect money. They don't need it. They get enough support from the unions and the organizations.