"Waist Strike Pickets Parade Through Shop District in Autos," New York Call, 22 December 1909
Waist Strike Pickets Parade
Through Shop District in Autos
Women’s League Adopts
Unique Methods in
THUGS BREAK UP MEET
Girls Will Win Their Battle in a
Week if Given Hearty
"The Workhouse Is No Answer To a Demand For Justice."
With this and equally appropriate inscriptions, carried by their occupants, a dozen large automobiles honked their way yesterday afternoon up and down Fifth avenue, into and around the districts of the shirtwaist shops, taking on and leaving off pickets, and parading the thoroughfares of the city, striking terror to the hearts of the manufacturers who eyed the procession with angry faces from the windows of their offices.
It was a unique procession. Within the autos rich, fashionable women and poor, frail, striking girls, some of whom had been imprisoned and served time in the workhouse, were making merry over this exceptional affair. It was amusing to see rich women carrying cards on which was proclaimed the need for organization for labor and which demanded shorter hours and increased pay.
The autos were lent for the occasion by Mrs. O.H.P. Belmont, Miss Anne Morgan, Mrs. Baldwin, Mrs. Philip Lewisohn and Mrs. James L. Laidlaw, who took personal charge of the affair and, together with Miss Ida Rauh and Miss Elizabeth Dutcher, led the procession.
The parade was under the auspices of the Women’s Trade Union League, and among those who participated in the affair were Miss Mary E. Dreier, Miss Inez Milholland,[A] Miss Leonora O’Reilly, Miss Helen Marot and Mrs. Eva McDonald Valesch. With them were the girls who had been arrested.
The police took great care that the procession should not prove to be an anarchist demonstration. Three representatives of that department called at the headquarters of the Women's Trade Union League, 43 East 22d street, during the day to make inquiries as to the nature of the procession. One of these callers was Captain Cornelius Hayes, of the Twentieth Precinct.
The last caller was a detective who wanted to find out whether signs would be carried and exactly what the inscriptions would be. Miss Ida Rauh, in charge of the press committee, told him that he had no business to ask, that she was not bound to tell him, but would accommodate him as a matter of courtesy.
"We must know before you can start," said the cop.
After a polite little lecture on civic rights and the limitations of police prerogatives, Miss Rauh, who is a lawyer, gave him the inscriptions of some of the signs. Then the cop became polite and said:
"I'll tell you ma'am. I was sent over by the inspector and I don't think that he would send me for them if he thought it was not necessary. See, ma'am?"
Will Appeal for Funds.
An appeal will be made by the Women's Trade Union League for funds to carry on the strike.
"We need $10,000," said Miss Rauh to a reporter of The Call. "We want the money to come from everybody, not merely form a few wealthy women. We need that much money to tide the girls over for one week, when the strike will be won. In fact, the strike is almost won already and would have been won completely were it not for the stubborn attitude of a few."
The reason money is needed, it was explained, is because the trade was organized and there is no money in the union treasury.
Mrs. Valesch, of the same committee, told how she will get the money. She said:
"This is how. I'm going to write --,000 postal cards for it. A volunteer corps of girls from among the strikers are going to address the postals, and we are going to send them all over the country. Now we have won this strike. The public doesn't know it as we do, but nevertheless the strike is all over but the windup.
"There are 3,000 girls still out on strike out of 30,000 that originally quit. These 3,000 girls are still in a position where they can be imposed upon. Their rent is due and they need money. They're broke, and we need just $2 each for these girls so that they can pay their rent and get food on which to stand out for another week. We figure that $3 each for 3,000 odd girls is $9,000 odd or exactly $10,000.
"Our pledge to the people is that not one cent of the $10,000 will be spent except for food and shelter for the strikers."
Socialist Women Act.
The Socialist women's committee of the Local New York have arranged a reception for the girls who have served time at the workhouse. The affair will take place tonight at Arlington Hall, 19-23 St. Marks place, and will be addressed by many prominent people who have taken an interest in the strike ever since it was declared. One of the speakers will be Miles M. Dawson, who is at the head of the local defense committee. Miss Inez Milholland will recite, and an interesting musical program has been arranged.
No admission will be charged to strikers, but a union card will be necessary to entitle one to enter the hall. An entrance fee of 15 cents will be charged visitors.
Mrs. Bertha Mailly and Mrs. Meta L. Stern are on the committee and are busy receiving donations from sympathizers, consisting of cakes, flowers, sugar, lemons, candy and other refreshments for the occasion. A committee will be at the hall at 3 o'clock to receive these gifts.
The committee also requests the assistance of some volunteers, especially young ladies, who wish to give their services to make this entertainment a success. These young ladies are requested to report at 5 o'clock. A touching feature of the occasion will be the presentation of flowers to the girls who have been imprisoned, brought to them by poor boys and girls of their shops.
The cause of the shirtwaist strikers was expounded yesterday afternoon by Miss Dreier, Miss Schneiderman, and Miss Leonora O'Reilley before the Council of Jewish Women at the Free Synagogue, of which Dr. Stephen S. Wise is the head. The audience was greatly impressed and much sympathy was expressed for the strikers.