Monday, November 4, 2019

1912 Lawrence Textile Strike Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 750 words

1912 Lawrence Textile Strike - Essay Example This strike took place in, â€Å"Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912 and was led by the Industrial Workers of the World†.1 The strike has a variety of complex reasons for its establishment, but it’s broadly understood that it occurred as a response to the mill’s decision to lower wages after a law shortening the workweek was enacted. This essay examines a variety of issues surrounding the 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike and considers whether the strikers were justified in their actions. The city of Lawrence was founded in 1845 and quickly grew based on its productive textile industry. Even as the textile industry in the region greatly contributed to the region’s development, it’s clear it was also a highly problematic industry. With the turn of the century an influx of mechanization resulted in the gradual release of skilled laborers and an increasingly dangerous and demanding work environment. The large numbers of unskilled laborers, largely women, workin g in the textile industry gave the factory’s considerable leverage, further leading to arduous working conditions. Furthermore, â€Å"divisions between skilled and unskilled laborers were also strongly divided along ethnic lines, further contributing to growing tension in the region†.2 While there were instance of unionization through the United Textile Workers and the Industrial Workers of the World, it was generally recognized that unionization had not taken a strong hold in the area. With growing recognition of the poor working conditions in the region a new Massachusetts law was enacted that â€Å"reduced the number of house of work per week for women and children from 56 to 54†.3 Upon the implementation of the law, employers followed by reducing the weekly wages to match the change in hours. Workers at the Everett Cotton Mills discovered the reduction in pay and immediately left their looms, setting off the early stages of the strike. After this early stage , the Industrial Workers of the World became involved and further organized against the textile mills. Joseph Ettor took control of strike and put together a committee with representatives from each ethnic group working at the mill; the group’s demands were that the textile factories raise wages by â€Å"15% for the newly specified workweek, and provide double pay for overtime†.4 The strike resulted in a large-scale public conflict, with the city calling out a militia to confront the picketers. The militia turned a firehouse on the picketers and they responded by vandalizing many of the mills. These incidents resulted in a domino effect where the strike leaders were framed, the United Textile Workers (UTW) attempted to deter the deliberations, and children and mothers were clubbed for peaceful protest. This last act gathered national attention and resulted in a resolution being reached regarding the strike. Ultimately, â€Å"the textile companies, led by the American Woolen Company, capitulated to nearly all of the strikers’ demands†.5 These actions had a significant impact on labor as other factories in New England followed these policy changes worried about facing similar civil strife. In conclusion, there are a number of considerations that are made when one considers whether the strike was justified. While the strike was ultimately successful in that the workers had most of their demands met, it’s clear that there was considerable civil strife that resulted in these actions. While ostensibly it appears that such actions were not needed and the physical conflicts could have been avoided, one considers prominent civil rights leaders such as Malcolm X who indicated that oftentimes violence was necessary to enact significant public change. In this textile strike, civil change was not simply enacted in

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