OCR Interpretation


The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, March 03, 1914, NOON EDITION, Image 7

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1914-03-03/ed-1/seq-7/

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FORMER POLICEWOMAN TELLS HOW HUMANE
OFFICERS ACT IN A BIG STRIKE
BY JANE WHITAKER
After I had spent the day on the picket line at Henrici's, watching the
police of the city acting as the tools of Big Business, it was like the fresh,
sweet odor of violets to listen to Mrs. Ella Reeves Bloor telling me how she
had acted as policewoman to protect the girl pickets in a strike at Schenec
tady last December.
We had been discussing Policewoman Mrs. Boyd, and Mrs. Bloor had
said that a woman who would show such a determination to protect the
interests of capital against working1 girls demanding only decent working
conditions was a disgrace not only to her class but to her sex. '
"When the strike occurred at the General Electric Works in Schenec
tady, New York," she said, "there were 15,000 people on strike, .2,000 of
whom were girls.
"I have spent twenty years in the interest of organized labor and after
the second day when some of the strikebreakers had abused some of the
girl pickets, the union men went to Mayor Lunn and requested that he ap
point me as special policewoman to protect the girls.
"Mayor Lunn appointed me and at the same time appointed eight
union men to act as special policemen. Then, as he was also pastor of the
People's Church, he immediately threw open the church to the striking
girls.
"The strike at the General Electric Company was very similar to the
one at Henrici's, in that it was a
fight for decent working conditions,
and came about through the dis
missal by the. firm of union men and
women.
"Organized labor was demanding
that in the slack season, instead of a
certain number of men and women
being thrown out of work, there
should be 'work for all and part time
for all.' The General Electric Com
pany would not agree to this.
"I had my 2,000 girls assemble in
the church each day and I disciplined
them rigidly. The girls who had not
belonged to the union joined, one and
all,, and it was a touching sight to
hear them pledge themselves to help
each other in taking the obligation of
the union.
"We picketed each day from 5
o'clock in .the morning until night. In
the week that the strike lasted there
was not one arrest, yet every picket
approached the strikebreakers and
said:
" 'Have a heart. Don't go to work
in there. You don't want to work
in there while we are outside fighting
for a living wage and fair condi
tions.'
"And if any officer showed an in
clination to touch any of the girls, I
would simply show my badge and in
form him that the Commissioner of
Public Works was across the street
and I would report the officer if he did
not let the girls alone.
"I might say that we had little of
this trouble, for the city police show
ed a desire to help us out. I remem
ber my greatest fear was the day the
girls had to go in to get their wages
and I dreaded lest some foreman
might talk to them and persuade
them to come back.
"Two city policemen walked at the
head of the 2,000 girls that day and
cleared the way for the mafrch, and I
walked alongside. I had drilled the
girls until they understood they were
to say no word to any one inside the
works, and it was a silent army.
"As they entered the gates, I said'
to each girl: 'I will be waiting here'
for you when you come out,' and!
every one of those 2,000 girls walked'
in silently, spoke no word to anyone
A

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