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Newspaper Page Text
STORIES OF FACTORY CONDITIONS SHOW NEEDOF UNIONISM TO
SAVE GIRLS FROM INSULT
By Jane Whitaker.
The several sheets of paper I had
taken with me expecting to write
down the stories I should hear, re
mained blank. They "could not be
written down. Instead, I listened
with my eyes averted from the faces
of the girls who were talking to me
as I felt their eyes were lowered as
They were girl broom and brush
makers and at the request of W. R.
Boyer, secretary and treasurer of the
International Broom and Whisk Mak
ers' Union, were repeating to me
what they had already embodied in
affidavits of the treatment they had
received from a man named Wright,
one of the foreman in the factory of
the United States Broom and Brush
Company, from which factory the
girls are on strike.
A few days before, Miss Agnes
Nestor of the Women's Trade Union
League has told me I should listen to
these stories as they would prove to
me that one of the greatest necessi
ties for organization of girls was that
they might have projection from in
sults of this kind.
The tales ran on, halting, asham
ed. Tales of bruised flesh from the
hands of a licentious man in whose
power the girls were if they wanted
to hold their jobs and they had little
violition since they had to live.
Tales of foul language that he lit
tle girls said had been used to them,
language impossible to write, impos
sible to repeat. Suggestions that
were vile, indecencies repeated. Even,
according to the tales to which I lis
tened, the oaths the man had used
were in unprintable language.
"Tell me why you continued to
work under such a majji?" I asked a
little German girl, whose eyes had a
steady, pure light and whose sensi
tive face was flushed with shame.
She shrugged. "I did housework
when I first came, but when my
mamma came over, I wanted to live
with her and so I got a job in the
broom factory. When I told my main-'
ma what the foreman said to me she
said I should quit, but I had to have
a job and so I just paid no attention
"I told my mother, too," another
little girl said. "I wasn't under that
foreman and my foreman was de
cent, but that fellow used to talk to
me just that way, too, even though
he wasn't my foreman. When a girl
goes into the broom factory she
learns everything. I said to my moth
er, 'Before I went there, I didn't know
anything, now I know everything.' "
And then the stories began again
until I wondered if, should those
things be true, the man of whom
they were told was iot insane.
And when I had listened to the end
and read the affidavits, Mr. Boyer
came over to me.
"If there is any possibility of get
ting justice, we are going to get out
a warrant for that fellow" he said.
"And if we win this strike that man
will have to be let out of the place.
We wouldn't have him there.
"If these girls had been organized,
those things couldn't have happened.
Just one report of that kind and a
committee would have waited on the
factory and insisted on the man's dis
charge. But as it was, they were at
"You can see what Tespectable
girls they are. Imagine having their
minds polluted one of them is only
sixteen by a creature of that kind.
"You realize it is impossible to lis
ten to those things, to have to submit
to that familiarity and not lose some
thing. There are some girls it would
start on the road to the gutter. There
are girls who, placed in an atmos
phere of that kind when they were
working and then having slack sea
sons when they did not earn any
money, would easily drift to the
streets and the blame would lie di
rectly at the door of the man who