Newspaper Page Text
SATUBDAY, OCT. 23rd, 19i0.
My Own Shop
A "Close-up" of The Frisco Telephone Exchange
By Mercedes Mercier.
Flash, flash flash! Quickly I plug-in.
"Asleep at tie switch again, Central",
booms the angry subscriber in my ear, "Gimme
875 Main, and make it snappy for a change!"
I hasten to give him his number. Flash,
flash, flash, flash! Twelve more lights appear
on my board. I rush to plug-in one, and others
take its place!
"Miss Mercier, a little more pep there,
yells the supervisor (oh, god, how I hate that
woman's voice!), always at my back, always
urging me to be quicker, quicker, and stiil
Such is the life of a hello-girl! She first
starts in at a school, where she is trained ii.
the operation of a switch board, and to learn
parrot-like (mechanically if you prefer) the
fixed sentences that you hear her greet you
with whenever you have an occasion to use
the telephone. This takes about two weeks to
a month, according to the ape-ing ability of the
slave-girl, as I insist she never has to use her
head, but to follow directions which she has
learned mechanically! Next she is taken to the
exchange to "listen-in" and to practically
learn the ropes, so to speak, and to wear off
The "Regular Operators"
Then she graduates proudly to the position
of a "regular operator." (Time was when
tliere were "regular operators" and "substitut
es", but that time has past, but the former
name still lingers and retains that "superior"
sound.) An operator must sit at the edge of her
chair and there plug-in, plug-out, and listen,
plug-in, plug-out, and L-T-S-T-E-N all day long!
How monotonous! How nerve wracking! How
borosome! Coupled within this continuous
strain, they have the watchful eye of the super
visor on them all day, reproving them for thh
and that, nagging at them to speed-up, and
continually listening-in to hear if the slaves
parrot their sentences correctly, if not they
lose demerits and a chance for advancement,
to where, I know not! Maybe they will have a
chance to marry the president's weak chinned
son, as per the movies, who knows?
The life of a telephone operator at her
trade is not long. Her nerves soon give out and
she must go! A common sight is to see girls
fainting at their work, and also seeing thorn
crying hysterically in their reliefs. Only a
strong girl can stand the grind, then only to
A Strike That Failed
A steady flow of girls come and go. A
standing ad. is in the Oakland and San Fran
cisco papers asking for help, but tlnpe are few
takers, as the slaves can find more lucrative
wages, and easier work elsewhere and as a
result the telephone company is always short
A year ago the girls struck for higher
wages and bettor working conditions. Male
and female workers were out a 100 strong,
but they lost and went back to worse condi
tions, thanks to the A. F. of L. and craft union
ism. If the girls want to get better conditions
on the job mid to better their wages of $16.50
20.00 dollars per week they will have to organ
ize as a CLASS in a ONE BIG UNION OF
WORKERS, and then to show a little mass
solidarity in their fight against their masters
as a claas. Then and only then oan wc, the
telephone .girls and the rest of our fellow wage
slaves get what we want, loss work, more
liesure, foci and clothing and still better life,
life, and still more life that is free!