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Southwest Washington labor press. [volume] : (Hoquiam, Wash.) 19??-19??
Place of publication:
Hoquiam, Wash.
Geographic coverage:
  • Hoquiam, Grays Harbor, Washington  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Southwest Washington Labor Press
Dates of publication:
  • English
  • Hoquiam (Wash.)--Newspapers.
  • Washington (State)--Hoquiam.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01218048
  • "Official organ of Aberdeen Central Labor Council, Hoquiam Trades and Labor Council and the Washington State Federation of Labor."
  • Description based on: No. 547 (Nov. 24, 1922).
sn 88087163
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Southwest Washington labor press. [volume] November 24, 1922 , Image 1


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Southwest Washington labor press

The Grays Harbor timber region, including the towns of Aberdeen, Hoquiam, and Cosmopolis, was a hotbed of radical labor activity early in the 20th century. Workers endured long hours, low pay, and frequent injuries, many fatal, making them receptive to organizations such as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the Socialist Party of America. These organizations advocated more far-reaching social changes than those promoted by traditional trade unions, represented by the American Federation of Labor (AFL) nationally and the Washington State Federation of Labor at the state level. IWW members were central to the November 1911 to January 1912 fight against an Aberdeen ordinance severely curtailing street speaking, and a Grays Harbor lumber strike from March to May 1912. Members of the more conservative AFL-affiliated local unions were represented on both sides during these fights; some supported the striking workers while others sided with authorities and mill operators, a few even aiding efforts to intimidate or deport IWW members and strikers.

As early as July 1912, an AFL affiliated labor paper, the Hoquiam Free Press, was publishing on Grays Harbor. By 1915, the Southwest Washington Labor Press was the representative paper for AFL affiliated trade unionists in the area. Copies of the Southwest Washington Labor Press and its predecessors during these turbulent early years are sadly unavailable to shed light on what stance the paper may have taken on the conflicts that so closely preceded its birth.

The Southwest Washington Labor Press consisted largely of syndicated columns from the International Labor News Service with contributions from the managing editors and the board of directors. Editorship of the Press passed between several union newspaper men, including from Alfred E. Wolters to Louis Calvin Hinman on May 23, 1924, and to Jesse H. Godfrey with the September 4, 1925 issue. The board was a mix of representatives from the Aberdeen and Hoquiam local labor councils. The colophon boasted the Press was "Owned and controlled by Organized Labor. Official Organ of Aberdeen Central Labor Council, Hoquiam Trades and Labor Council and the Washington State Federation of Labor."

Published weekly on Fridays, each issue consisted of local and international stories, entertainment news, and health advice, and they usually included a cartoon and an infographic related to the news of the week or to seasonal changes to the labor landscape. Editorials published under the section headers "By the Way" and "The Cherry Tree" appeared intermittently throughout the mid-1920s. "By the Way" was first published February 22, 1924 with the caption "comment and criticism about things doing in the world." The section featured multiple short pieces on varying topics, including the unfolding Teapot Dome scandal, the Communist Party (which the paper opposed), child labor conditions, and the lack of African American representation in textbooks. "By the Way" even reports of the Navy shooting whales, concluding "there are plenty of means of affording warships target practice without killing helpless monsters of the deep." Appearing a few years later, "The Cherry Tree" featured longer discussions on a single topic, ranging from conscription of capital and labor during wartime, to the importance of wages for workers commensurate with the wealth they create, to realism in art and entertainment.

From efforts to pass an anti-child labor amendment to court cases about prison labor and prisoner leasing, the national labor agenda presented in the ​Press​ focused on the institutions of organized labor and their fight with the institutions of capital. Locally, support for the typographical workers, stereotypers, electrotypers, and mailers of the William Randolph Hearst owned Seattle Post-Intelligencer​ (P-I) appeared on the pages of the Press​ during contentious negotiations with the paper's owners in 1924 and 1925. In keeping with the AFL's support of public power on the national level, the paper backed the Wynooche [sic] Power Project for the creation of an Aberdeen municipal power system. The ​Press ​took the stance that a local utility project would support the growing population of Grays Harbor County; the editorial argued that funding it by selling bonds would put the power, very literally, in the hands of the people. Voters approved the project in a June 29, 1926 special election.

The influence of labor-conscious engagement in local economies carried through to the advertisements and classifieds. Each week, with the assurance that "the merchants whose advertisements appear in our columns are wide-awake, progressive business men entitled to your support," the ​Press ​devoted ample page space to ads. This included a full page "Hoquiam-Aberdeen Classified Directory Labor's Friends" with a list of labor-friendly businesses, contact information for specific labor unions, and prominent "Do Not Patronize" lists compiled by the Aberdeen and Hoquiam councils. The guarantee also covered political ads, as demonstrated by those for local elections in the latter half of 1926.

Provided by: Washington State Library; Olympia, WA