Monday, February 11, 2019

Seattle General Strike of 1919 -- February 11, 2019

Seattle Star, 11-February-1919
The Seattle General Strike of 1919 started 06-February-1919. Several shipyard unions had gone on strike for better wages, including unions affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Shipyard owners resisted strongly and striking workers appealed to the Seattle Central Labor Council. Many other unions also went on strike.

The Strike Committee allowed some unions to work to provide food and other essential services.  The Mayor of Seattle, Ole Hanson, claimed that they were trying to take over the government, as the Soviets had done in Russia.

The general strike ended 100 years ago today, on 11-February-1919.  Even though there was no unrest or violence, Mayor Hanson brought in more and more police and soldiers.  National unions worried that the strike would hurt them.

City Speeds Up; General Strike Over

Purged of attempted Bolshevik rule, Seattle today resumes normal business, with the exception of the shipyards, where the strike is still on.

While the general strike was ordered over at noon by the conference of union leaders yesterday, the bustle and rush of the city's business district was again in evidence long before the scheduled hour.

Street cars continued in operation since Saturday afternoon, the men refusing to abide by the eleventh-hour order of the strike committee that they discontinue yesterday afternoon and remain on strike till today noon. Similarly several other unions began work Monday and Tuesday morning.

Restaurants along the downtown streets opened sharply at the stroke of noon. Cooks were back in the kitchens and the members of the Waitresses' union once more donned their aprons.

At noon Tuesday Seattle tooted its whistles and switched its civic gear into "high" agrain. as the five-day sympathetic strike of workmen came to a close.

Business did its best to make up for lost time.

Street crowds hastened to deferred shopping, thronging the avenues and the stores.

Markets, shops, groceries, theatres—places of commerce and amusement—combined to restore the interrupted social and industrial life of the harried Northwestern metropolis.

"Speed up." was the word everywhere.

This evening will see the opening of all the city's theatres and motion picture houses. A number had already operated Monday evening.

In strike circles Tuesday morning the principal topic of discussion was the action of the street car men. When the committee decided Monday that the strike end today, they stipulated that those unions already at work should again quit their jobs in order that all union men in the city might go back together.

This the street car men refused to do. A number of teamsters, however, listened to the strike committee appeal and failed to show up for work Tuesday morning, after completing their rounds Monday.

The barbers, too, steadfastly remained at their chairs, in spite of the dictates of the labor leaders. "A further strike would be of no additional benefit to organized labor," is the way the carmen expressed their opinion in a resolution.

Mayor Hanson had ordered that all municipal car employes would be considered to have relinquished their jobs if they walked out a second time. No such order went forth from the traction company headquarters, the men deciding of their own initiative that one strike was enough.

Fear that workmen who had participated in the general walkout might be discriminated against by employers, was an admittedly big actuating motive in the leaders' eleventh-hour decision for a final demonstration.

The big strike ends after five days' duration. However, the backbone of the strike was virtually broken by Saturday, after two days of the walkout. It was on Saturday morning that the strike committee gathered at the Labor temple to take up the proposition of calling the strike off.

While no date was set at that time for the return of the men to work, street cars began operation Saturday afternoon and by Sunday morning traction traffic was normal.

The strike passed off without any rioting or disturbances. The only arrests made were in connection with the distribution of Bolshevik leaflets entitled "Russia Did It."

A few restaurants were open this morning, but generally, the eating places did not seek to open for regular business till this afternoon.

The general strike has caused the city to appropriate $50,000 for men and supplies for protection and preparative purposes. It is estimated that another $50,000 appropriation will be made before the issue is finally settled. More than 3,500 emergency policemen were employed, 600 being added to the police payroll. The appointments were ratified by the city council.


Waterfront activities started gradually in Seattle Monday. and were scheduled to be in full swing before Tuesday night. The first vessel to be worked wan the Pacific Steamship company's liner Alameda, which discharged several hundred boxes of fresh fish with union and non union men. The steam schooner Multnomah, of the Charles Nelson fleet, started unloading with union and non union help. Union Pacific pier officials announce they would start work independently of union longshoremen.


J. Von Carnop, shipyard strike leader and one of the members of the Metal Trades conference committee, declared at noon today that the walkout of the shipyard workers is in nowise affected by the settlement of the general strike.

"Our status is just the same as it was before the other unions went out," Von Carnop asserted.

"The conference committee is in session thruout the day, and you can say for us that the shipyard men are still on strike."

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