of the ambitious duo was the businessman John C. Hagen, an actual
instigator of the Laundry Owners cartel. Hagen was born
in Bozeman, Montana in 1885 and moved to Seattle at the age
of 23. His parents, born in Switzerland, both spoke German
and in his new home, their son employed a German-born maid.
less than two years after his arrival in town, the restless
Hagen had established a laundry of his own. Initially located
on First Avenue, it was the Broadway Laundry Company.
his involvement with the Laundry Owners Club attests,
things went steadily well for this aspiring industrialist.
In 1922, when D. C. Keeney retired, Hagen was able to buy
the Seattle Empire Laundry business from him. (When Keeney
subsequently died, in 1936, the buildings actual ownership
was retained by his son, Seth C. Keeney).
mark the landmark moment in his fortunes that the purchase
symbolized, J. C. Hagen changed the Seattle Empire's name.
On August 1, 1923, it became the Broadway Empire Laundry Company.
The same day, Hagen changed the name of his original plant,
the Broadway Laundry, to "Seattle Laundry Company".
(In 1931, Hagen would re-name it yet again, as the Empire
purchase did indeed prove a notable moment. For Hagen
an early backer of laundry owners trusts became
much more than just an industry entrepreneur. Through subsequent
takeovers of already established laundries, he himself built
a personal cartel of laundry businesses. His drive, coupled
with his scorn for unionization and labor, would create head-to-head
conflict with Dave Beck.
acquisition of the Seattle Empire Laundry was one of his earliest
clues that his business dream could be realized. He then became
eager to try further expansion and to situate himself
with other owners, so this would be possible. Later in the
same year that he acquired Seattle Empire, Hagen also purchased
another successful laundry.
to the paternalistic nature of the industry, Hagen was able
to slowly amass a de facto "empire." Eventually, his reach
encompassed eight Seattle laundries - as well as separate
laundry operations in Wenatchee, Spokane and Yakima.
John C. Hagen rose, so did Dave D. Beck. Beck achieved elected
union office just as the 1917 strike ended; on July 28, 1917,
he was voted recording-secretary of Local 566.
Beck then left to serve in the military for one year - from
December, 1917 to December, 1918. As a member of the Naval
Aviation Service, Beck trained in California and served in
in Seattle in 1918, he took a job driving for the Mutual Laundry.
Beck was energetic and was rapidly promoted, from a mere driver
to a route superintendent. At the same time, he was attracting
notice within his union. The year Seattle Empire Laundry passed
from D. C. Keeney to Hagen, Beck was elected President of
Joint Council #28, an association of all the Teamster locals
in Washington state.
December, 1924, fifty drivers petitioned Beck to run as the
business agent (or principal officer) of Local 566.
would mean leaving his $110 per week drivers job
for $40 per week paid by the union post. Beck later said the
decision to make that sacrifice occasioned "the only fight
I ever had with my first wife, and we were married 47 years."
In the actual election, Beck defeated an 8-year incumbent,
by a vote of 140 to 88.
Beck was, at long last, the head of a union.