even solicited sympathy from the customer class. A union rep,
for instance, spoke to the King County Legislative Federation,
petitioning support from their womens club delegates.
The laundry girls sponsored an information booth at the Fremont
Canal Festival; they also marched in Columbia Citys
Rainier Valley Fiesta.
business agent, or leader, of their union was none other than
Johanna I. Hilts - who, three years earlier, had taken on
the owners at the 1914 Minimum Wage Conference.
on June 23, a member of the Owners broke ranks. This was the
Peerless Laundry, which acceded to the unions demands.
The move precipitated a war within the Laundry Owners
Club. D. C. Keeney and company told the Peerless president
T. J. Williams that he must forfeit to them his entire plant
and business. They also asked for $5,000 for "breach-of-agreement".
Williams, however, stood firm - refusing to turn over his
plant and telling the Owners trust, "I am willing to
take a chance."
crippled owners did not, in the end, pursue their legal battle.
Yet the strike against them dragged on into July. The case
of the Peerless deluged the owners trust with bad publicity
a typical damning headline was "Club Tries to Use Club."
The final blow, however, came from the owners very class
and community. When the weekly "Business Chronicle of
the Pacific Northwest" published an article backing the
union, they minced no words, headlining it "Owners Wrong in
Strike of Laundry Girls". In part, it read:
is the first time that this newspaper which is opposed
on principle to strikes and the general arrogant attitude
of organized labor has seen merit in the strikers
The Business Chronicle believes that those laundries
that will not pay their female help enough to live on with
at least some semblance of decency, should be rebuked not
only in the name of humanity, but also for the good of all
July 6, the Owners knew they needed public redemption; finally,
they entered into negotiations with the union. Two days later,
the long strike was ended, in a deluge of front-page headlines.
the help of Local 566 and Local 40, the girls of Local 24
had won a wage increase, full union recognition and a closed
shop. They also won, as the Seattle Daily Times reported,
"betterments in working conditions that are generally regarded
as equally if not more important."
This sentiment indicated the role the owners cartel
had played. Their oppressive arrogance and their disregard
for conditions had strengthened both the girls determination
and public sympathies.
other unions declined in power after World War I, Seattles
laundry workers maintained the strength they had forged. In
1920, three years after the strike, they could boast 1,000