February 9th: Day 4
“The time has come for every person in Seattle to show his Americanism.”
Ole Hanson proclamation, February 7, 1919.
Seattle Star (Seattle, WA). University of Washington Libraries Microforms & Newspapers.
The General Strike Committee convened a meeting to discuss ending the strike on Saturday afternoon (February 8) that lasted well into the wee hours of Sunday morning and concluded with a unanimous vote to continue the strike. Many of the strikers pledged to continue the fight until the shipyard workers’ demands were met, but others began to doubt the cause while many others never fought for them in the first place. This lack of cohesion did not start on day four of the strike, but was rather a characteristic of the strike and the larger labor movement. From the beginning, factional disagreements, racism, differences between radical, reformist, and conservative unions, and the varying goals of each kept the strike from achieving a singular, united objective. Members of the Industrial Workers of the World were denied the union discount at the strike commissaries, Japanese workers were given a seat on the strike committee but denied the right to vote, many workers of color were denied membership in AF of L affiliated unions, and conservative unions denied solidarity, returning to work before the end of the strike to appease their bosses. The General Strike Committee did not meet during the day, and many workers in Seattle sat in their homes on Sunday wondering if the strike would continue.
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On the orders of Mayor Hanson, thousands of Seattle’s citizens were deputized and armed with weapons. Hanson associated striking with unpatriotic behavior, ordering the people of Seattle to show their Americanism by ending the strike and returning to work.
Though they were hailed as a great success by the General Strike Committee, the conservative, pro-business Seattle Times described the strike kitchens as failures.
Systematically shut out of the labor movement, opinions of Seattle’s Black community on the strike varied from supporting it to denouncing it. The editorial paragraphs in Cayton’s Weekly describe a view that the strike would leave the Black community untouched, the strike was not about them and not for them: “…we can see Seattle being torn into shreds…but amid it all…we see ourselves moving about unhurt.”
Various shipyard unions in Seattle united as the Metal Trades Council of Seattle. In this leaflet, the council emphasizes the importance of worker solidarity in Seattle and notes that other workers in the US should look to Seattle’s example.
Systematically shut out of the labor movement, opinions While the General Strike Committee called for better wages in the shipyards, other more radical elements in Seattle’s labor movement called for revolution. This leaflet reminds the shipyard workers that they have power in their labor, and with this power, they could take control of not only their jobs but their lives.