February 10th/11th: Days 5/6
“The vast majority struck to express solidarity. And they succeeded beyond their expectations.”
The Seattle General Strike: An account of what happened in Seattle, and especially in the Seattle Labor Movement, during the General Strike, February 6 to 11, 1919, 1919.
King County Labor Council records. Accession no. 1940-001, Box 15/19. Labor Archives of Washington, University of Washington Libraries Special Collections.
Monday morning (February 10) dawned, the General Strike Committee met, and many committee members were found to be missing. The barbers, stereotypers, car drivers, bill posters, ice wagon drivers, milk drivers, and newsboys had all returned to work. Others in attendance reported that their unions would face great hardship if the strike continued. The strike committee voted on a resolution to advise all those who had returned to work to strike a bit longer and that the solidarity strike would officially end at noon on February 11. The Seattle General Strike ended and the strike committee hailed it as a successful expression of worker solidarity, while Mayor Hanson and the business class proclaimed that Americanism and capitalism had withstood a revolution. Meanwhile, the shipyard workers held the line.
Even though the solidarity strike ended, the shipyard strike continued. Shipyard workers would not compromise and continued to withhold their labor with the aims of improving their wages and working conditions. The Emergency Fleet Corporation (EFC) stopped all shipyard work as the strike persisted and threatened cancellation of shipbuilding contracts. The shipyard strike lasted until March 17, but by then the EFC had cancelled contracts. Thousands of shipyard workers were laid off, and those that remained worked for reduced wages. Following the general strike, dozens of members of the Industrial Workers of the World and other radicals were arrested and blamed for the general strike. The Seattle Central Labor Council came to their defense, still feeling solidarity with their fellow workers. The media attention of the Seattle General Strike allowed people all over the US and the world to see Seattle as a model and inspiration for their own labor struggles. While the Seattle General Strike officially ended on February 11, its legacy, as a success, as a failure, and as an exemplar of working-class solidarity, lives on.
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The Seattle Union Record focuses on the continuation of the shipyard strike on the front page issue printed February 11.
The Seattle General Strike, issued by the History Committee of the General Strike Committee, gives a day-to-day account of the general strike. The History Committee included May Young of the waitresses union, Anna Louise Strong, and others, and provides a history of the strike as well as commentary about its outcomes.
On the last day of the strike, workers brought forward a resolution regarding the inclusion of Japanese as well as other workers of color in the Seattle Central Labor Council (see the bottom of page 12). In recognition of the Japanese community and other workers of color supporting the general strike, the committee asks for the formation of a committee to unite all workers together across racial lines. But note how the resolution also calls for the continued restriction of immigration from Asia.
This postcard shows the Seattle Labor Temple, the site of many meetings of the General Strike Committee. The Seattle Labor Temple, now in a different building on 1st Avenue and Clay Street, is still the home of many of today’s labor unions in Seattle.