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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


The New York Times
December 26, 1909

How Would It Appeal to the Shirtwaist Strikers' Patronesses?

To the Editor of The New York Times:
Permit me in your columns to ask a question of the ladies who lent their automobiles yesterday.  How would you like to be waited upon by a committee from the Chauffeurs' Union and asked to agree that you would employ no chauffeur who did not belong to the union and that his hours and pay should be regulated by the union and you could not discharge him without the consent of the union?  If you refused, as you undoubtedly would, how would you like to have a procession of chauffeurs passing up and down your houses and persuading men who wanted to work for you to go somewhere else?

It is plain that the dispute now is on the demand for an open shop.  It means that the Union of Shirtwaist Makers shall control the business of employers just as the chauffeurs would control your household in the case I have put.

Permit me therefore, much respected ladies, a word of advice.  Send for those automobiles, go right to the Shirtwaist Committee, advise that they accept the concessions which they can get from their employers and which will be a substantial victory, and withdraw the demand for an open shop.

Allow an old friend to ask another question.  How can you justify an attempt to prevent a poor girl who is willing to work for an honest living from doing so?  That is what the pickets are doing.

I hope you do not mean to say that they have no right to work unless they belong to the union.  If they have the right to work, why should they be interfered with?
New York, Dec. 22, 1909

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