The Strike Begins

Arturo Giovannitti and Joseph Ettor.

The Lawrence Eagle Tribune reported on a strike meeting held on January 11: “Voting unanimously to walk out if their pay for 54 hours is less than that received for 56 hours, several hundred Italians, Poles, and Lithuanians, who are employed in the local mills, met last evening at Ford’s Hall. A majority of those who attended the meeting will receive their pay today. A mass meeting will be held Saturday afternoon at two o’clock in the City Hall at which speakers in English, Italian, Polish, and French will be present."

Strikers and community members responded to the strike in unprecedented and remarkable ways. On the morning of January 12, even before the strike had spread, the Boston Morning Journal on its front page warned readers that Lawrence “faces one of the biggest strikes in its history” (Erin Dubinski, The Lawrence Textile Strike of 1912, unpublished paper).

On January 13, Industrial Workers of the World organizer, Joseph Ettor, arrived in the city.  He spoke to workers at City Hall: "If the workers of the world want to win, all they have to do is recognize their own solidarity. They have nothing to do but fold their arms and the world will stop. The workers are more powerful with their hands in their pockets than all the property of the capitalists. As long as workers keep their hands in their pockets the capitalists cannot put theirs there. With passive resistance, with the workers absolutely refusing to move they are more powerful than all the weapons and instruments that the other side has for protection and attack.”