By Rheta Childe Dorr
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More than thirteen hundred dollars was collected in a few minutes. A dozen women promised influence and personal service in behalf of the strikers. A week later Mrs. P. Belmont, mother of the Duchess of Marlborough, leader of a large Woman Suffrage Association, engaged the Hippodrome, and packed it to the roof with ten thousand interested spectators. Something like five thousand dollars was donated by this meeting. At the beginning of the strike fully five hundred waist houses were involved. Many of these settled within a few days on the basis of increased pay, a fifty-two-hour working week, and recognition of the union.
Gotcher. The inspector promptly sent Mrs. Gotcher home and arrested Mr. Muller. The next day in court Mr. Muller was fined ten dollars. Instead of paying the fine he appealed, backed up in his action by the other laundrymen of Portland, on the ground that the ten-hour law for women workers was unconstitutional. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees to every adult member of the community the right freely to contract. " This is the legal decision on which most protective legislation in the United States has been based.
New and complicated machinery was introduced. The shortened work day was a hundred times more fatiguing to the workers because of the increased speed and nerve-racking noise and jar of the machinery. Other grievances developed. The quality of the yarn furnished the weavers was often so bad that they spent hours of unpaid labor mending a broken warp or manipulating a rotten shuttle full of yarn. Wages, fixed according to the piece system, declined, it is said, at least one-fourth. Women who had formerly earned thirteen dollars a week were reduced to seven and eight dollars.