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-Mother Jones

Saturday August 1, 1914
Chicago, Illinois - Striking Waitresses Continue to Face Arrest and Police Brutality

From The Day Book of July 28th:


Fourteen more waitresses were arrested for picketing in front of Knab's loop lunchrooms this noon. The patrol wagon made several trips carrying the girls to the S. Clark street police station where they were immediately released on bond.

Elizabeth Maloney, business agent of the waitresses, has presented affidavits showing that girl had been made ill by the treatment they received from the police yesterday when 13 of them were cooped up in one narrow cell at the South Clark street station. The police chief said he would confer with Capt. Gibbons over the situation.

"Knab's wagon" made the rounds again yesterday, picking up thirteen girls picketing in front of the restaurants. The young women were taken to the South Clark street police station and placed in a stuffy room for two hours. At the end of this time four of them were ill and had to be assisted to their homes.

"The agreement with Judge Scully was to the effect that girls arrested for picketing were to be booked and released as soon as they reached the station. The police are bending every effort to break the strike by arresting our pickets," said Hope Thompson, attorney for the union.

The following article is from the April 1914 edition of Life and Labor and provides us with some background information regarding the strike now ongoing at Henrici's:

The Chicago Waitresses The Henrici Dispute
Alice Henry

Those of us who were up to our eyes in the Chicago Garment Workers' strike three years ago, "when fifty thousand refused to sew," are comforting ourselves with the significant advance that public opinion has made in those three years, and partly in consequence of that very struggle.

Whereas, then, with tens of thousands of workers facing all the hardships and privations of a most bitter winter, it was for many weeks impossible to induce the public to admit that there was a strike on at all, or to break down the policy of silence deftly enforced by the daily press.

The present is but a tiny dispute, involving actually but one firm, the Henrici* Restaurant on Randolph street, and only about a hundred people in all, waitresses, cooks and bakers.

Picketing at Henrici's, Life and Labor, April 1914
The strike and lockout, for it is both, has lasted at time of writing but six weeks, yet it is being discussed over half the family dinner tables in the city. Its concentration on one tiny spot of pavement daily attracts hundreds of onlookers, so that one day mounted police rode down the sidewalk to disperse them. The newspapers some weeks ago discovered that there was a notable dispute between Mr. Collins, President of the Henrici Restaurant, on Randolph street, and there has been quite a large amount of publicity given to the fact, even if in some of the details the accounts leant to mercy's side whenever the claims of the proprietor and the high-handed methods of the police and the private detectives were mentioned. The Evening Post has been scrupulously fair in stating the waitresses' side of the story, and the Journal, when asked, along with all the other newspapers, by the business men to cease taking so much notice of the striking girls, replied in an editorial:
The real cause of the strike goes far beyond the sins or oppressions of any one employer. It is based upon the wrongs inflicted by hundreds of employers.
One of the most irritating facts, as far as the workers are concerned, is the enormous number of arrests that have been made (one hundred and thirty-six in all), nearly all girls. The arrests have been made mostly on charges of conspiracy to injure a business and of disorderly conduct. Bonds have been found to the sum of over $100,000, but not one case, except Miss Starr's, has yet been tried, postponement after postponement being the order of the day, or of the court, at request of the City Prosecutor's office. Several girls have been arrested three and four times.

There are at this moment going on no fewer than three separate and distinct investigations. An inquiry by the City Council, initiated by Alderman Merriam, another by the City Club, and besides these court proceedings before three circuit judges. They are to decide on petitions for injunctions filed-by both parties, Mr. Collins asking that picketing be prohibited, and the waitresses asking that the police be enjoined from illegal, arrest and rough handling of the girls. But as a matter of fact the whole question is being investigated.

Miss Ellen Gates Starr, one of the founders of Hull House, a sympathizer with the girls, was also placed under arrest and demanded a jury trial, and has been tried and acquitted.

When the struggle had already lasted three weeks and still there seemed no end in sight the Waitresses' Union applied to the Women's Trade Union League for assistance. This being granted after a special meeting of the Executive Board, the League, in harmony with its habitual policy, called together a conference of women's organizations. This was held at Hull House, on the afternoon of Sunday, February 22. The call was signed also by representative women belonging to other organizations. These were Jane Addams, Edith Abbott, Mrs. T. H. Allinson, S. P. Breckinridge, Margaret Haley, Mary E. McDowell, Mrs. Medill McCorraiek, Mrs. Benjamin E. Page, Mrs. Raymond Robins, Ellen Gates Starr, Mrs. Harriette Taylor Treadwell, Mrs. Grace Wilbur Trout, Harriet Vittum, Mrs. Mary H. Wilmarth, Edith Wyatt, Mrs. Frank L. Churchill and Mrs. A. K. Mayuard.

A fierce blizzard was blowing, but there was nevertheless an excellent meeting. The papers sent their star reporters along, the Associated Press setting the example. Mr. Collins held a brief preliminary conference with some of the women promoters of the meeting, and left his attorney, Mr. Willard McEwen, to watch proceedings.

Miss Jane Addams was in the chair, and the speakers were Miss Elizabeth Maloney, business agent of the waitresses; Dr. Caroline Hedger, who had attended the waitresses injured when on picket duty; Mrs. Raymond Robins, and Mr. W. H. Holly, the lawyer of the Women's Trade Union League. The speeches were very brief and to the point. The restaurant keeper's representative made no statement, although such was invited.

On the motion of Mrs. Joseph T. Howen a resolution protesting' against police brutality, and asking that policewomen should be placed on strike duty, was passed and ordered presented to the mayor and to the chief of police.

Committees were appointed to this work, and also to follow up in court the cases of all arrested girls.

After this, policewomen were placed in charge, but their attitude was much the same as that of the male officers and they were subsequently taken off.

There were not wanting some very dramatic moments. One, when Miss Maloney explained how they had for some days been free from molestation by the police, because they were wearing American flags, picketing silently, only explaining to enquirers who asked, the meaning of this unusual decoration. This occurred just around Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays. Another touching proof of sincere devotion to principle was told by Dr. Hedger. The husband of one of the picketing waitresses was warned that it might be safer for his own situation if he took his wife off that street. "No." he said, "I'm with her. When I married her she had hardly shoes to her feet, she was that hard up, and I'm glad that she's able now to help other girls to get better wages."

A statement was issued at this time by the Women's Trade Union League and gave this information:

The organizations involved are Bakers' Union No. 2, Cooks' Union No. 865, Waitresses' Union No. 484, Milk Wagon Drivers' Union No. 753, and Bakery Wagon Drivers' Union No. 734. These organizations contract jointly with hotels and restaurants and have just signed agreements with 100 restaurants in the loop. The statement of Mr. Collins, president of the Philip Henrici Company, in his advertisements in the daily papers, that his establishment had been signaled out for attack, is not true. But his was the first of the restaurants to refuse to sign the agreement.
Demands of the Organizations.

The demands of the bakers', cooks' and waitresses' organizations with reference to wages and hours of labor, are as follows: The bakers ask for a 6 day week of 9 hours a day, with a weekly wage of $22 for the foreman, $20 for the second hand and $17 for the third hand. The cooks ask for a 6 day week of 10 hours a day or less and wages of not less than $14.50 per week. The waitresses demand a 6 day week of 10 hours a day or less, wage of $8 a week, and that the employer furnish and launder the working linen of the employees.


Negotiations were begun with Henrici's about the beginning of the year. While these negotiations were pending four union waitresses who visited the organization headquarters were discharged and orders were given that no union girl could stay in the place. The present waitresses in Henrici's know that to join the union would mean immediate discharge.

Three of the pickets now doing duty at Henrici's are girls who were discharged for joining the organization.

It has been stated that there is no strike by the employees, but that they are content with present conditions. This statement is false. Six of the eight bakers previously employed, including the chief cake baker, have struck, and two of the four cooks.

Grievances of the Waitresses.

Seven day week at $1 a day wage. Out of this wage five cents a day is taken by the employer for laundering aprons, and an average of 30 cents a day is paid by each waitress to a bus boy. The bus boy is an employe whose duty it is to remove the used dishes from the table. As his own wage is but five or six dollars a week, the waitresses supplement it by tips, and the one who does not tip receives poor service. This practice is known and permitted by the management of the restaurant.

Whenever a waitress makes a mistake in taking an order or a customer makes a mistake in giving the order and blames the waitress for the error, she is required to pay for the food sent back by the customer, though this food is returned to the kitchen, and she is not even permitted to have it for her own meal. The union insists upon the abolition of this custom.

The waitresses are also required to do work that should be done by a porter. The rooms at the Henrici restaurant contain 325 chairs and heavy tables and are swept by the waitresses daily after the noon hour. The unions demand the abolition of this porter work by waitresses.

It is claimed that the waitresses now employed at Henrici's are old employees, some of  whom have been with the concern a number of years. Of the forty-two employed only five have been there for a year or more. The others have worked there from one to seven months. An inspection of the Daily News want ads for the past year will show the constant need for new help at this place.

Standardizing the Culinary Trade.

The standardization of hours, wages and working conditions of the entire trade is absolutely necessary to prevent the exploitation of the workers. The reasonable demand for one day rest in seven alone should appeal to all who stand for decent and humane treatment of employees. It is only by organization of the workers and the unionizing of all the restaurants that these conditions can be obtained and the culinary trade standardized.

Police Brutality.

"Peaceful picketing is allowed by the laws of the State of Illinois, and the Waitresses' Union has delegated some of its members to pass up and down in front of Henrici's to call attention of his customers to the fact that the strike and lockout is on. No one of these pickets has at any time violated any law or been guilty of doing anything that she has not a perfect right under the law to do. In spite of this many arrests have been made by these private detectives and subservient police. In twelve cases a charge of conspiracy was made. This charge is utterly without foundation.

Besides these unlawful arrests the conduct of the private detectives and police has been brutal in the extreme. These men have used foul and profane language in addressing the girls, have tramped on their feet as they were passing along the street and when arresting them have used the same methods that they would use on a strong man who is resisting arrest. One policeman jerked, pulled and twisted the arm of Ora Duree until it was dislocated, and is now in such a condition that it is doubtful whether she will ever have the full use of it again. There is no excuse for this violence or brutality. The girls have made not the slightest resistance to arrest, but each has gone along quietly with the officer. The statement made that some of the girls resisted and even went so far as to sit down on the sidewalk in the slush and snow is untrue.

*There are in Chicago three Henrici restaurants, but the other two, situated one on Van Buren street, and the other on Michigan avenue, are owned and controlled by a separate company and are not affected by the present struggle.

The Day Book.
(Chicago, Ill.)
-of July 28, 1914

Life and Labor, Vol 3-4
National Woman's Trade Union League of America
Chicago, 1913-1914

Striking Waitresses Picketing Henrici's

Working Girl Blues - Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerard

Well, I’m tired of workin’ my life away
And givin’ somebody else all of my pay
While they get rich on the profits that I lose
And leavin’ me here with those workin’ girl blues
I-dee-o-lady, workin’ girl blues
And I can’t even afford a new pair of shoes
While they can live in any old penthouse they choose
And all that I’ve got is the workin’ girl blues

                       -Hazel Dickens


Originally posted to Hellraisers Journal on Fri Aug 01, 2014 at 11:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Sexism and Patriarchy, Shamrock American Kossacks, In Support of Labor and Unions, Anti-Capitalist Chat, and History for Kossacks.

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