By working hard we could make an average of about $5 a week. We would have made more but had to provide our own machines, which cost us $45, we paying for them on the installment plan. We paid $5 down and $1 a month after that.
But every time the workers come out in the only way they know to protest against conditions which are unbearable the strong hand of the law is allowed to press down heavily upon us.
You have nothing that the humblest worker has not a right to have also.
All the time our union was progressing very nicely. There were lectures to make us understand what trades unionism is and our real position in the labor movement.
I learned the business in about two months, and then made as much as the others, and was consequently doing quite well when the factory burned down, destroying all our machines – 150 of them. This was very hard on the girls who had paid for their machines.
We have women working in the foundries, stripped to the waist, if you please, because of the heat.
After I had been working as a cap maker for three years it began to dawn on me that we girls needed an organization. The men had organized already, and had gained some advantages, but the bosses had lost nothing, as they took it out on us.
Of course, we knew that this meant an attack on the union. The bosses intended gradually to get rid of us, employing in our place child labor and raw immigrant girls who would work for next to nothing.
I can’t talk fellowship to you who are gathered here. Too much blood has been spilled. I know from my experience it is up to the working people to save themselves. The only way they can save themselves is by a strong working-class movement.