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The 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike

Document 4

AMERICAN WOOLEN CO.,
Lawrence, Mass., January 19, 1912

To our employees:

       Last Friday many of you left our mills and have since remained away. Your . . . leaving the mills without notice and without any attempt at a conference is unfortunate all around. Both the company and employees are bound to lose a good deal of money as a result, which neither of us can afford.

       I want every man and woman working for the American Woolen Co. to get the best wages that the company can afford. You work best for the interests of the company when you are contented, but you must realize that I must also care reasonably for the stockholders' interests and see that the business is properly managed. You know we have very sharp competition, and if we do not do our work economically our competitors will drive us out.

       The last two years have been very discouraging years for us and for all manufacturers in our line. The present year being a presidential year is also bad for business. You realize, too, that the hours of labor are shorter here than in other States.

       I have consulted long and anxiously with the directors and those associated with me in the management. Reluctantly and regretfully we have come to the conclusion that it is impossible, with a proper regard for the interests of the company, to grant at this time any increase in wages. Trade conditions do not justify an increase.

       I ask you to have confidence in this statement and to return to your work. As long as I have managed the affairs of this company it has never yet reduced your wages, but on the contrary, four times this company has increased your wages without your asking. I say further to you that when the conditions of our business are again such as warrant raising your wages, I shall again, without even a request, recommend such an advance as circumstances warrant.

              Very sincerely,       William M. Wood, President

Excerpts from Letter from William M. Wood to the Strike Committee, 19 January 1912

9. According to Wood (an owner of the textile factory), why should the workers return to work?

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