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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Housemaid union calls for $10 weekly wage; Lewis and Clark High School runners race Seattle school via telegraph

UPDATED: Thu., Feb. 9, 2017

The Industrial Workers of the World were organizing a new chapter of the Domestic Workers Union, to be headquartered at the Socialists Hall at 309 W. Sprague, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Feb. 9, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)
The Industrial Workers of the World were organizing a new chapter of the Domestic Workers Union, to be headquartered at the Socialists Hall at 309 W. Sprague, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Feb. 9, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Spokane’s housemaids and hired girls might soon take up a battle cry: “Ten dollars a week or strike!”

The Wobblies (Industrial Workers of the World) were organizing a new chapter of the Domestic Workers Union, to be headquartered at the Socialists Hall at 309 W. Sprague.

“I am ashamed of girls who work for $3.50 or $5 a week,” said Wilma Powell, local organizer. “The way the domestics in Spokane have to live is most deplorable, and I don’t see what the girls are thinking of to stand for it. … A girl has to buy second-hand clothes to live on that wage. Lots of the girls refuse to dress that way and the result is that the difference in what they make and what they ought to make comes out of some man’s pocket.”

Miss Powell said that domestics in Spokane should make “at least $8 or $10 a week,” which she believed was as much as they could get under the present system.

“We don’t know whether we’ll call a general strike or not,” she said. “All I can say now is that we are organizing to take all necessary steps to better the conditions of domestics and we hope it will not be necessary to strike.”

From the sports beat: Lewis and Clark High School was planning a novel track meet with Seattle’s Queen Anne High School: a track meet by telegraph.

Each team would run races on its home ground, the results being transmitted between the two schools by wire. The LC track coach said it would be the first event of its kind “ever pulled off here.”

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