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Sunday, October 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Labor Council says local workers likely wouldn’t mount sympathy strike in support of Seattle general strike

William J. Coates, the president of Spokane’s Central Labor Council, did not see any reason for Spokane workers to go on a sympathy strike in support of Seattle’s general strike, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Feb. 8, 1919. (Spokesman-Review archives)
William J. Coates, the president of Spokane’s Central Labor Council, did not see any reason for Spokane workers to go on a sympathy strike in support of Seattle’s general strike, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Feb. 8, 1919. (Spokesman-Review archives)

William J. Coates, the president of Spokane’s Central Labor Council, did not see any reason for Spokane workers to go on a sympathy strike in support of Seattle’s general strike.

“We cannot be of the least assistance to the trade unionists of the Coast by going out on a strike,” Coates said.

While he acknowledged the plight of the shipyard workers in Puget Sound, he said conditions in Spokane were far different – and far better. He said Spokane’s trade unionists have had a year of “peace and harmony” and general advances in wages and working conditions.

He urged union workers in Spokane to support the strikers with financial assistance – going “deep in our pockets.” Yet stopping all industry in Spokane would “not help the Coast situation one iota.”

He said some people were calling for a statewide general strike, but those people were “mostly outside the ranks of organized labor.”

Meanwhile, tensions were building in Seattle. About 55,000 workers were still on strike, but more cracks were beginning to appear in union solidarity. The streetcar men of Seattle’s Puget Sound Traction, Light & Power were rumored to be returning to work soon. Streetcars in Tacoma were up and running.

Mayor Ole Hanson said he would begin operating all of the city’s essential services “under federal protection” if the unions did not call off the strike.

A meeting of the strikers’ general conference was announced, and there was a possibility of a vote on whether to end the strike.

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