On September 9, 1919, more than 1,100 Boston Police officers went on strike for fair wages, decent working conditions and their right to organize.
Boston’s policemen were paid less than most of the city’s skilled laborers, and had not had a raise in decades. Normal shifts ranged from ten to thirteen hours. Required to be on call at the station house several nights a month, they slept in filthy quarters and were responsible for purchasing their uniforms and boots.
Police Commissioner Edwin Curtis disregarded the officers’ demands and refused to rehire any strikers, but gave their replacements the pay increase they had been requesting for years. It would be nearly fifty years before Boston’s police were allowed to organize.
In solidarity with the strikers, the Boston Carmen’s Union, Local 589, made a contribution to their strike fund and received a letter thanking all the members on Oct. 13, 1919. This letter now hangs on the wall in our union hall.
To learn more about the strike, visit www.bpstrike1919.org/.
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