Bill Haywood Remembers the 1913 Paterson Strike
Source, William D. Haywood,”On the Paterson Picket Line,” International Socialist Review,
13 (June 1913): 850-851.
In this excerpt from an article published during the 1913 Paterson Silk Strike by “Big” Bill Haywood, he comments on the women’s role in the strike. Haywood was a founder and national leader of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
…The women have been an enormous factor in the Paterson strike. Each meeting for them has been attended by bigger and bigger crowds. They are becoming deeply interested in the questions of the hour that are confronting women and are rapidly developing the sentiments that go to make up the great feminist movement of the world.
With them it is not a question of equal suffrage but of economic freedom. The women are ready to assume their share of the responsibility, on the picket line, in jail, even to the extent of sending their children away. Hundreds of children already have found good homes with their “strike parents” in New York.
The Mother in Jail.
Among the strikers gathered in by the police was a woman with a nursing baby. She was fined $10 and costs with the alternative of 20 days in jail. She was locked up, but the baby was not allowed to go with her. In twenty-four hours the mother’s breasts were filled to bursting, but the baby on the outside was starving. He refused to take any other form of food. In a few more hours the condition of both mother and baby was dangerous, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn went to see Recorder Carroll about the case. She told him unless the baby was allowed to have its mother it would soon die. Recorder Carroll’s reply was as follows:
“That’s None of My Business.”