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Effects Of The Cigar Strike Of 1937

1438 words - 6 pages

Not only did the strike affect money, family relationships and Nowak's ankle it erupted a domino effect, affecting other businesses as well.“They won the complete support of the whole neighborhood,’ according to Stanley Nowak. “The cigar womens strike also precipitated a wave of sit-downs by other women in laundries, restaurants, hotels, and the five-and-dime and specialty food stores in the city.” Other women in smaller businesses around the city began sitting down in strike as well. Although their strikes did not last as long as the Cigar strike it goes to show how the Cigar making women had an impact on other working women. That caused the city to lose even more money along with all the losses from the cigar strike and the previous losses from the stock market crash which the city was still trying to recover from. “The Depression had taken a savage toll on the city’s hotels-6 of 20 major establishments were in bankruptcy court in 1937, and with the entire hotel industry slashing prices to secure business, cost-conscious managers were cutting wages to the bone.” This Cigar strike had started a mini depression. Businesses employees had been sitting down all over the city because they felt they deserved to be paid more, meanwhile they were costing their employers money when they were still trying to recover from the stock market crash. “In all, nearly 130 factories, offices, and stores were occupied and held for a few hours or up to six weeks. According to newspaper estimates, 35,000 workers joined these sit-downs and over 100,000 others walked picket-lines outside the plant.” After the auto plant sit-down this wave of sit-downs struck the city in a matter of weeks beginning with the Cigar Strike.
Nowak’s book had a different approach since this was about a man who was actually involved in the strike. Although he was not one of the striking workers he was their appointed UAW worker. They even asked for him by name since they felt as though he would be able to get them what they were asking for. Helping the women out from 5 different factories Nowak had broken his ankle during one of his meetings where he had no choice but to flee out of the window. This was not an attack by police as have been numerous times. “As she spoke, Stanley saw several men, bearing clubs, enter from the rear and slowly advance toward him and Mary.” There were other people who were not taking a liking to the fact that these women were trying to strike the General Cigar Company.
Helen (Novak) Piwkowski, no relation to Stanley, says in so many words “while organizing the cigar factory sit-down strike they struggled for food, having to beg when they were hungry.” They would go around asking local businesses to donate food and some would, now that’s affecting their sales as well. Giving away free food is giving away money. How’d these women last seven weeks sitting down in a cigar factory where they once felt like prisoners in a death trap?
The women said there was hardly...

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