Labor Events Yearbook: 1931

This is a database of campaigns, strikes, and labor related events as recorded in the Washington State Labor News during 1931. It was researched by Brandon Letsinger with help from Nicolette Flannery. Start by reading the labor highlights report. Below that is the database.

Highlights 1931 by Brandon Letsinger

1931 was a complicated year for the labor movement in the Pacific Northwest. With unemployment surging and employers cutting jobs and cutting wages, Labor was mostly on the defensive, although a few unions did report successes. The movement turned to politics, launching a Charter amendment initiative in Seattle to achieve the five-day work week and pushing Congress for worker friendly laws. Neither effort was fully successful. But the movement continued to display energy and creativity, using a variety of tools such as such as radio broadcasts, boycotts, newspaper publications, literature drives, and house to house canvassing. In this survey of the Washington State Labor News important aspects of the culture of unionism become apparent. Labor strategies, actions, and attitudes of union members towards workers of other races, ethnicities, and political backgrounds come into a clear focus.

Early in 1931, from January to early March, the labor movement focused considerable effort on a campaign to amend the Seattle city charter. The measure if approved by voters would have provided municipal employees a five day work week. Spearheaded by James Duncan and the Committee for the Five Day Work Week, a subcommittee within the Seattle Central Labor Council, it united all sections of the labor council and was able to gather 20,000 signatures within the necessary two weeks to bring the measure to a vote before the city by March 10 th, 1931[1].

[read full report/ close report]