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Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

Labor Events Yearbook: 1935

This is a database of campaigns, strikes, and labor related events as recorded in the Washington State Labor News during 1935. It was researched by Andie Erhart with help from Katherine Edwards.

Highlights 1935 by Andie Erhart

The year saw a number of dramatic strikes, many of them successful. Brewery workers, timber and sawmill workers, dairy wagon drivers, and dressmakers were among those organizing successful actions. Tensions within the labor movement were also evident in the Washington State Labor News. The AFL-linked newspaper reported with alarm about the activities of Communists in many unions, especially in connection with the Timber and Sawmill Workers’ Union.

The Brewery Worker’s strike proved one of the most violent clashes of the year. The strike officially began in May 1935, but tensions had been growing for several months. The union spent a great deal of time trying to negotiate a new contract, including provisions for the payment of overtime and the adjustment of back pay, but the Northwest Brewing Company, refused to acquiesce. The union declared a strike and set up picket lines, which soon turned violent. But the violence was not on the part of the picketers, rather directed toward them. The picketers were peaceful, or so the Washington State Labor News reported, but the company hired strike-breakers met them with violence. During the strike, one union man, Silver Vitro, was shot and wounded in the knee during the picketing. The pickets were frequently attacked by armed guards, gunfire, and tear gas. In addition to Vitro being wounded, William Usitalo, a member of the Seattle Teamsters’ Local No. 174 was shot in the head outside of Tacoma during the strike. It was alleged that Marinoff hired especially violent strike-breakers and encouraged them to use excessive force against the picketers. In the end, four men in addition to Marinoff himself were put on trial for murder.

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