Events In Labor History 
1900 to 1914

In 1905...

  1. A pound of bacon cost 18 cents                                                      

  2. A half-gallon of milk cost (delivered) cost just over 14 cents           

  3. A dozen eggs cost 27 cents                                                             

  4. Six pounds of flour cost 16 cents

  5. 5 pounds of sugar was 30 cents

The average hourly wage for production workers was 16 cents.

$3.66 had the same purchasing power of $100 in 2013.

In 1903, Edison Studios premieres their new moving picture :The Great Train Robbery.

click on the poster to view Edison’s film

Workers across the country continue the fight for an 8-hour day.

The Disparity of Wealth in America 1901:

The average worker makes around $500 per year.  Andrew Carnegie retires on a pension of $44,000 a day tax free.


October 24, 1902  First school strike beings at Clarke School on Thirteenth Street and Ashland Avenue in Chicago over frustration with citywide school administration and health issues threatening Chicago’s school children.

1902  Streetcarmen stage a strike over working conditions after the streetcar company, owned by U.S. Senator Nelson Aldrich refuses to negotiate.  The
carmen sought a union shop, $2.25 for a ten-hour day, and arbitration of grievances.  Governor Kimball responded to the strikers with 1000 state militiamen and gatling guns and calvary.

click on image to read more about Streetcarmen.


1913  Strikers at the Esmond Mill in North Providence sign up with the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies.)  A wave of strikes soon breaks out in Pawtucket, South Kingstown, Centerdale, Thornton, Warren, Woonsocket, Berkeley, and Olneyville.
January 12, 1912  Workers at the Washington Mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts walk out, initiating the first in a series of walkouts in what would come to become known as the Bread and Roses Strike.

1912  Rhode Island legislature enacts Workemen’s Compensation Act to provide for workers injured on the job.

Click here to read Providence Journal report on Socialism in Rhode Island in 19061906_Providence_journal_Article.html
Click here to read The Tribune report on Union Labor in Rhode Island in 19131913_Tribune_Article.html1913_Tribune_Article.htmlshapeimage_7_link_0
Click here to look at the New York Times from March 26, 1911New_York_Times_Triangle_page_1.html

1907  Hours of Service Act establishes a maximum 16-hour day for railroad workers.

1906  Providence Bishop arbitrates labor dispute

Click on image to read

Click on image

to read about workers’ fight for a shorter day

1913  Triangle Shirtwaist Factory owner fined $20 for locking doors in factory.

Click here to see the New York Times coverage of the fire.New_York_Times_Triangle_page_1.html

Click on image to read about the fine.

1906  International Typographical Union engages in successful strike for an 8-hour workday.

Read Ellen Spilka’s essay Child Labor In Rhode Island by clicking on the Lewis Hines photo of the young girl working in a mill.

photo by Lewis Hines

October 1912.  Debs speaks in Providence.

Click above to read Labor’s plea to working people in support of their 1912 candidate for Secretary of State

What did it cost to go out for dinner in 1905?  Click the menu to the left.

March 25, 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire in New York City.  146 workers - mostly young women - are killed.

(left:  twisted fire escape hangs outside Triangle Shirtwaist Company ruins.  Click on photo for a list of victims.)

click on image to right to check out the Providence Journal’s coverage of the strike.  The reporting has a pronounced bias against the strikers

leaflet for candidate Roderick McGarry

click to read more