These women are Chicago clothing workers, who struck for better conditions in 1910, led by a 20-year-old immigrant, Bessie Abramowitz. Bessie and other workers at Chicago men's clothing manufacturer Hart, Schafner & Marx, were unhappy with their conditions. These workers were paid a piece rate -- that is, they were not paid by the hour, but by how many pieces of clothing they completed. Bessie and other were paid four cents for every button they sewed. The company cut the piece rate 1/4 a cent, to 3 3/4 cents per button. The workers walked out in protest, and soon 8,000 Hart, Schafner & Marx workers were on strike, joined by thousands of other Chicago clothing workers upset about conditions. This spontaneous strike was a critical catalyst for forming the Amalgamated Clothing Workers (today the Union of Needle Trades, Industrial Employees - UNITE) in 1915.
"And I long to see the day when Labor will have the destiny of the nation in her own hands and she will stand as a united force and show the world what the workers can do." --- Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, 1830-1930