The Real Bread and Roses Strike Story Missing from Textbooks – Zinn Education Project

Along with the IWW, the Italian Socialist Federation (ISF) played a significant role in the strike. ISF members, among the first workers out of the mills, provided local leadership and strategies to the larger strike force. They had strong ties to radical labor organizations throughout Italy and other European countries.

Organization also grew out of the experiences immigrant workers brought with them to Lawrence. Franco-Belgians established a cooperative modeled after institutions in France and Belgium, in 1905. The cooperative operated its own bakery as well as its own grocery store and meeting hall. As Franco-Belgian immigrant August Detollenaere noted, “The union is the place of combat; the cooperative must be . . . a financial and moral support.” He and many other Lawrence workers carried their labor histories with them into the city’s mills and drew on their experiences to build vital worker organizations across the city.

Mill laborers, their families, and their neighbors stood up against the city’s entrenched mill aristocracy and the police and militia determined to break their strike. A lesser organized strike might well have collapsed. Instead, thousands of workers joined singing picket lines that snaked for blocks through the city’s commercial and mill districts.

The Real Bread and Roses Strike Story Missing from Textbooks – Zinn Education Project

jean sanders on January 12th, 2014 – 10:38am

Here is an excellent resource on the role of university students during the strike: