About the Strike

On September 9, 1919, hundreds of members of the Boston Police Department went out on strike, seeking recognition for their trade union and improvements in wages and working conditions.

Patrolmen worked a 7-day week, with one day off every 15 days. Patrolmen who worked the day shift put in 73 hours a week and “night men” worked 83 hours a week, while “wagon men” worked 98 hours. […] Additionally, even during his free time, a patrolman could not leave the city limits without express permission.

Russell, Francis.  A City in Terror: Calvin Coolidge and the 1919 Boston Police Strike (Boston: Beacon Press, 1930, reprinted 1975) p. 50.

Police Commissioner Edwin Upton Curtis denied that police officers had a right to form a union, much less one affiliated with a larger organization like the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Attempts at reconciliation between the Commissioner and the police officers, particularly on the part of Boston’s Mayor Andrew James Peters, failed.  Over the objections of Mayor Peters, Commissioner Curtis announced on September 13 that he planned to recruit a new force. He fired roughly 1,100 and hired 1,574 replacement police officers from a pool of unemployed World War I veterans.  The new officers hired in the wake of the strike received higher salaries and more vacation days than the strikers had. They enjoyed a starting salary of $1,400 along with a pension plan, and the department covered the cost of their uniforms and equipment. The striking officers were left without jobs, and were unable to find employment in Boston.

[Compiled from Wikipedia – to be replaced by invited essay.]

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