Tobacco Workers Strike


On Friday morning the cigarette hands in the factory of Blackwell & Co., Durham, N.C., eighty-nine in number, on entering their department very coolly took their seats and turned their backs upon their work. It was soon perceived that a strike was on foot. Mr. W. T. Blackwell was sent for at once. He is not a bit of an orator, but a most effective speaker, going at once to the point. He asked what was wanted. The leader, an Englishman, announced that they wanted the discharge of the inspector of cigarettes, and they wanted more pay. “As for the first,” said Mr. B., “I propose to run this establishment. I selected my inspector. The reputation of my factory depends on my judgment. As for more pay, I will not yield to demands made in this way. Now let every one of you go back to his work. I will give you one minute to do that. If not, there is a door big enough for you all to go out fast enough. Take your choice."

All went back to work, and thus ended the strike.

But to guard against a recurrence, Mr. Blackwell dispatched a representative to New York by the evening train to engage a sufficiency of first-class workmen.


Credit text

U.S. Tobacco Journal, August 6, 1881.