Item no. 16001
New York
Occupation: Retail and wholesale - department stores, grocery stores, warehouses
Collection: Library of Congress

Sit-down strikers at Woolworth's in New York City's Union Square, with sign demanding a forty-hour week.

After Akron rubberworkers and Flint autoworkers successfully used the tactic in 1937, the sit-down strike became widely used until it was ruled illegal by the Supreme Court in 1939.

Employees at H.L. Green stores and Woolworth's in New York sat down for ten days in March 1937, demanding a forty-hour week, a twenty-dollar minimum wage, and union recognition. Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia intervened, forcing a settlement providing union recognition, an eight-hour day, a six-day week, and a minimum wage of 32.5 cents per hour.

Some other stores followed this settlement, though Abraham and Straus in Brooklyn proved unorganizable, and the sales employees at Macy's had to be painstakingly won, department by department, throughout most of the war.

From the New York World-Telegram and Sun collection.

See this image in the Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives exhibit.

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All Photographs

Photographs of Interior Scenes


Union Square