It was a cold day in February, and Robert was standing on the corner of Fort Street and Clark along with a dozen or so other men early in the morning, looking for a day’s work. Soon a Ford Model A pulled up, and a suited man got out.
“You men looking for work?”
“Yes, sir,” said an eager young man.
“The Briggs Plant on Mack Avenue will take the lot of you. Get there as soon as you can.” The man got back into his car and left.
There was a bit of grumbling – the plant was several streetcar changes and several miles away. Robert turned to the group.
“I have a truck. If you don’t mind piling in the back, I can get us there. Fifteen cents a man.”
Again, there was a bit more grumbling, but the offer was too good to pass up. Robert ran home and came back shortly. Loaded up, he took off towards the plant. Everyone was shocked to see a picket line. While the men climbed out of the truck bed, Robert approached one of the strikers.
“What’s going on?”
“We’re on strike. They tried to cut our wages again. We’ve had enough.”
“Didn’t know that! It wasn’t in the paper.”
“Oh, no – the company made sure we didn’t make the news. How did you happen to come here?”
“The lot of us were gathered, looking for daywork, and some man drove up and said there was work here.”
At that, the picketer stiffened.
“Scab work! I don’t think so.”
The day laborers were listening to the conversation. A couple tried to push through but were shoved back. Robert wasn’t one of them.
“How long have you worked here?”
“Six years. Used to be decent, but lately there’s been a lot of wait hours when we don’t get paid. Many of us are getting ten, maybe twenty hours of work a week. And now they want to cut that.”
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