Seattle waitresses unionize on November 23, 1900.

  • By Greg Lange
  • Posted 5/05/1999
  • Essay 1066

On November 23, 1900, 40 Seattle waitresses organize a union. It is Local No. 240 of Hotel and Restaurant Employees International Alliance. Before they were organized, waitresses worked 12 to 15 hours a day seven days a week and earned an average of $1.30 per day.

By 1902 membership had increased to 195 and hours had been reduced to 10 hours per day seven days a week.

William Blackman, Commissioner of the state Bureau of Labor in 1902, stated, "This is the best conducted union in the state" (Third Biennial Report). By 1908 membership had increased to 350, which was 95 percent of the trade. Ten years later there were 618 members, all women.


[Washington] Bureau of Labor, Third Biennial Report of the Bureau of Labor of the State of Washington 1901-1902 (Seattle: Metropolitan Press, Inc., public printer, 1903), 105; [Washington] Bureau of Labor, Sixth Biennial Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Factory Inspection 1907-1908 (Olympia: C.W. Gorham, Public Printer, 1908), 138.

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