Seattle stone cutters form a union during March 1889.

  • By Greg Lange
  • Posted 5/09/1999
  • Essay 1084
During March 1889, stone cutters from Seattle organize a union, a branch of Journeymen Stone Cutters Association of America. Stone cutters earn $4.50 per 9-hour day and work five or six days per week.

After the Great Seattle Fire of June 6, 1889, there was a large amount of work for stone cutters as the city was rebuilt in brick and stone.

The stone cutters' union was an integrated union on the national level, and the Seattle local admitted African American stone cutters from the beginning. Two black stone cutters were Lloyd Ray (husband of Emma Ray, the Women's Christian Temperance Union activist), and James S. Murray. In Emma Ray's book Twice Sold, Twice Ransomed, Lloyd Ray describes the scene right after the fire:

"The city was burned down in ashes and I came to help build it up, as I was a stone mason and cutter by trade. It was first built up of tents, and saloons were at every door. Beer by the water buckets was on the job from morning until night" (quoted in Mumford).

In 1906, the stone cutter's union had 75 members.

Sources: [Washington State] Bureau of Labor, Fifth Biennial Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Factory Inspection 1905-1906. (Olympia: C.W. Gorham, Public Printer, 1908), 102-103; Esther Hall Mumford, Seattle's Black Victorians, 1852-1901 (Seattle: Ananse Press, 1980), 45.

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