In the spring of 1928, over 35,000 people in New Bedford and Fall River began a six-month long strike against a 10% wage cut, marking New England’s largest strike of the ‘20s.
The Strike of ’28, written by Daniel Georgianna and Roberta Aaronson, documents the evolution of New Bedford’s textile industry leading to the events of strike. It was a time when a transient textile industry sought lower production costs, and New England’s position as the textile center of the world was giving way to the might of southern competition.
The Strike of ’28 begins with a look at New Bedford’s world dominance as a whaling port and how whaling capital was used to build one of the most important textile centers in the world. The book explores the development of the mill community including housing, mill expansion and working conditions leading to the events in 1928.
During the strike, the mill workers received wide support from local merchants, newspapers and clergy, but ethnic and religious divisions kept the strikers divided. At the strike’s core, the local conservative craft unions clashed with the militant industrial union sponsored by the Communist Party. In the end, these divisions, aided by the declining economy of textiles, the power of the owners and the coming winter, defeated the strike.
The story closes with the aftermath of the strike when both unions disappeared, the Great Depression fell upon the region, and the CIO came to New Bedford. Firsthand interviews with participants and leaders of the strike and nearly 300 photographs and illustrations add to the story’s drama and emotion.