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Entry Category: Poverty - Starting with F

Fort Smith Telephone Operators Strike of 1917

On September 19, 1917, women who were employed as telephone operators by the Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) left their stations, walked out of the exchange, and began striking. This strike was a response to the company’s dismissal of two employees, Nora Boger and Mamie Garret, due to their involvement with the creation of a labor union for the operators. When the company denied the reinstatement of these women, the strike began. Over the next four months, the company would wage court battles against the strikers instead of listening to their demands, and conciliators from the Department of Labor would be called in to help solve the conflict. While the strike itself was tumultuous and disrupted …