Working Nine to Five…

Alice Lord

Alice Lord arrived in Seattle in 1892, quickly taking a “pink collar” job, working 12-hour days for a weekly wage of between $5 and $6. In 1900, Alice became an instrumental figure in founding the Waitresses’ Union, Local 240, one of the few women’s unions with a national charter in the American Federation of Labor. Despite opposition from local police and business owners, the Waitresses’ Union led the coalition to pass an 8 hour workday, and the 6 day workweek in 1911. Lord continued to be an outspoken advocate for fair wages. Her work had an impact. In 1913, Washington state enacted the $10 per week minimum wage for women. Although she advocated for “working women,” Lord had a defined view of married women and women of ethnic descent barring Asian and African American waitresses’ from union membership. Lord, a strong independent woman, reminds us that justice is most beneficial when everyone enjoys equality.

Contributed by Amee Bahr