f/8 and Be There
Fred Lynch

Shoe Factory Workers Strike

Posted Friday, December 3, 2010, at 7:30 AM

Southeast Missourian, Oct. 2, 1962

Pickets appeared this morning at the Cape Girardeau plant of the International Shoe Co. Waving their signs, some of them are shown here. Many workers remained away from work, but others returned to their positions. Involved is a dispute over a contract signed Sunday. (Photo by G.D. Fronabarger)

It was estimated about 350 of approximately 800 employes at the plant took part in the work stoppage.

Ellis Baker, national representative for the shoe workers union, said, "I didn't authorize the strike. It is illegal. The picket line is not an authorized picket line." Mr. Baker added that he had advised employes to cross the picket line to return to their work. Many did.

A spokesman for the striking workers said the walkout occurred as a result of a union board meeting last week. He said the board agreed if a contract had not been signed by Saturday noon, there would be no work on Monday.

Editor's Note:

Shoe factory workers returned to their jobs on Wednesday, Oct. 3. A majority had voted Tuesday night in favor of a contract agreed to by union representatives on Sunday.


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  • The shoe factory employed nearly 1,500 workers in the 30s; by 1994, it was down to 450; by 1999, it dropped to 300. Shortly after that, the whole manufacturing process was outsourced to India.

    It would be easy to blame union wages for the death of the shoe industry, but stories said that shoe worker pay was comparable to other manufacturing jobs at the time.

    The killer was us and our desire to buy the least expensive - read cheapest - products. In 1994, 87% of the shoes sold in the U.S. came from overseas, 60% of them from China.

    -- Posted by ksteinhoff on Fri, Dec 3, 2010, at 4:09 PM
  • vf43WRX,

    Follow the link to see aerial photos of the shoe factory neighborhood from the 70s and last month:


    The building you're talking about is still there, except it's called Margarita Mama's. (Or it was when I shot the neighborhood in 2009.)

    -- Posted by ksteinhoff on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 10:40 AM
  • ksteinoff, I followed your link. Thank you for the memories and the pictures of my former home(the old shoe factory). At least it seemed like my home back in the 1970's. We worked from 7 A.M. to 5 P.M. Monday - Friday. On Saturdays we would work anywhere from 5 to 10 hours. Sometimes during the week if we were really behind we would come in from 6 to 9 at night. When I started in 1971 I was paid $1.65 an hour. In 1993 when the plant closed I made $6.53 an hour. Believe it or not my take home pay was about the same. The tax increases took whatever raises we got in the meantime. I was paid by the hour and not on piece work.

    -- Posted by Hookie98 on Mon, Dec 13, 2010, at 8:30 AM