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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Bay City in Bay County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

“Ten Hours or No Sawdust”

 
 
"Ten Hours or No Sawdust" Marker - Side 1 image. Click for full size.
By Joel S., July 16, 2010
1. "Ten Hours or No Sawdust" Marker - Side 1
Inscription. Side 1
When Bay City's sawmills opened in 1885, mill owners notified workers that wages would be 12 to 25 percent lower than in 1884. On July 6, 1885, Bay City millhands began to walk off the job. Their slogan, "Ten Hours or No Sawdust," represented their demand for a ten-hour workday, higher wages and semimonthly pay. On July 9, 1885, D.C. Blinn, editor of Bay City's Labor Vindicator and a member of the Knights of Labor, held a rally at Bay City's Madison Park. After the rally, millhands left by barge for Saginaw, where they closed the mills the next day. The demands of the millhands were rejected, and the sporadic violence that followed led the mayors of Bay City and Saginaw to seek help from the state militia and private detectives.

Side 2
On July 14, 1885, Governor Russell A. Alger, a wealthy lumberman, came to Bay City to attempt to resolve the strike that had closed Bay City and Saginaw mills. From the steps of the Frazer Hotel, across the street from this site, he spoke to a crowd of millhands, warning against further violence. On July 29, Terence V. Powderly, Grand Master of the Knights of Labor, came to the valley. He urged the millhands to return to work with a ten-hour day and reduced wages. Nevertheless, the strike continued for several weeks, with support from the people of Bay City.
"Ten Hours or No Sawdust" Marker - Side 2 image. Click for full size.
By Joel S., July 16, 2010
2. "Ten Hours or No Sawdust" Marker - Side 2
The mill owners, however, remained intransigent, and by late September the strikers were defeated. The ten-hour workday went into effect on September 15, 1885, by an act of the state legislature, but wages remained low.
 
Erected 1987 by Bureau of History, Michigan Department of State. (Marker Number L1413.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Michigan Historical Commission marker series.
 
Location. 43° 35.876′ N, 83° 53.415′ W. Marker is in Bay City, Michigan, in Bay County. Marker is on North Water Street 0 miles south of Center Street, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Center Street is 2 blocks north of Seventh Street (State Highway 25). Marker is in this post office area: Bay City MI 48708, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 5 other markers are within 14 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Center Avenue (approx. 0.3 miles away); First Presbyterian Church (approx. 0.4 miles away); Trinity Church/Trinity Episcopal Church (approx. half a mile away); Charles B. & Georgiana (McGraw) Curtiss House (approx. half a mile away); Theodore H. Roethke Childhood Home / Theodore H. Roethke (approx. 13.6 miles away).
 
Categories. Labor Unions
 
"Ten Hours or No Sawdust" Marker image. Click for full size.
By Joel S., July 16, 2010
3. "Ten Hours or No Sawdust" Marker
View of marker looking north along North Water Street toward Wenonah Park entrance (on the left).
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 28, 2010, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan. This page has been viewed 1,035 times since then and 60 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 28, 2010, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
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