New England Telephone Exchange

Back
  • A
  • Telephoneexchange
  • Telephone Exchange

New England Telephone Exchange

Forest and Cumberland Avenues

Two hundred women telephone operators in Portland walked out on strike in April, 1919, joining their sister "hello girls" to close down five New England telephone exchanges (except Connecticut) for six days. Their dispute was with the U.S. Postmaster General, who controlled telephone company policies at the time and refused to allow the women a means to bargain for higher wages. Cora Smith, president of Portland Local 25A, appealed to the governor and senators to help settle the issue. The women met at the Pythian Temple at 341 Cumberland Avenue and picketed the exchange. The dispute was settled in favor of the telephone operators with a pay raise, retroactive to January 1, of $19 a week after seven years of service and a minimum wage of $10 a week.