Excerpt from "Deposition of Justine Wise, City of New Haven," 1926

Polier signed the following deposition for a study on Passaic ordered by the Washington Senate during the 1926 strike.

After having worked for two months as a quiller on the evening shift at the Passaic Cotton Mills, I applied for work at the Wool Council of Passaic and was there given a card which entitled me to apply for work directly at any one of the woolen mills in Passaic, including the Forstman Hoffmann Mills....on applying at the Passaic Plant I was closely questioned and told that seeing that I had had a high school education the personnel worker thought she could make a forelady of me. For this reason she placed me in the burling department, where I worked that morning so that I might see the type of mistake which should be avoided by the weavers. In the afternoon word was sent to me that the head of the personnel department wished to see me and I was taken into Mr. Rheinhold's office. Mr. Rheinhold again said that he thought he could make a forelady of me and for that reason wished me to move from department to department for some days. He explained that I would therefore not be in any department long enough to get the weekly pay check and he proposed to pay me $20 in advance. He sent his secretary, who was present during the entire interview, taking down in shorthand all that was said, to get $20 and a blank receipt. He handed me the $20 and asked me to sign the receipt "JUSTINE WATERMAN," the name which I had used while working in the mills, and which is two-thirds of my name, JUSTINE WATERMAN WISE. As soon as I had signed the receipt, Mr. Rheinhold turned upon me and said: "We know who you are, you are Rabbi Wise's daughter, and I'm going to have you arrested for taking money under false pretenses." He turned to his secretary and asked her to call up the Clifton police, which she attempted or pretended to attempt. Mr. Rheinhold then asked me why, if I wished to know about the mills, I had not come directly to him. I explained to Mr. Rheinhold that there would have been little value in doing that since as soon as I had gotten to Passaic I learned that the mill preferred not to take people who had been to high school, and up to within a few years had tried to employ only foreigners who could not speak English. I also told Mr. Rheinhold that I was eager to learn something of the processes of the textile industry and more than anything else I wished to live and to work with women who were working in the mills so that I might better understand the problems they were facing. After threatening him with a newspaper expose Mr. Rheinhold suddenly seemed timorous of pursuing the absurd threat of arrest, asked his secretary to drop the phone and told me he was too much of a gentleman to wish to have me arrested in his office and would let me go on condition I promised to answer a summons. I offered at once to return the $20 which he had given me as advance pay, which seemed to irritate Mr. Rheinhold for he said in an angry voice that I had better keep it and give it to the poor whom I seemed to care so much about....

A few days later I applied for work at the other mills and everywhere noticed that the manager noted my card number in a rather strange way. When I went to have my card renewed at the employment bureau it was taken from me and Mr. Schetkowsky or the chief clerk in charge at the moment came from his office and said to me in the presence of several people "You ought to be glad you're not in jail. Neither you nor your friends will get any work as long as you are in Passaic."

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Excerpt from "Deposition of Justine Wise, City of New Haven," 1926." (Viewed on September 21, 2023) <https://jwa.org/media/excerpt-from-deposition-of-justine-wise-city-of-new-haven>.


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