In 1903 100 Deaf employees of the Chicago Automatic Telephone Company joined with their hearing colleagues to demand a shorter workday without reduced pay. Such an agreement would provide Deaf workers with equal employment to their non-Deaf colleagues. The Deaf worker strike was given profile coverage in the Chicago Tribune that described a “talk of strike by signs,” and called them “enthusiastic but noiseless.” This strike is likely the first collective action undertaken by self-identified Deaf workers in the U.S.
Two striking Deaf workers sign to each other on the corner apart from the other strikers. 1903