Then came the accident, which hit the Teoli family hard. Camella spent nearly four months in the hospital, all that time without pay. Soon after she was released, in late October 1909, she had to get another job.
At the time, Massachusetts officials were growing concerned about conditions in the mills. In late 1911, the legislature passed a law reducing the hours that women and children could work in a week from 56 to 54. In response, mill owners sped up the machines, putting the workers under even more pressure.
Then, on January 11, 1912, a group of women in one of the Lawrence mills opened their paychecks to find the bosses had cut their pay for those two hours. That money would have bought four loaves of bread. Enraged, the women left their machines and walked off the floor. “Short pay! Short pay!” they chanted.
Their action sent a shock wave through the town. Enough was enough. Within two days, about 25,000 people from the Lawrence mills were on strike.