Unraveling Workers’ Letters: The Voices behind Nelly Don

Lynn Davis



Lynn Davis


Letter by a factory worker describing her antipathy to the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union and its efforts to organize the Donnelly Garment Company. Davis criticizes the union and its president, David Dubinsky while also listing the characteristics of employment she values at the Donnelly Garment Company.


Date Original

October 24, 1937


Kansas City, Missouri

Collection name

James A. Reed Collection, K0443


Box 34


The State Historical Society of Missouri-Kansas City

Access Rights

The Donor hereby gives and assigns to the University all rights of copyright which the Donor has in (a) the Materials and (b) in such of his works as may be found among any collections of Materials received by the University from others.






Kansas City, Missouri
4517 Wornall Road
October 24, 1937

Donnelly Garment Company
1828 Walnut
Kansas City, Missouri

To The Company:

W.J. Cameron, in his attack on the National Labor Relations Board, as reported in the New York Times, said:

“The history of labor and management shows that every improvement of industrial conditions, every advance in industrial justice, originates with management. No labor leader has ever originated or suggested a single improvement in industrial conditions”.

Are we to condemn the candid integrity of this versatile philosopher or believe the audacity of a political ambitious agitator who obviously aspires to attain supreme dictatorial powers by guile and coercion of labor?

We must not be delusioned by a ridiculous “Insky” with a hundred thousand dollar appropriation and contemptable hirelings to distribute their vile propaganda. This merely is a scheme to abolish free thought and labor competition by placing all labor under one centralized head with no alternative but to submit to that high command. This exploited appropriation is not charity for the poor “Sweat Shop” victims but a “cold-blooded” business deal. Every dollar is expected to pay big dividends, as we, the duped labor will realize, to our detriment, if we do not denounce this corrupt organization.

I wish to contradict this false propaganda of “Sweat Shop” conditions and “Production Speed Up”. They have no part in our system.

I have been employed by the Donnelly Garment Company, as an operator, for the past seven years. My experience with the company has been very satisfactory both physically and financially, due to the thoughtfullness [thoughtfulness] or our employer, Mrs. Reed, and the congenial Personnel of the various departments.

The high standard “Nelly Don” endeavors to maintain for employees include:

Maximum wage
Twelve months production (not seasonal)
Vacations with pay
Sanitary shop and rest rooms
Adequate hospital facilities (First-Aid)
Group Insurance (Sponsored and partially paid by our employer).

I enjoy working in these surroundings for the Donnelly Garment Company and sincerely hope we shall never be dominated by any “Isms”.

Yours Respectfully,
Lynn Davis
Operator 31-411