Rioting, an unsuccessful conference and the arrest of pickets were among the developments that came thick and fast yesterday, during the third day of the freshwater fish dealers’ strike against the allegedly high prices charged them by wholesalers.
A note of peace that was to sound false later on in the day was struck at the morning conference between wholesalers and retailers, held in the presence of Public Markets Commissioner William Fellowes Morgan Jr., at the Keystone Fish Co. offices, 29 Peck Slip.
There it was agreed that the wholesalers were to provide fish at the following prices per pound: Yellow pike, twenty-five cents; white fish, thirty cents; winter carp, twelve to fourteen cents, and mullets, fifteen cents. It was further agreed that while this was an emergency scale of prices, to be in effect only for the next few days.
CALL OPEN-AIR MEETING
Immediately after the conference an open-air meeting was called by a leader of the retailers, Sol Walpow, one of the officers of the United Retail Fish Dealers’ Association. The meeting was also addressed by Commissioner Morgan, who left in a huff following Walpow’s announcement that Walpow was insulted by the wholesalers at the conference. That was the end of the emergency pact.
Walpow charged at the open-air meeting that almost as soon as the conference was over the wholesalers began to violate the agreement. The retailers’ leader told reporters that “the strike will continue indefinitely, since the wholesalers would rather take the whole loss than effect immediate compromise.” He intimated that the association is willing to await developments.
Disorders broke out in the morning when Edward Lyons, a whole saler, attempted to auction off a box of carp. Members of the retail group then mixed in with independent retailers, who endeavored to make bids, as well as with wholesalers. Radio police cars were called to the scene and with the aid of ten men from the third precinct the outbreaks were quelled.
Later Benjamin Jaffee, an independent retailer who purchased some fresh-water fish in the morning, had his store at 182 Orchard street picketed by members of the association. Several pickets were locked up.
In the afternoon the wholesalers and their counsel, Harold H. Straus, met to form an association of their own. They accused the retailers of intending to break up their business and decided to charge retailers with conspiracy as defined in 580 Section 5 Subdivision 5 of the Penal Law.
It was decided to ask the State Attorney General’s office and other officials to make an investigation of the situation, since, it was claimed at the wholesalers’ meeting, Commissioner Morgan had failed to reconcile the warring factions.
At a press conference in his office Commissioner Morgan characterized Walpow as an agitator and said the strike was an “agitators’ strike.” He declared that police protection will be accorded independent retailers who wish to do business with wholesalers.
Approximately 275,000 pounds of fresh-water fish, valued at about $70,000, came in yesterday from Western fisheries and was left on the trucks and stands in Peck Slip. It may remain usable for the next ten days.
Late yesterday afternoon, a few retailers were availing themselves of police protection and were purchasing fish from the wholesale dealers. Most of the retailers, however, still refused to buy merchandise. A meeting of the retailers’ association took place last night at the Astoria Mansion, 62 East Fourth street.