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Labor

Why history is not just about the past

A fire blazes through a garment factory. The building has too few exits and not enough fire escapes. Fire equipment cannot reach the fire. More than 100 people—many of them young women—die. Bodies, burnt beyond recognition, line the floor of a government building, awaiting identification.

If you’re thinking, “I know that story—it happened at New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist Company in 1911,” think again. Though the details fit the Triangle tragedy, the scene I’ve just described is the deadly fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, this past Saturday night.

JWA Spotlights Jewish Women's Activism

Like all large groups of people, American Jews are complex and irreducible despite some aspects of shared culture. Recently, the Jewish Women’s Archive made an interesting choice to focus a new curriculum on Jewish involvement in the labor and civil rights movements — without cheerleading or focusing solely on women’s involvement — thereby shining a probing light on that very complexity.

Building a new social safety net: Sara Horowitz and the Freelancers Union

In 1909, Jewish women revolutionized the American labor movement. Before the huge garment industry strike known as the “Uprising of the 20,000,” union leaders saw women workers as irrelevant to the labor movement because they did not fit into the model of the traditional male union member. But these garment workers, many of them young Jewish women, proved that women could, in fact, organize effectively and challenge working conditions, and in doing so, they expanded the definition of worker and union member.

Dr. Judith Rosenbaum Talks Living the Legacy with Jewschool

This fall, the Jewish Women’s Archive released its latest online curriculum in the Living the Legacy series, a Jewish social justice education project.

Understanding the Past, Imagining the Future

Images and scenes etched in the minds of generations of Jewish activists--immigrant workers marching, sitting in, and striking; tear gas filling the air as riot police attack, beat and arrest union protesters; and battles with gangsters to free unions of mob domination. Freedom rides across the South, rabbis and religious leaders arrested in protests, and a generation of Jews--rank and file workers, organizers, and emerging leaders--swept up and inspired by a movement to win economic, racial, and social justice.

What’s in a name? Finding Solidarity in a Young Jew’s Herstory

Yesterday, as Yom Kippur approached, social justice organizers and progressive Jews gathered in downtown Boston to not only "remember" often underseen and undervalued laborers but also to stand in solidarity with the current labor struggles of our day. Here is Erica Concors', one committed organizer's, powerful speech. 

What's With All The Teacher Hate?

Sarah Seltzer, contributing writer to the The Sisterhood, shares her thoughts on education, class, gender, unions, and workers' rights.

Labor Day and Leisure

Labor Day. In America, this holiday is more often associated with barbeques, sales, and the farewell to summer and white linen than with the contributions of workers. By design, it’s a less overtly political holiday than the workers’ holidays in Europe—the U.S. intentionally picked a day other than the International Workers’ Day of May 1st to avoid any whiff of radicalism.

Joyce D. Miller, 1928 - 2012

Joyce Dannen Miller was born in Chicago on June 19, 1928. Her father ran a dry goods store and her mother was a teacher at a school for the deaf, mute, and blind. While in school at the University of Chicago, she worked in a gumball factory, which brought her into the bakery and confectionery workers’ union. By the early 1970s, she had made a name for herself setting up the “Rolls Royce of day care centers” through the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America in Chicago.

Sustenance

So, it’s an educators’ conference. You can imagine, we are caught in our business casual pastel prints and scarves, pencil skirts and ballet flats.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Labor." (Viewed on September 23, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/labor>.

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