Ida Klaus made great strides for labor rights as the architect of the first code of labor laws for New York City employees and as a consultant to presidents from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter. As a college student, Klaus successfully organized her fellow hotel workers at her summer job in Saratoga Springs. She studied at Hunter College and the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Teacher’s College and taught Hebrew before joining the first class at Columbia Law School to admit women in 1928, graduating in 1931. She became a review lawyer and then solicitor for the National Labor Relations Board, helping implement the New Deal as the highest-ranking female lawyer in the federal government. In 1954 New York Mayor Robert F. Wagner appointed her to head the New York Labor Department, helping city employees secure the right to organize and bargain collectively. Later, as executive director of the Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining Office of the city’s board of education, she negotiated the first citywide teachers’ contract. John F. Kennedy consulted her on regulations for federal employees and Jimmy Carter asked her to help mediate the Long Island Railroad Strike. She remained active in labor rights long after her retirement in 1975.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Ida Klaus." (Viewed on December 11, 2017) <https://jwa.org/people/klaus-ida>.