Labor Rights

Content type
Collection

Gertrude Weil

Gertrude Weil's passion for equality and justice shaped the course of her long life. Inspired by Jewish teachings that "justice, mercy, [and] goodness were not to be held in a vacuum, but practiced in our daily lives," Weil stood courageously at the forefront of a wide range of progressive and often controversial causes, including women's suffrage, labor reform and civil rights. She worked tirelessly to extend political, economic and social opportunities to those long denied them.

Lillian Wald

Lillian D. Wald was a practical idealist who worked to create a more just society. Her goal was to ensure that women and children, immigrants and the poor, and members of all ethnic and religious groups would realize America's promise of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Justine Wise Polier

An outspoken activist and a "fighting judge," Justine Wise Polier was the first woman Justice in New York. For 38 years she used her position on the Family Court bench to fight for the rights of the poor and disempowered. She strove to implement juvenile justice law as treatment, not punishment, making her court the center of a community network that encompassed psychiatric services, economic aid, teachers, placement agencies, and families.

Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman dedicated her life to the creation of a radically new social order. Convinced that the political and economic organization of modern society was fundamentally unjust, she embraced anarchism for the vision it offered of liberty, harmony and true social justice. For decades, she struggled tirelessly against widespread inequality, repression and exploitation.

Bella Abzug

A formidable leader of the women’s movement, Bella Abzug fought to pass the Equal Rights Amendment and other vital legislation for the rights of women. During her three terms in Congress, she advocated for groundbreaking bills including the Equal Rights Amendment and crucial support of Title IX.

Remembering the Uprising of the 20,000

Judith Rosenbaum

On a cold November morning onehundred years ago today, more than 20,000 immigrant workers--mostly young Jewishwomen--took to the streets of the lower east side of New York, kicking off aneleven-week general strike of the shirtwaist industry knows as the Uprising ofthe 20,000.

Teaching resources on labor activism

Judith Rosenbaum

In (belated) honor of Labor Day and the start of the new school year, I want to call your attention to a set of lesson plans on labor activism and communal responsibility. The lessons are based on a speech given by Rose Schneiderman, a Jewish immigrant activist, lifelong advocate for the rights of workers and of women, and powerful orator.

Topics: Labor Rights

Deportation of Emma Goldman as a radical "alien"

December 21, 1919

On December 21, 1919, Emma Goldman, along with 248 other radical "aliens," was deported to the Soviet Union on the S.S. Buford under the 1918 Alien Act, which allowed for the expulsion of any alien found to be an anarchist.

Emma Goldman, born in Kovno, Lithuania (then Russia) in 1869, came to the United States in 1885 at age 16.

Birth of Caroline Klein Simon, anti-discrimination pioneer

November 12, 1900

Caroline Klein Simon, a pioneering attorney, communal worker, and state official, was born on November 12, 1900.

Clara Lemlich sparks "Uprising of the 20,000"

November 22, 1909

“I am one of those who suffers from the abuses described here, and I move that we go on a general strike.” Thus, in Yiddish, 23-year-old Clara Lemlich addressed a crowd of thousands of restless laborers at New York City’s Cooper Union on November 22, 1909.

Rebekah Kohut honored for fifty years of communal activism

November 21, 1935

U.S. Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, NYC Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, Rabbi Stephen S.

Bella Abzug Elected to Congress

November 3, 1970

On November 3, 1970, Bella Abzug was elected to the United States House of Representatives on a proudly feminist, anti-war, environmentalist platform, becoming th

Rose Schneiderman named officer of NY State Labor Party

July 16, 1936

At a meeting in the Hotel New Yorker on July 16, 1936, Rose Schneiderman was elected vice chairman of the New York State Labor Party.

"Something Rotten in America"

June 27, 1931

Labor economist Theresa Wolfson was the principal speaker at the opening of the Barnard College Summer School for Women Workers in Industry.

First North Carolinian graduates from Smith College

June 18, 1901

On June 18, 1901, Gertrude Weil became the first North Carolina resident to graduate from Smith College, in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Activist Clara Shavelson leads butcher shop boycott

May 27, 1935

On May 27, 1935, New York City women, organized as the City Action Committee Against the High Cost of Living, picketed butcher shops to demand a reduction in the price of meat.

Labor leaders announce their engagement at May Day Parade

May 1, 1916

Born in Russia in 1889, Bessie Abramowitz Hillman immigrated to Chicago at age 15 to escape an arranged marriage.

Wage Earners' League for Woman Suffrage holds first mass rally

April 22, 1912

The year-old Wage Earners' League for Woman Suffrage held its first mass rally on April 22, 1912, at New York's Cooper Union's Great Hall of the People.

James Graham Phelps Stokes announces engagement to Rose Pastor

April 5, 1905

James Graham Phelps Stokes announced his engagement to Rose Pastor in a press conference on April 5, 1905.

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire

March 25, 1911

Approximately 500 workers were making ladies blouses at the Triangle Waist Company's factory near Washington Square in Lower Manhattan when fire broke out on March 25, 1911.

Labor activist Rose Pesotta organizes in Akron, Ohio

February 25, 1936

In 1936, in the midst of nationwide union organizing drives, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) se

Founding of labor Zionist group Pioneer Women

February 1, 1925

Sophie Udin and six other women who had been active in the labor Zionist organization Poale Zion, created the Pioneer Women’s Organization

"We have found you wanting"

Judith Rosenbaum

Ninety-eight years ago today, 146 people (mostly women, mostly Jewish and Italian immigrants, mostly young) burned to death in a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. The tragedy was particularly galling because it was the result of unsafe working conditions, a lack of fire escapes, and locked exits.

Topics: Labor Rights

Lillian D. Wald

Guided by her vision of a unified humanity, Lillian D. Wald passionately dedicated herself to bettering the lives and working conditions of immigrants, women, and children. She founded the Henry Street Settlement in New York City and initiated America’s first public-school nursing program. A talented activist and administrator, Wald’s pathbreaking work continues to be memorialized.

Uprising of 20,000 (1909)

In 1909, more than 20,000 Yiddish-speaking immigrants launched an eleven-week general strike in New York’s shirtwaist industry, the largest strike by women to date in American history. The strikers won only a portion of their demands, but the uprising sparked five years of revolt that transformed the garment industry into one of the best-organized trades in the United States.

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