Labor Rights

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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.

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.

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.

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 Waist 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.

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

On March 25, 1911, a fire erupted at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York, resulting in 146 deaths and many injuries, most of them young, recently immigrated Jewish women. To the Jewish community, the unprecedented scope of the tragedy and its horrors were evocative of the pogroms that had been to date the greatest disaster to befall Jewry in modern times.

Rose Pastor Stokes

Rose Pastor Stokes was called the “Cinderella of the sweatshops” when, as a young reporter, she met and married millionaire James Graham Phelps Stokes. Stokes became increasingly radical, adopting antiwar and pro-abortion stands, becoming a union organizer, and joining the Communist Party.

Socialism in the United States

Disproportionate numbers of Jewish immigrant women in America were associated with socialism in the first decades of the twentieth century. Their ideological commitment was expressed mainly in activism in left-leaning garment workers' unions. Their radicalism grew out of the same sources as male radicalism (changes experienced in late 19th century Europe and America, including proletarianization and secularization), but Jewish working women's radical consciousness and collective action emerged in the face of additional and different obstacles.

Clara Lemlich Shavelson

Clara Lemlich Shavelson pushed union leaders to recognize the importance of women in the labor movement and sparked the famous Uprising of the 20,000 garment workers strike in 1909. She continued her activism throughout her life, organizing around women’s suffrage and leading food boycotts and rent strikes.

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