Unions

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Collection

Ray Harmel

Ray Harmel was a powerful force in the trade union movement in Apartheid South Africa, a committed Communist, an anti-Apartheid activist, and ultimately a member of the African National Congress.

Labor Activist Myra Wolfgang Organizes Detroit Woolworth’s Sit-down Strike

February 27, 1937
Led by Myra Wolfgang, organizers from the Waiters and Waitresses Union of Detroit walked into a Detroit Woolworth’s five and dime store, blew a whistle, and declared the beginning of an 8-day sit-down strike.

"We Have Found You Wanting:" Labor Activism and Communal Responsibility

After the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, labor rights activist Rose Schneiderman made a famous speech which provided the basis for investigating our communal and individual responsibilities for the well being of others in our midst.

Ethel Baskin Schwartz

From Depression-era protests to twenty-first century marches, Ethel Baskin Schwartz dedicated her life to organizing and fighting for unions and civil rights.

Myra Wolfgang

Hailed by local newspapers as “the battling belle of Detroit,” Myra Wolfgang went from staging sit-ins to becoming International Vice President of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union.

Randi Weingarten

When she was elected president of the American Federation of Teachers in 2008, Randi Weingarten became the first openly gay leader of an American national labor union.

Justine Wise Polier gives passionate speech on justice at Christ Church.

October 14, 1952
"I saw the vast chasms between our rhetoric of freedom, equality and charity, and what we were doing to, or not doing for poor people, especially children.” - Justine Wise Polier

Death of social activist Sophie Gerson

March 20, 2006
Sophie Gerson was a legendary figure in the history of textile union organizing in the South.

Leslie Feinberg, 1949 - 2014

And in the reflection of the glass, finally, literally and metaphorically, I could see myself, and Leslie, at once. I think I started to understand what I could be in that moment, that I belonged to a proud tradition of Butch women. That there was a place for me in this world. That I could grow up. For the first time, I understood that I was looking at who and what I would become as an adult. It was breathtaking.

Meredith Tax

Meredith Tax used her writing both to highlight the tremendous upheaval of her own times and to reimagine the struggles of suffragists and union organizers.

Ruth Rothstein

As chief of Cook County Bureau of Health Services, Ruth Rothstein helped Chicago hospitals create a better safety net for the disadvantaged.

Rose Finkelstein marries in true union style

December 25, 1921

Union organizer Rose Finkelstein Norwood said, "When I saw a detective coming, I’d hide in the coats."

Meredith Tax

It was too good a story to leave in a history book.

Collective Action: Lessons from the Labor Movement

What is the meaning of work? What conditions cause workers to suffer and what inspires them to take action to improve their lives? What can Jewish history teach us about contemporary labor issues and our responsibility towards workers around the world? Watch interactive activities and see an experienced facilitator model investigations of several historical artifacts you can put to use in your classroom.

Birth of Vera Weisbord, Radical

August 19, 1895

Birth of Vera Weisbord, Radical

Freelancers Union Logo

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

Judith Rosenbaum

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.

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Dr. Judith Rosenbaum Talks Living the Legacy with Jewschool

Gabrielle Orcha

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

Marilyn Sneiderman Organizing with Labor circa 2008-2009

Understanding the Past, Imagining the Future

Marilyn Sneiderman

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.

Topics: Labor Rights, Unions
Chicago Teacher's Strike, September 2012

What's With All The Teacher Hate?

Sarah Seltzer

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

"The Return from Toil," July 1913

Labor Day and Leisure

Judith Rosenbaum

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

In addition to being a great friend to many and a loving mother, daughter, and sister, she was a <em>Tzaddik.</em></p>

Rose Finkelstein leads successful strike

April 20, 1919

On April 20, 1919, the young women who worked as telephone operators at New England Telephone and Telegraph walked off the job.

Top 11 Labor History Landmarks in New York City

Labor History Landmark: No. 4 The International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union Headquarters

Leah Berkenwald

The Top 11 Labor History Landmarks in New York City is a blog series on Jewesses with Attitude created in honor of Women's History Month and the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Waist Factory fire. Learn more about the series here, or check out JWA's online walking tour.

Top 10 Jewish Women in Labor History

10 Things You Should Know About Fannia Cohn

Leah Berkenwald

Her life offers evidence of the possibilities and limitations of women’s activism in the American labor movement.”

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