Unions

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Fannia M. Cohn

In the first half of the twentieth century, Fannia M. Cohn was one of the leading Jewish women trade union activists in the United States. Drawing on her Russian Jewish cultural traditions, she pioneered in the development of educational programs within the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU). Ultimately, however, male opposition undermined her efforts and diminished her long-term significance. Her life offers evidence of the possibilities and limitations of women’s activism in the American labor movement.

Rose Gollup Cohen

In her short life, Rose Gollup Cohen was a unionized factory worker and a domestic servant, was helped through an illness by Lillian Wald, became educated, and wrote short stories. Her moving 1918 autobiography Out of the Shadow offers a vivid account of her life as an immigrant Jewish woman in the sweatshops of New York.

Rose Chernin

Ambivalent about Judaism, passionately Marxist, charismatic, andcourageous, Rose Chernin devoted a great deal of her life to securing the rights of disenfranchised citizens: the unemployed of the Depression, farm workers without a union, black home buyers thwarted by redlining, and other foreign-born leftists, like herself, who faced deportation in the 1950s. 

Bund

Jewish women played leading roles in the formative years of the General Jewish Workers’ Bund, which was established in the Tsarist Empire in 1897, and initially participated in the movement in large numbers. However, the Bund seems to have had somewhat less success in mobilizing women in independent Poland between the two world wars than it had during the Tsarist era.

Aline Bernstein

In the world of theater, Aline Bernstein is remembered as one of the most important designers of the first half of the twentieth century.

Dorothy Jacobs Bellanca

Born in Latvia before immigrating to Baltimore as a child, Dorothy Jacobs Bellanca was one of America’s most remarkable women’s labor leaders. An outstanding union organizer and a captivating speaker, Bellanca understood the problems of the working class—people of all genders, ages, and backgrounds—and sought to improve conditions for workers.

Anarchists, American Jewish women

The first Jewish anarchist organization was formally set up as a result of the Haymarket bombing in 1886 and the subsequent trial of the accused anarchists. The inception and growth of the Jewish anarchist movement in the United States were inseparable from the mass immigration of Jews from Eastern Europe starting in 1881.

Ray Alexander (Simons)

Ray Alexander has devoted her life to the struggle for human rights and equality in South Africa. Embedded in a Marxist tradition rooted in her Latvian origins, she sought justice for workers and liberty for the oppressed.

Rubber workers, anarchists, and little Jewish ladies

Judith Rosenbaum

I was reading today about Rose Pesotta, a veteran unionorganizer with the ILGWU, who in February of 1936 went to Akron, Ohio to helpworkers striking at the Goodyear Rubber factory. She was sent to raise supportfor the strike among the workers' wives and daughters, but she was alsosuccessful in connecting with the workers themselves, ultimately helping to endthe strike with a negotiated settlement.

Topics: Labor Rights, Unions

Labor Day

Judith Rosenbaum

It’s Labor Day Weekend, which for some reason in this country is a time to barbeque, shop, and maybe spend one last weekend at the beach. Labor Day has come to mean the end of summer, rather than a day to consider and celebrate the role of workers in building and sustaining this country.

Topics: Labor Rights, Unions, Law

The Little Engine that Could

Judith Rosenbaum

Every day, I look at the poster of labor activist Rose Schneiderman in my office, and I draw inspiration from the stories of Jewish women who shook up the American labor movement in the early 20th century. So it was with both sadness and interest that I read the obituary of labor lobbyist Evelyn Dubrow last night.

Topics: Labor Rights, Unions
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