Unions

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"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.

Esther Dischereit

Esther Dischereit’s poetry, essays, operas, and radio plays incorporate her experiences as “other,” growing up Jewish in post-war Germany.

Leslie Feinberg

A working-class lesbian, transgender activist, and communist, Leslie Feinberg became an important voice for lesbians of hir generation with the publication of hir powerful 1993 novel Stone Butch Blues.

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

Toni Sender

Toni Sender’s wide-ranging quest to save the world led her from the union hall to the German Parliament (as a socialist) and finally to the UN.

Dorothy Schiff

Dorothy Schiff led many lives, from debutante to social reformer, but she is best remembered as the publisher of the New York Post, the first woman to run a New York newspaper.

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.

Rose Pesotta

An icon of the labor movement, anarchist Rose Pesotta was hailed for her ability to mobilize workers across gender and ethnic lines.

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.

Theresa Serber Malkiel

Theresa Serber Malkiel fought for workers’ rights, becoming the first female factory worker to rise to leadership in the Socialist Party.

Sonya Levien

Sonya Levien was one of the most prolific screenwriters of her day, crafting over seventy films ranging from the 1939 version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame to the screen adaptations of Oklahoma! and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

Carol Weiss King

Carol Weiss King took up the family business of law but rejected her family’s upper-crust background to become a pioneer of labor rights.

Lillian Herstein

Lillian Herstein came to labor activism by an unusual route for a woman of her time—not through factory work but through her career as a teacher.

Fannia M. Cohn

Fannia M. Cohn led one of the largest trade unions in the US, but clashed with male leadership for years over her belief in the importance of creating independent institutions to educate workers.

Rose Gollup Cohen

Through her moving 1918 autobiography, Out of the Shadow, Rose Gollup Cohen offered a vivid account of her life as an immigrant Jewish woman in the sweatshops of New York.

Dorothy Jacobs Bellanca

Dorothy Jacobs Bellanca made huge strides for worker’s rights as a union leader and through civil service.

Rose Pastor Stokes

Called the “Cinderella of the sweatshops,” Rose Pastor Stokes made headlines when she married millionaire socialist James Graham Phelps Stokes.

Clara Lemlich Shavelson

Clara Lemlich Shavelson pushed union leaders to recognize the importance of women in the labor movement and organized vital demonstrations for worker’s rights and cost-of-living issues.

Rose Schneiderman

The first woman elected to national office in a labor union and the only woman on FDR’s National Recovery Administration Labor Advisory Board, Rose Schneiderman transformed the lives of American workers.

Ethel Rosenberg

When Ethel Rosenberg was accused of treason alongside her husband and executed after one of the most controversial trials in American history, her guilt or innocence became secondary to what her treatment said about the position of Jews in America.

Pauline Newman

Pauline Newman made massive strides for workers’ rights, especially women workers, by building bridges between many different factions.

Bessie Abramowitz Hillman

Bessie Abramowitz devoted her life to unions, organizing her first strike at fifteen, announcing her engagement on a picket line, and continuing her efforts for workers’ rights until her death.
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