Women in the U.S. Labor Movement: 1840 to the Second World War

Socialism 2017

August 15, 2017

At the IWW founding convention in 1905, Lucy Parsons called women workers the “slaves of the slaves…exploited more ruthlessly than men.” Women have always had to fight on two fronts—for equal pay, conditions, and dignity on the job, as well as confront the burden of housework and childrearing. From the very beginning of the labor movement, women have played stirring roles as leaders in the streets and on the shop floor. Women workers have had to battle vicious employers and combat sexist unions. They have had to challenge their male counterparts not only to fight alongside women for common class demands, but also to champion women’s full equality and liberation. This is the history of women workers’ conditions, struggles, defeats, and triumphs.

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