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March 8: Jewish Working Women Take Action

March 8, 2013

Ladies_tailors_strikers.smOn this date in 1908, some ten thousand women workers in the needles trade, mostly Jewish and Italian, took to the streets in New York City to demand higher wages, shorter hours, and an end to child labor. Their protest commemorated a similar outpouring of garment workers in New York in 1857, which had been met with police brutality. The 1908 demonstration helped spark the establishment of March 8th as International Women's Day in 1911. Also on this date in 1926, amid a massive strike of fur workers in New York, Ben Gold of the Fur and Leather Workers Union called out 10,000 workers, mostly women (a high percentage of them Jewish), for mass picketing. Police arrested 125, beat hundreds of others, and even drove cars at high speed into the crowd. Ultimately, the strikers won a 10 percent raise and five-day work week.

"Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition." —Timothy Leary