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November 20: Rose Pesotta, Champion Organizer

Rose Pesotta (Rakhel Peisoty), union organizer, anarchist, and the first female vice president of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, was born in the Ukraine on this date in 1896. Pesotta emigrated to the U.S. in 1913 to avoid an arranged marriage and worked in a shirtwaist factory. She joined ILGWU Local 25 and led […]

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September 5: Victor Gotbaum

Victor Gotbaum, who led New York’s largest municipal union, District Council 37 of AFSCME, from 1965 to 1987, was born in Brooklyn on this date in 1927. In 1971, Gotbaum led a strike that snarled New York traffic by leaving all but two of the city’s twenty-nine drawbridges open. By 1975, he had built his […]

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Remembering the Waistmakers General Strike, 1909

In Memoriam: Clara Lemlich Shavelson (March 28, 1886 — July 25, 1982) Originally published in the November, 1982 issue of Jewish Currents. Read the original, in PDF with footnotes. WHEN CLARA LEMLICH SHAVELSON DIED in a Los Angeles nursing home July 25th, the death notice of the family in the New York Times July 30th […]

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July 10: Sidney Hillman

Labor leader Sidney Hillman, head of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union and a key organizer of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), died of a heart attack at 59 on this date in 1946. Hillman was born in Lithuania and groomed to be a rabbi, but became a Jewish Bundist by age 16 and, after coming […]

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October 9th: United Hebrew Trades

United Hebrew Trades, an association of Jewish labor unions in New York that boasted some 250,000 members at its height in the 1930s, was founded by the Socialist Labor Party’s Yiddish Branch 8 and Russian Branch 17, in coordination with New York Jewish labor unions, on this date in 1888. By 1910, according to the […]

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September 10: Rose Norwood, Lifelong Organizer

Rose Finkelstein Norwood, who led a six-day strike of 8,000 telephone operators in 1919 — one of the largest strikes ever initiated and led by women — was born in Kiev on this date in 1889. Throughout the 1920s she was a leader within the Women’s Trade Union League, the Women’s International League for Peace […]

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August 22: A Woman on the AFL-CIO’s Executive

Joyce D. Miller (born Hannah Joyce Dannen), a vice-president of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, became, at age 52, the first woman to serve on the AFL-CIO‘s Executive Council on this date in 1980. The Chicago-born labor leader was an innovator in the labor movement who set up childcare centers for the Amalgamated […]

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March 8: Jewish Working Women Take Action

On 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 […]

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