Immortalizing Joe Hill

  On this date in 1915, IWW organizer Joe Hill (not Jewish) was arrested for murder in Salt Lake City, Utah. His trial was considered a frame-up and his conviction was widely protested (by Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller, among others). A writer of labor songs and parodies, Hill was immortalized in 1930 in the […]

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The Lawrence Textile Strike

The Lawrence, Massachusetts textile workers strike, led by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, or Wobblies), began on this date in 1912. The strike was called after employers cut workers’ wages in response to a new state law that had reduced the maximum work week of women and children from 56 hours to 54. The […]

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The American Federation of Labor

The American Federation of Labor was founded by 26 craft unions on this date in 1886. Samuel Gompers, a Dutch-born Jew and head of the Cigar Makers’ International Union, was elected its president. The AFL was a breakaway movement, established by union activists who had grown disgruntled with the Knights of Labor (K of L), a […]

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Clara Lemlich Sparks an Uprising

Clara Lemlich made a spontaneous speech at Cooper Union on this date in 1909 that sparked the “Uprising of the 20,000,” an industry-wide strike of shirtwaist workers mobilized by the new International Ladies Garment Workers Union. “I want to say a few words!” shouted Lemlich, a 23-year-old garment worker, in Yiddish, following AFL leader Samuel Gompers’ […]

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Unionized Public Schools Do a Better Job

BUT POVERTY TRUMPS TEACHERS EVERYWHERE by Marc Jampole from the Autumn 2017 issue of Jewish Currents   IN DEFINING what constitutes a leftist perspective on education, let’s rely on a number of foundational principles that have defined the American left for more than 150 years: The left favors unions; the left believes in public education; the […]

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Channel Esther: Bobst XX (The End – For Now)

by Esther Cohen To read previous installments, search “BOBST” in our search box, or click here. Dear Jewish Currents Readers, Last week’s Bobst installment was the story’s secret ending, for now. Here’s another one, a wrap-up. What happens next will be another story. Esther Cohen RIVKA CAME to America. Like many, she found herself in the […]

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Channel Esther: BOBST, a Serial Novel, Part XVI

by Esther Cohen To read earlier installments, search “Bobst” in search engine at right.   ON A COLD October night, more winter than fall, windy and dark by 6 o’clock, the women met in Clara’s Aunt Thea’s apartment, bigger than some, on the corner of Rivington and Essex. The year was 1909. The boroughs had become one consolidated city only […]

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Channel Esther: Books, Bread, and Roses

by Esther Cohen IN THE LATE 1970s and early ’80s when life was younger when my life was younger when the world I lived in was a very bright orange I ended up working for an unlikely man, a Protestant minister, high-minded, theologically versed, the kind of man who led Marches and gave speeches you wanted to write […]

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Live Nude Girls Unite!

The Lusty Lady strip club in San Francisco unionized on this date in 1996, with the peep-show dancers voting 57-15 to join SEIU Local 90, following a strike and a lock-out. One of the strippers, Julia Query, a Jewish woman, made a documentary film (with Vicky Funari) in 2000, Live Nude Girls Unite!, which told the story […]

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