Flexible Workshop Handouts(6 pages doubled sided)1. Title—With Eleanor Roosevelt’s Union CardThe union card is an effective handout. It can be printed separately on heavy stock and usedhandout with quotes on the back or as a postcard.2. Workshop Agenda3. Eleanor Roosevelt: Union Leader4. Resources: Eleanor Roosevelt and Berger Marks Reports5. The Union Advantage Fact Sheet—Update if possible6. Mentors and Friends: Photographs of Eleanor Roosevelt and Rose Schneiderman7. My Day Column, March 13, 19418. Current Opinion Piece, May 3, 20119. Human Rights and Workers Rights in Multiple Languages10. Lessons Learned from Eleanor Roosevelt11. Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes (2 pages)
1. Title—With Eleanor Roosevelt’ Union CardWHY WOMEN SHOULD JOIN UNIONSORGANIZING AND LEADING WITHELEANOR ROOSEVELTEleanor Roosevelt’s Union Card, 1936-1962Facilitators:Organization:Date:Using our past to change our future!
2. Workshop AgendaWHY WOMEN SHOULD JOIN UNIONSWORKSHOP AGENDA1. INTRODUCTIONInstructors &ParticipantsGoals & Strategies2. WHY ELEANOR ROOSEVELTBrief BackgroundWhy Should Women Join Unions?3. STRATEGIESMentorsCoalitionsNew LeadersWomen’s PrioritiesCommunication4. OUTREACHA Human Rights Example5. CLOSE TO HOMESmall Group DiscussionReport Back6. CONCLUSION
3. Eleanor Roosevelt: Union LeaderELEANOR ROOSEVELT: UNION LEADERI have always felt that it was important thateveryone who was a worker join a labor organization.Eleanor Roosevelt spoke these words to striking women workers in 1941, as First Lady of the United States.She supported the fight for workers’ rights and encouraged women’s leadership in many ways. As a teacher,columnist, author, advocate, political activist, and member of The Newspaper Guild, AFL-CIO, for over 25years, Eleanor Roosevelt led by example:As a member of the Women’s Trade Union League, encouraging women to join unions and working in theireducational programs in the 1920s.As First Lady, supporting women’s leadership in government, their right to work, with equal pay andopportunities, and opposing all discrimination in employment, education and housing.As a leader in the Democratic Party, challenging women to use their citizenship rights to organize, campaign,vote, and govern.As a delegate to the United Nations guiding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to adoption includingthe right to equal pay for equal work.As chair of the first President’s Commission on the Status of Women working closely with union women.As wife and mother, sister, daughter-in-law, grandmother, and friend struggling with the competing demands offamily, friendship, and work in her public and private life.Eleanor Roosevelt worked hard and overcame fears. She took voice lessons to improve her public speaking andshe did not let repeated threats on her life deter her active schedule. She advised others that “You must do thething you think you cannot do.”There was no union convention too large or local union meeting too small for her attention. What she did on anational and international level, she believed everyone could and should do on a local level for:Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? she asked. In small places close to home…unless theserights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.
4. ResourcesRESOURCESELEANOR ROOSEVELTShe Was One of Us: Eleanor Roosevelt and the American Worker, Brigid O’Farrell, Cornell University Press,2010. To tailor this guide for different audiences you can find additional quotes, photographs, and documents inthe book and on the website: www.bofarrell.net.Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, more material, books, quotes, and all of the My Day columns are found at theEleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, George Washington University: www.gwu.edu/~erpapers.The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in over 300 languages): www.un.orgLabor Articles by Brigid O’Farrell“The Right To Join A Union: From Eleanor Roosevelt to John Kasich,” The Review, East Liverpool, Ohio, andAmerican Rights at Work: www.americanrightsatwork.org, April 6, 2011.“We Are One Solidarity Rally: Lessons from Eleanor Roosevelt,” www.bofarrell.net/teachingtools , April 4,2011.“From The Triangle Fire to Wisconsin, Rights for Women Workers,” Huffington Post,www.huffingtonpost.com, March 22, 2011.“What do Natalie Portman, Aaron Rodgers, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Wisconsin Workers have in common?”Roosevelt Institute Blog, www.rooseveltinstitute.org, February 21, 2011.“Eleanor Roosevelt, Workers’ Rights, Human Rights,” Journal of Workplace Rights, October 2010.Organizing and Leadership*Stepping Up, Stepping Back, Women Activists “Talk Union” Across Generations,The Berger-Marks Foundation, 2010.New Approaches to Organizing Women and Young Workers: Social Media & Work Family Issues, DeborahKing, Cornell University ILR Program, and Katie Quan, et.al., UC Berkeley Center, 2010.Is There A Women’s Way to Organize? Pam Whitefield, Sally Alvarez, and Yasin Emrani, Cornell UniversityILR School, New York City, 2009.I Knew I Could Do This Work: Seven Strategies That Promote Women’s Activism and Leadership in Unions.Amy Caiazza, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Washington, DC, 2007.A Discussion Guide, Based on I Knew I Could Do This Work. Michelle Kaminski, Michigan State UniversityLabor Education Program, 2008.*Available through The Berger-Marks Foundation: www.bergermarks.org
5. Union AdvantageTHE UNION DIFFERENCEUNION ADVANTAGE BY THE NUMBERSUnion workers earn higher wags and more benefits than workers who don’t have a voice on the job.______________________________________________________________________________Union Workers median weekly earnings $833Nonunion workers’ median weekly earnings $642Union wage advantage 30%______________________________________________________________________________Union women’s median weekly earnings $758Nonunion women’s median weekly earnings $579Union wage advantage for women 31%______________________________________________________________________________African American union workers’ median weekly earnings $707African American nonunion workers’ median weekly earnings $520Union wage advantage for African Americans 36%______________________________________________________________________________Latino union workers’ median weekly earnings $686Latino nonunion workers’ median weekly earnings $469Union advantage for Latinos 46%______________________________________________________________________________Asian American union workers’ median weekly earnings $843Asian American nonunion workers’ median weekly earnings $774Union advantage for Asian Americans 8%______________________________________________________________________________Union workers with employer-provided health insurance 80%Nonunion workers with employer-provided health insurance 49%Union health insurance advantage 63%______________________________________________________________________________Union workers without health insurance coverage 2.5%Non union workers without health insurance coverage 15%Nonunion workers are five times more likely to lack health insurance coverage______________________________________________________________________________Union workers with guaranteed (defined-benefit) pensions 68%Nonunion workers with guaranteed (defined-benefit) pensions 14%Union pension advantage 386%______________________________________________________________________________Union workers with short-term disability benefits 62%Nonunion workers with short-term disability benefits 35%Union short-term disability benefits advantage 77%______________________________________________________________________________Union workers’ average days of paid vacation 15 daysNonunion workers’ average days of paid vacation 11.75 daysUnion paid vacation advantage 28%______________________________________________________________________________Sources: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Union Members in 2006, Jan.25, 2007; U.S. Department of Labor,Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in Private Industry in the United States, March 2006,August 2006; Economic Policy Institute; Employee Benefits Research Institute, May 2005.
6. Mentors and FriendsMENTORS AND FRIENDS
8. Current Opinion PieceThe Right To Join A Union: From Eleanor Roosevelt to John KasichWhen my phone rang in Moss Beach, California, I was surprised to find a young girl calling from a small townin Ohio, not far from Columbus. She and her friends in eighth grade were writing a play about EleanorRoosevelt for a school project. She saw my book on the internet, She Was One of Us: Eleanor Roosevelt and theAmerican Worker. They wanted their drama to address the workers in Ohio and Wisconsin. “Eleanor Rooseveltwent into a coal mine, didn’t she?” the girl asked. “Do you think she would be supporting the workers today?”Now is a good time to share my answer because workers are gathering in solidarity rallies across the countrycalling for respect, dignity, and a voice at work. Would Eleanor Roosevelt be supporting the union rights ofteachers and nurses, fire fighters and police? The short answer is an empathetic “yes.One of the most admired women in the world, Eleanor Roosevelt was a member of the Newspaper Guild forover 25 years and a staunch advocate for unions, which she came to view as a “fundamental element ofdemocracy.” She believed that everyone had a basic right to a voice at work. She argued for union rights in thepublic sector, while also campaigning to defeat state right-to-work laws.But this call had a very personal touch for me. I was born and raised in East Liverpool, along the Ohio River.First the potteries left the valley and then the steelmills shut down. Good union jobs disappeared. The citystruggles to survive and now the workers who provide vital services to the citizens and keep the town runningare threatened with the loss of a basic human right in the name of yet another crisis they didn’t create.Gov. John Kasich not only proposes to end collective bargaining for public workers, he has shown his disdainfor the workers Eleanor Roosevelt so admired by publicly calling the policemen “idiots.” My brother was anOhio State Highway Patrolman. His son is a policeman near Cleveland; not far from where his dad and I grewup. They deserve better. The men and women who protect our lives, teach our children, care for the sick, plowthe snow, and keep the cities running deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.All unions and employers, public and private, need to maintain high standards of responsibility, accountability,and transparency. Taking away the rights of unions, however, is not the answer to the current fiscal problems.As Eleanor Roosevelt argued, we need a system where “All interests shall be equally considered and concessionshall never be expected from one side only.” This is not about the money. As President Obama clearly stated,this is an “assault on unions.”Eleanor Roosevelt’s belief in labor unions as a critical part of our democratic process began when she was ayoung debutante volunteering in the tenements on the lower east side of Manhattan, where she first learnedabout sweatshops. She walked her first picket line in 1926 to support a box makers’ strike in New York. AsFirst Lady, she refused to cross a picket line and proudly joined a union in 1936 at the height of the sit downstrikes in Michigan, when workers were being attacked and fighting back. She told striking workers in 1941 thatshe felt it was important that “everyone who was a worker join a labor organization.”In 1945, after FDR’s death, she took her belief in democracy at work to the United Nations and the task offraming the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Under her guidance, working closely with union leaders,Article 23 declared that everyone, without discrimination, has the right to a decent job, fair working conditions,a living wage, equal pay for equal work, and the right to join a union.
Eleanor Roosevelt gave careful consideration to her positions. President Roosevelt was concerned about publicemployee unions, although not anti-union as some have suggested. His wife struggled with the issue in hernewspaper column after his death, “My Day.” In the 1950s, she finally concluded that unionization wasnecessary because employers in the public sector were little different from those in the private sector, refusingto listen to workers and treat them fairly.“You cannot just refuse to meet with people,” she wrote, “when they want to talk about their basic humanrights.” For teachers, police, and fire fighters she said that there was no “method of complaint and adjustmentthat could take the place of collective bargaining with the ultimate possibility of a strike.” She told her readersthat the striking teachers in 1962 had “no other recourse but to strike to draw attention to the legitimatecomplaints.”In 1958, as co-chair of a national council established to defeat right-to-work laws in six states, she called on“right-thinking citizens, from all walks of life” to challenge the “predatory and misleading campaigns.” Whenhuman rights were invoked she called the argument a “calculated and cunning smoke screen to beguile theinnocent and unknowing.” She took greatest offense when the California ballot language suggested that FDRwould support right-to-work laws, responding “The American public understands very well that FranklinDelano Roosevelt would never have supported such a reactionary doctrine.”When asked “Where, after all, do human rights begin?” Eleanor Roosevelt answered “In small places close tohome… the neighborhood…the school…the factory, farm or office…unless they have meaning there, they havelittle meaning anywhere.” Her voice resonates today in support of workers in Ohio and across the country. Theirvoices were heard on April 4th. Workers rights are human rights.Brigid O’Farrell is an independent scholar living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her most recent book is SheWas One of Us: Eleanor Roosevelt and the American Worker, Cornell University Press.
9. Human Rights
10. Lessons LearnedLESSONS LEARNED FROM ELEANOR ROOSEVELTLesson # 1 Acknowledge your mentorsLesson #2 Be a mentor to younger workersLesson #3 Build coalitions across gender, race, age, class, issuesLesson #4 Help new workers find leadership opportunitiesLesson #5 Build on the experience and skill women bring from homeLesson #6 Recognize your own and others’ complimentary leadership skillsLesson #7 Listen, observe, ask questions, take surveys, be open to new ideasLesson #8 Embrace new technologyLesson #9 Speak out and don’t fear criticismLesson #10 Take risks and be creativeLesson #11 Understand the world situationLesson #12 Practice what you preach-close to home
11. ER QuotesELEANOR ROOSEVELT QUOTESOn Joining UnionsIn a speech to striking IBEW workers Eleanor Roosevelt said “I have always thought that it was important thateveryone who was a worker join a labor organization.”American Federationist, March 1941As the country prepared for war she defended unions, writing “I do believe the right to explain the principleslying back of labor unions should be safeguarded, that every workman should be free to listen to the pleas oforganization without fear of hindrance or of evil circumstances.”My Day, March 13, 1941Preparing for peace, she argued for full employment at home and economic aid abroad, challenging employerswho think “this is the time to break the power of labor through destroying their unions…We need a big nationalincome with money kept in circulation [through wages] if we are not to go through another depression.”My Day, September 19, 1945A peace economy was not easy and she argued for a system where “All interests shall be equally considered andconcessions shall never be expected from one side only.”My Day, September 27, 1945On Public Sector UnionsWhen public hospital managers refused to meet with workers she wrote “Employees who are quite evidently notreceiving a living wage and are dissatisfied with their conditions of work would simply be slaves if they wereobliged to work on without being able to reach their employers with their complaints and demand negotiation…You cannot just refuse to meet with people when they want to talk about their basic human rights.”My Day, May 13, 1959When workers at the city and non-profit hospitals organized she concluded that “The same reason thatcompelled us to put so much strength into union leaders’ hands where industry was concerned is going tocompel us to do the same thing where hospital boards are concerned.”My Day, June 3, 1959For teachers, police, and fire fighters there was no “method of complaint and adjustment that could take theplace of collective bargaining with the ultimate possibility of a strike.” “Under the present set-up teachers haveno other recourse but to strike to draw attention to the legitimate complaints.”My Day, April, 13, 16, 1962On Right-to-Work LawsAs the fight for state right-to-work laws developed she wrote that “To protect collective bargaining and theinterests of the workers are, in my view, the right thing to do and when state laws oppose this, I think the statelaws are wrong.” My Day, December 17, 1954As co-chair of the National Council of Peace, established to defeat right-to work laws in six states, she declaredit was time “for all right-thinking citizens, from all walks of life, to join in protecting the nation’s economy andthe working man’s union security from the predatory and misleading campaigns now being waged by the U.S.Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.”NCIP Press Release, July 9, 1958
When human rights were invoked she took offense saying that the proposal to extend “right-to-work laws “doesnot concern itself one iota with human rights or the right to work…but is a calculated and cunning smoke screento beguile the innocent and unknowing.” New York Times, October 6, 1958.When California ballot language suggested FDR would support right-to-work laws, Eleanor Rooseveltresponded “The American public understands very well that Franklin Delano Roosevelt would never havesupported such a reactionary doctrine.”AFL-CIO News Service, September 18, 1958On WomenOnly where they are organized do women get equal pay for equal work. 1933I have a firm belief in the ability and power of women to achieve the things they want to achieve. 1941Remember that girls as well as boys can be fitted for defense work. They, too, must have training in order toearn their livings and live better than they have done in the past. I hope, therefore, that we shall not forget ourobligation to girls in any of the government programs. 1941As each future conference of the nations meets, women should be among the delegates, no matter what thesubject under discussion. 1944Maids should enter a union and make their household work a profession. 1944In numbers there is strengthen, and we in America must help the women of the world. 1946The dignity of women’s equality when they meet in government, professional and industrial work is importantthe world over, not just in the U.S. 1962PersonalYou can never be made to feel inferior without your consent. 1940We don’t get things unless we plan for them, unless we organize for them and work for them. 1943You must do the thing you think you cannot do. 1960Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. 1960Nothing has ever been achieved by the person who says “It can’t be done.” 1960In SummaryWhen asked where human rights begin, Eleanor Roosevelt answered, “In small places close to home…theneighborhood…the school…the factory, farm and office…Unless they have meaning there they will have littlemeaning any where.” Remarks at the United Nations, March 27, 1953In her closing statement to the CIO she told the delegates, “We can’t just talk. We have got to act.”CIO Convention Proceedings, 1955.