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  1. 1. WHY WOMEN SHOULD JOIN UNIONS ORGANIZING AND LEADING WITH ELEANOR ROOSEVELT A DISCUSSION GUIDETo help workshop facilitators use historical information and documents about union women to organize women workers and develop union women leaders today: using our past to change our future!
  3. 3. 3 WHY WOMEN SHOULD JOIN UNIONS OVERVIEW FOR FOR WORKSHOP FACILITATORSThe following materials are designed to be flexible so that you can create a workshop that willmeet the interests and needs of your audience. Every workshop, the participants, and the amountof time available differ. The suggested workshop format is 90 minutes for 10 to 20 participants.Depending on the interests and skills of your group, you can choose from the various handoutsand discussion guides to focus on what is most useful for you in the time available. This guidecan be used as one unit or the different sections and materials can be used independently orincorporated into existing workshops.If you are organizing and training women workers, then this new information on EleanorRoosevelt can be of help in various formats. Be creative and take risks!Workshop Goals Organize women workers Energize women members Develop women’s leadership skillsSelected Strategies Becoming mentors Building coalitions Developing new leaders Identifying women’s priorities Using traditional and new media to communicatePotential Audiences • Union organizing departments and committees • Worker and community meetings • CLUW chapters • Women’s committees • Local union executive boards • Regional and international education departments • Workshops at conferences dealing with union women’s issues. www.bofarrell.net
  4. 4. 4Materials Needed Flip chart and markers Optional computer and video projector if you are using the Power Point PresentationFlexible Workshop Handouts(6 pages doubled sided)1. Title—With Eleanor Roosevelt’s Union Card2. Workshop Agenda3. Eleanor Roosevelt: Union Leader4. Resources: Eleanor Roosevelt and Berger Marks Reports5. The Union Advantage Fact Sheet6. 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)Optional Small Group Discussions(With questions and answer guides) • Leadership: Different Decisions • Leadership: Different Styles • Organizing: Human RightsAction Plan: Close to Home Activity Who is your Eleanor Roosevelt Today?Eleanor Roosevelt: A Brief BiographySlide Presentation www.bofarrell.net
  5. 5. 5 WHY WOMEN SHOULD JOIN UNIONS WORKSHOP AGENDA1. INTRODUCTION Instructors &Participants Goals & Strategies2. WHY ELEANOR ROOSEVELT Brief Background Why Should Women Join Unions?3. STRATEGIES Mentors Coalitions New Leaders Women’s Priorities Communication4. OUTREACH A Human Rights Example5. CLOSE TO HOME Small Group Discussion Report Back6. CONCLUSIONHandouts 1 & 2: Provide the participants with the Union Card cover page, sponsoringorganization or program information, and the workshop agenda. The union card, printedseparately in card size and on heavy paper, is an effective handout. The back can be used as aninvitation, announcement, or you can add favorite quotes. www.bofarrell.net
  6. 6. 61. Introduction (10 Minutes) ARE YOU REACHING OUT TO WOMEN WORKERS TO INTEREST THEM IN JOINING THE UNION? Every union member should answer this question with a resounding YES. If you’re a union organizer then it’s your job. If you’re a union officer then it’s your job. If you’re a union member then it’s your job.Unions win more elections when the organizing drive is conducted by ordinary members. Oneof several strategies shown to be effective for organizing women workers and developing womenleaders is to highlight the accomplishments of women in the labor movement, past and present.Today, we are going to introduce you to a champion for women workers and then ask you toidentify women in your community who can be role models to help organize and develop newwomen leaders.What can savvy women activists of the twenty-first century learn from a woman born to a lifeof privilege and wealth in 1884; the wife of the President of the United States? Just wait…. www.bofarrell.net
  7. 7. 7A. Introduction of Discussion Leader (s) Discussion leaders introduce themselves, including some information about their work life and union experience.B. Introduction of Participants Ask participants to introduce themselves and suggest one thing they know or would like to know about Eleanor Roosevelt. Use the flip chart to note common themes. • Your name, local union, & role (e.g. activists, steward, organizer, etc.) • One thing you know or would like to know about Eleanor RooseveltC. Overview of Goals and Strategies • Agree on the basic goalsOrganizing women workers, energizing women members, and developing women’s leadershipskills are the goals of many unions. These are the goals of this workshop to help strengthen thelabor movement by building on our labor history. Like many union women, Eleanor Roosevelt’slabor story has not been told before so this will be new information for most participants. • Learn the basic strategies to organize women and develop leadersResearchers have identified several important strategies to organize women and develop theirleadership skills. Eleanor Roosevelt’s words and actions provide historical examples for severalof today’s strategies: being mentors, working with coalitions, encouraging new leaders,identifying true priorities, and communicating with new and old media. Discuss how to applythese strategies in your organizing and leadership efforts. • Discuss how to apply these strategies in your organizing and leadership efforts.We’ll provide specific examples of Eleanor Roosevelt’s words and actions. Then we can talkabout how lessons from her experience can be used by your union. Can you use the human rightsmessage to reach out to women and the community? Who is your Eleanor Roosevelt today?What makes sense to help your union: Organize Women Workers, Energize Women Members, and Develop Women Leaders www.bofarrell.net
  8. 8. 82. Why Eleanor Roosevelt? (10 Minutes)A. BackgroundFirst Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the most admired and controversial women of thetwentieth century: a gifted teacher, skilled political operative, effective government negotiator,successful diplomat, inspirational public speaker, influential columnist, respected author—and aproud union member for over twenty-five years: • Worker, Newspaper columnist and author • Union Member, The Newspaper Guild 1936-1962 • Member, National Women’s Trade Union League • Advocate, for working women, unions, & civil rightsEleanor Roosevelt brought her labor perspective to her roles as First Lady of the United States &the world, political leader of the Democratic Party, delegate to the United Nations, Chair of theUN Commission on Human Rights, Chair of the President’s Commission on the Status ofWomen, and as wife, mother, daughter-in-law, grandmother, friend. Eleanor and FranklinRoosevelt had six children in the first ten years of their marriage. She overcame tragedy andgreat personal loss.ER, as she often signed her name, took risks and faced serious consequences for her activism.Over her lifetime she received numerous death threats and had her column canceled for her civiland labor rights positions. A bomb exploded in church where she was to speak, the Ku KluxKlan had a bounty on her head, and she had one of the largest FBI files on record.Handouts 3 & 4: Point out to participants the one page summary about Eleanor Roosevelthighlighting her union role and the additional resources available both about her life and thereports on union women’s organizing and leadership. www.bofarrell.net
  9. 9. 9B. Why Should Women Join Unions?“Mrs. Roosevelt asked many questions but she was particularly interested in why I thoughtwomen should join unions...”Rose Schneiderman was a cap maker by trade and union organizer by vocation. She was amember of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union and president of the Women’sTrade Union League when Mrs. Roosevelt asked her that question in 1922.Ask Participants: What do you think Rose Schneiderman told Mrs. Roosevelt?Use the flip chart to write down the key words participants use to answer Mrs. Roosevelt’squestion. Many women will mention wages and economic benefits, as well safety and healthconcerns. Prompt them with questions like, Have you heard of the Triangle Fire where 146young workers, mostly immigrant women were burned to death in 1911? What were theirissues?Then ask for a volunteer to read the actual response. I remember so well telling here that that was the only way working people could helpthemselves. I pointed to the unions of skilled men and told her how well they were doing. Bycontrast, women were much worse off because they were less skilled or had no skills and couldbe easily replaced if they complained. They were working for $3.00 a week for nine or ten hoursa day, often lower. It all seemed understandable to her.Rose Schneiderman offered poor wages and long hours as the key reason for joining a union.While wages and working conditions have improved dramatically since 1922, many of the issuesare similar today and unions continue to improve wages and working conditions for theirmembers.Today the Union Advantage is a very critical aspect of union organizing. Union women andmen earn more money, are more likely to have health insurance, disability benefits, and pensionsthan are non-union workers. Women, however, are also very likely to be concerned aboutdignity and respect on the job and the importance of having a voice of work.Handout 5: The Union Advantage Fact Sheet provides data on the economic benefits to joininga union. www.bofarrell.net
  10. 10. 103. STRATEGIES (30 minutes: 5-6 minutes for each strategy or select one or two strategies to focus on in depth. Using the small group discussion material requires more time)A. Finding and Being MentorsMany union leaders say that they had an important mentor in their life. Mentors identify newwomen leaders, share their knowledge and expertise, and help develop skills.Rose Schneiderman was Eleanor Roosevelt’s mentor. Rose not only taught Eleanor about wagesand working conditions, but she introduced her to the social unionism of the garment workers.Eleanor Roosevelt was familiar with the craft model: improving wages and working conditionsfor skilled workers, primarily white men in the American Federation of Labor. Social Unionismincluded not only improved wages and working conditions, but also concern for issues ofhousing, health care, and cultural life. The two women became life long friends and EleanorRoosevelt went on to mentor new generations of women leaders.Handout 6: Show the photographs of the young Eleanor Roosevelt in her shirtwaist blouse andRose Schneiderman behind her sewing machine bring the friends and mentors to life.Discussion Questions: Do you have a mentor? Are you a mentor to other women?Optional Small Group Discussion—Leadership: Different Styles highlights the importantsimilarities and differences between three women mentors such as Frances Perkins, RoseSchneiderman, and Eleanor Roosevelt and how they worked together.B. Building CoalitionsCoalitions are an important source of strength and strategy within the workplace, the union hall,and the local community.Rose Sehneiderman was president of the Women’s Trade Union League and this was one of thefirst coalitions that Eleanor Roosevelt joined. The WTUL brought together wealthy women“allies” and working “girls” in the factories. There were many tensions, but the allies learnedabout terrible working conditions and wages and were able to bring much needed publicity andfinancial resources to working women’s organizing drives, strikes, and legislative initiatives.Eleanor Roosevelt worked with new coalitions as she learned more about issues and expandedher labor alliances particularly on civil rights issues. In 1958 she joined the National Farm LaborAdvisory Committee with A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping CarPorters. She and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., both addressed the AFL-CIO Conventionin 1961. Shortly before she died she was working with Esther Peterson, of the AmalgamatedClothing Workers Union, and President Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women withwomen and men from many different areas and backgrounds.Discussion Question: Are you part of a coalition in your union or in your community? www.bofarrell.net
  11. 11. 11C. Developing New LeadersIt is not enough to educate other women and encourage them, you have to take steps to help themachieve leadership positions. This can include helping women run for office, as well asrecommending or appointing them to positions within the union or on outside boards andcommittees that give them visibility and skills. In organizing drives you identify women leadersand ask them to be on the organizing committee, a next step in their leadership development.Eleanor Roosevelt often did this behind the scenes and in public. One example is FrancesPerkins. ER actively encouraged Governor Roosevelt to appoint Frances Perkins as the firstwoman industrial commissioner of New York State. After working together for several years,President Roosevelt quickly appointed Frances Perkins Secretary of Labor, the first woman tohold a cabinet position. There was no need for ER to be involved this time, but she certainlyapproved.Optional Small Group DiscussionLeadership: Different Styles highlights the important similarities and differences between threewomen leaders such as Frances Perkins, Rose Schneiderman, and Eleanor Roosevelt and howthey complemented each other and worked together.D. Identifying Women’s PrioritiesA key component of organizing and leading is to learn the skill of listening to people andobserving what is going on in the workplace and in the community. It is critical to hear whatwomen are saying about their work lives, their families and their communities and not assumeyou know the answers. In organizing drives listening to workers, especially during home visits,is particularly important.As a young debutant volunteering in a settlement house and working with the ConsumersLeague, ER learned the importance and the skill of listening to people, visiting their workplaces,asking questions, and observing conditions. She learned about immediate needs, but also aboutunderlying social and structural problems. During her early days as First Lady she focused onhaving women included in the New Deal programs, receiving equal pay for equal work, andjoining unions. During World War II she encouraged women’s access to jobs traditionally doneby men and championed child care programs for working mothers.After President Roosevelt’s death in 1945, she went to the United Nations where equal pay andan end to discrimination by race and gender were priorities. She carried these issues to her finalofficial position as chair of President Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women. Shegradually dropped her opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment, but continued to listen tomany union women who feared that the ERA did nothing to protect their hard won protections inthe low-wage often unsafe jobs where they worked.Discussion Question: How do you currently identify women’s priorities? www.bofarrell.net
  12. 12. 12E. CommunicatingSocial media has been identified as a crucial new way for unions to organize workers andenergize members. Newspapers, television, and radio continue to be effective ways to educatemembers and the public about workers’ issues.Eleanor Roosevelt believed that unions must tell their stories to the public. She wrote over 8,000syndicated My Day newspaper columns between 1935 and 1962. On average twice a month shewould talk about unions, educating the public about issues, praising union strengths, but alsocriticizing the unions when they did not live up to her standards. She wrote an average of 50magazine articles a year, testified before Congress and commissions, delivered 50 speechesannually including major address to labor union conventions, authored 27 books and answeredthousand of letters a year.ER also loved new technology and readily adapted to new media outlets. She had her own radioshow and she hosted one of the first Sunday morning television talk shows visiting withpoliticians, diplomats, actors, and trade union leaders. There is little doubt today that EleanorRoosevelt would have her own web page and be on Facebook, while tweeting and blogging.To watch ER address the merger convention of the AFL and the CIO in 1955 click here:http://www.bofarrell.net/teaching.html. Her My Day columns are now available on-line at:www.gwu.edu/~erpapers.Handout 7: My Day, March 31, 1941, is an example of ER’s columns in support of unions andthe right of workers to learn about unions without fear and intimidation.Handout 8: The Right to Join a Union is an example of a current column using ER’s words toargue against the anti-union activities in Ohio in 2011.Optional Small Group DiscussionLeadership: Different Decisions highlights the careful way in which Eleanor Roosevelt madedecisions about the organizations she joined and the coalitions in which she participated. Hereare examples of how she handled two different situations and communicated with the public firstwith the Daughters of the American Revolution and then with her own union, The NewspaperGuild. www.bofarrell.net
  13. 13. 134. Outreach: Human Rights (10 minutes)Better wages and working conditions are the cornerstone of union organizing. For manyworkers, however, being treated with dignity and respect is also crucial. Unions give people avoice at work. The human rights approach offers another way to reach out to women not thatfamiliar with unions and go beyond the negative stereotypes that employers put forward aboutunions as outsiders interested in taking dues money away from workers.Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States, delegate to the United Nations, and unionmember believed that workers’ rights were a “fundamental element of democracy.” Shepracticed what she preached and her work at the United Nations provides a case example of howshe did this. Under her guidance, and working closely with union allies, Article 23 of theUniversal Declaration of Human Rights declares that everyone, without discrimination, has theright to a decent job, fair working conditions, a living wage, equal pay for equal work, protectionagainst unemployment, and the right to form and join a union.Handout 9: The UN Photograph shows ER with a copy of the Universal Declaration of HumanRights, with the right to join a union translated into several languages. The document is availableon-line in over 300 languages at: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml.Optional Small Group DiscussionOrganizing: Human Rights offers a more detailed case example of ER’s human rights effortsand encourages discussion of global awareness and materials that might help in reaching diverseworkforce with different languages. www.bofarrell.net
  14. 14. 145. Close to Home: Small Group Exercise (30 Minutes) A. Small Group Breakout (10 minutes)When asked, “Where after all do universal human rights begin?” Eleanor Roosevelt answered,“In small places, close to home…the neighborhood…the school…the factory, farm, or office…Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain forprogress in the larger worlds” This exercise helps participants to take back home what they havelearned about strategies in this workshop. They should draw on the on-going activities of theirunion, including organizing drives, women’s committee plans, holidays, or other specialcelebrations.First, ask participants to look at “Who is your Eleanor Roosevelt Today?” (attached) Do theyknow these women? Discuss these leaders and ask them identify their union women leaders andother community leaders they know and could involve in an organizing drive or leadership event.Second, break into small groups of 4 or 5 participants. Each group should identify someone toreport back. Give each participant a copy of the Action Plan to read (attached). This outlines acommunity event they can develop to take home with them. Assign each group to either theBirthday or the Human Rights Day activity. Who is your Eleanor Roosevelt Today? Action Plan: Close to Home ActivityTwo more handouts provide them with additional resources and ideas. From Handout 10 askthem to pick an Eleanor Roosevelt quote and from Handout 11 chose a lesson learned to use asthemes in their event.Handout 10:Eleanor Roosevelt QuotesHandout 11:Lessons Learned From Eleanor Roosevelt www.bofarrell.net
  15. 15. 15Who Is Your Eleanor Roosevelt Today?Here several union women leaders on the national level, as well as women leaders on thepolitical front. Who in your union or your community can you involve as mentors or rolemodels? How can you use the stories of women leaders national and local to educate othersabout organizing, mobilizing, and developing women leaders? WHO IS YOUR ELEANOR ROOSEVELT TODAY? NATIONAL? LOCAL? Liz Shuler, IBEW Sec.Treas., AFL-CIO Michelle Obama First Lady of the US Hillary Clinton, US Sec. of State Arlene Holt Baker,AFSCME Hilda Solis, Rose Ann DeMoro, Ex. Dir. . Exec. VP, AFL-CIO US Sec. of Labor National Nurses United www.bofarrell.net
  16. 16. 16 ACTION PLAN: CLOSE TO HOMEOctober 11, Eleanor Roosevelt’s BirthdayOctober 11 is Eleanor Roosevelt’s birthday. Design an event for that week to celebrate herbirthday and highlight an issue important to women you are organizing or union women youwant to be more active.ISSUE: What is the most pressing issue? How do you know-survey, news, instinct?MENTORS: Are there mentors you can honor who have led on this issue?YOUNG LEADERS: Can you identify young women leaders to speak or highlight their stories?COALITIONS: What other community organizations can you partner with for this event:women, civil rights, consumer, environmental, churches, immigrant organizations?COMMUNICATION: How will communicate about the issue and the event to include the mostpeople: newspapers, magazines, radio, television, Facebook, Twitter?LOGISTICS: When and where will the event be held? How many participants do you expect?FOLLOW-UP: What is your measure of success?December 10, International Human Rights DayDecember 10 is International Human Rights Day. Organize an event that week to celebrateInternational Human Rights Day and highlight an issue important to women you are organizingor union members you want to be more active.ISSUE: What is the most pressing issue/s? How do you know-survey, news, instinct?MENTORS: Are there mentors you can honor who have led on this issue?YOUNG LEADERS: Can you identify young women leaders to speak or highlight their stories?COALITIONS: What other community groups can you partner with for this event: women,civil rights, consumer, environmental, church, immigrant organizations?COMMUNICATION: How will you communicate about the issue and the event to include themost people: newspapers, magazines, radio, television, Facebook, Twitter?LOGISTICS: When and where will the event be held? How many participants do you expect?FOLLOW-UP: What is your measure of success? www.bofarrell.net
  17. 17. 17B. Report Back (15 minutes)After ten minutes bring the small groups back together and have each reporter give a two minutesummary of their event. After they are done reporting lead a discussion about the events withthe full group.6. Closing (5 minutes)Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the most admired and at the same time most vilified women on thetwentieth century. Women today have much to learn from Eleanor Roosevelt about organizing,leadership, workplace issues, and the labor movement. She believed that women wouldeventually find their place in the leadership of the union movement and would some day notneed separate organizations. That goal has not been reached, but one of the lessons to take awaytoday is found in her closing remarks to the last CIO convention: “We can’t just talk, we havegot to act…And we must see improvement for masses of people, not for the little group on top.”We hope that each of you leave here today wanting to know more about this remarkable woman,who contributed to the American labor movement, but with the intent of seeing if there are notmore of her words and actions that can be used to inspire and activate women across the countryand around the world—workers rights are human rights.Thank You! www.bofarrell.net