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Labor immigration

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Week 2

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Labor immigration

  1. 1. Women, Immigration and Labor
  2. 2. Transformation in women’s economic roles • More women working after 1870 – Between 1870-1910 the number triples • 1870: 13.7% of women worked for wages; women were 14.8% of the workforce • By 1910, 25% of women worked for wages; women were 20% of the workforce • Types of jobs change – No longer just domestic service • 1870: 7/10 wage-earning women worked in domestic service – “New” jobs in service sector and industry • Women esp. represented in the garment industry – Sexual division of labor
  3. 3. Most common jobs held by women today
  4. 4. Characteristics of the industrial female workforce • Young, single, urban • Labor Bureau survey from 1880 found that the urban female workforce was 90% single; 4.3% married; and 5.6% widowed – Wage-earning seen as largely incompatible with marriage and motherhood • Typical worker the daughter of immigrants • Likely to view labor as short-term; a stage of life • Contributed to a “family economy” – Different levels of autonomy within the family
  5. 5. Black women • Much higher labor force participation rates – By end of Reconstruction, half of all women over 16 worked for wages – More married women worked for wages • In 1900, 25% of black (compared to 3% of white) • Sexual and racial segregation – Barred from nearly all industrial jobs • Severe obstacles to collective protest
  6. 6. Organizing Women Workers • Severe obstacles to collective consciousness – Language, culture barriers – Sense that labor was temporary – Dispersed in a multitude of small shops • BUT the fact that most women were not primary breadwinners could also make them more radical • Male hostility to working women – Idea that women undercut male wages – Undermined ideal of “family wage” – Associated women with de-skilling of labor • Women barred from most labor unions – Unions as male social clubs
  7. 7. Women’s Trade Union League • Founded by Janes Addams and women trade unionists in 1903 • Focused on improving working conditions and bringing women in the labor movement • Characterized by cross-class alliances – Workers and middle-class “allies” – Hybrid of a women’s reform org. and labor union – Example: Eleanor Roosevelt joined in 1922; formed an important relationship with Rose Schneiderman
  8. 8. WTUL, cont. • Grew after its participation in the 1909 strike • Gradually widened its focus – After Triangle Shirtwaist Fire (1911), campaigned for protective labor legislation – Campaigned for women’s suffrage • According to Nancy Dye, how successful was the WTUL in reaching out to working women?
  9. 9. Rose Schneiderman • Jewish immigrant • Family impoverished after father’s death – Mother left pregnant with 3 children to support – Took in boarders, washing, but could not make ends meet – Mother had to place children in orphanage for a time • Labor organizer; socialist
  10. 10. Leaders of WTUL, ca. 1907
  11. 11. Jane Addams (1860-1935) •Began medical school in the 1880s – Withdrew due to poor health •Felt adrift, purposeless – Later wrote about the “snare of preparation” •In 1887, visited Toynbee Hall in London – First settlement house (founded in 1884) – Rejected the old approach to “charity” •Introduced settlement house movement to the US – Opened Hull House (1889)
  12. 12. Toynbee Hall (1884)
  13. 13. Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr, classmate of Jane’s and co- founder of the Hull House
  14. 14. Hull House
  15. 15. Hull House • Not just about ameliorating poverty – Addressed the poverty of social relations • Offering young people a meaningful outlet for their idealism • Intellectual center – Close ties with University of Chicago • John Dewey • Deeply involved with various legislative efforts • Nearly all the leading figures who helped to pioneer the nation’s welfare state lived at, or had substantial ties, to the Hull House
  16. 16. Why did the movement appeal so strongly to women? • 1900: Over 100 settlements in the US • Domestic structure of settlement house – Gave women not just a job, but a home – Offered a more “feminine” alternative to male professional life – Resembled college dorm life
  17. 17. Hull House Reception Room
  18. 18. Hull House Library
  19. 19. Hull House nursery, ca 1890
  20. 20. Maternalism • Ideology that stresses women’s maternal roles/capacities, as the basis for making political claims – Notion that women embraced a feminine value system based on care and nurturance – Belief that mothers performed a service to the state by rearing citizens and workers – Men should ideally earn a family wage to support wives and children at home
  21. 21. Progressive Maternalists • Promoted state intervention and scientific authority • Openly asserted women’s rights to participate in the public realm – Supported suffrage • Appealed to notions of justice and rights, rather than morality, to legitimize women’s activities outside of the home
  22. 22. Differed from feminists • Less concerned with women’s rights than with societal obligations – Much more focused on the material realities of working women’s lives • More interested in assuring a woman’s right to stay home with her children than in liberating women from domesticity • Generally opposed married women’s participation in the labor force
  23. 23. National Consumer’s League • Headed by Florence Kelley (1859-1932) – Attended Cornell; graduate studies in Europe – Exposed to European socialist movements – Fled an abusive relationship; lived at Hull House from 1891-99 • Approach: “investigate, educate, legislate and enforce” • Fought for protective labor legislation – Working conditions – Minimum wage • Women as an “entering wedge”
  24. 24. Female factory inspectors with the National Child Labor Committee
  25. 25. Florence Kelley
  26. 26. Muller v. Oregon • Case involved an OR law that established 10 hours a day as the maximum for women – Supreme Court had already struck down a NY state law limiting working hours for all workers • Famously anti-labor court; struck down the kinds of workers’ protections being enacted in Europe – But in this case, the Court upheld the law, arguing that women, as child bearers, required special protection, and that it was in the “public interest” to provide such protection
  27. 27. The Brandeis Brief • Famous brief – first to rely more on science and social science rather than legal citations – 100 pages, only 2 of which consisted primarily of legal arguments – Rest was testimony by doctors, social scientists, and male workers that long hours injured the “health, safety, morals, and general welfare of women.” • Named after lawyer Louis Brandeis, later SC Justice • Researched in part by Florence Kelley and Josephine Goldmark
  28. 28. Excerpt from Brandeis Brief Q. To Dr. W. Chapman Grigg: “Would you please tell us in a general way your experience as to the effects of these prolonged hours on health?” A. “It has a very grave effect upon the generative organs of women, entailing a great deal of suffering and also injuring a very large body of them permanently….. I have had a great many sad cases come before me of women who were permanent invalids in consequence. lf the matter could be gone into carefully, I think the committee would be surprised to find what a large number of these women are rendered sterile in consequence of these prolonged hours.”
  29. 29. Muller v. Oregon ruling “That woman’s physical structure and the performance of maternal functions place her at a disadvantage in the struggle for subsistence is obvious. This is especially true when the burdens of motherhood are upon her. Even when they are not, by abundant testimony of the the medical fraternity continuance for a long time on her feet at work, repeating this from day to day, tends to injurious effects upon the body, and as healthy mothers are essential to vigorous offspring, the physical well-being of woman becomes an object of public interest and care in order to preserve the strength and vigor of the race.”
  30. 30. Florence Kelley, “Married Women in Industry” (1910) • Main claim: Industrial employment of married women today does only harm – Why? What are its effects on men, children, and women themselves? • What would have to change for things to be otherwise? • Reference to OR v. Muller – Does she see it as a major victory? • Is this article conservative or progressive?
  31. 31. Shirtwaist
  32. 32. Triangle Shirtwaist Fire • March 25, 1911 • Background – 1909: Uprising of 20,000 – Clara Lemlich • Worst industrial disaster in US history – 146 young women died
  33. 33. Clara Lemlich
  34. 34. Impact of the fire • Owners tried in court but got off scot-free • But Tammany Hall backed the reformers • Factory Investigating Commission given broader powers to investigate, propose laws – Clara Lemlich, Rose Schneiderman hired as inspectors and issued a damning report • Led to a flurry of legislation – Became a model for other states

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