Bread Upon The Waters

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(1896 - 1965) ~ Anarchist, Feminist Organizer and ILGWU Leader : anarchist, feminist labor organizer and vise president within the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Born Rakhel Peisoty in Derazhnia, Ukraine in 1896 to a family of grain merchants, Pesotta was well educated during her childhood and, influenced by People's Will, would eventually adopt anarchist views. (From : Anarchy Archives.)
• "I had no ambition to hold executive authority. Valuing my own freedom, I wanted to avoid getting into harness, and to keep from becoming enmeshed in inner-circle politics. Too, I felt that I could serve the cause of my fellow-unionists just as effectively as a rank-and-file member. And it was my contention that the voice of a solitary woman on the General Executive Board would be a voice lost in the wilderness." (From : "Bread Upon the Waters," by Rose Pesotta.)
• "In the brief span of its life, the IWW produced men who became internationally known and whose names were torches of inspiration in many lands. Most of them paid a high price for their fame, some with their lives." (From : "Bread Upon the Waters," by Rose Pesotta.)
• "Soon after the 1929 stock market crash 30,000 persons in that city were jobless. Some organized the Unemployed Citizens' League, which set the pace for similar self-help groups all over the United States. Harvesting fruit and vegetable crops on a sharing basis, it set up various co-operative enterprises, which, however, were opposed by business men, who feared these would cut into their profits." (From : "Bread Upon the Waters," by Rose Pesotta.)


This document contains 37 sections, with 133,721 words or 840,890 characters.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT WHEN I WENT BACK to work in a dress factory early in 1942 I set out to write a book on my years afield as a labor organizer. During that period I had accumulated a great mass of memoranda÷letters, articles written for the labor press, leaflets, pamphlets, copies of special publications used in organization drives, statistical reports, diaries. I had the material and the urge, but soon realized that I was not equal to the task before me. Fortunately, at that stage, my friend John Nicholas Beffel came to my aid. Though he has kept modestly in the background, claiming credit only as editor on the title page, it was largely his collaboration that made this book possible. Mere words cannot express my deep appreciation for his energy and endurance, his ability to get at firstÄhand sources of data, and his painstaking accuracy with regard to names, dates, and historical facts. (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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FOREWORD ROSE PESOTTA is many things, but I think of her chiefly as possessing built-in energy. Her vitality is not induced by regimen, nor summoned by an act of will. It is in her genes. Talk with her a few minutes as casually as you may, and strength is poured into you, as when a depleted battery is connected to a generator. If this is true in a chance meeting with an individual, what do you suppose happens when she sets out to rouse and direct a throng of her fellow-workers? You will find out in this book. She draws on rich resources of training, travel, and experience. What is a crisis to another is to her a gleeful adventure. But you must not think that she has a permanent elation. A person who is never fatigued exhausts others. She tells you that sometimes after long and hard exertion she was tired. That is the physical counterpart of a saving spiritual let-down. Her magnetism is more than mere... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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To the memory of my father, who died as he had lived, unafraid; to my mother, for her infinite loyalty and patience . . . To the pioneer builders of our union, whose vision and idealism inspired me; to the victims of the Triangle fire, whose martyrdom aroused me; to the shirtwaist makers and dressmakers, whose unselfish devotion lighted my path; and to those organized working men and women in America who battle for a place in the sun for all their kind -- This book is dedicated... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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CHAPTER 1 Flight to the West MY MOTHER waved farewell as the TWA plane took off from Newark airport. In a moment I lost sight of her. The big winged ship taxied to the end of the field, and swung around. Another few seconds and the plane had lifted clear of earth. and was gliding smoothly through space. Looking eastward as we climbed, I could see the Statue of Liberty, ships moving in New York Bay, the skyscrapers of Manhattan with their lights just beginning to stab the gathering dusk. Between were railroad yards and the smoke-stacks of countless industrial plants. Below, as the plane straightened its course, was the city of Newark, with a shimmering streak of illumination recognizable as Broad Street. The sun was gone from the sky, darkness came quickly, and other towns over which we passed were mere blurs of light. September 17, 1933 Thi... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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CHAPTER 2 California Here We Come! CONDITIONS IN THE LOS ANGELES dress industry had grown steadily worse in five months. Manufacturers generally were violating the state minimum wage of $16 a week for women, and the President's Reemployment Agreement, more often called the Blanket Code, in effect until a permanent Code of Fair Competition under the NRA could be agreed upon for the industry. An appallingly large labor turnover was deliberately fostered by the employers for their own benefit. Workers who showed any inclination to organize for selfprotection were promptly fired; and the blacklist operated relentlessly against those who dared protest. I got a close-up of this from local union leaders the morning after my arrival. Something drastic must be done within the next few weeks. The City of Angels then had about 150 dress factories, employ... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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CHAPTER 3 Mexican Girls Stand Their Ground EARLY IN OCTOBER the dress manufacturers were firing workers right and left, on flimsy pretexts, and especially ousting individuals known to be active in the union. Several shops locked out their employees. By Monday, the 9th, hundreds were on the streets with no jobs. A strike was clearly being forced upon us. Carrying out the mandate of the dressmakers' mass meeting, the union leadership agreed upon Thursday, the 12th, as the date for the walkout, and the organization committee was called to meet after work Wednesday. Meanwhile the union issued leaflets asking all Los Angeles dressmakers to "get ready for the general strike," saying we wanted to make it short and effective through 100 per cent unity. We cautioned them against the danger of being stampeded by the tactics of the opposition union, which had been snip... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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CHAPTER 4 The Employers Try an Injunction HIRED THUGS APPEARED in front of the strike-bound garment factory buildings as another week began. Ostensibly their job was to protect "non-striking" workers; actually, they were on hand to foment disturbances. Clashes were provoked by these "guards" as they led in people who had never worked in the dress industry before, to replace the striking workers. Girl strikers were arrested and charged with disturbing the peace. Representatives of both sides conferred on Monday with Campbell MacCulloch, executive secretary of the National Recovery Administration's state board. He proposed a three-month compromise plan to end the strike. We could see only danger in that proposal. Early and specific action was vital to us; more waiting would mean a tired and disgusted rank-and-file, and final acceptance, through sheer weariness, of unfavorable... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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CHAPTER 5 Our Union on the March STRIKERS CROWDED THE CORIDOR outside the hearing room in the Los Angeles City Hall on October 31, opening day of the arbitration proceedings, ready to testify when called. Vise-President Feinberg and Harry Sherr, attorney for the ILGWU, presented our case. Feinberg told of a whispering campaign against the union, by employers who contended it did not represent the dressmakers for whom it professed to speak. Arthur Booth, executive secretary of the manufacturers' association, asserted that "there has been no clash between the employers and employees in the dress industry on wages, hours, or working conditions." Our witnesses testified that the employers were operating a blacklist; had dismissed workers for discussing unionism and attending union meetings; and had shown marked favoritism to nonunion workers in an effort to break the unio... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Bread Upon The Waters: Chapter 6 Subterranean Sweatshops in Chinatown FOOTLOOSE FOR A DAY, Bessie Goren, Bill Busick, and I were gay as we drove to San Francisco. We sang frivolous songs. Bessie recalled humorous incidents in Philadelphia, her hometown, and Bill told of his adventures as campaign manager for Norman Thomas. We were thrilled by the grandeur of the scenery, save where it was blighted by Hoovervilles on the edges of towns. I had received a call from International Vise-President Israel Feinberg to address a dressmakers' meeting in San Francisco and to do some intensive organizational work. He met us at our hotel and took us to dinner. Negotiations were then in progress with the San Francisco cloak manufacturers, and Feinberg was confident that a collective agreement would soon be reached. The dressmakers, led by David Gisnet, manager of Cloakmakers' Lo... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Rose Pesotta Bread upon the Waters CHAPTER 7 Far Cry from 'Forty-Nine CONFERENCES WITH EMPLOYERS and organization meetings now kept the union heads steadily occupied. Meanwhile our newly enrolled membership busied itself with the educational and recreational activities I had started. With the cooperation of Brownie Lee Jones, ever alert industrial secretary of the YWCA on Sutter Street, where I was then living, we were able to make use of the "Y" classrooms, gym, cafeteria, and even its mimeograph. I visited Dr. Alexander Meiklejohn, director of the San Francisco School of Social Studies, and former president of Amherst College, who expressed a deep interest in what we were doing. His wife, Helen Meiklejohn, agreed to conduct a class in workers' problems and elementary economics, with emphasis on NRA Codes, union... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Rose Pesotta Bread upon the Waters CHAPTER 8 Police Guns Bring General Strike to 'Frisco AFTER PROLONGED NEGOTIATIONS our dress agreement, modified, was accepted by 15 of the 18 mid-town manufacturers. It provided for a union shop, 35-hour week, minimum wage scales in line with the NRA Dress Code, two weeks' trial period, workers to elect a shop chairman and shop committee to handle complaints and grievances, equal distribution of work during slack season, and impartial arbitration machinery in case the union and employer could not adjust differences amicably. It was understood that the workers might join the union without interference by the employers. One manufacturer explained that his employees were "conscientious objectors" who flatly refused to join up. They were Russian emigres who feared that by joining our union they would have to... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Rose Pesotta Bread upon the Waters CHAPTER 9 Some History is Recorded in Chicago MY MEXICAN co-delegate, Beatrice Lopez, and I arrived in Chicago early Sunday morning, May 27. The special train bringing the Eastern delegation to the convention was due at 10 a.m., and we joined the official reception committee. I was happy to find many of my New York friends among the delegates or guests, especially Anna Sosnovsky. Chums of long standing and classmates at Brookwood Labor College, we had much to talk about. She had organized several hundred cotton garment workers, mostly girls and newcomers in the industry, in Newark, New Jersey, and was now representing their local at the convention. While we sat at breakfast, several delegates announced that they had "decided" to sponsor me as their candidate for a vise-presidency i... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Rose Pesotta Bread upon the Waters CHAPTER 10 I Go to Puerto Rico BACK IN NEW YORK after the Chicago convention, I explained to President Dubinsky that I had done everything in Los Angeles that I had promised, and now intended to go back to work in a dressmaking shop. "Anything to prevent it?" "No," he said, "I wish some of our other vise-presidents would do that. It would be good for them. But I think you'd be wasting your time. I can give you something better to do." "What ?" "You heard William Lopez's speech about Puerto Rico?" "Yes." "Would you like to go there?" Would I? . . . For me the Lopez speech had been one of the high lights of the convention. Here was a chance for vital missionary work. "Lopez is in town," D.D. said when I... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Rose Pesotta Bread upon the Waters CHAPTER 11 Island Paradise and Mass Tragedy IN MAYAGUEZ WE LEARNED that some manufacturers already had discharged workers in sizable numbers. These employees had been working for a pittance, and the employers, not wanting to pay the increased wage provided under the Code minima, had begun laying them off. The rest of the force refused to start that morning until the dismissed workers had been reinstated. In certain other factories, ironers were asked how many handkerchiefs they could iron in a day. When they replied: "Five dozen," they were advised to double their output. The NRA officials there obviously hadn't the slightest idea how to go about correcting the glaring injustices to labor on every hand, nor did they appear really interested in labor problems. They w... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Rose Pesotta Bread upon the Waters CHAPTER 12 Yet the Puerto Ricans Multiply DAY AFTER DAY I continued touring the island, usually with Teresa Anglero and a committee of girls from the shops, visiting all the cities and almost every village and hamlet in the hills where the home workers lived. I talked with all kinds of people, addressed organizational mass meetings÷and because it was so obviously necessary, conducted workers' education and social service classes, in which the subjects included child care, birth control, personal hygiene, and nutrition. The great need of personal hygiene among the island's women had made itself evident soon after my arrival. Staying overnight at Mayaguez we got two adjoining rooms in La Palma Hotel, a dilapidated structure, the only place where we could find accommodations. O... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Rose Pesotta Bread upon the Waters CHAPTER 13 Last Outpost of Civilization FROM THE TROPICS to the Northwest÷from Puerto Rico to the State of Washington.... Late in December, 1934, I was on my way to Seattle at President Dubinsky's request. The International had chartered a dressmakers' local there, and it needed building up. Crossing the continent, I had the odd experience of meeting all four seasons of the year in the course of a single week. En route I visited Los Angeles, where the dressmakers had elected a new executive board, which I was called upon to install. The rival union had been liquidated some lime before. I was proud to note how well our membership had carried out the program we had charted following the hard fought general strike in 1933. In San Francisco the two locals had formed a... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Rose Pesotta Bread upon the Waters CHAPTER 14 Early Champions of the Common Man TRADITION DOMINATED organized labor in Seattle, which was living largely on its past. The high point of its history seemed to be the great general strike in February, 1919, in which 60,000 men and women in 110 unions quit work. The city then had a population of 315,000. That strike was voted by the Central Labor Council, a unique body with a revolutionary background unknown in the rest of the States. The council was an open forum where any subject could get a hearing and a vote. Thus the general strike, as a class-war weapon, was discussed on the CLC floor as early as 1903, and the council had endorsed industrial unionism in 1909, its delegates being instructed to sponsor it on the floor of the A F of L national convention that year. (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Rose Pesotta Bread upon the Waters CHAPTER 15 Employers Double as Vigilantes A HANDFUL OF CLOAKMAKERS diligently helped me in my visits to prospective members, yet our progress was snaillike. Clearly someone was required here who knew the workers in the dress industry. After a wide search I persuaded Dorothy Enright, a dress operator who had spoken up pointedly at my first Seattle meeting in 19',4, to come in as my assistant. Daughter of a pioneer who crossed the plains and mountains to the Northwest in a covered wagon, and mother of a grown son (though she looked much younger), she was worth her weight in gold. She owned a car, knew every nook and corner of the city and its environs, and having worked long in our industry, was on friendly terms with almost every garment worker in Seattle. She needed coa... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Rose Pesotta Bread upon the Waters CHAPTER 16 Out on a Limb in Seattle In other cities a small strike against three minor firms, involving no more than a hundred workers, would have attracted little attention. But in Seattle it aroused a tempest. The employers yelled blue murder. I was amazed at the speed with which the whole anti-union machinery of the city was set in motion against us. Large advertisements appeared in the daily press, frequently occupying a full page, attacking the ILGWU and giving false information. Signed either by 19 employers or by an anonymous "Citizens' Committee of 500," these ads bore arresting headlines, like: Even Dillinger Never Harmed a Child.... We Are Victims of a Handful of Radicals.... The 'Strike Baby' is on Your Doorstep Again and This Time It's Quintuplets.' "Ideal conditions" had existed in Sea... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Rose Pesotta Bread upon the Waters CHAPTER 17 Travail in Atlantic City ATLANTIC CITY WAS SURCHARGED with expectation of strife when I arrived on October 11. Most of the other members of our General Executive Board were there for its quarterly meeting, and we discussed what was brewing. The affairs of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, however important to us, would be overshadowed by a larger issue coming up at the American Federation of Labor convention÷the question of organizing mass-production workers into industrial unions. This had caused a six-day battle at the Federation's 1934 convention in San Francisco. A compromise had sidetracked the issue for a year. Now, in 1935, it was coming up again, and would have to be faced. Hot debate also was looked for on a resolutio... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Rose Pesotta Bread upon the Waters CHAPTER 18 Milwaukee and Buffalo are Different SOMEWHERE IN THE TALMUD there is an ancient Hebrewsaying: The soldiers fight, the kings are heroes. It comes to mind as I review the rise of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. To write a truly comprehensive history of the ILGWU and get at the real source of our organization's phenomenal strength, the historian would have to visit many an odd corner of these United States in search of original data. Behind its growth in the face of political and economic vicissitudes there would be revealed a legion of men and women unheralded and unsung, rank-and-file people with natural ingenuity, strong working-class loyalty, readiness to sacrifice for an ideal, and all-around unselfishness. The top leadership gets public recognition for t... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Rose Pesotta Bread upon the Waters CHAPTER 19 Vulnerable Akron: The First Great Sit-Down AKRON÷rubber manufacturing capital of the world. A drab Mid-Western industrial city of 255,000. A city with a hum, a throb, an odor all its own. It made the front pages in February, 1936. A strike had closed the largest tire factory on the globe, which had 14,000 employees. On the 25th Frederick Umhey, our International's executive secretary, wired me from New York: "Goodyear rubber workers in Akron on strike. A woman organizer requested. Urgently needed. Please proceed to Akron at once and report to Adolph Germer Portage Hotel." Leaving Marianne Alfons, our Polish organizer, in charge of the Buffalo office, I took the first train, reaching my destination late that night. There I was hailed by Louis Stark, labor reporter for... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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CHAPTER 20 'Outside Agitators' Strive for Peace EDWARD F. MCGRADY, Assistant U. S. Secretary of Labor, had come to Akron by plane, spent two days in intensive conferences with company representatives and the strike committee, and departed on Friday, February 28. He left a recommendation with the committee that the strikers return to work and let the issues be settled by arbitration. A meeting was scheduled for that evening in the strikers' hall. Around 8 o'clock Sherman Dalrymple, the rubber workers' international president, Frank Grillo, the secretary, Germer, Hapgood, and other leaders arrived. The strikers crowded in, anxious to know of the latest developments. From what I had seen and heard on the picket-lines, corroborated by the tenseness of feeling now, it was evident that some of the strikers were ready to do almost anything if the agre... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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CHAPTER 21 Pageant of Victory PROTESTS AGAINST the picket chanties and tents, which had shut off street-car traffic in the vicinity of the Goodyear works, brought about a conference between city officials and the strike committee. As a result, it was arranged that the city would supply gasoline for automobiles to be used by the pickets as shelters. But the promise of gas was not kept, and without warning Mayor Schroy sent 75 policemen and 30 street cleaners with trucks on the morning of March 7 to tear down the chanties. They didn't get far. After wrecking four shacks, they were beaten back by massed pickets. At the first telephoned alarm, more than 300 union workers in the General Tire and Rubber plant stopped work and sped to the rescue. Hundreds of Goodrich and Firestone men also came running. When the cops quit the scene, the demolished shelters were promptly rebuilt. (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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CHAPTER 22 Auto Workers Line Up For Battle HOMER MARTIN REMINDED ME of my promise in March. He wired from Detroit asking if I would speak at a series of mass-meetings. My cooperation, and that of Leo Krzycki, was especially needed now to round up delegates for the second convention of the United Automobile Workers, to be held in South Bend, Indiana, beginning April 27. A sizable number of such delegates had to be found who were both intelligent and willing to risk losing their jobs. So I went to Detroit, where Martin, Ed Hall, secretary-treasurer, and others of the younger, progressive group in the UAW welcomed me at their offices in the Hoffman Building. They introduced me to their provisional president, Francis J. Dillon, who had been appointed by President William Green of the A F of L, and whose term would expire with the coming convention. Di... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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CHAPTER 23 General Motors Capitulates IN THE STRIKE ZONE the scene was war-like. Naked machine-guns mounted in the streets commanded every approach to the three plants-Fisher Body No. I and No. 2 and Chevrolet No. 4. National Guardsmen stood on duty with fixed bayonets, steel helmets on their heads, mufflers protecting their ears and throats from the bitter winds. Despite this, most of the people in strike headquarters were relaxing when I arrived that Saturday afternoon. Earlier there had been speeches, but now they were enjoying themselves with music and dancing. Outside, a strong guard of union men watched for any surprise move by the company. Chevy 4 had been practically isolated, ever since the soldiers came. For 24 hours they refused to permit food to be sent in to the strikers there. Then, after the union telegraphed a protest to Governor Murphy, the ban was lift... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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CHAPTER 25 We Win Against Odds in Montreal SIGNS OF A WIDENING RIFT in the Dress Manufacturers Guild were evident on Friday. One faction was determined to fight our union to the last ditch. The other group indicated that if a union was to be organized among the city's dressmakers, they would "rather have the responsible ILGWU than a Jew-baiting Catholic 'syndicate."' Their profits depended upon their taking advantage of changes in seasons. Soon there would be warm weather; summer dresses must he put on the market, but none could be shipped because the strikers had essential parts of them at home in large quantity÷belts, loops, collars, and cuffs. In the past they had been compelled to do home work at night without pay. Several manufacturers, including the four who had repudiated the contract with La Ligue, requested a conference with us. We met at the Mou... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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CHAPTER 26 Union Fights Union in Cleveland THERE WAS A LONG raw scar on Louis Friend's right cheek. It worried me as he and others met my plane at the Cleveland airport. He had been slashed with a knife eight days earlier when a back-to-work flying wedge had forced the reopening of the Stone Knitting Mills in the face of our strike. This followed a surprise announcement that the company had signed a "contract" with another union, led by Coleman Claherty, an A F of L organizer, who, cutting across our jurisdiction, had formed federal locals in each of the four struck knit-wear factories. Riding downtown with Friend in his car, I heard what had been happening in Cleveland: "We've been having a tough time," he said. "I'm happy you could come." Claherty, who had been ousted by the rubber workers in Akron, had arrived in town that spring in the hope of finding a new berth for himself. Also there was a... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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CHAPTER 27 The Mohawk Valley Formula Pads OUR KNITWEAR STRIKE was closely linked up in the daily press with two other CIO strikes one in Republic Steel, and another sponsored by the TWOC in the industrial Rayon and Cleveland Worsted mills. The principal scene of conflict in Cleveland was at the steel plants, dominated by Tom Girdler, arch-enemy of labor unions. Here 6,000 workers had walked out. July 29, 1937, saw a mass demonstration by the steel strikers in the Public Square. The speakers included Heywood Broun, then president of the American Newspaper Guild; Homer Martin of the United Automobile Workers; Leo Krzycki, Powers Hapgood, and others. This meeting, however, was cut short by a downpour of rain, which drenched thousands of workers to the skin. Next morning Broun, Louis Nelson of Local 155, and Hapgood visited our Federal picket-lines and chee... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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CHAPTER 28 European Holiday: War Shadows Deepen MY EUROPEAN HOLIDAY was brief but full of excitement and diversion. On the SS Manhattan1 the passengers included a young Spanish couple homeward bound from a mission in Mexico. Ardent Loyalists, they were eager to return to their native Barcelona and join their compatriots in fighting the Fascist Franco. The voyage was restful, and when we stepped down at Le Havre, France, and boarded the tourist special for Paris I was ready to go places. The first time I saw Paris the picture was not pretty. In Gare St. Lazare porters young and old took our luggage, hanging the various pieces on leather belts suspended from their shoulders. With these loads dangling in front and back of them, they could hardly walk to the waiting taxis. It would have been much better to put the baggage on... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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CHAPTER 29 Graveyard: Boston is Boston REFRESHED AFTER MY HOLIDAY, I was ready for a new assignment. Two jobs were offered to me. Our small Dressmakers' Local 38 in New York wanted me to conduct a drive among the shops of the Fifth Avenue modistes. Women who made costly gowns, priced at hundreds of dollars, could hardly make a living on the low wages paid them. Firms which operated under union conditions on the Avenue could not compete with the open shop group. But Boston dressmakers pressed me to come there. I chose Boston. At different times since 1916 I had lived in that city, working in season on waists and dresses and making my home with my sister Esther, who was raising a family. As a place to work, however, it had never appealed to me÷production methods were complicated, machinery antiquated. The ILGWU branch in Boston was one of our oldest. Once a strong... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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CHAPTER 30 Return Engagement in Los Angeles BACK IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA land of sunshine and starvation wages, stronghold of the open shop! The sun was bright as I stepped from the Chief on a Saturday in January, 1940. To my gratification the little old smoke-begrimed Santa Fe depot was gone, in its place a modern station of Byzantine design. Soft music came from an invisible organ; out in front was a broad garden with trees and flowers. Los Angeles "a good place in which to live" ! But that picture was deceptive, as false a front as a Hollywood stage set. The ILGWU's Pacific Coast director had been in bed six weeks, and was in no condition to discuss union problems. He might be out in six months, if he didn't have a relapse, his wife had said. That evening, at a house party in the home of Fanny and Bayra... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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CHAPTER 31 Back in the American Federation of Labor IN THE FACE OF THIS octopus-like opposition, the ILGWU's local leadership had failed its members miserably. Apparently it had thought that a union "just grew," like Topsy, from fresh air, California sunshine, petty squabbles, and political bickerings. And little effort was made to win the confidence of the newcomers in the sportswear industry, which had become a threat to the diminishing dress trade. Like a household, a labor union office must have some one responsible on the job to take care of routine. If the house-keeper is long absent, dust and mold accumulate and disorder grows! There, if the general membership is neglected too long, it is in no mood to serve a union loyally. Of the several miscellaneous locals chartered in Los Angeles, all but one, Cotton Dress Local No. 266, had given up the ghost. This feeble... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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CHAPTER 32 Dust-Bowlers Make Good Unionists BUT OUR MAIN CONCERN was organizing the field. After the unsuccessful attempt the previous spring, I decided to let the few nonunion silk dress factories in Los Angeles alone, and reach out for the workers in the growing sportswear industry. When a sufficient number had delegated our organization as collective bargaining agent, we would approach their employers to confer and discuss union terms. The sportswear workers, mostly of American stock from all parts of the country, needed special treatment. Some had entered the garment industry as a temporary means of earning a living, hoping to resume their former professions and trades. Among them were teachers, librarians, saleswomen, musicians, and nurses, who thought factory work too degrading to remain in long. Watching them hurry in and out of the garment buildings, I realized how the... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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CHAPTER 33 End of an Era RETURNING FROM THE MORMON CAPITAL, I found that Jennie Matyas, our San Francisco organizer, had been brought to Los Angeles to direct the dress campaign. The Pacific Coast director had assigned four of my staff of six to assist her. America Iglesias Thatcher and Mary Donovan, however, had held aloof pending my return. Calling together the whole six, I urged all to cooperate fully with the dress drive, holding that it was entitled to every possible chance. Jennie wanted a line on the local dress situation, and we had dinner at the Brown Derby. I explained, taking the position that the only building to be organized÷719 South Los Angeles Street, which was dominated by the Merchants' and Manufacturers' Association ÷ought to be left alone while we concentrated on a bigger problem, sportswear. But the arrangements for the general dress strike went a... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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CHAPTER 34 Labor and the Road Ahead MANHATTAN SKYSCRAPER. From the shop where I am working, on the thirty-fifth floor, I can look down into the teeming canyons of the midtown garment industry. On the walks below the lunch-hour crowd moves to and fro in sweltering heat. Coatless workers, shoppers, members of the armed forces. And in the streets there is a constant flurry of motor traffic. Buses, trucks, and taxis÷yellow, white, red, orange, and green÷dart hither and thither like restless bugs. Eastward we can see Bryant Park, in the rear of the Central Public Library, where people of all ages seek coolness beneath its symmetrically laid-out rock-maple trees; the needle-pointed Chrysler tower, industrial smokestacks, the East River, and Long island. To the North, Radio City, Central Park, a shimmering lagoon, Essex House, and Columbus Circle. Westward, huge w... (From : Anarchy Archives.)


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