Rose Pesotta : Anarchist, Feminist Organizer and ILGWU Leader

Revolt Library People Rose Pesotta

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Image::1 Rose Pesotta was an 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. In 1913, at the age of 17, Pesotta emigrated to New York City and found employment in a shirtwaist factory, quickly joining the ILGWU, a union representing the mostly Jewish and Latina female garment workers. Working hard to educate her fellow workers, Pesotta was elected to the exclusively male executive board of ILGWU Local 25 in 1920. She spent two years at Brookwood Labor College in the 1920s. The union sent her to Los Angeles in 1933 to organize garment workers, and was appointed as vise-president of the union in 1934. One of her biggest accomplishments in Los Angeles was the leading role she played in the garment industry wide strike of 1933. Pesotta also contributed occasional articles to the anarchist newspaper Road to Freedom, where she found herself on more than one occasion debating other anarchists on the merits of working within traditional union structures, and was heavily criticized for such activities by Marcus Graham. In 1944 Pesotta resigned from the executive board of the union in protest of the fact that, despite 85% of the union's membership were women, she was the sole female executive member. Rose Pesotta died in 1965.

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