Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

September 17, 1999

WHAT FOLLOWS is a compilation of significant events and dates in the history of working women in the United States from 1825 to 1980:

1825 - The first women's labor organization in a particular trade was the United Tailoresses Society of New York City, founded in 1825. Later that year, the organization conducted the first strike by a women's union.

1828 - The first strike by women in a factory occurred at Dover Manufacturing Company in Dover, New Hampshire. More than 400 women struck against a wage reduction and for a l0-hour workday.

1830 - MARY HARRIS is born on May 1 in County Cork, Ireland.

1845 - Sarah Bagley becomes the first woman delegate to a labor convention. She was the delegate from the Female Labor Reform Association of Lowell, Mass., to the convention of the New England Workingmen's Association in Boston.

1848 - The Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, passes a resolution demanding the right of women to vote. The resolution is put forward by Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

1878 - The first initiative in the United States Congress to grant women the right to vote is introduced by Republican Senator Aaron Sargent of New York as the Anthony Amendment. It failed.

1880 - FRANCES PERKINS was born in Boston to well-to-do parents.

1889 - In Chicago, Jane Addams and Ellen Starr establish the Hull House, a home for disadvantaged women and children.

1892 - Mary Kenney, leader of the Chicago Bindery Workers Union and Ladies Federal Labor Union No. 2703, is appointed the American Federation of Labor's first female organizer.

1900 - Mary Harris pens an article for the International Socialist Review on child labor in the South. She signs the essay "Mother Jones" in memory of four children and husband George Jones who all died of yellow fever 33 years before.

1903 - THE WOMEN`S Trade Union League is founded in Boston to help educate women about the advantages of union membership and to support their demands for better working conditions.

1909 - The "Uprising of 20,000," spurred by the Women's Trade Union League, occurs in New York City when shirtwaist seamstresses and other women workers protest their poverty conditions.

1911 -ĘSome 146 workers, mostly young women, die in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York City's Lower East Side. The tragedy is witnessed by activist/writer Mary Heaton Vorse and National Consumers League lobbyist Frances Perkins.

1912 - POLISH WOMEN in a Lawrence, Mass., textile mill walk off their jobs to protest a wage cut of 3.5 percent after Massachusetts passes a law lowering the workweek from 56 to 54 hours. Within days of the Jan. 11 walkout, some 23,000 of Lawrence's 32,000 textile workers join them.The strike ends on March 12 with wage increases ranging from 5 to 21 percent.

1913-Some 14,000 kimono and wrapper workers, plus some 15,000 white-goods workers, strike factories in Brooklyn and New York City. They seek a maximum 50-hour workweek, and an end to charges for needles, thread and electricity. They also want homework and employment of children under 16 to be eliminated.

1916 - Fannia Cohn, a Russian-Jewish immigrant, is the first woman elected to the executive board of a U.S. union - the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Also, Jeanette Rankin, a Montana Republican, becomes the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

1919 - THE 19TH AMENDMENT to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote, is passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson.

1920 - The women's suffrage amendment is ratified by the necessary two-thirds of the states. Also, Mary Anderson becomes the first director of the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor.

1930 - Mary "Mother" Jones, termed by industrial and railroad robber barons as "The Most Dangerous Woman in the World," dies on Nov. 30 in Chicago. Mother Jones, for whom the modern-day muckraking magazine was named, once said: "I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there, and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad he would be a U.S. senator."

1932 - DOROTHY DAY co-founds the Catholic Worker movement with French proletarian advocate Peter Maurin. Also, Hattie Wyatt Caraway, a Democrat, is elected to the U. S. Senate a year after she became the first woman U.S. senator when the governor of Arkansas appointed her to fill the unexpired term of her husband upon his death.

1933 - Frances Perkins becomes the first woman Cabinet member in U.S. history when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt names her Secretary of Labor at the beginning of his first term.

1937 - Mary Heaton Vorse publishes "Labor's New Millions," the story of the Congress of Industrial Organizations' many organizing victories across the U.S.

1939 - IN A STUNNING SETBACK to industry's efforts to launch company unions, a group of telephone operators and messenger boys in San Francisco wins recognition and state-of- the-age workplace rights. Western Union is felled by the tiny American Communications Association when the union strikes the telegraph giant. When a company union fails to spark a back-to-work effort, legitimate union organizing campaigns begin and succeed in New York, Pittsburgh and Detroit.

1962 - Rachel Carson's book "Silent Spring" sends shivers across the nation's spine with its deadly depictions of the effects of agricultural pesticides. Her work spurs the Kennedy Administration to establish environmental regulatory bodies.

1963 - Fannie Lou Hamer beats a rigged voter registration test in Sunflower County, Mississippi, to win basic voting rights 43 years after passage of women's suffrage. A year later, she leads the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) to the Democratic Party's national convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. But despite impassioned speeches and demonstrations, the MFDP fails to get seated by those running the convention.

1966 - THE NATIONAL Organization for Women is founded.

1974 - Whistle-blower Karen Silkwood of Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Local 5-283 at a Kerr-McGee plutonium plant in Cimarron River, Oklahoma, dies when her vehicle is run off the road on her way to meet a New York Times reporter. Also in 1974, the Coalition of Labor Union Women is founded.

1980 - The first woman to be elected to the AFL-CIO Executive Council is Joyce Miller, then a vice president of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union.

(The preceding chronology of Significant Events in U.S. Women's History was put together by Editor Dick Blin in the March 1997 pages of The Paperworker, published by the United Paperworkers International Union in Nashville, Tenn. Earlier this year the UPIU merged with the Denver-based Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union to form PACE, the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union, headquartered in Nashville.)


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