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June 2014

 

Put women in the labor movement on your summer reading list
by Susan Rubenstein DeMasi

 

Just in time for your summer reading list, here's a roundup of books from your friendly neighborhood librarian that address the roles of women in the labor movement. Lucy Parsons: An American Revolutionary, out of print since 1976, was recently republished by Haymarket Books.

 

It tells the story of this groundbreaking woman who was born in Texas in the 1850s of African American, Native American and Mexican ancestry. Parsons fought for social justice causes throughout her

life. An ardent advocate of free speech, she was an activist supporting women's and workers' rights. This reprint offers a chance to get acquainted or reacquainted with this dynamic woman.

Although Working Hard for the American Dream: Workers and their Unions, World War I to the Present isn't specifically focused on women, it does provide a good overview of labor history with coverage of women and workplace rights from the 1960s through the 1970s. The rights of clerical workers, flight attendants, domesticworkers,factoryworkersand others are covered during this period.

Similarly, Jobs With Justice: 25 Years 25 Voices, presents a wider look at organizing for workers' rights,

For your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, you might want to check out Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers. The book is a good introduction to Huerta and how she worked to ensure fair and
safe work places for migrant workers. The watercolor and pastel illustrations in this picture book will appeal to the younger set in grades one through three.

Keep an eye out later this year for a book that examines women and labor on a more inter- national scale.
Born Out of Place: Migrant Mothers and the Politics of International Labor looks at the impact of inequalities faced by women in the global economy.

Finally, if you are interested in women as they were involved in labor unions in the past, you can go back in time a hundred years or so and read Alice Henry's Trade Union Women, published in 1915. Henry was a suffragette who worked as a lecturer and organizer for the National Women's Trade Union League of America. Although some of the ideas regarding women's roles are archaic, the book offers an interesting historical perspective. It is available free online at various public domain websites including Project Gutenberg (www.gutenberg.org).