Women of Labor – 1
(April 10, 1880 – May 14, 1965) – Frances Perkins became the first woman appointed to a U.S. Cabinet position when she became FDR’s Secretary of Labor. Having personally witnessed workers jump to their deaths during the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, Perkins promoted and helped pass strong labor laws. A principal architect of the New Deal, she is credited with formulating many of the policies used to shore up the national economy during the Great Depression and helped to create the modern middle class. In 1980, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Labor was named in her honor.
Click here to learn more about Francis Perkins
(Born – 1948) May Chen led one of the largest Asian-American strikes in History. While working with the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, she led 20,000 workers, marching the streets of Lower Manhattan demanding work contracts. By many accounts, the workers won. The employers held back on wage cuts and withdrew their demand to give up their holidays and some benefits. It paved the way for better working conditions. She retired in 2009 an international vice president of UNITE HERE.
Sue Cowan Williams
(1910 – 1994) Sue Cowan Williams represented African-American teachers in the Little Rock School District as the plaintiff in the case Morris v. Williams, which challenged salary discrepancies based on race. The suit was filed on February 28, 1942, and followed a March 1941 petition filed with the Little Rock School Board requesting salaries be equaled between black and white teachers. She lost the case but won in 1943 on appeal.
Learn more about Sue Cowan Williams at this link
(March 2, 1888 – July 27, 1956) Big Annie was the president of the Women’s Auxiliary No. 15 of
the Western Federation of Miners. She would lead marches while wearing a plain gingham dress and carrying a 10-foot flagpole with a large American flag. She was an active participant in the Copper Country Strike of 1913-1914, where she was one of the organizers of the Christmas party at the Italian Hall where more than 70 people were killed in a stampede caused by anti-union thugs. She has been described as an “American Joan of Arc” and her portrait hangs in the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.
Read more about Anna
(c. 1853 – March 7, 1942) – Lucy Parsons was a radical labor organizer and anarchist who, with her husband Albert Parsons (a Haymarket martyr) helped launch the world’s first May Day and demand for the eight-hour work day. After her husband’s execution, Lucy remained a leading activist and was a founder of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).