Women of Labor – 3
“Educate in order that your children may be free.
Only through the freedom of their teachers could the children remain free.”
Irish Proverb often quoted by Margaret Haley.
(November 15, 1861 – January 6, 1939) Margaret Haley was a teacher and unionist who was dubbed the “lady labor slugger”. Haley was an early member of the Chicago Teachers Federation and helped found the American Federation of Teachers (of which Chicago Teachers Union is Local 1). A pioneer leader in organizing school teachers, she had a long career with the CTF fighting to correct tax inequalities, to increase the salaries of teachers, and to expose unfair land leasing by the Chicago Board of Education.
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(August 30, 1907 – November 4, 1992) Luisa Moreno, a Guatemalan immigrant, started organizing while working in a cafeteria in New You in the 1930s. Protesting long hours, constant sexual harassment, and the threat of dismissal, Luisa was fearless. In one incident, hearing that the workers would picket the cafeteria, the police formed a line, only allowing customers to pass through. Luisa, in a few collar coat, walked through the line as if she was going to enter the cafeteria. When she was in front of the door, she pulled a picket sign from under the coat and held it in plain view, yelling, “Strike!” She was grabbed by the police and taken into a nearby building. She emerged with her face bleeding and considered herself lucky that she was not disfigured. She spent the next 20 years organizing workers before taking a “voluntary departure under and warrant of deportation” on the grounds that she had once been a member of the Communist party. She was offered citizenship in exchange for testifying against a labor leader, but she refused, stating that she would not be “a free woman with a mortgaged soul.”
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“Wall Street owns the country. It is no longer a government of the people, by the people,
and for the people, but a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street, and for Wall Street.”
(1937 – November 30, 1930) Jones was an Irish-born American schoolteacher and dressmaker who became a prominent labor and community organizer. She helped coordinate major strikes and co-founded the Industrial Workers of the World. After her husband and four children died of yellow fever, and her dress shop was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire, she began working as an organizer for the Knights of Labor and the United Mine Workers union. She became known as Mother Jones in 1897 when she was 60 years old. In 1902 she was called “the most dangerous woman in America” for her organizing successes with mine workers and their families. In 1903 she protested child labor laws in the mines and silk mills by organizing a children’s march to the home of President Theodore Roosevelt in New York. She often referred to the miners as “her boys” and is buried with them in the Union Miners Cemetery in Mount Olive, Illinois, alongside miners who died in the 1898 Battle of Virden.
Mother Jones (the magazine) on Mother Jones
(June 10, 1933 – July 12, 2012) Hattie Canty was a legendary African-American unionist from rural Alabama. Moving to Las Vegas, Canty was one of the greatest strike leaders in U.S. History. While working with the Las Vegas Hotel and Culinary Workers Union Local 226, Hattie’s leadership helped her knit together a labor union made up of members from 84 different nations.
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Jessie de la Cruz
(1919 – September 2, 2013) Jessie de la Cruz was a Chicano American farm worker and the first female recruiter for the UFW. A field worker since the age of five, Jessie knew poverty, harsh working conditions, and the exploitation of Mexicans and immigrant workers. She is known for her work banning the short-handed hoe, educating fellow farm workers, promoting co-op farming, and her commitment to fighting injustice for the working poor. She ran the first UFW Hiring Hall, was an adviser to the California Commission on the status of Women, and the secretary treasurer of National Land for People. She was a political activist until her death in 2013.
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