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MPR’s Rachel Kranz presents report on the history and experiences of women in the labor movement.

Features interviews with Sarah Evans, University of Minnesota and historian Sylvia Woods, early labor organizer (CIO). Also includes music segments.

Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.

Hey, hey, hey, hey got the early Monday morning working blue. Put on the reggae born out working the weekend when the Lord made The Working Girl remix somebody else. Scooby-Doo Is the word women have always had the worst of Both Worlds the lowest paid least-skilled least interesting jobs at work and the double duty of housework and child-rearing is home low pelo skill and work that tended to isolate rather than to bring them together combine to make it difficult for women to organize the women did organized even before there were unions as early as the famous textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts in the early 19th century working women try to band together to fight for better working conditions. Grandma taught me to ask you now to talk to lovely and hide my whenever I came to my mom. Grandma did what she had to do. The times have changed. I'm telling you the time has come for us to draw the dog quiz Call Bob they have more to lose in a way. They're paid so little that that's the margin of their existence. Usually women have worked out of severe economic necessity they have children and they're afraid male-dominated unions were reluctant to accept women for a long time and many working women complain of male Union prejudice against them even today. The idea was leading him on Union men that women were difficult. If not impossible to organize. They were too irresponsible to timid had to high turnover University of Minnesota historian. Sara Evans says there was indeed some truth to the idea that it's hard to organize women in addition to their four carries economic condition. They were the cultural questions of women being taught to be less militant more religious, perhaps more submissive but Evans also says that those ideas are often exaggerated to cover up the unwillingness of male Union to organize women. The model of organizing has been built so much around the male experience in the mail assumptions about what a job isn't And do you need meetings were held in saloons? Which didn't admit women? There's a million reasons why we weren't organized it have nothing to do. With weather women are reluctant to be organized. The insecurities of the kind of jobs. They had the fact that they could be easily replaced would feed the fears of organizing. I'm sure what other things of the traditional expectations of women to be more submissive to let man take leadership to be more religious with those kinds of social attitudes encourage women to be less interested in unions. Perhaps although whenever these big strikes occur women turn out not to be very submissive at all. And when the violence takes place it's off and women here. They're beating up the scabs. So those myths are often exactly that they're often just miss. on the other hand there is a thing about A woman feeling responsible primarily to life at home and some women are unwilling. They don't they don't take their work. Seriously. That is they don't see them spending their lives there. So why should they take all this risk for something that they hope to leave in a year to where is a man will know that this is his life and that if he doesn't work to make it better, it's going to stay bad for the rest of his life a woman can at least fantasize that she's going to get out. I can see. Good grief. In 1867 cigar makers Union began to accept women in 1869 the printers Union followed suit, but even in Industries where many women worked men were often threatened by the prospect of women dominating the Union's when it off and had to form protective associations that we're not unions Susan B. Anthony tried to organize working women in 1868 the following year topographer. Augusta Lewis formed the first women's local which gave women the chance to develop their own Union leadership the young local found it hard to get support from the parent Union. However, and it was later decided that we would not form autonomous locals, but rather be integrated with the men women workers appreciate it as support but integration also meant that the tiny minority of unionize women couldn't develop their own leaders or Focus attention on their own issues within the larger Union in the late 19th century as more and more women were going into factories under horrible conditions. With chemicals that made them sick with machines that pulled out their hair and mutilated them. There was really nowhere to turn and so you have occasionally these spontaneous Outburst. I know that in the textile industry. This is true and it's true all the way in well into the twentieth century that an industry which is considered very hard to organize when workers reach a certain limit. The Outburst is very very strong incredibly militant for all the talk about how these workers don't want to organize their they're very militant infrequently in those big outbursts around 1920 in the late twenties in the 30s women LED them they would want thousands of them would lead walkouts of textile mills. Although organized attempts continued very little progress is made in organizing women until the Knights of Labor began in the 1880s. The knights was a self-proclaimed egalitarians organization, which sought to include women black people and immigrants and their organizing efforts the night lost out. However to the Rival American Federation of Labor whose concentration on only skilled workers mental defect that women and minorities were to be excluded from organizing efforts not until the Congress of industrial organizations. The CIO began in the 1930s did large numbers of women have the chance to join unions today's guests Sylvia woods with one of the early organizers who brought women into the CIO. The cio's drive to organize the unorganized gave the union movement a new radiology and a new energy happy as we can. But you took my labor. You took my home, but for God's sakes possibly May Union alone. I'm starving. I said I'm hungry just as hungry as I can be. Takes a rubber band stretch takes a cannonball to roll takes an organized group to not to catch a cold. It's a damn good thing I can get things done. World War II Men that women replaced men in the factories and join them in the Union's black women especially had a chance to do organizable industrial work rather than sticking to domestic labor or lower-paid lower-skilled service jobs, when the war ended union workers of all kinds suffered great setback women especially were driven back out of the factories and into the home not until the formation of the Coalition of labor union women clue in the early 1970s. Did any substantial organizing Drive of women, Begin Again? Do the work while I was gone. Somehow, I won't be wonderful won't it be grand? The little event anytime will get the ring. Sylvia Woods story is the story of the organizing Drive during the late thirties early forties Woods win from an incipient Union organizer in a Chicago laundry to the United Auto Workers official in a war plant hiring. Mainly women many black people with efforts to organize women in black people in her plant is indicative of the cio's efforts to organize the unorganized the success of her attempt is indicated by the fact that our Union was able to keep going for two years after the plant close fighting for severance pay and other post-employment benefits for their workers. Sylvia Woods. I had a kind of a hard time getting into a shop. I had come up from New Orleans. I was born and reared in New Orleans and I came to Chicago looking for a better way of life and I was all of 16 years old, but I was married and because you know young people get married young and the shop. I don't know if they still doing it, but we certainly would doing it then and I got a job in a laundry. And it was the first time in my life. I had a butt whooped. You know, I came from very strict family where girls didn't work, especially in public places, you know, they might need some friends that weren't just so so I couldn't but then I got this job in a laundry and I went to this laundry because it was in walking distance of where I lived and a big new in the city. I didn't know any place else to go. So the first morning I went through this man calls me up and he says he'll have you ever worked in laundry before and I said, no he said when you don't have to wait because we are only hiring experienced people and I was so let down because I just thought you just go then you get a job and my husband and I had great plans, you know, if get my own apartment and I really being grown up. So I went back home and the next morning. I went right back to the same place because I didn't know any place else to go and he looked at me. He said didn't I tell you yesterday that we won't let hiring experienced it and I said, yes, but I thought maybe you would change your mind. I thought you said I'm not changing my mind and I left I walk back home again not knowing any other place to go. I went back to Nick. And he said I'm going to hire you today. He said but if you don't get up and do that work, I will have no compunction about 5 and yell fire, you just like that and you had better be a hard worker when you learn the words. I was so excited about it. And I looked at all these big machinery you none. It was just something I never drink. What is this? But I learned to wear and inside of two weeks. I could do everything on that look like shaking out the clothes putting them on the phone is doing the manga so that I got in touch with this. I became very friendly with this head theater that's feeding the stuff in this mango and she was a white woman and I asked to wonder how much did she is and she said $18 a week. I said $18 How to get the 12 how is it that you getting 18? She said well, it's because I'm a feeder I said, well, I know how to be forgetting that I had just learned, you know, just the same I know how to feel as if I'm going to ask him for a raise and she said don't do it. So he's going to fire you don't ask him concern that I didn't lose the job. I said, oh, yes, and your no be in 16 years old. I said I'm going to ask him. So I asked him and he was a kind of a guy that you would ask him a question. He would have stopped that you have to follow him as he walked along and I said I want to raise that stopping. You know, he stopped dead in distracting looked around. I just hired you. What do you mean you got more nerve to get it stunned him you talk to use this little nothing, He said you don't know how to do anything. I said I can do everything on Netflix. He said I don't believe it. I don't believe it. So he walked away and I thought this is the end of it. So I'll ask him again tomorrow morning, but he came. Do the blonde little while after that and he went over to the boss and he said the does she know how to do everything on the floor in the box that she certainly does. He said. All right. Let me see you do it. Anyway, I showed him I could do everything and he was astounded so he gave me a raise. He didn't say anything but the next payday which was Thursday. He met me instead of me meeting him and he said you going to find a raise on your check and not you're not supposed to tell anybody don't mention it. I get the check and I'm getting $14. This was unheard of anybody ever get a raise. You mean you are hired at the pricing you died at that price or you could at that price but never erase and he told me that the minute I got my check I held it up in the air. Hey, look at everybody. I got a raise they didn't believe it. You know and everybody look at some of the women instead I said you should go and get my have to do is asking that's all I did they were angry with me because I don't see how he could give you a raise and you just I've been here two years. Cited what you should do is go and ask him for a raise and I will go with you. This was the beginning of my organizing ability. Really I found the organized these women to go to them to him to tell him that they should have erased took and they got it. From then on things that the war started after that I worked in the laundry for some years and then I decided I wanted to work in the wall plant and I go to this Bendix Aviation Corporation looking for a job and they were very selective about that hiring where blacks you know, what concern and I would and I live right around the corner from the plant again within walking distance and the guy said well, we're not hiring today and I'm sitting out in the in the personnel office in my handbag in these white girls, you know to take the job so I can say I went back home and I came back in the afternoon with a hat on doesn't have a hat on the morning and he looked at me and he said, you know, we would hire you but you're a little too heavy you your tooth that I would all of maybe 130 lb and so we can't hire you. So I'd go back home and the next day I put on a lot of makeup and go back again. And finally my girlfriend got hired he was going to hire me as As a maid clean up the washrooms, and I didn't want that kind of a job. I wanted to work in the plant on the machines. And so she got the job and there was one guy in personal. Just hired every black that came into the plant and she caught she went into him one day and said she had this friend who was looking for job in would he hire her and he said your heart tell her to come she took my name down put it on his desk where I live right around the corner. She ran out and called me up and I was there in 5 minutes and he looked up at me said who you said? Why did you get it? It's been standing outside. Anyway, he hired me and I went in and with the intention of helping to organize the place because I had a father who was a trade unions in New Orleans and he always instilled in US you see although he belong to an auxiliary. He didn't belong to the white Union. There was a white Union look like in Hebrew and he said no matter what kind of unit is. He said even though I'm not permitted to join the wife Union. We do have a union and so we make more money than any of the other workers in the city. He was at that time making $5 a day and that was a whole lot of money and he would not have made it had he not been organized. So I always in the back of my mind that was you must have an organization whatever you work that has to be Union. So that started my union activities when I went in there. I worked on the on the assembly line. We were assembling these carburetors for airplane Motors and I am good with my hands. I can work with my And so they usually gave an uninspected to work with you for two days, and I needed her for about maybe half that night and the other half. I told her she didn't need to help me anymore. I could do the work and I was doing my work in reaching over the line helping out my coworker sitting beside me, and she said have you ever done this before and I said know how you catching on so fast, but I just have a knack of of working with my hands and being able to use to and so I helped her so well, she said come on and go to the union meeting tonight. She said we'll come on long. Anyway, there's a tab and next door, and I'll buy you a drink and you know night workers have nothing else to do when you get off at 1 in the morning either go home and go to bed. So you don't have any recreational especially women. They go to bed. They have to get up get the children up off of school do the cook and clean up the house to get ready to go back to work that night. So you don't have any Recreation unless you Stop off, you know on your way to work that night. So she talked to me and that's okay. I'll go to the union meeting with you. So we went and the I took the floor in the union meeting to speak about a couple of things. I didn't think that the workers who are reporting of what they had done and getting workers to organize the union. I thought they had not been doing good job because these women were reporting that this worker said that they didn't want to join because what was it used when you get into the Union going to have to pay union dues and that takes money out of your paycheck if you don't join the union and they wouldn't say anything that would sell the Union to the woods and I became angry I said, how do you expect to organize? What do you tell the workers? When you go to them? Do you tell them how you going to fight that grievances? How you going to fight the better working conditions for more pay for four equal distribution of jobs. What do you say, you know, you just telling me what the work is a telling you I can't buy this so after I got through speaking right there. And I was elected to do it because I was able to you don't take the flu and speak and I think I signed up about three or four in the union that very night. Anyway, I stayed and kept my job at the next time. I was elected shop committeewoman. And the next time I was elected Financial secretary treasurer of the ya know where their problems was the guy with the management and strong Auntie Union or where they can stress though. It was drawing it took us maybe a year-and-a-half to really organized a plant and get the election, you know, really going in winning an election. What kind of things did the did you have to put up with was there violence against the people in the union or violence, but there were grievances that one settled. There was a lot of absenteeism among the women because of the fact that we were working 7 days a week 7 from Sunday to Sunday. Headboard because of the situation and because a lot of these women had never worked before and there was a lot of mistakes made on the parts, you know, and they would just really learning. It was the first time in the history of this country did so many women were working. Although they needed to you know, the job just weren't open to them and they had to go home after work. Like I said before and take care of the children and do the cooking and the and the children became ill and there was nobody to leave them with we did not have dinner service that was really the beginning of child daycare for children. So that mothers could work in a little piece of mind not having to worry about the children while they were on the job and so they would take the woman's cards out of the rack when they were late or absent and then they would put in another card that was pink you had to sign an excuse on this card saying Why you are not at work that day and we just got fed up with it, you know, so the first time I tried to tell them just put on the car that you're tired. That's why you didn't come in when you work 7 days a week, you know, and then you go home and you work another 7 days a week you're tired. You know, that's all there is to it. That's all you have to put that so they would do it and I stood the next time I take off I'm going to say I'm tired because the main reason I would take off would-be Union visit. I have to go to an arbitration case, you know something otherwise, I worked all the days so I came in that next day and night he had me the cotton up with them tired. And the phone was just blabbing. He said you can't put that down there. I can't put that kind of telling me. How do you say I don't care what he said? I can't take this car didn't give it to me. So evident. He took the cardia and Michelson didn't say anything. So every time somebody was off to just tired 7 days a week you work, you know, nobody can say you're not tired after working 7 days a week, so they stop taking the car. What about the racism within the union was there a problem with that? You said that they were management was more interested her and white women and black women problems that people got into the shop. You know, there was not much there was a little bit about incidents at this one time, you know, the two and die people are prima. Donnas, you know, they are the cream of the crop in the shop. Nothing moves unless it's too many people saw there was a little bit of they had the union had decided that they had to be some blacks in the Tool & Die, you know, we were paying union dues like everybody else and Satan should have representation in every part of the shop and the guys decided being instigated by one of the guys that they were not going to work with a black in the shop and sub like you'd come to be hiding he was experienced. He had learned the trade he gone to one of the trade school and they the guy said what they bring them in here we are. Leave so the we got to give the president of the local who was the young white woman and all of the Union officials and we decided we will see if they want to leave just let them leave. So we insisted that the guy be hired the only criteria of him not being hired is that he would not be able to do the work. He couldn't hold his end up if you could do that the job was opening so that it should be given to him. So they hired him and nobody left. Nobody left the shop and two months later the elected the guy stood so that if people really get to know each other, you know, the Prejudice just just just wipe away when you really get to know somebody and we found this out this happened in our Union that was one instance and that we had other that didn't play one of the reasons was we had a Union offices who were cognizant of the fact that that would be some people pushing, you know to cause disturbances and we just nipped in the bud right off. We said this is the way It is not and we would fight that it be right whatever. It was a conscious at that might have been a problem and an alert to fight against it, you know, some unions are conscious of it, but they don't do anything about it. They let it happen and we did not we had to on our executive board black and white, you know even that we had good people we really had good people and we had some people who are not so good but who learned who learned, you know, they had never been exposed to an atmosphere that what that taught that people, you know, we used to say that the the owners of this plant don't care anymore about 1 workers at all. They're interested in is seen at the plant runs and when they get ready to close it up with really happened, they don't say all the white workers will have a job and all the blacks in the Chicanos and the and the Menards will leave they just closed the plant up and you will be out of the job just to same as I Will be in you and they found this out because when the water and they did close the planner and we were able to call Union meetings, even 2 years after the plant was closed cause workers had learned that together is the only way you have to go on the only way you can go to win. You make it sound like it's just kind of went from from Wellington to another and everything kind of rolled along are there times when you were really frightened a really discouraged her or battles of a grievance is that we lost you know, because we insisted that if the grievance procedure in the shop, which was that when something happened you took it up with you stood and stood and the and the griever that was the work. I went to the foreman and if they couldn't sell it there than the Stuart and the griever went to the Personnel director. And if you couldn't settle it. Then it went to to the whole grievance procedure where everybody sit down and discuss it. You didn't sell it there then went to arbitration and if we would lose an arbitration case, we would be very very sad because we lost that case also we would be said if we didn't keep seat there was not such thing as a Who's check off, you know the workers have to pay the dues themselves to the Stuart and if a worker became angry at something that the union did that they did not think was. You know what? They would just knock and so you had this kind and I like that because it kept the union leaders on their toes, you know, you had to keep that shotgun. You can just go sit down in your office and stay there because you would end up not having you know, it wasn't his dues check-off and every month you sit and wait for the company to send you a check. It wasn't like that. If you didn't get that dude yourself, you just didn't get it. And so you would end up not having a union in the shop unless you were constantly organizing constantly organizing. And so this was a headache in the smallest little thing that happened the worker would become angrier not playing anymore. Do you know on that would be and then you'd have to talk to him and show him. Sometimes you did not win even with this worker. Like I remember I work and went down south. He was a southern guy who had come up here and loads of of of white Southerners black tooth, but the whites and the blacks came up to stay because they thought they'd make a better way of life in the north and I had gotten down socks but the wide work is his rule came to be able to save enough money to buy this land that they had been renting or sharecropping on. You know, they were going back to the south building like the cold they didn't like living in the high-rise buildings and wanted to be able to walk out of the door onto the land and then I went back to visit and he overstayed his time for some reason when he came back. He said the reason was that his mother became ill while he was that well, I'll contract said that if this happened you want to send a telegram to the company right away. This was a guy's first trip back home. He was so excited with meeting his family. You just forgot that saw when he came back. They reprimanded him gave him a three-day layoff and the union flooded. You cannot give him a three-day lay off if he says his mother was sick, as mother was sick. I mean we have to take his word, but we're not letting him take a 3-day of punishment for that. So we fought this guy and we got his job back. A little while after that something happened in the shop and he did not take sides with the union and we called him in and we sat down said we took sides with you, you know, when you went down south and you didn't get back on time. We were sympathetic we realized what had happened and we don't understand why it is that you're not side. I forget what the point was but that you against the Union in this and we pointed this out to hear you. See he had not stopped to think about you you would have been reprimanded for three days pay and you trying to save money to save up enough money to go back and buy that land you are three days paid because you would not have that so we convinced him and this guy turned out to be one of the best fighters for the Union in for the rights of black workers in that shop that I have ever seen, you know, which proves again that wouldn't let us get together and people learn to know each other. This stuff is just like the way you know you I forget like The Story Goes, you know, the little boy was going his first day to school. He made this friend came home. He told his mother I'm going to bring a friend home for lunch tomorrow and the mother became very concerned because it was a mixed school. And she said is he black or white and now he said I don't know. I don't know what color he was. I didn't see so the workers really forget what the color is where it is. It's just that you a human being and that whatever fix one affects the other and to make life better for everyone that has to be this this Brotherhood is not stupid and they learned this people learn this when they're not separated if they're together cuz you can't say to them. Nobody could tell this guy that I was not one of the best job committee women in the world not only in the country or in the city because he saw the kind of work I did, you know, but if we are separated you could tell him anything about me, you know, that's how it works for the Is how that different men and women did you ever feel that you had to deal with men that they didn't want to have a woman who is an executive position in the union yet? But you see the men were given Rd that we really didn't run into too much of this and that factor in that factory. That was the majority of women at that time. I'm sure that I had to plant lived that the other men would have come in and they would have wanted to take over. You know, I'm probably they would have I don't know but they couldn't have done it then. Nobody could have done it then because we were doing such a good job in the workers were right then they could see how we were fighting the Grievances how we had a good strong union and we not only took up grievances in the shop. We also took up Community grievances if anything happened in the community Union was right that like what like how is this is this is really a good in since the Catholic church was there and of course black with beginning to move into the community and they really work. Threat to the Catholic church, because most of them were Protestants, you know, and and the church felt that it was not going to last if blacks moved in because of that that Protestant beliefs, so the priest went around with a petition asking that blacks not be allowed to move of a certain Street. The street was kids it and that there would be a dividing line that one of the union members live just passed Kedzie and he went to her house with this petition. She was a good Catholic and said that the black should not be a lan Chi asking why Sidwell the property would appreciate if blacks moved in and she pointed out to him one of the places of the areas that she had to go to walk to work that blacks had moved in and they had made made the community so much better. They had planted grass had planted flowers. They just what new homebuyers, you know, because you were making enough money to make a down payment and that the changes she said so that I can show you right here in Sacramento Boulevard and Fulton Street what has changed since he's black people and it was not like that when the whites moved in with living that anyway, she brought it to the attention of the Executive Board of the union and a committee of us went to visit the priest. And we told him that he could not circulate that the industry's happened to be the Alderman's brother. So then we had to go to the all the money and then we call the press conference. And so this was dropped. And that church ever that it incidentally is still there still mad with the big church school and we supported when they come around with the donuts in the candy and whatever when the wedding to the a lot of my friends and that children that because they think the kids get a better education and Catholic school, which I differ with but the never the less they think that they send them so it's good to be there. How do you feel about how unions have changed the uaw's the one you were in a night at the house has changed over the years since we're over James. I really have changed the Forgotten from Wednesday came, you know, and that's why I think one of the results of a dude check off, you know, you don't have to worry about keeping on building in Union just sit and wait until the the company send you out the check that they forgotten the picket lines and how they had to work in the sit-down strikes and in the killings that happened people actually killed in beating up trying to organize the union so that it's altogether different but there is certainly a new wind blowing where the rank-and-file is beginning to take back that unit just in Chicago in the last couple of months. We've had a campaign wed sadlowski has been running now he lost this time but the hill Next time wear those rank-and-file is Black Caucus is has all kinds of of a rank-and-file workers beginning to see that they must take back their unions and and and really do the work of all the noise and there's some Rumblings up some organizing in the South again that that had been let out JP Stevens company has been on the strike for Lo these many many months, you know, and this is simply ridiculous. It does not have to pee so that it has changed greatly not for the benefit of the workers, but the workers are beginning to fight to take back that unions. Why do you think it happened? When do you remember people that you worked with saying in the UAW or people that you came in contact with Nu Union work that you could see already these attitudes of a kind of the bureaucracy of the Union taking over is it that you could already see that happening or didn't you have any idea that would happen when you were in the Union? I think it would happen when we were in the union when we was struggling but we saw it, you know little by little and like I like the really think I was disgusted with some Trade union people some time that it begin with the dues check-off. It just made it too easy. You know, I made it too easy and the smell was organized to combat the high cost of beat belonging to you in the AFL CIO out when they see I was first all the night the bills with $0.25 a week $1. We said that we cannot allow these big treasurer's to grow. You know, that people can have all this money to play around with $0.25 a week. Wonder what is it now something like twenty $25 a month of this kind of stuff is so you have all these great big trailer and people to play around with with all this money and the union officials making the $67,000 a year. And then we also used to say that are you know Union official can work. I've been two years then he has to go back into the shop and work so that he doesn't forget from whence he came and all of this has just gone by the board, you know, so these guys get fat and sloppy enough and living off all these great big salad, which I think is simply ridiculous. You know, they should make maybe a little bit more than the worker as far as I expect. So concerned in you to work longer hours Lord knows when that shop close. I was almost ready to have a nervous breakdown. In fact, the executive board had said I should come out of the shop not working the shop at all, but three months but not in the meantime, I would be promoting a dancer Christmas dance so that the local could do we have to always scrounge for money. Because you know the dude was so low that we did not have these big Treasures to play around with in these guys get into into big-time politics. They forget the needs of the workers, you know, and do the things that's that benefit of the guys are getting the right across from and I have no way of proving this but the sure looks that way. Organizing in the CIO. There were a lot of politicians that were involved. There were there was a Communist party in Minnesota. There was a farmer labor party and other parts of the country there were different kinds of Labor and socialist politicians people organizing these years and it was a communist and and I'm trying to think of his in the end Jonah Lewis when they decided that they were going to organize industrial workers. They said if you really want to organize this you and your better go and get William Z Foster who at that time was the head of the Communist party because those people are born organizes. They know how to organize and they're the ones that were headed the organized and drives and doing sit on Streisand and in so they are nice and they're the ones that said that the union do should be $0.25 a week. They're the ones that said that they should not be this big treasure is built up for people to play around with and get excited. They said they're the ones who said that everybody should work in the shop. Everybody should go to work and not sit in an office only for two years and then you go back into the shopping done it before cuz feel like electing you again, you know, they will but this is the way they said it should work at these are the people who brought both these ideas. They will not the one who said, you know, Is it had these big treasure isn't that you should have the play golf with the president have anybody be out playing golf with your aunt and worry about what's going on the shop. It's almost they don't even know what's going on in the shop cuz they're not that they're not even close to it. Certainly has changed your stories of your going into the laundry and going into the factory and just starting to talk to people to to what is half an hour. But you say that there is there is rank-and-file. We're going on in Chicago really do I think that people are getting fed up, you know what the unfinished grievances with nothing being done about their grievances not recognizing the need for no overtime and some work as a walk-in pounding the pavement and others are working 12-14 hours a day just doesn't make sense just doesn't make sense. And so the spirit of when you hurt one you hurt all has been forgotten. You know, we they forgotten that the bite is for the guy who's pounding the pavement and I cannot work 13 hours while you he his children are hungry or he's going to the relief Road and then he gets his head chopped off because he's asking for He's Caldwell patch Isla. will you ever involved in a strike or work stoppage or it's like I've had it at work. I was not in the shop, but I was helping it was a shopping Chicago called Wilson and not Wilson Jones Jones boundary. And this was a real struggle these people on this phone do what determined that they were not going to recognize the Grievances of these workers for higher wages and some of the other grievances in the shop that needed to be settled and they needed people to come a lot of scabs we're going in they have not done a good job of organizing the people before they decided to call the strike and also the company was writing letters, you know to the workers tell him to come back and they would give them so and so and some of the workers had fallen prey to this and gone back and they ask that We come out and help them. So when I got off of work that night, I went home took a little man. I got up. The next morning went on this Jones found your tickets on the line. Then he grabs me throws me in the in the patrol wagon to cut. So they take me to jail and went to the biggest police station in the city took us to 11th and state. That's the big District police station. They didn't do anything to us though, but we gave him a hard time. They were these old-fashioned Patrol wagons little bit of thinking things like a box and we go to the wrong one side to the other with all four and the guys driving. It was so scared. You know, we were going to make them have a reckoning by asking us not to do it. So they finally got it to the police station. They locked us up and they kept us for about three hours while I was tired because I had worked all the night before and I just went to sleep and finally I was awakened and they put us all in different cells so wouldn't be able to talk with we sang and songs like we shall not be moved and black and white together and Solidarity forever and they came to let us out and I said they can let us out. I heard when you go to jail is supposed to give you a coffee and donuts and we have we haven't had any coffee, That's what you mean you letting us out like you you can go now but we don't want to go we want to not coughing. Coughing bologna bologna sandwich. So we stayed till they gave us below his head and then let us all we never heard anymore. It was just to get us off the picket line. So the next morning we went back again and we marched and they finally won the strike, but that was the extent of my being I've been on many other picket lines, but that was the only time I went to jail. What are the ticket lines? So it was there any violence with This one because the police would put them in the patrol wagon. Everybody would jump out of the troll wagon and run and then have to catch him again and put them back in and wouldn't run away but I don't guess that was violent. See that was probably yeah just harassing the police but I was never in any way there was any violence. I just missed it though when a doctor King was here and he marked in the Bridgeport and there was violence that with rock-throwing and I remember one of the nuns on the line was beat up real bad and hurt. And I was going to go that night and something happened. Then I could not go and I said well tomorrow night I'll go but the next night they had called it off because it had been so much pounds is so much even dr. King was there that night? What happened to you after the shop closed? You said the union was going on for two years just to settle the Grievances and so on that they were piling up in terms of what was going to happen to the workers after the shop is closed. But where did you go after that? Well, I decided to become a nurse I became ill and I had to go into the hospital to have some surgery and it was the first time I'd ever been ill in my whole life. I was made the my late. There it is and I saw these nurses working us and for this is nice I would like to do this and then came this practical nurses program where you know, the breed didn't have nearly enough nurses to work in the hospitals in the nursing home while it was meant nursing homes than either but it wasn't enough nurses then I decide to become a nurse. So I took this practical nursing course by year you had to make the stable and I went to state board and then I worked as a nurse for a while Cook County Hospital, which is the biggest Hospital in, Illinois. Union when you were working as well, we did, you know, we had this Nurses Association and now we decided the association wasn't for us because we were workers, you know, and this was a thing that you just sat around and talked and we were for action and we got this this program was set up for the practical nurses to do work in homes, you know, like if somebody was sick in the home and then not to really work in hospital, but it just so happened that we were so good and I'm really bragging now. We really were turned out that we would just as good as as as as a registered nurse as we learned work and we had a dedication and we were used to work and you know, we were really workers and and you could get all kinds of in fact, they would call a practical for private duty case before they would call. Well the differential and wage to was one difference, but I think that the main difference was that. People felt that they were getting better treatment because I know I'm a real good nurse cuz I have a love for people and a sympathy. So what happened to feel this with that organization didn't really become organized as as an organization. There is an organization now there is but at that time and then it just came to the point where we were fighting for certain things with any of either. I'll Dept or this one hospital. It hadn't been a big organized and drive to organize nurses said they were just going along with this is Jose now there is And what has that the nurses just went back off stripe and I went down and show them Union maids and spoke of the history of the labor movement and its struggles in this country that young people don't know anything about they have no idea that this ever happened and usually when it's shown to a group of young people I could stay there all night answering questions because of something they didn't know about you and they have all kinds of questions and there are some places in it that shows of the evictions during the Depression. How people will put out on the street because they did not have money to pay the rent and it wasn't this big welfare system then you know, they just didn't have the money. So the landlord evicted them set them out how there was a struggle to put the furniture back in the house to raise money on the street, you know to pay People's rent and it's it's just a beautiful History of the struggle in this country were you involved other kinds of struggle other than Union activity in the depression or or later? I got working in the workers Alliance that there was an organization's organized for unemployed workers to help them get relief to help them raise money for the rent to help them visiting landlord not to put them out on the street. I ran for state representative for my area and then election struggles the first time I ran it took about 10,000 volts and and more important that we educated a lot of people, you know, it isn't the winning of something as such all the time. But what comes out of it, you know people learn the necessity of voting the necessity of who you vote for the necessity of a make. Being elected officials aware that they must work for the things that are good for the that constituency and in these kind of struggled in the community to to register voters, we had big registration drives and then right after the wall, we were fighting for you probably too young to remember the old PA it was office of price Administration and that said certain things could only be charged so much, you know that you can only charge so much rent. You can only charge so much they call it now a price freeze but it was called in the office of price Administration and we all can eyes the delegations to Washington to talk to Roosevelt to tell him that this Opa should be lengthened and it should not be stopped now, although it was. We didn't win that one. But in the meantime people learn that when you elect an official, it's your duty. To see that that he bolts right in the city council or wherever even in Congress or to the president, you know that he does the right thing things that are beneficial to to his constituency and from the president of the American people. Involved in so many things in Union activity in voter registration and in the unemployed council's in the in the OVA 1 Samuel us of how do you feel now that things that didn't turn out the way you wanted them to know because you see what you do is separate the good from the bad. What did you win? And what did you lose? You know and nine times out of ten you might not win what you went after but you have won something, you know, if no more than raising the conscious at the level of consciousness of these people with whom you worked. Did they learn anything? You know, did they learn Denise essity of fighting for the daycare centers in so maybe we lost the OPA but we got some daycare center cuz this was close to people's mind, you know, because the women had decided then that they wanted a better way of life. And in order to have this that both people had to work the husband and the wife, you don't knock that. They wanted to buy a new car that but for the necessities of life to save for the children. Education, you know to see that a child was not kept home this week from school because there wasn't enough money to buy the shoes this week. You will get them next weekend, but that he could get them whenever they were needed that they needed to work. And so out of this game the daycare center in and you know, you look at things like that and I feel very proud because I'm able to look at things in this light that I am not discouraged and how do you feel about the future in terms of the struggles that you've been involved in how what people have learned how that's going to fit into what happens in the future. It is beginning to fit in when I look at this movie. Then you wonder how these young people because the young woman. I think she's 32 years old that decided that this picture had to be had to be made you see she had done some reading and she found out that this so much of the history of this country that is not known, you know, so here she makes this picture and I think things are not dead and and the young people are B. Heading to come back again and do some things in a different way. They're not hitting the but they're doing other things for instant this movie which wherever it is shown is an inspiration to work cuz you know that that that that that you can win if you can win the history of this country is the is one of winning the working people when they are organized and have good leadership organizer Sylvia Woods music for the program came from Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard Sweet Honey in the Rock and the mountain musicians Cooperative technical director day selling. I'm Rachel Kranz. But I wonder will my hair be all turn gray before it turns out and lose a little bit of these. I am giving somebody else and leaving me. baby bear


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