This article originally appeared in the March 2014 Industrial Worker and is signed by the IWW Gender Equity Committee
The Gender Equity Committee (GEC) is both honored and excited to reflect on the impact working women have had on the labor movement and working-class struggle, contributing to the creation of International Women’s Day (IWD).
IWD, for more than a century, has been and continues to be a day of working-class women’s resistance and organizing, bridging the women’s movement and the working-class labor movement.
IWD dates back to the garment workers’ picket in New York City on March 8, 1857, when women workers demanded a 10-hour workday, better working conditions, and equal rights for women. Fifty-one years later on March 8, 1908, a group of New York needle trades women workers went on strike in honor of their sisters from the garment workers’ strike of 1857, where they demanding an end to sweatshop and child labor, and the right to vote. In 1910, at a meeting of The Second International, German socialist Clara Zetkin proposed that March 8 be celebrated as International Women’s Day to commemorate both previously mentioned strikes and lay a fertile ground for working women’s resistance and organizing across the globe.
Two years later, in 1912, Wobblies went on strike at a textile mill in Lawrence, Mass., commonly referred to as the “Bread and Roses” strike. The strike was led by a contingent of mostly women and immigrants in response to the bosses cutting their wages following the passage of a new state law reducing the maximum hours in a work week. While this strike did not occur on March 8, it did occur in the spring and its message has since sparked many other direct actions in which working-class people have demanded the need for both the necessities in life as well as some of “the good things of life.” “Bread and Roses” has continued to be a common theme for the working class on IWD.
On IWD in 1917, a group of striking women textile workers in Petrograd, Russia sparked the Russian Revolution and urged their husbands and brothers to join them. They mobilized 90,000 workers to demand bread and an end to war and Tsarist repression.
Since the early 1900s, workers have, first and foremost, used IWD as a day to resist and organize together and second to celebrate the hard fought struggles of working people all across the world. Many countries—including Afghanistan, Cuba, Vietnam, and Russia—celebrate March 8th as an official holiday.
The GEC believes this kind of struggle is important, and the true working-class roots of IWD must not be forgotten. We must not allow its history to be diluted by a bourgeois agenda, much the way Labor Day has replaced May Day as the widely celebrated working-class holiday in the United States. It is crucial that we continue forward, in similar spirit of our sisters who went on strike in 1857 and 1908, fighting to abolish patriarchy and sexism alongside capitalism, as both systems of oppression and exploitation are deeply intertwined.
Therefore, the GEC supports the struggle for gender equity in our union, workplaces, and the world at large. The five voting members of the GEC—elected at the IWW General Convention each year—communicate with each other as well as other members through the GEC listserv, offering their experiences, resources, and solidarity. Any member is welcome to join. If you are interested please visit http://lists.iww.org/listinfo/genderequity. Because we recognize that our own union is sometimes the source of gender-based violence and inequity, we are here to seek out and/or offer resources for peer mediation, conflict resolution, anti-sexism training, literature, consent training and direct actions. Our aim is to foster an atmosphere of inclusiveness in the labor movement and the IWW in particular.
Four workers at Insomnia Cookies’ Cambridge store went on strike on August 19, protesting poverty pay and wretched working conditions, and demanding $15/hr, health benefits and a union at their workplace. The company illegally fired all four. For the next six months strikers, IWW members, allies, and student organizations at both Harvard and Boston University held pickets, marches, rallies, forums, phone blitzes, and organized boycotts, while workers continued organizing at both the Cambridge and Boston locations. The union also pursued legal charges through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
On March 3, a company representative signed an agreement promising almost $4,000 in back pay to the four strikers (two of whom had given notice before going on strike; and all of whom had moved on to more rewarding jobs or pursuits). The company also agreed to post a notice in the Cambridge store, promising not to fire or otherwise retaliate against workers for taking collective action, including joining the union and going on strike. The company was also made to revise a confidentiality agreement that improperly restricted workers’ rights to discuss their conditions of employment with one another and third parties (including union organizers and the media). All references to the terminations have been removed from strikers’ personnel files.
“Since the first utterance of the word ‘strike’ that late August night, it has been an uphill battle for all of us,” says striker Chris Helali. “The Industrial Workers of the World answered the call when no other mainstream union was interested in organizing a small cookie store in Harvard Square. We picketed, we chanted, we sang. I thank my fellow workers, the IWW and all of our supporters for their continued work and solidarity through this campaign. I am proud to be a Wobbly!”Jonathan Peña says.
The IWW vows to continue organizing efforts at Insomnia Cookies. Helali says, “I am extremely pleased with the settlement, however, it does not end here. This is only the beginning. The IWW along with our supporters will continue to struggle until every Insomnia Cookies worker is treated with respect and given their full due for their labor. There is true power in a union; when workers come together and make their demands unified voices and actions.”
This girl should get an award!
Or maybe a job in the movies and then win tons of awards.
ARE YOU TELLING ME THAT’S NOT JOHNNY DEPP
thats not a woman, thats a transformer
This is pretty damn hot.
Human beings are funny. They long to be with the person they love but refuse to admit openly. Some are afraid to show even the slightest sign of affection because of fear. Fear that their feelings may not be recognized, or even worst, returned. But one thing about human beings that puzzles me the most is their conscious effort to be connected with the object of their affection even if it kills them slowly inside.Sigmund Freud (via psych-facts)
Well, you know…shit.
why would you pay someone for 26-51 weeks for doing nothing
you have a very, very odd definition of “doing nothing”.
*doing nothing that benefits the employer.
*except providing the unpaid labor that makes day to day life possible and raising the next generation of people with whom the employer will have to interact and rely on.
The one thing that makes racist white people with an agenda uncomfortable is a person of color who does not embrace the fear of them like we did in the old days.
So when they “feel” threatened, which is really just alternative for them really saying that they are uncomfortable and inconvenienced by us, they think that it is okay to eliminate us they feel justified.
But this could easily be eliminated by forcing people to realize that their actions are in fact racist, in motive and execution.
We can easily identify a hate crime if it is against women, gay or trans people, and muslims but why is it muddy when it comes to black people?
Because we have an institutionalized idea of racism against black people. Society has programmed itself to be okay with our murders, or lynchings, and our rapes.
And the sooner we realize this and the sooner we stop saying “this isn’t a race issue” and starting treating it like it is, the sooner black people stop dying for stupid reasons like having our music too loud.
If you’re unemployed, it’s not because there isn’t any work.
Just look around: A housing shortage, crime, pollution; we need better schools and parks. Whatever our needs, they all require work. And as long as we have unsatisfied needs, there’s work to be done.
So ask yourself, what kind of world has work but no jobs? It’s a world where work is not related to satisfying our needs, a world where work is only related to satisfying the profit needs of business.
This country was not built by the huge corporations or government bureaucracies. It was built by people who work. And, it is working people who should control the work to be done. Yet, as long as employment is tied to somebody else’s profits, the work won’t get done.
Was expecting classist bullshit, got the exact opposite
This is so ubelievably important and I hate that I have to keep re-explaining it to people.
Spikerack organizing a Spikerack