The Trade Union Woman
433 Pages
English
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The Trade Union Woman

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433 Pages
English

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Trade Union Woman, by Alice HenryThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online atwww.gutenberg.netTitle: The Trade Union WomanAuthor: Alice HenryRelease Date: March 3, 2004 [EBook #11424]Language: English*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE TRADE UNION WOMAN ***Produced by Josephine Paolucci and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.[Illustration: A Factory or a Home?]THETRADE UNION WOMANBYALICE HENRYMEMBER OF OFFICE EMPLOYÉS' ASSOCIATION OF CHICAGO. No. 12755. ANDFORMERLY EDITOR OF LIFE AND LABORILLUSTRATED1915TOTHE TRADE UNION WOMEN OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADAPREFACEThis brief account of trade unionism in relation to the working-women of the United States has been written to furnisha handbook of the subject, and to supply in convenient form answers to the questions that are daily put to the writerand to all others who feel the organization of women to be a vital issue.To treat the subject exhaustively would be impossible without years of research, but meanwhile it seemed well tofurnish this short popular account of an important movement, in order to satisfy the eager desire for informationregarding the working-woman, and her attitude towards the modern labor movement, and towards the nationalindustries in regard ...

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Trade Union
Woman, by Alice Henry
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at
no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.
You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the
terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
Title: The Trade Union Woman
Author: Alice Henry
Release Date: March 3, 2004 [EBook #11424]
Language: English
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG
EBOOK THE TRADE UNION WOMAN ***
Produced by Josephine Paolucci and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team.
[Illustration: A Factory or a Home?]THE
TRADE UNION WOMAN
BY
ALICE HENRY
MEMBER OF OFFICE EMPLOYÉS'
ASSOCIATION OF CHICAGO. No. 12755. AND
FORMERLY EDITOR OF LIFE AND LABOR
ILLUSTRATED
1915TO
THE TRADE UNION WOMEN OF THE UNITED
STATES AND CANADAPREFACE
This brief account of trade unionism in relation to
the working-women of the United States has been
written to furnish a handbook of the subject, and to
supply in convenient form answers to the questions
that are daily put to the writer and to all others who
feel the organization of women to be a vital issue.
To treat the subject exhaustively would be
impossible without years of research, but
meanwhile it seemed well to furnish this short
popular account of an important movement, in
order to satisfy the eager desire for information
regarding the working-woman, and her attitude
towards the modern labor movement, and towards
the national industries in regard to which she plays
so essential a part. Women are doing their share
of their country's work under entirely novel
conditions, and it therefore becomes a national
responsibility to see that the human worker is not
sacrificed to the material product.
Many of the difficulties and dangers surrounding
the working-woman affect the workingman also,
but on the other hand, there are special reasons,
springing out of the ancestral claims which life
makes upon woman, arising also out of her
domestic and social environment, and again out of
her special function as mother, why the condition
of the wage-earning woman should be the subject
of separate consideration. It is impossible todiscuss intelligently wages, hours and sanitation in
reference to women workers unless these facts are
borne in mind.
What makes the whole matter of overwhelming
importance is the wasteful way in which the health,
the lives, and the capacity for future motherhood of
our young girls are squandered during the few brief
years they spend as human machines in our
factories and stores. Youth, joy and the possibility
of future happiness lost forever, in order that we
may have cheap (or dear), waists or shoes or
watches.
Further, since the young girl is the future mother of
the race, it is she who chooses the father of her
children. Every condition, either economic or social,
whether of training or of environment, which in any
degree tends to limit her power of choice, or to
narrow its range, or to lower her standards of
selection, works out in a national and racial
deprivation. And surely no one will deny that the
degrading industrial conditions under which such a
large number of our young girls live and work do all
of these, do limit and narrow the range of selection
and do lower the standards of the working-girl in
making her marriage choice.
Give her fairer wages, shorten her hours of toil, let
her have the chance of a good time, of a happy
girlhood, and an independent, normal woman will
be free to make a real choice of the best man. She
will not be tempted to passively accept any man
who offers himself, just in order to escape from alife of unbearable toil, monotony and deprivation.
So far, women and girls, exploited themselves,
have been used as an instrument yet further to
cheapen and exploit men. In this direction things
could hardly reach a lower level than they have
done.
Now the national conscience has at length been
touched regarding women, and we venture to hope
that in proportion as women have been used to
debase industrial standards, so in like degree as
the nation insists upon better treatment being
accorded her, the results may so react upon the
whole field of industry that men too may be sharers
in the benefits.
But there is a mightier force at work, a force more
significant and more characteristic of our age than
even the awakened civic conscience, showing itself
in just and humane legislation. That is the spirit of
independence expressed in many different forms,
markedly in the new desire and therefore in the
new capacity for collective action which women are
discovering in themselves to a degree never known
before.
As regards wage-earning working-women, the two
main channels through which this new spirit is
manifesting itself are first, their increasing efforts
after industrial organization, and next in the more
general realization by them of the need of the vote
as a means of self-expression, whether individual
or collective.Thus the trade union on the one hand, offering to
the working-woman protection in the earning of her
living, links up her interests with those of her
working brother; while on the other hand, in the
demand for the vote women of all classes are
recognizing common disabilities, a common
sisterhood and a common hope.
This book was almost completed when the sound
of the war of the nations broke upon our ears. It
would be vain to deny that to all idealists, of every
shade of thought, the catastrophe came as a
stupefying blow. "It is unbelievable, impossible,"
said one. "It can't last," added another. Reaction
from that extreme of incredulity led many to take
refuge in hopeless, inactive despair and cynicism.
Even the few months that have elapsed have
enabled both the over-hopeful and the despairing
to recover their lost balance, and to take up again
their little share of the immemorial task of
humanity, to struggle onward, ever onward and
upward.
What had become of the movement of the
workers, that they could have permitted a war of
so many nations, in which the workers of every
country involved must be the chief sufferers?
The labor movement, like every other idealist
movement, contains a sprinkling of unpopular
pessimistic souls, who drive home, in season and
out of season, a few unpopular truths. One of
these unwelcome truths is to the effect that theworld is not following after the idealists half as fast
as they think it is. Reformers of every kind make
an amount of noise in the world these days out of
all proportion to their numbers. They deceive
themselves, and to a certain extent they deceive
others. The wish to see their splendid visions a
reality leads to the belief that they are already on
the point of being victors over the hard-to-move
and well-intrenched powers that be. As to the
quality of his thinking and the soundness of his
reasoning, the idealist is ahead of the world all the
time, and just as surely the world pays him the
compliment of following in his trail. But only in its
own time and at its own good pleasure. It is in
quantity that he is short. There is never enough of
him to do all the tasks, to be in every place at
once. Rarely has he converts enough to assure a
majority of votes or voices on his side.
So the supreme crises of the world come, and he
has for the time to step aside; to be a mere
onlooker; to wait in awe-struck patience until the
pessimist beholds the realization of his worst fears;
until the optimist can take heart again, and reviving
his crushed and withered hopes once more set
their fulfillment forward in the future.
In spite of all, the idealist is ever justified. He is
justified today in Europe no less than in America;
justified by the ruin and waste that have come in
the train of following outworn political creeds, and
yielding to animosities inherited from past
centuries; justified by the disastrous results of
unchecked national economic competition, when