Not pink teas The Seattle working class women s movement 1905 1918 (1).pdf

Not pink teas The Seattle working class women s movement 1905 1918 (1).pdf

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Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at Download by: [University of North Carolina Charlotte] Date: 02 January 2017, At: 13:01 Labor History ISSN: 0023-656X (Print) 1469-9702 (Online) Journal homepage: “Not pink teas”: The Seattle working-class women's movement, 1905–1918 Kathryn J. Oberdeck To cite this article: Kathryn J. Oberdeck (1991) “Not pink teas”: The Seattle working-class women's movement, 1905–1918, Labor History, 32:2, 193-230, DOI: 10.1080/00236569100890131 To link to this article: Published online: 28 Feb 2007. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 31 View related articles Citing articles: 1 View citing articles
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SEATTLE WOMEN 193 "NOT PINK TEAS": The Seattle Working-Class Women's Movement, 1905-1918 Kathryn J. Oberdeck* During the nineteen-teens, union men's wives and wage-earning women formed a vibrant working-class women's movement in Seattle, Washington. What is particularly striking is the way these women com- bined the women's organizations made available to them within the Seattle labor movement with the feminist discourse of the early 20th century "Woman Movement" to produce a local movement of their own. The achievements of the women who participated in this movement are especially impressive in that their organizational base- a group var- iously called the Women's Union Label League or Women's Card and Label League-- virtually institutionalized the circumscribed notion of women's place prevalent in Samuel Gompers' American Federation of Labor. As Seattle label leaguers transformed their league into an orga- nization devoted to the interests of working-class women laboring in and outside the household, they would find themselves repeatedly challenging this notion of women's place. Because of its peculiar organizational base, the Seattle movement provides an important new angle from which to view the much-lamented relations between working-class women and the early 20th century AFL. As Alice Kessler-Harris, Ruth Milkman, Meredith Tax, and Nancy Shrom Dye have all pointed out recently, AFL craft unions slighted the needs of women workers for a number of reasons. Women lacked the skills that would qualify them for trade union membership, and their concentration in the growing sector of low-paying, unskilled labor made them appear threatening to the skilled jobs that male trade- *Since I began work on this article, several people have offered valuable research suggestions and comments on early drafts. For suggestions on drafts circulated between 1985 and 1987, I would like particularly to thank Nancy E Cott, Jacqueline Dirks, Dana Frank, Maurine Weiner Greenwald, Regina Kunzel, David Montgomery, and Catherine Stock.
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194 LABOR HISTORY unionists had struggled to secure. Moreover, craft unionists deemed much of the early 20th century female workforce virtually unorganiz- able because its predominantly young, single members all too often viewed their current employment as temporary. Many women workers
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