Rose Schneiderman, a diminutive figure with flaming red hair, is the Joan of Are of the American working girl.
Years ago she had a vision of a powerful union of women in trade. Today that dream is realized in the National Women’s Trade Union League, of which she is president.
It took many a battle against tyrannical bosses, phlegmatic Congressmen and most of all the deadly “laissez faire” attitude of the working girl herself to bring about the present comparatively satisfying standard of wages and conditions among women in industry.
In an interview at her quarters in the A. W. A. Clubhouse Miss Schneiderman described the purpose of the organization.
“Fundamentally,” she explained, “it aims to organize the unorganized women in industry through education. At our clubhouse at 247 Lexington avenue, opportunities for education and recreation are furnished gratis. The women are trained not only in cultural subjects, such as English, economics and history, but in the art of public speaking as well, to fit them for leadership in trade unions.
THE LEAGUE COOPERATES
“The League cooperates with the unions in their struggle to improve the women’s living and working conditions. It initiates and supports progressive and labor legislation in their behalf and acts as interpreter of their problems to the community and to legislative branches of the government.”
Miss Schneiderman praised enthusiastically Mrs. Roosevelt’s sympathetic attitude towards the working women. The President’s wife is a League member herself and has been very active in behalf of the organization.
“Mrs. Roosevelt has always helped us with anything we have asked her to do,” declared Miss Schneiderman. “Her loyalty to the trade unions is a great influence for us in public and her understanding of conditions as they affect wage earners is astounding.”
In reference to the NRA, Miss Schneiderman emphasized the fact that due to the increase in the number of workers, the women’s trade unions have gained approximately one million more members since last year.
Rose Schneiderman is averse to discussing the personal side of her life. Her heart lies in her work alone. But it is known that her biography reads like a story by Horatio Alger. It is a series of conquests over apparently insurmountable difficulties.
She came to this country from Russia at the age of ten. Before she had time to finish her public school education she was forced to seek work in a cap factory. There she began her first battle for improvement of conditions among women in industry.
First she organized her own branch of the Cap Workers’ Union. Here she served as secretary, treasurer and member on the executive board, utilizing her noon and evening hours for the purpose. Meantime she slaved ten hours a day at a sewing machine.
In 1906 she began organizing for the Women’s Trade Union League and became its vice-president. She took part in a strike of thirty thousand shirt waist makers, helped speak for them and raised funds. She assisted in forming the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, labored arduously for women’s suffrage in New York State, attended the Peace Conference in Paris to present recommendations from the American working women, and later traveled to Vienna as delegate to the International Congress there.
HELPED ORGANIZE LABOR PARTY
In 1920 she helped organize the Labor Party in New York City and ran as candidate for the United States Senate on the Farmer Labor Party ticket. Eight years ago she became president of the National Women’s Trade Union League. Now she is a member of the Advisory Committee to the Secretary of Labor and a member on the Labor Advisory Board under the NRA. These are just a few of her activities.
About the working women of America today, Rose Schneiderman has this to say:
“Marriage is no longer a cure-all for them. Women’s place in industry is now permanent. They must organize like men. For organization is their only salvation!”