Bread And Roses
From: Dick Meister
It was a hundred years ago that women textile workers in Massachusetts waged the strike for "bread and roses" that remains one of the most important strikes in American labor history.
"Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies, give us bread, but give us roses!"
That's from a poem by James Oppenheim, the battle cry of the thousands of striking women and their supporters who marched through the streets of Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1912, in the heart of the textile industry. Although it's been 100 years since they marched, their militancy and bravery remain among the brightest highlights in the long history of the American labor movement.
The three-months long strike in Lawrence, led by the Industrial Workers of the World – the IWW – pitted the 25,000 workers, half of them women under 20, many as young as 14 – against the violently anti-labor textile mill owners, who were strongly backed by the anti-labor press, politicians , school officials and clergy.
Striking was difficult for the workers. They had only their p...
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Intro and OutroINTRO:
Commentator Dick Meister recalls one of the most important strikes in labor history.OUTRO:
Dick Meister is a longtime labor and political journalist.