Cover image for Rights, not roses : unions and the rise of working-class feminism, 1945-80
Title:
Rights, not roses : unions and the rise of working-class feminism, 1945-80
Author:
Deslippe, Dennis A. (Dennis Arthur), 1961-
Publication Information:
Urbana : University of Illinois Press, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
x, 259 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Language:
English
Contents:
Beyond the doldrums : postwar organized labor and "women's issues, " 1945-63 -- Prospects for equality : union women, equal pay legislation, and national politics, 1945-63 -- The roots of discontent : gender relations in the United Packinghouse Workers, 1945-63 -- Accounting for equality : gender relations in the International Union of Electrical Workers, 1945-63 -- Organized labor, national politics, and gender equality, 1964-75 -- Rank-and-file militancy in the service of anti-equality : Title VII and the United Packinghouse Workers, 1964-75 -- "A genuine good faith effort" : women and equal employment opportunity in the International Union of Electrical Workers, 1964-80 -- Conclusion : from equality to equity.
ISBN:
9780252025198

9780252068348
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Although the most visible banners of feminism were carried by educated, white-collar, professional women, working-class women were themselves a powerful force in the campaign for gender equality. "Rights, Not Roses" explores how unionized wage-earning women led the struggle to place women's employment rights on the national agenda, decisively influencing the contemporary labor movement and second-wave feminism.

Drawing on union records, oral histories, and legislative hearings, Dennis A. Deslippe unravels a complex history of how labor leaders accommodated and resisted working women's demands for change. Through case studies of unions representing packinghouse and electrical workers, Deslippe explains why gender equality emerged as an issue in the 1960s and how the activities of wage-earning women in and outside of their unions shaped the content of the debate. He also traces the faultlines between working-class women, who sought gender equality within the parameters of unionist principles suchas seniority, and middle-class women, who sought an equal rights amendment that would guarantee an abstract equality for all women.

A thoughtful and thorough study of working-class feminism, "Rights, Not Roses" raises important questions about the meaning of equality for working women, the connections of women to their unions, the gendered nature of equal rights, and more.


Summary

Although the most visible banners of feminism were carried by educated, white-collar, professional women, in fact, working-class women were a powerful force in the campaign for gender equality. "Rights, Not Roses" explores how unionized wage-earning women led the struggle to place women's employment rights on the national agenda, decisively influencing both the contemporary labor movement and second-wave feminism. Drawing on union records, oral histories, and legislative hearings and debates, Dennis A. Deslippe unravels a complex history of how labor leaders accommodated and resisted working women's demands for change. Through case studies of unions representing packinghouse and electrical workers, Deslippe explains why gender equality emerged as an issue in the 1960s and how the activities of wage-earning women in and outside of their unions shaped the content of the debate. He also traces the faultlines between working-class women, who sought gender equality within the parameters of unionist principles such as seniority, and middle-class women, who sought an equal rights amendment that would guarantee an abstract equality for all women. A thoughtful and thorough study of working-class feminism, "Rights, Not Roses" raises important questions about the meaning of equality for working women, the connections of women to their unions, the gendered nature of equal rights, and more.


Author Notes

Dennis W. Deslippe is an associate professor of American studies and women's and gender studies at Franklin and Marshall College. He is the coeditor of Civic Labors: Scholar Activism and Working-Class Studies


Reviews 2

Choice Review

Based on Deslippe's PhD dissertation, this book offers labor and women's historians a thoughtful and balanced analysis of gender issues in industrial unions. Specifically, Deslippe (Australian National Univ.) examines how and why AFL-CIO unions came to support the Equal Pay Act and in so doing, to reject protective legislation. More importantly, this book analyzes the very different responses of two unions, the "confrontationalist" United Packinghouse Workers of America and the "accommodationist" International Union of Electrical Workers, to the opportunities presented by Title VII. Explicit comparison permits the author to assess the relative roles played by circumstances particular to the union and the industry. This volume builds on Nancy Gabin's outstanding Feminism in the Labor Movement: Women and the United Auto Workers, 1935-1975 (CH, Mar'91) and would be an excellent addition to labor and women's history collections, upper-division undergraduate through professional. D. Lindstrom; University of Wisconsin--Madison


Choice Review

Based on Deslippe's PhD dissertation, this book offers labor and women's historians a thoughtful and balanced analysis of gender issues in industrial unions. Specifically, Deslippe (Australian National Univ.) examines how and why AFL-CIO unions came to support the Equal Pay Act and in so doing, to reject protective legislation. More importantly, this book analyzes the very different responses of two unions, the "confrontationalist" United Packinghouse Workers of America and the "accommodationist" International Union of Electrical Workers, to the opportunities presented by Title VII. Explicit comparison permits the author to assess the relative roles played by circumstances particular to the union and the industry. This volume builds on Nancy Gabin's outstanding Feminism in the Labor Movement: Women and the United Auto Workers, 1935-1975 (CH, Mar'91) and would be an excellent addition to labor and women's history collections, upper-division undergraduate through professional. D. Lindstrom; University of Wisconsin--Madison