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Rose Schneiderman

AKA Rachel Schneiderman

Born: 16-Apr-1882 [1]
Birthplace: Saven, Poland
Died: 11-Aug-1972
Location of death: New York City
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Female
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Lesbian
Occupation: Labor Leader, Activist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Union leader of the 1920s-'50s

Rose Schneiderman was an important force in the early 20th century's trade union and women's suffrage movements in America. She was born in Russian Poland, and immigrated to America with her family when she was a child. After her father's death her mother worked, but still her family faded into poverty and Rose and her siblings spent portions of their childhoods in an orphanage. She quit school at about age 13 to begin working, first as a salesgirl at a department store and then as a seamstress at a cap factory. Distressed by dangerous workplace conditions, she joined the United Cloth Hat and Cap Makers' Union and organized her workplace. She led a capmakers' strike in New York City in 1905, and in 1909-10 she led a strike of 20,000 shirtwaist makers, including protests at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory mere months before the horrific 25 March 1911 fire there, which killed 146 mostly women and immigrant workers. In the fire's aftermath she became an organizer for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, which sought to end dangerous work conditions for workers.

Elected President of the Women's Trade Union League (WTUL), she lobbied for an eight-hour workday, a national minimum wage, and improved workplace safety standards. Eleanor Roosevelt joined the WTUL in 1922, and the two women became close friends, which gave Schneiderman great access to increasing political power as Roosevelt's husband became Governor of New York in 1929 and President in 1933. Schneiderman's ideas became key points in Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal legislation, including the Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Social Security Act. She was appointed to FDR's National Recovery Administration, and wrote much of the its regulations for virtually all industries with predominantly female workforces. She later served six years as Secretary of Labor for the state of New York, enacting and enforcing further protections for workers. She was also involved in an international letter-writing campaign that helped rescue and resettle large numbers of European Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe. She retired from public life in 1950, and died in 1972. Her longtime companion, Maud Swartz, was a prominent labor activist, President of the WTUL from 1922 until Schneiderman succeeded her in 1926, and later a high-level official at New York's Department of Labor under Frances Perkins.

[1] Some sources cite 6-Apr-1882.

[2] She was a member of the Socialist Party in the 1900s, New York's Labor Party in the 1910s, ran for the Senate on the Farmer Labor Party ticket in 1920, supported Progressive Party Presidential candidate Robert M. La Follette in 1924, and worked with the American Labor Party in the 1930s.

Father: Samuel Schneiderman (tailor, d. 1892)
Mother: Deborah Rothman Schneiderman (seamstress, d. 1939)
Brother: Harold Schneiderman
Brother: Charles Schneiderman
Sister: Jennifer Schneiderman ("Jennie")
Girlfriend: Maud O'Farrell Swartz (labor activist, b. 3-May-1879, d. 22-Feb-1937)

    National American Woman Suffrage Association
    Women's Trade Union League President (1926-50)
    Wage Earnerís League for Woman Suffrage
    American Civil Liberties Union
    New York State Official Secretary of Labor (1937-43)
    US Official National Recovery Administration (1933-35)
    Naturalized US Citizen
    Jewish Ancestry
    Polish Ancestry
    Russian Ancestry

Author of books:
All for One (1967)

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