|← Working Mothers||Provincial Offences Act →|
1.) According to the author, why were women thought to be difficult to organize?
According to Alice-Kessler -Harris, women do not join trade unions because of their family responsibilities. Statistics show that fewer women join trade unions than men. In the 1900, women joined certain trade unions in their industries. There are certain reasons for this difficulty in unionizing women in labor force. One of them is that women believed that their work place should be in the family. In fact, majority of the female workers were eager to get married in order to keep away from the factory or their work places. The population of these working women consisted of a group that was below 25 years and those that were above that age. Upon marriage, they engaged in less-skilled jobs and worked in places that had no trade unions. Moreover, most women worked in small organizations such as tobacco industries, shoe industries and laundries.
2.) What one factor proves the notion in the previous question to be false, according to the author?
However, the number has been reducing drastically. Keller states that more women joined trade unions in 1900 than men (Kessler-Harris, 1975). Though, the numbers again rose in 1920 that it quadrupled according compared to those of the men. In spite of the increase, women in trade unions remained few. According to an investigation conducted five years after this, situation had not improved. Therefore, Keller and other analysts resolved that unionizing women is extremely inconvenient.
On the contrary, Keller says that the above reason has proved to be unreliable in that women's decline in trade union membership, resulted from a general decrease in the trade unionism. She also objects the idea of the traditional roles of women as a barrier to the trade unions (Kessler-Harris, 1975). Women membership in trade unions increased due to the reduction in the household workers. Furthermore, women only require assurance by taking up more committed jobs than the others. She argues that women realized the importance of unionism as they have been beneficial to male workers.
Moreover, Keller asserts that women gradually got interested in the unions as they had foreseen their benefits. Consequently, they desired to act like the men folk. For example, there is a case involving women who led demonstrations as they fought for workers' rights. Women also campaigned for the incorporation of women in leadership.
3.) Explain the two contradictory positions trade unions took toward women being in the labor force.
The trade unionists had certain contradicting views on women's participation. First, they feared that women would cause the men's work. In spite of their claim, the unionists knew that women played a key role in the economy. Therefore, they planned to base their claims on non economic issue in challenging women unions. The unions also promised to unionize female employees and remove the same pay for them. Furthermore, the trade unionists found it to be unnecessary for women to seek employment since they are perfect in home care.
At some point, women were forced out of the labor force with claims that they belonged to the home. Men argued forcing women into the labor force signifies a low regard to them. Furthermore, they claimed that men should be paid adequately so as to keep their women at home (Kessler-Harris, 1975). The trade unionists' idea was that women are dependant of their men; hence there is no need of employing them. For instance, an official in Boston claimed that employment of women is a crime to the families.
4.) What overall effect did this have on the working class as a whole?
Consequently, the women were indirectly excluded in the labor force by reducing their involvement in the union's discussions. In fact, the union did not address women's salary increments as they did for the male workers. As a result, the women developed negative attitude towards work, meetings and men. They reluctantly attended meetings, and even if they did, they did not contribute to the discussions. The men, in turn, exempted them form leadership positions; hence discouraging them form attending any meetings. This situation had a negative impact on the labor force. Women who had actively contributed to the economy had been discouraged from work. Therefore, the men became less-productive as the women searched for other jobs elsewhere. Some became clerks while others became secretaries.
5.) Describe some specific examples of how women were excluded from unions. How did employers exploit the situation?
Women were excluded in the union in certain ways including failure by the male unionists to discuss their salary issues. They only focused on their wages and let the women's work affairs out of their discussions. Moreover, women were excluded from the leadership roles in the unions. In stead, the men folk took up all the leadership positions. Consequently, women lost interest in the union meetings and membership. The employers utilized the situation running the organizations the way the wanted. Since women had been forefront in the demonstrations, their exclusion from the unions directly benefited the employers. They were then capable of manipulating the unions' activities.
6.) How did the idea of "home and motherhood" come back to bite the labor movement
Evidently, women have never failed to organize since there were trade unions as early as 1900. However, men believed that women failed to organize since their place is in the home and that they are dependent on men. However, exclusion of women from the labor force affected the economy negatively. It is imperative that women are incorporated in the labor force since they are equally productive.