Rose Schneiderman – This Week’s “Profile in Jewish American Heritage”

Rose Schneiderman was a legendary organizer of women workers, once saying,

What the woman who labors wants is the right to live, not simply exist — the right to life as the rich woman has the right to life, and the sun and music and art. You have nothing that the humblest worker has not a right to have also. The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too

The first of four children born into a religious, Jewish family, Ms. Schneiderman began organizing female factory workers in the garment industry in 1903. She was elected Vice President of the Women’s Trade Union League in 1908. After the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, in which 146 garment workers were burned alive or died jumping from the ninth floor of a factory building, she addressed a memorial meeting saying,

I can’t talk fellowship to you who are gathered here. Too much blood has been spilled. I know from my experience it is up to the working people to save themselves. The only way they can save themselves is by a strong working-class movement.”