Introduction to <i>United Apart: Gender and the Rise of Craft Unionism</i>
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DeVault, Ileen A.
[Excerpt] The American Federation of Labor entered the twentieth century ensconced as the primary vehicle for the nation's organized workers. As such, the attitudes of the AFL toward women workers provided the basis for virtually all later attempts at organizing women. The cross-gender strikes that are the basis of this book illustrate both the ways in which men and women would move forward united and the ways in which they would remain apart. That both females and males could at times feel drawn together and at other times feel driven apart, and carry both those feelings into their actions and their organizations, is the ultimate lesson I hope this book conveys. That workers strove to unite in strike situations is an old lesson taught by labor history; that they often fragmented along lines of gender, race, ethnicity, or other categories is a lesson often hammered home by the new labor history. Both these tendencies are evident in the strikes discussed in this book, and the reverberations of those tendencies appear in the very structure of the unions that attempted to mold their members' fragmented experiences into a sense of national unity.
labor movement; gender; labor history; strikes; craft unionism
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