On 11 March 2013, SLAM and 70 percent of the approximately 112 nonmanagerial workers at the DoubleTree (housekeepers, banquet servers, front desk agents, van drivers, and Scullers Jazz Club employees) filed a petition stating their desire to be able to decide without the influence of hotel management whether or not to join Unite Here, which already represented Harvard’s dining hall employees.
On 14 October 2007, citizens of El Alto, Bolivia demanded that all bars and brothels facilitating sex work be located at least 3,200 feet away from schools, because they believed that the establishments were facilitating crime in the area. They then began a three-day rampage of the bars and brothels in the impoverished red-lights district of El Alto. These El Alto citizens, primarily parents and students, burned or destroyed at least 50 brothels, burned sex workers’ belongings, and beat sex workers.
Tuba Group factory workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, stood up against
exploitation in the summer of 2014. The company, in which five factories
made products for businesses like Walmart and H&M, had become
notorious in recent years for some of the lowest employee wages in the
world (about US $38 a month) and the 2012 “Tarzeen factory fire” that
killed 112 workers. Since February of 2014, Delwar Hossain, the owner of
the group, had been in jail for the workplace negligence that lead to
the tragedy. However, workers continued to face unfair treatment.
Bangladesh, located to the east of India, is a leading global garment manufacturer, producing clothing for such American companies as Gap, Walmart, and J.C. Penney. The Ready Made Garment (RMG) industry makes up 80% of the country’s exports and employs about 4 million Bangladeshis, 80% of whom are women. A survey published by the Japan External Trade Organization in December 2013 reported that Bangladesh garment workers earn nearly the lowest monthly wage in the world, second only to Myanmar.
In Brazil in
2000, the Margaridas, or Daisies, formed in honor of Margarida Maria Alves, a
union leader renowned for surmounting the embedded cultural stereotypes and
obstacles for women, especially those working in rural areas. Alves
became the president of the Rural Worker’s Union in her town, but was
reportedly assassinated in 1983, at the age of 50, because of her advocacy for
those working in rural or forested areas.
After her death, she became a feminist icon in the fight for equality
In Dagenham, East London, 54,813 men, and only 187 women worked in Ford’s flagship factory. The women there were classified as “unskilled workers,” though male employees performing the same or similar jobs were classified as “skilled workers.” As a result the men were on a higher pay scale than the women. Female employees of the factory were deeply upset when they learned this fact, and even more enraged when they discovered that teenage boy floor-sweepers were paid higher wages than they were.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory is best known for the unique fashion blouse they produced and the horrific fire that killed 146 workers, women who might have lived if the owners had been forced to ensure safety standards in the factory. Historically, the 1911 tragedy defined the Triangle workers as the victims of disaster.
Women market workers in Lagos, an area in western Nigeria, in the 1920s were organized into a powerful group known as the Lagos Market Women Association (LMWA). In 1932, a rumor emerged that the British colonial government was going to begin taxing Lagosian women, which had never been done before, although taxes for men had been introduced in 1927 (in spite of coordinated resistance by different groups). The market women felt that a tax was unfair and that they were already struggling to make a living.
In 1934 it had been a successful year for strikes in Milwaukee, which emboldened retail clerks at Sears, Roebuck and Company, and the Boston Store to demand higher wages. At the time most clerks earned below $14 a week, which they called “starvation wages.”
On March 3, 2006, Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmad Nazif announced that all public-sector manufacturing workers would be given an increase in their annual bonuses. The workers of Mahalla al-Kubra’s Misr Spinning and Weaving Company, the country’s largest public sector textile company employing 27,000 people, were overjoyed at the decree.
In 1956, Shell British Petroleum (now Royal Dutch Shell) discovered oil in what was then the British colony of Nigeria, and by 1958 commercial production had begun. Today, Nigeria has the tenth largest proven oil reserves in the world, is the tenth largest oil producer, and is the eighth largest oil exporter; yet nearly two-thirds of Nigerians live on less than $1.25 a day, 70% live below the national poverty line, and 83% live on less than $2 a day (each of those measurements place Nigeria in the bottom ten out of countries for which data is available).
There were many organizations dedicated to the realization of full women’s rights in Iceland in 1975, drawing from a history of previous women’s movements that dealt with the issues of suffrage, national independence, and equal rights. Such movements had lost momentum since the 1920s when groups of women had put together women’s slates for election to parliament and municipal governments.
In 1913, sixteen to eighteen percent of all women over fourteen in and around Barcelona worked in textile factories and related industries. Spinning and weaving workshops usually employed fewer than 40 women and these women worked eleven to twelve hour days. In contrast, male workers usually worked only ten-hour days. Male wages varied between 3 and 3.75 pesetas while female wages were between 1.75 and 2.50 pesetas, with few women earning over 2. Some women worked from the home, manufacturing corsets, paper boxes, shoes, and garments for employers who provided them with piecework.
As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women's children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!
- James Oppenheim (Used as the rallying cry for the movement)
The 1977-1978 economic justice and human rights campaign in Bolivia stemmed from tensions that began with the 1952 Bolivian Revolution, which left the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement in power. This group implemented a nationalization of the tin mines, agrarian reforms, and universal franchises. These policies and reforms lasted until 1964, when a military coup led to the regime of General Barrientos. This regime clashed with miners and broke down worker power and cultivated the peasantry.
In 1958 the women farmers of the Kom and Kedjom areas of the Western Grassfields, now part of modern day Cameroon, were angered by a number of changes which they interpreted as systematically decreasing the power of women farmers. These included the increasing frequency of the nomadic Fulani’s cows coming onto their fields and eating their crops, a law stating that they must switch to a new type of farming called contour cultivation, and rumors that that the KNC (the Kamerun National Congress, a political group that had aligned itself with Nigeria and in 1958 had secured nearly comple
In Houston, the largest cleaning companies paid their janitors an average of $5.25 per hour and did not provide health benefits. Meanwhile, in other cities the average salary for a janitor position was between $10-20 an hour and family health benefits were provided. The Service Employee’s International Union (SEIU), under the leadership of its president, Stephen Lerner, utilized the Justice for Janitors Campaign, which involved over 200,000 janitors in more than 28 cities across the United States, to fight to improve the working conditions and benefits for these workers.
Pilson, Chicago is home to a large community of Mexican immigrants, and is one of many low-income neighborhoods in Chicago with underfunded schools. In 2011, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) faced a deficit of around $712 million in funding for education, creating what seemed like a void in the resources available for many public schools. At the beginning of the new millennium, Whittier Elementary School was one of more than 150 public schools that lacked basic resources such as an adequate cafeteria, safe and maintained buildings, and a proper library.