Educated, white collar professional women carried the most visible banners of feminism. But working class women were a powerful force in the campaign for gender equality. Dennis A. Deslippe explores how unionized wage-earning women led the struggle to place women's employment rights on the national agenda, decisively influencing both the contemporary labor movement and second-wave feminism.
Deslippe's account unravels a complex history of how labor leaders accommodated and resisted working women's demands for change. Through case studies of unions representing packinghouse and electrical workers, Deslippe explains why gender equality emerged as an issue in the 1960s and how the activities of wage-earning women in and outside of their unions shaped the content of the debate. He also traces the fault lines separating working-class women--who sought gender equality within the parameters of unionist principles such as seniority--from middle-class women--who sought an equal rights amendment that would guarantee an abstract equality for all women.
Thoughtful and detailed, "Rights, Not Roses" offers a new look at the complexities of working-class feminism.