Rose Schneiderman[]

Rose Schneiderman (1882-1972) was a U.S. labor union leader who fought for equal rights and equal pay for women labor workers.



Early Childhood[]

Rachel Rose Schneiderman was born Jewish in Saven, Poland to Samuel and Deborah Schneiderman on April 6th, 1882.1 5 Her father was a skilled tailor and her mother “did a little bit of everything; she took in sewing, baked ritual bread, sewed uniforms for the Russian Army, treated the sick with herbal medicines, and even tended the bar at a local inn when the barkeep was too drunk to do it herself”.

Her parents were both strong supports of educated women and so saw to it that Schneiderman was enrolled in heder, or Jewish primary school. When she was six the family moved to Chelm so that Schneiderman could continue her education at Russian public school.1 2

In 1890 the Schneidermans moved to New York. Within two years Schneiderman's father died of meningitis “leaving his family in a dire economic condition”. Deborah Schneiderman desperately tried to make ends meet in the wake of her husband's death but being pregnant there was only so much that taking in boarders and home sewing could do.1 2Schniederman was forced to leave school at nine in order to support her siblings while her mother worked.2 In the end, even this was not enough and Deborah was forced to place the children in an orphanage for a time while she worked. 12

At thirteen Schneiderman was forced to leave school and help her mother support the household. Despite her limited education, Schneiderman "self-educated and remained an avid reader all her life".

Early Career[]

Schneiderman's first job was as a cashier and sales girl in a department store.3 Her mother "begged," for her to get this job, feeling that it was more "respectable" than factory work. This was an issue of the time in that it was well known that sexual harassment was common in factory work, and the overall environment was more "pleasant".1 This "obsession with respectability" she adopted from her mother became a hindrance to Schneiderman later in life, "shaping and limiting her political choices".

Schneiderman only kept this job for three years2 before she left, asking a friend to teach her how to make caps1 and moving into the garment industry4. This line of work was more dangerous4 and "Schneiderman quickly grew frustrated by the gender hierarchy in her shop that reserved the best-paying positions for men while relegating women to the worst jobs. When she expressed her frustration, more seasoned women workers began to teach her about three political ideologies that would change her life: trade unionism, socialism, and feminism." She felt that the girls needed something similar to what the men had in terms of protection from "bad pay, continuous pay cuts and very long hours".

That's why in 1903 Schneiderman "organized her first union shop": Jewish Socialist United Cloth Hat and Cap Makers' Union. It was here that Schneiderman began her work as a union leader and advocate for working women's rights and safety in the workplace.

Later Career []

With the development of her union shop, Schneiderman displayed her strong orating prowess, soon known even to her enemies as the "Red Rose of Anarchy". Starting with the Jewish Socialist United Cloth Hat and Cap Makers' Union Schneiderman soon became a force to be reckoned with. It was after 1905 while leading a strike that she gained enough recognition to be approached by the New York Women's Trade Union Leauge (NYWTUL).1 It was during this strike that Schneiderman showed her abilities as an organizer, leader, and capable voice of the women she stood for. NYWTUL "lacked credibility" among working-class women and hoped that if they were able to align themselves with Schneiderman it would bring down that class barrier. This was how she came to be voted the vice president of NYWTUL and their chief organizer.1

It was thanks to her efforts that many of the standard benefits we see in the workplace today are in place, such as the: "eight-hour workday, a national minimum wage and improved workplace safety standards".2 She was close friends with Elenore Roosevelt and was later appointed by her husband to the Labor Advisory Board of the National Recovery Act, where she was the only woman.2 5


Schneiderman also worked tirelessly with the National American Women Suffrage Association, working towards getting women the vote.2 Schneiderman was wary of the Equal Rights Amendment proposal due to the fact that she was worried it would diminish "the special statutory protections for which the NYWTUL had fought so hard".7

Another notable instance:

"In 1912 a state legislator speaking about women’s right to vote said: “Get women into the arena of politics with its alliances and distressing contests – the delicacy is gone and you emasculate women.” Rose’s reply showed the fallacy of his words:

“We have women working in the foundries, stripped to the waist, if you please, because of the heat. Yet the Senator says nothing about these women losing their charm. They have got to retain their charm and delicacy and work in foundries. Of course, you know the reason they are employed in foundries is that they are cheaper and work longer hours than men. Women in the laundries, for instance, stand for 13 or 14 hours in the terrible steam and heat with their hands in hot starch. Surely these women won’t lose any more of their beauty and charm by putting a ballot in a ballot box once a year than they are likely to lose standing in foundries or laundries all year round. There is no harder contest than the contest for bread, let me tell you that.”" 2


Notable Works[]

"We Have Found You Wanting" - First published in The Survey, April 8, 1911, this speech is addressing the same audience as a memorial meeting held at the Metropolitan Opera House on April 2, 1911.6 In it she is addressing the injustice of the expendibility of female workers and how it is not right for the city to be so callous to their sacrifice. It is a call to arms not only for female factory workers but also the men and women of their city, to help and donate where they are able so that this form of suffering and sacrifice can end.


Bread and Roses

Also, Schneiderman is famous for the line "The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too". This a recording of labor union song that was inspired by this saying.



  1. Orleck, Annelise. "Rose Schneiderman." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia, 20 Mar 2009, Jewish Women's Archive.
  2. Eadon, Aura. “Rose Schneiderman, labour union pioneer.” AWH: all the kick-ass women the history books left out, 21 Feb 2012, Amazing Women in History.
  3. Felder, Deborah G., Diana Rosen. “Rose Schneiderman.” Fifty Jewish Women Who Changed The World, Jul 2013, Kensington Publishing Corp.
  4. “Rose Schneiderman.” Teaching Eleanor Roosevelt Glossary, The Eleanor Roosevelt Glossary. Accessed 27 Sept 2017.
  5. “Rose Schneiderman.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 29 Jan. 2016. Accessed 27 Sept. 2017.
  6. Schneiderman, Rose . “We Have Found You Wanting.” Remembering The Triangle Factory Fire - Testimonial, Cornell University. Accessed 27 Sept. 2017.
  7. “Rose Schneiderman.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 8 Aug. 2017. Accessed 27 Sept. 2017.
  8. tabyjean. “Bread and Roses.” YouTube, YouTube, 12 Feb. 2008. Accessed 27 Sept. 2017.