New York Women's History Month Labor
Belle Moskowitz

Belle Moskowitz

Belle Moskowitz (1877–1933), Belle Moskowitz was an important political figure and social justice reformer during New York’s Progressive Period. She began her public career as a social worker, a relatively new field at the time. Moskowitz focused her efforts on social and educational reforms for young women. Once the garment strikes began in 1909, she shifted her focus to labor issues, specifically workplace safety and wages. After the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire, she worked with Assemblymember Al Smith to investigate the tragedy and understand why so many workers died. After the investigation, she helped Smith craft the reform legislation that resulted from the tragedy. Moskowitz’s association with him would continue for the rest of her life. She worked on all of Smith’s gubernatorial campaigns and was his close advisor during his time in office. W hen Smith decided to run for President, Moskowitz was his press secretary. Her premature death came after she accidentally fell down the stairs outside her home.


Kate Mullany

Kate Mullany

Kate Mullany (1845–1906), Kate Mullany was one of the first women’s labor organizers in upstate New York. She was employed in one of the dozen laundries then located in Troy. There, she and her other co-workers would work 14-hour days for extremely low wages. Mullany began organizing her co-workers when she was just 19 years old. Her first strike involved 300 workers and secured a 25 percent wage increase. Mullany saw her union as an organization that was not limited to just advocacy. Eventually, the Collar Laundry Union was able to offer health care and limited benefits for women members who were unable to continue working. Not only did this alleviate some of the economic stresses that forced women into working for low wages, but it helped the union recruit new members. Mullany eventually became an organizer for the newly formed National Labor Congress and continued to fight for better wages in Troy.


Winifred Stanley

Winifred Stanley

Winifred Stanley (1909–1996), Congresswoman Winifred Stanley of New York was elected to the 78th United States Congress and served one term. She was an advocate for equal rights for women and introduced the first equal pay for equal work legislation. She sought to amend the National Labor Relations Act to make it unlawful “to discriminate against any employee, in the rate of compensation paid, on account of sex.” This principle was later enacted in the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Prior to her congressional career, Stanley practiced law in Buffalo and served as an Assistant District Attorney of Erie County from 1938 to 1942.

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