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Ellison pens Jezebel op-ed honoring role of women in labor fight

Keren Carrion

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) is calling for the U.S. to honor the women who have fought for labor rights throughout history.

In an op-ed published Tuesday on Jezebel, Ellison documented the stories of several women who have been at the forefront fighting for working families.

Honoring those women and continuing their fight is especially important now, he argued, in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election.

“Women have been at the front of the labor rights movement since the very beginning,” Ellison wrote.

“When a fire broke out on the ninth floor of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York in 1911, 146 garment workers died — 123 of whom were women,” he said. 

{mosads}”In the wake of one of the deadliest workplace tragedies in American history, it was the women of the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) who worked on the front lines to help mold our modern day workplace.”
 
Ellison praised former Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, who he said “shaped the New Deal and supported the 40-hour work week, a minimum wage, and workers compensation.”
 
He also pointed to Eva Valesh, a journalist in Minnesota who reported on the working conditions of Minnesota garment workers.

“This piece, along with her activism, helped Minnesotan garment workers win better working conditions, higher pay, and better safety regulations,” he wrote.

“And women today are still shaping and invigorating the fight for working people.”

Ellison cited women leading the “Fight for $15” and female janitors leading a movement in California to “fight sexual harassment and rape in the workplace.”

“In fact, women leadership at major labor organizations has gone up in recent decades,” he wrote.  

“In the fight to protect working families and raise up workers’ voices, we need to cultivate more women leaders and make sure we give them the credit they are due,” Ellison wrote.
 
He said this Women’s History Month is “especially important” after President Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, which he described as “the election of a misogynist over the first woman candidate of a major political party.”

“But as we’ve seen — from the historic marches that filled the streets of Washington after the inauguration, to this month’s A Day Without Women strike — women are not sitting down and staying silent. They’re doing the opposite. And it’s working,” he wrote.

“Let’s honor these women.”

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