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Gateway to EqualityBlack Women and the Struggle for Economic Justice in St. Louis$
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Keona K. Ervin

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813168838

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813168838.001.0001

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“Their Side of the Case”

“Their Side of the Case”

Domestic Workers and New Deal Labor Reform

(p.53) 2 “Their Side of the Case”
Gateway to Equality

Keona K. Ervin

University Press of Kentucky

Chapter 2 maps the labor activism of St. Louis’s largest segment of black working-class women as they mounted a labor reform program that anticipated and challenged New Deal labor legislation. With progressive black women staffers who led the St. Louis Urban League’s Women’s Division and progressive Jewish clubwomen who developed important ties to black communities, domestic workers designed and enforced standardization and rationalization policies to make dignity tangible in their contractual agreements. A predominant female constituency marked the Urban League as a women’s organization during a “radical” phase that extended into the late 1940s. As domestic workers made moves to “industrialize” household labor, they laid the groundwork for black women’s economic battles during the World War II period.

Keywords:   Domestic work/workers, St. Louis Urban League, Standardization, New Deal, Labor reform, Black working-class women

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