Women and the Labor Movement
It is easier to organize those who make more. [Infants'-wear workers] are intimidated until they don't know whether their souls belong to them or not.
-- Myrle Zappone, garment worker and ILGWU organizer1
SAN ANTONIO'S women workers engaged in a number of major strikes during the Depression. Mexican-American women were especially prominent in labor protest. After 1934 the Congress of Industrial Organizations provided critical economic and organizational resources for female workers. While the American Federation of Labor refrained from strike support, throughout the Depression the San Antonio Trades Council gave moral encouragement and modest financial support to striking AFL locals. The San Antonio Weekly Dispatch, edited and published first by William L. Hoefgen and after 1935 by William B. Arnold, informed members about the council's union activities and featured national labor news. Throughout the Depression women were most active as members not of AFL unions but of union wives' auxiliaries. As the 1930s progressed, the number of women organized into AFL unions in San Antonio increased, but at the end of the decade there was only a handful of AFL unions in which women predominated or were well represented.
In the early years of the Depression it was the women's auxiliaries rather than the unions themselves that dealt most directly with the realities of rising unemployment. Union wives solicited funds from working families for the relief of unemployed union members and organized fund-raising activities. In 1931 the Weekly Dispatch carried a plea from one group that "in their work of charity among needy families of printers, the ladies of the Typographical Auxiliary have found that with cooler weather approaching, contributions of clothing from members to help these cases will be a factor in helping to alleviate suffering from this source."2 The women also held a____________________