Institute of Industrial Relations Gallery, UC Berkeley August 20, 2003 - January 16, 2004
click on photos for larger view and full caption
Union Women's Alliance to Gain Equality (Union WAGE) was an organization of socialist and progressive women from 1971 through 1982. It supported women organizing in the work place and included struggles for democratic rank and file unions. Most of its work was in the San Francisco Bay Area, although chapters formed in Seattle, Indiana and New York. Growing out of a NOW conference at UC Berkeley in 1971, Union WAGE was distinctive in connecting older women who had been activists since the 1930s with a new generation of women labor activists, feminists and lesbian feminists.
WAGE members shared their hard-won organizing skills, taught each other parliamentary procedure, and collectively engaged in laying out newspapers and creating newsletters. They lobbied for an Equal Rights Amendment that would not only retain existing legislation protecting women but would extend these standards to men. WAGE members fought for, and successfully organized, the first California union women's conference sanctioned by the AFL-CIO. WAGE supported the United Farm Workers Union, and in coalition with other groups, worked against the Bakke decision (anti-affirmative action), the Briggs initiative (anti-gay) and San Francisco's Proposition L (anti-clerical workers).
Union WAGE members distributed their newspaper at work places
and union meetings. In addition to articles on current actions,
the newspaper profiled women activists of the past, and discussed
health and safety issues, family issues, and the rights of
lesbians and older women workers. A complete set of the newspaper
and other materials are available at S.F. State University's
Labor Archives and Research Center. Some of these newspapers
are available at the IIR LIbrary.
This is the fifth in a series of photo exhibits sponsored by the Institute of Industrial Relations Library.