Annie Shapiro and the Clothing Workers' Strike / by Marlene Targ Brill, illustrated by Jamel Akib
Concepts: human resources, strikes, jobs, economics of gender, producers, social justice
Review: When Hannah Shapiro’s mother had become sick five years ago, Hannah (nicknamed Annie) withdrew from school to help pay the doctor’s bills and also care for all her siblings. She had found a job as a seamstress in a men’s clothing factory. By 1910, Annie had five years of work experience, but she still earned very little and worked under extremely poor conditions. At this time, the U.S. had no national labor laws, and numerous factory owners exploited their workers, especially women, children, and immigrants.
One day when the foreman in charge of the sweatshop where Annie worked announced an arbitrary cut in the workers’ wages, Annie shook with rage and decided she would no longer tolerate working for such low pay in an awful environment. Followed by fifteen of her coworkers, Annie walked out of the shop. When the foreman refused their wage demands the next day, Annie decided to organize the workers and fight for their rights. Her actions ultimately led to a city-wide strike of forty thousand workers that did not end until employers agreed to find ways to meet the workers’ demands.
This book provides young learners with a highly readable account of working conditions and labor relations during the early 1900s in America’s garment industry. The author’s careful research has resulted in an interesting historical narrative that can also be used to initiate discussions about working conditions in today’s factories here and abroad.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children
|How to Get This Book|