Pearl McGill's path from an officer in a union affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) to an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) offers an alternative lens through which to view industrial unionism at the critical juncture of the legendary “Bread and Roses” strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Her role in the strikes of button workers in Iowa and textile workers in New England between 1911 and 1913 shines a light on the ways in which grassroots activists invested hope that AFL “federal labor unions” (local unions directly affiliated with the national AFL) might serve as a vehicle for their inclusive union aspirations. Her contribution enhances our understanding of the strategies of the Women's Trade Union League (WTUL) and the contested terrain of ethnicity and gender on which its leaders sought to organize women factory workers, constrained as they were by their loyalty to the AFL.

You do not currently have access to this content.