Women and the United Packinghouse Workers of America: Gender Issues in Meatpacking in Ottumwa, Iowa and Chicago, Illinois
Rohde, Melissa L.
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In order to understand the different courses two locals in the same union took, one must examine a variety of issues which contributed to the predominate worker consciousness in the locals. The composition and character of the workforce, the history of the companies, the role of the meatpacking industry in the community, and the regional ideas of the proper role of women in the workplace are among the factors that determined the fate of the women of Chicago Swift and Ottumwa Morrell. An understanding of the circumstances that led to the relative success of the men and women of one local and the failure of another local to address issues of female workers' rights and reach related goals can lend an understanding to the complexities of the struggles of working-class women more generally and may shed light on the broader issue of how the UPWA both succeeded and failed in its initiative to promote equality among packinghouse workers.