By: Brooke Downey
In today’s Toronto the Just series we’re honouring the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Their 10 week long protest begun 85 years ago today.
At the time of their protest, 1 in 4 women in Toronto were wage earners – often in the “unskilled’ jobs of the manufacturing, particularly garment, industry. Many of these jobs had poor working conditions with low wages, no job security, and long work hours.
On the morning of February 25th, 1931, the women of International Ladies Garmet Workers Union Local 72 walked off the job. A total of 500 women would join the protest. Their demands included: a 15% wage increase, shorter work weeks, union recognition, and impartial arbitration. During the protest, the protesters faced harassment and assault, some were even arrested.
Although they were ultimately unsuccessful, it is important to remember that their struggle for better wages, working conditions, and unionization is still one that is ongoing for many workers in our city today.
Portrait by Emma Jenkin