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Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(12 January 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 2, 12 January 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

There is a bill before the House of Representatives, endorsed by Secretary of War Stimson, for the creation of a Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. Under the bill, women between, 21 and 45 would; be permitted to volunteer for the duration of the war. They would serve as clerks, machine operators, cooks and bakers, stewardesses, telephone and telegraph operators, pharmacists, dieticians, hygienists, hospital and laboratory technicians, hostesses, librarians, theater employees, welfare workers, post exchange employees and laundry workers. This is Mr. Stimson’s enumeration of army jobs for women.

The bill, introduced by Representative Edith Rogers of Massachusetts, provides the same pay for women as for army men, namely $21 a month.

For the various types of skilled, semi-skilled and even unskilled work to be done by women, $21 a month is ridiculously inadequate.

Nobody has yet produced an economic, moral or any other, reason why soldiers and army workers, both men and women, should be on coolie wages.

To the argument that there is no money for higher army pay, there is this irrefutable counter argument:

There is money for everything else, including war profits, which in the case of Aviation Corporation, for example, have increased in 1941 by 1,950 per cent over 1940.

Gathering Dust in Congressional Files

This once more brings to the fore the whole question of army pay.

When Congress amended the draft law extending the draft period for the duration of the war and after, to soften the blow, various bills to raise soldiers’ pay – now gathering dust in congressional files – were also introduced.

At that time certain women’s committees were putting pressure on Congress to get an increase for their drafted boys. Their reasons were strong ones. They argued that their family incomes had been too drastically cut Their drafted boys, who had previously contributed, could send nothing at all out of $21 a month. On the contrary, soldiers could not even provide for their own needs. In many cases the family had to send their boy money for miscellaneous needs as well as for an occasional trip home. These are still facts.

The entry of the United States into the war has not bettered the conditions of the soldier and army worker on $21 a month. Quite the contrary.

Neither has it lightened the burdens of the soldier’s family. Again, quite the contrary.

Wartime oratory should not be permitted to shout down crying injustices.

The needs of soldiers, army workers and their families make an increase in army pay the very next order of business.

The Debutantes Are Getting Along

That permanent wrinkle of wartime worry is not marring the beauty of some members of the fair sex. These fortunate ones are in the social register where my name and yours are not to be found,;

The resplendent annual pilgrimage to Palm Beach is well under way. The exclusive Everglades Club there is in constant demand for this and that ritzy social function.

Southern race tracks are thronged with the “smartest” people. Women – in stunning spectator clothes – have fun wasting money without stint.

On Long Island estates the holiday festivities reached a new high. Only one party was called off – not for lack of funds, I assure you. Rather because its sponsors thought it “unsuitable” to parade their wealth at this time when everyone is supposed to be “sacrificing.”

Debutantes continue to have their coming-out parties. Ballrooms of the swellest hotels are all a-glitter. The dazzling decorations vie with the gorgeous gowns and jewels of the women. Flowers abound in such profusion as if nature intended them only for the rich.

Money flows like water from a faucet – the water-main being war profits.

Contrast this picture of lavishness and waste with the lives of working people. You will immediately see the point in the demand of Labor Action that the rich be taxed to pay for the war.

The working people can’t afford it.

Women Workers Lose Protection

There is a movement afoot – naturally started by the bosses – to suspend the hard-won labor laws protecting women in industry.

Under pretext of the war emergency the bosses are beginning to work women seven days a week, without the required day of rest. The working week for women is being extended beyond 48 hours. Night work – legally limited to 10 p.m. – is again being introduced.

Women workers, compelled by the mounting cost of living, half-heartedly agree to the extra work in order to earn more money and even more, to just keep their jobs. But that it not the way to meet war prices.

The working women will neglect their families and ruin their health. Furthermore, to allow suspension of labor laws today will mean complete annihilation in post-war depression.

The thing for women workers to remember is that, in most cases, they are not paid on the same scale as men for equivalent work. That makes it profitable for the bosses to employ women for inhuman hours rather than to put on more shifts of workers, including skilled male workers wherever possible.

Women workers must set up a hue and cry for the wages to which they are entitled. Why should the bosses profit at their expense!

To demand more wages is the way to do something about the shameful cost of living.

Workers only hurt themselves by allowing the bosses to suspend protective labor legislation.

Rich Getting Own Shelters

A war emergency certainly underlines class distinctions, propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding.

While the Office of Civilian Defense is very busy talking about air raids and doing nothing at all to provide shelters for crowded city populaces, there are those who are playing safe and not relying upon the OCD and its uncertain protection.

These favored few don’t have to depend on the government which is in no hurry to spend a little of the huge war appropriations for mass shelters. They have enough money to build their own shelters.

The fact is not exactly being shouted from the housetops, but one gathers from inconspicuous newspaper items that the rich are providing themselves and their families with cozy underground homes and clubs, combining the element of safety with all modern conveniences.

Thus economic inequality translates itself into ine- [line missing in text] vival are all in favor of the members of the upper class – and against men, women and children belonging to the great mass.

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