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Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(30 September 1940)

From Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 25, 30 September 1940, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

If people in London who still have houses to live in have to get along without electricity, it is easily understandable.

But many families in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and other cities, towns, and villages in America, which still enjoys “the blessings of peace”, also have to get along without electricity, Why?

In some districts the people are so poor that the utility companies do not even bother to supply current there. But in many places where there is current, people are too poor to pay their electricity bills, so the company shuts off the current.

This was the case the other night in the home of the De Lugios – father, mother and two children – living in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Both mother and father worked. But the boss paid them so little that they could not afford light, one of the basic necessities of life,

Thus, there is something in common between Hitler bosses and American bosses.

And to add insult to injury, the boss who exploits the De Lugios is the powerful Leviton Mgf, Co., manufacturer of electrical appliances.

The De Lugios are now on strike for decent wages and working conditions – along with the 1,700 other workers in the Leviton plant. More than half of the strikers are women.

Many of them have never been on strike before. Some are mothers. Nearly all have dependents. Yet in the third week of the strike they were unwavering. The men have nothing but praise for them, saying that the women are even more militant, more determined, than they are.

The fight against the Leviton Mfg. Co. is only one battle in the great struggle of the workers for freedom from poverty, insecurity and war. That struggle will be over when there is no more boss class. Women are brave fighters. They will do their part.

Laboratory tests of poultry purchased in various parts of New York City, revealed that great quantities of diseased and decomposed birds, unfit for human consumption, are sold to unsuspecting housewives.

Mrs, Morgan, Mrs. du Pont, Mrs, Roosevelt, Mrs. Willkie are not among these housewives. The stores at which this rotten poultry was bought are located in the poorest sections of the city, where these grand ladies do not live.

Working women are the ones from whom good money is taken for rotten poultry. They are also the ones from whom good money is taken for shoddy shoes and clothing for their families.

Because they can afford to buy only the cheapest clothes and the cheapest food, the value they get for their money is even less than the dollars and cents of their husband’s miserable wages. They have to buy shoes that hurt the feet and can’t withstand a drenching – clothes of bad cut and material that can’t take wear and weather – food that does not nourish the body but poisons it.

Here we have more proof of the saying: “Those who have get – the have-nots get it in the neck.”

As for the poor workers eating rotten poultry and undermining their health thereby, the Health Department of the City of New York believes that is none of its business.

Imagine the feelings of 650 women in Chicago whose families have suddenly been evicted from comfortable Federal Housing apartments. Having for a short time enjoyed the conveniences of modern kitchen, bright airy bedrooms, easier work involved in keeping such apartments clean, they are now thrust back into the dirty crowded tenements they came from,

The joke of it is that their plight is due to the economies practised by the Federal Housing Authority. The cost of running the housing projects was reduced. So rents were also cut. This sounds like an awfully good thing, but –

Families whose annual income is more than five times the annual rent, are not poor enough to live in the Federal Housing buildings. After the reduction in rent, the incomes of these 650 families were more than what the regulations require. So they were evicted.

These families may not be poor enough to live in government houses, but they are not rich enough to pay the rents for decent apartments owned by private landlords. So back they went to where they came from – in the slums,

The misfortune of these 650 families proves how little has actually been done to provide adequate housing for the working people.

The death last week of a 22-year-old expectant mother who jumped from the fourth floor of a blazing Manhattan tenement which did not have fire escapes, also shows up the loud-mouthed lies of the politicians. Daily the proof multiplies that, in spite of all the sound and fury on the subject of housing, the real accomplishments amount to a drop in the bucket.

Democrats or Republicans, old dealers or new dealers, whatever the boss government calls itself, it gives the workers a false deal. There is never enough money to build the houses that the working people need. But, in the twinkling of an eye, sixteen billion dollars are appropriated and the best men of the country are conscripted for the bosses’ war.

To the women who suffer most bringing up families in the unsanitary fire-trap tenements, I say that NO boss government will EVER get around to supplying even the most elementary needs of the workers. We need a workers’ government for that.

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Last updated: 16 July 2014