Susan Green Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(10 January 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 2, 10 January 1944, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Yes, it can happen here. It can happen that the lower wages paid to women workers will become the norm for all wages. And this is not just scare talk. For here is the columnist of the New York Times writing under the headline Topics of the Time who put that very idea into print.

Commenting on the report of the New York State Department of Labor that among office and clerical workers, women earn less than men in comparable jobs, he says:

“But when we say that women clerical workers earn less than men in the same kind of work, it is the same thing as saying that the men earn more than the women. In that case you are bound to ask why the profit-seeking employer should choose to overpay his male employees.”

There it is – the standard of wages paid to men after decades of bitter struggle is a sign of the employer OVERPAYING his male employees! By implication, the lower wages received by women workers should be the normal wage for all workers.

The columnist quoted above puts a touch of so-called humor into his piece. But many an anti-labor thrust starts with a little jibe to find out how much comeback labor has. *

That is why the rash of strikes spreading in England at the present time to gain for women the same pay as for men in the same jobs, are of such tremendous importance. In the past months thousands of women workers in England have demanded equal pay for equal work – AND HAVE GONE TO BAT TO GET IT.

More important still, men workers begin to understand the necessity to raise the wage level of women workers up to their own – for their own protection. In some cases men have struck together with the fighting women. This was true when 3,000 male workers joined 2,000 women workers in a Scottish war plant in a struggle for equal pay for both sexes.

Three cheers for these militant workers!

Labor solidarity is labor strength – and any kind of discrimination against any group of workers because of sex or color or religion injures all the workers.


If you have tears, prepare to shed them for the poor, downtrodden landlords. Imagine the nerve of the OPA issuing a rent-freezing order!

It is true, of course, that landlords are collecting the same and higher rents – and giving much less in service. Where a large apartment house once had a night and a day man, besides the superintendent – now, in a great many cases, the superintendent gets along with one helper or with none at all. However, this saving of wages must naturally not be held against the landlords. Oh, no!

Where landlords once painted and repaired apartments for both old. and new tenants, now they do neither for either. This additional saving must also be overlooked.

Where once tenants raised hell if the heat and hot water supply were not sufficient, now tenants are intimidated by the fuel shortage. Landlords – whether they have to or not – cut down on both. In spite of the increase in the cost of fuel, they still are not the losers by the transaction.

Once there was quite a turnover in the housing market and to-let shingles decorated the exterior of houses all year around. Now the housing situation makes every hovel rentable and vacancies so rare that the flow of income is uninterrupted and yearly profits much greater.

But why mention such facts, so damaging to the landlords’ demand for a ten per cent rent increase?

Yes, why mention them – unless they are acted upon by tenant committees working together with organized labor to give these profit-grubbers a dose of what they need! *

This year the problem of buying herself an adequate winter coat has been a very serious one for every working woman. It has been nearly impossible to get a warm and durable coat for the money a working woman could afford to spend.

Of course, Secretary of Labor Perkins assured us – bright and early on January 1, 1944 – that the cost of living has gone up a mere three and a half per cent during 1943. Here is a woman who most definitely did not go out during 1943 with $22.75 in her pocket for a winter coat. If she had, she would have discovered that the $22.75 coat of 1942 would have cost her $32.75 in 1943. That looks like an increase of almost fifty per cent – not three and a half per cent!

Another person who did not have this experience with a winter coat is Mrs. Henry Ford. She will probably make her Russian sable coat valued at $100,000 do for the duration.

Don’t look at me that way! That’s right – $100,000 for one fur coat! But then, there is a lot of profit in the automobile industry – especially with fat war orders on the books and the wages of auto workers frozen stiff.

People who live off profits filched from labor don’t have to be too particular about whether cost of living indices are right dr wrong. They are delighted to accept the Perkinese way of figuring – since that gives them “statistical backing” for opposing wage increases.


The American public – especially the women back home – are being diplomatically prepared for the casualties that the big push in Europe will inevitably mean. The toll of human life is expected to rise to half a million in the next three months.

From Algiers comes the warning of Surgeon Joseph I. Martin of the Fifth Army in Italy that families are bound to have a psychological shock when their crippled and wounded sons, brothers and husbands return home. “The people must expect to see the results of the war,” he said.

Those who will be the wounded and the dead of World War II were the infants and children whose elders were the casualties of World War I. These were the little ones who were supposed to grow up in a world made “better to live in” by the Allied victory in 1918.

This was not so – judging by the horrible fate that is being meted out to them.

Can a woman today look at her baby with any assurance that it will not be a shocking casualty of World War III when it grows up?

She could only if the working people of the world join hands to set aside the whole world system of capitalist imperialism and to establish workers’ governments throughout the world – and WORLD SOCIALISM. OUT OF THE PRESENT SYSTEM CAN COME ONLY INTERNATIONAL POWER POLITICS THAT WILL HAVE TO EXPLODE INTO ANOTHER WORLD WAR.


Susan Green Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers’ Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 10 August 2015