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Historical researchers indicate that the U.S has always witnessed the tumultuous relationship between women and unions. Kessler –Harris termed the unions to be ‘agents of social closure.’ Studies by Kessler – Harris show that the unions were indifferent towards working women. Kessler – Harris says that unionists considered this available ‘nimble and cheap’ women labor as competition. Women were considered as a weak link in the labor movement as they were a part of unskilled workers and were looked upon. Unionist’s considered women a threat as they thought that the women would not be able to represent men in the union. A study by Brenner and Rams suggests that wages and graduation at work were the two aspects which made the unions exclude the women from being a part of it. As said earlier women were a part of unskilled labor and worked at a very low rate as compared to the men. So including the women into the unions meant the decline in the wages as well as degradation of the work which threatened the economic position of the working men. The historical, as well as the sociological literature, suggests that the relationship between the women and the unions was particularly strained because of the dual nature of the unions: commitment to small-scale bread-and-butter gains on one hand and working women own reliance on their status as different on the other. As per the studies of Kessler – Harries, women presented themselves as a “weaker” sex to obtain protective laws for short hours, better pay and better working conditions. It was particularly after World War I that the trade unions started believing that for their own economic gains they need to create “unified” front which meant women were in direct competition with the men for jobs. But however, they were conveniently excluded from the union memberships. But this did not stop women from unionizing. Women unionized in the female dominant trades like garment but again did not hold any position of leadership.
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