Advanced Search

Labor] Parker, Cornelia Stratton.

Working With the Working Woman.


[Labor.] Parker, Cornelia Stratton. Working With the Working Woman. New York and London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1922.
8vo.; discreet bookstore label on front endpaper; library code numbers on front endpaper and spine; grey-green paper-covered boards, stamped in brown; lightly rubbed; brown cloth spine, printed spine label; light wear.      
First edition of Parker's investigation into the lives and careers of women working in factories, prepared from her first hand experiences in several industries. Her chapters, whose titles name the subjects under observation by their worker numbers, include "No. 1075 Packs Chocolates," "286 On Brass," "195 Irons 'Family'," "In a Dress Factory," "No. 536 Tickets Pillow Cases," and "No. 1470, "Pantry Girl." Parker uses these varied experiences as a springboard for a long-winded conclusion in which she advocates a grass-roots movement among industry leaders-at the individual factory level-to bring about a partnership between workers and management.
Parker describes in her introduction the lack of first-hand accounts by woman laborers in labor and social literature, explaining that those capable of writing useful and accurate accounts rarely have the necessary on-the-job experience. She writes, "I wanted to feel for myself the general 'atmosphere' of a job, several jobs. I wanted to know the worker without any suspicion on the part of the girls and women I labored among that they were being 'investigated.'" In recounting the history of working women-from their hours, pay, living and working conditions to their motivations for working and the level of 'contentment' they are able to achieve-Parker states that workers must be seen "not as a labor problem, but as a social problem. …When a worker is found who appears perfectly amenable to long hours, bad air, unhygienic conditions in general-and many are-somebody has to pay the price…"
Parker's experiences served to alert her to the fact that labor should not be identified as a single unit speaking with a unified voice about agreed-upon issues. They should be regarded, rather, as thirty million individual workers with thirty million individual motives and complaints. As she finds this conclusion lacking in usefulness, she classifies these millions in three ways: the labor or class-conscious; the industrially conscious; and the industrially nonconscious. Parker hopes to see all workers unified behind this second banner-the industrially conscious-which she feels is most likely to produce reform:
labor is very far from controlling the industrial situation. Therefore, the employer must still be taken into account in any program of industrial reform. That being so, it might be saner to try some scheme the employer will at least listen to than stubbornly continue to fight the issue out along the old lines of organized labor alone, that every mention of which the average employer grows red in the face.
 Though she does not advocate the dissolution of labor unions, which she recognizes as a necessary good, she does feel that "further growth in the organized-labor movement, considering the development forced upon the movement but its own past and the very antagonistic attitude of business, will not, for the present and immediate future, necessarily spell peace, efficiency, production. Rather, continues, if not increased, bitterness."
The solution she proposes is a partnership between labor and management, but not on a global level:
The place to make the beginning is in each individual shop and business and industry. The spark to start the blaze in each human heart, be it beating on the side of capital or on that of labor, is the sudden revelation that every worker is far more the exact counterpart of his employer in the desires of his body and soul than otherwise; that the employer is no other than the worker in body and soul, except that his scope and range of problems to be met are on a different level. …t is within the bounds of sanity to work toward an increase in understanding between the human factors in industry; it is justifiable to expect improved industrial conditions, once increased understanding is brought about.
She concludes: "industry needs experts in scientific management, in mental hygiene, in cost accounting-in fields innumberable. But what industry needs more than anything else-more, indeed, than all the reformers-are translators-translators of human beings to one another. 'Reforms' will follow of themselves."

© 2011-2018 Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, Inc. All Rights Reserved.