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AFL-CIO - Women

For Every Woman Who Wants to Make Changes on the Job.

Go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Women's Bureau

A Look Back... continued

Elinore Morehouse Herrick

As a divorced, 26-year-old mother, Herrick found herself supporting two boys on low wages. She accepted employment at DuPont's rayon plant in Buffalo, New York, where she rose rapidly from pieceworker to training supervisor. In 1923, she moved south with the company, becoming production manager of its new factory in Tennessee. Under her direction the plant's output equaled or exceeded those elsewhere, but knowing that she would not be promoted beyond her current level, Herrick moved her family to Ohio. There she attended Antioch College, financing studies in economics by running a boarding house with her mother's help and taking part-time jobs. After her graduation in 1929, Herrick became executive secretary of the New York Consumers' League, which monitored labor conditions for women in that state. While with the League, Herrick produced perceptive reports on female workers in canneries, laundries, and candy factories. When the Wagner Act of 1935 created the National Labor Relations Board, she was appointed regional director of the northeast district; the nation's busiest, it handled twenty percent of all cases to come before the Board. Herrick's negotiating skills led to the settlement of most disputes without litigation. During World War II, she became personnel director for Todd Shipyards and was responsible for integrating women and minorities into the wartime work force. Recognizing that the arrival of peace would force many women out of industrial jobs, she argued that society should maintain employment opportunities "for all who want to work or for all who must work irrespective of sex." Her appeals went unheeded, however, as female workers were dismissed from wartime industries when veterans returned home. Herrick left Todd Shipyards to become personnel director for the New York Herald Tribune and continued writing on labor issues during the postwar era.

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