We Stand as One

The International Ladies Garment Workers Strike, New York, 1909

From the Series Civil Rights Struggles around the World

  • Interest Level: Grade 6 - Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 9

“Girls, from the bottom of my heart, I beg you not to go back to work. We are all poor, many of us are suffering hunger, none of us can afford to lose a day’s wages. But only by fighting for our rights, and fighting all together, can we better our miseries; and so let us fight for them to the end!”―Nineteen-year-old shirtwaist striker, November 1909

In 1909, on the Lower East Side of New York, thousands of immigrant women—many only teenagers―toiled at shirtwaist factories. For up to twelve hours a day, seven days a week, they hunched over sewing machines, making women’s blouses. The work was tedious, the pay was low, and the factories were unsafe. Women who dared complain usually were fired.

But on November 23, 1909, twenty-thousand shirtwaist workers from five hundred factories walked off the job. Members of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, they vowed to strike until factory owners met their demands. They wanted a fifty-two-hour workweek, fair wages, and a guarantee that factories would hire only union workers.

Police harassed and arrested the picketers. But they endured for almost three months, and factory owners finally met many of their demands.

In this captivating story of grit and determination, we’ll explore how the strike became a rallying point for both women and men in the labor movement. We’ll also see how the shirtwaist strike dovetailed with the fight for women’s suffrage―the right to vote―and for other civil rights reforms.

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Interest Level Grade 6 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 9
Genre Social Studies, Young Adult
Category Diverse Books: Feminism, Diverse Books: Immigration & Refugees, Diverse Books: Social Class, Diverse Books: Social Justice, Diversity
Copyright 2011
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Twenty-First Century Books ™
Language English
Number of Pages 160
Publication Date 2010-08-01
Text Type Narrative Nonfiction
BISACS YAN025220, YAN038100
Dewey 331.892'88709747109041
Graphics 1-color illustrations, Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 6 x 8.5
Lexile 1090
Features Awards, Bibliography/further reading, Glossary, Index, Maps, Photo captions, Reviewed, Sidebars, Source notes, Table of contents, and Timeline

Author: Laura B. Edge

Laura B. Edge was born just north of Chicago in Waukegan, Illinois. She grew up in a big Italian-Irish family with lots of brothers and sisters. She loves to read, travel, dance, ride horses, and watch basketball games. Laura received her bachelor's degree in education from the University of Texas at Austin and studied abroad with the American Institute of Foreign Study. Laura has taught reading and writing in elementary schools, middle schools, and at a community college. In addition to teaching, Laura has worked as a computer programmer and owned and operated a computer training company. Laura uses her love of history to create books that bring the past to life. She enjoys research and uncovering little known facts.


  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2012
  • Pennsylvania School Librarians Association Young Adult Top Forty, Winner, 2011


The Horn Book Guide

“These series entries address three struggles in the worldwide history of civil rights. Strong texts provide readers with essential background information on such topics as the ILGWU, apartheid, and Chinese government oppression; the activist movements’ beginnings, confrontations, results, and significance within their nations’ histories are then discussed. Many dynamic photographs illustrate the information-rich (if dense) volumes.” —The Horn Book Guide

Library Media Connection

“Presenting an in-depth view of groundbreaking events and movements in world history, these volumes are loaded with archival quality photos, quotes from key players, and eyewitness accounts. details historical background information is provided so that students understand the context of each topic and its implications on future events as well.” —Library Media Connection


“These titles are notable for the level of care in both their content and production.” —VOYA

School Library Journal, Series Made Simple

“These volumes are a treasure trove of information about the fight for civil rights across time and the globe. . . . The cruelty with which humans can treat one another is unflinchingly presented but the extraordinary grace exhibited in the face of it rises to the top.” —School Library Journal, Series Made Simple