Ferguson: More on equal rights (4-22-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (April 22, 1944)


Ferguson: More on equal rights

By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

Who opposes the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution? Organized labor, chiefly, is the answer given members of the National Woman’s Party who have worked for it for 24 years.

Last February, the amendment’s sponsors, recovering from the bitter shock of their 1943 defeat, had obtained the promise of more than 100 members of the Senate and the House that they would sign a petition to bring the bill to a vote. Petition action requires 218 signatures. To the sponsors the temper of the Congress seemed good and their hopes ran high.

Then on Feb. 25, a letter signed by Philip Murray, president of the CIO, was sent to all Congressmen.

Repeating the familiar arguments that the proposed amendment would deprive women of all protective legislation, Mr. Murray said:

In the name of the CIO, of whose 5,285,000 members a large proportion are women, I urge you to refuse to sign the discharge petition for the misnamed Equal Rights Amendment.

Upon receipt of this letter, many Congressmen who had promised to sign the petition notified the Woman’s Party they had reconsidered and could not do so.

Such an incident would seem to justify the charge by the Woman’s Party that one of the opponents of the equal rights cause is organized labor. Old timers in the movement like Alice Paul and Helen Hill Weed say that a constant barrage of propaganda emanates from the offices of labor leaders and that this propaganda has influenced certain women’s groups against the amendment.

Among those who are fighting it are such notable organizations as the YWCA, the League of Women Voters, the American Association of University Women, the Leagues of Jewish and Catholic women, and the director of the Women’s Bureau of Labor.

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