by Jason Lever
Posted on Fri, 06 Dec 2013 14:48:38 GMT
Jewish baking in the East End and their American counterparts
In his “Jewish Landlords, Jewish Tenants”, Jerry White argues that ‘class divisions fractured East End Jewry’ during a period of local union and political radicalism at the turn of the century. He cites masters being assaulted by striking bakery workers. During the 1912 tailors’ strike, the London Jewish Bakers Union, and the cigarette makers, provided free supplies! (ref: White, 1981; Fishman, 1981).
Each of the London Jewish Bakers Union’s loaves of rye and cholla breads came to display a little label proudly inscribed “Baked by Union Labour” – interestingly not Jewish Union Labour.
This came about through a small strike called by the union to improve the working conditions of its member bakers. They called for a trade union label on the bread so that the public could see that it originated in a bakery that observed trade union conditions. After a few weeks, they won this concession after the Jewish women of the East End refused to take any loaves offered in bakers’ shops or grocery stores that had no such label! (ref: Rocker).
Echoing their London counterparts, a small square or circle of paper pasted on their baked goods were designed by the New York City Local 31’s Journeymen Bakers’ and Confectioners’ International to show customers that they were made by union members (ref: Balinska).
The banner of the London Jewish Bakers Union has pride of place in the foyer of The Jewish Museum in Camden Town, London, NW1.
As well as ‘Buy Bread with the Union Label’, it proclaims ‘Unity is Strength’, ‘Strong Loyalty – Right and Truth’ and ‘Workers of the World Unite’.
The United Ladies’ Tailoring Trade Union (of Jewish workers) similarly had the slogan of ‘For a Socialist Commonwealth, Toiling Tailors True Together’ (ref: Freedland).
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