Pesotta, Rose

Pesotta, Rose (b. Peisoty)

(1896–1965) labor leader; born in Derazhnya, Ukraine. The daughter of grain merchants, she was well educated and as a young girl adopted anarchist views. In 1913 she emigrated to New York City and worked in a shirtwaist factory. She soon joined a local of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU). She worked to advance the education of the workers and was elected to the ILGWU's executive board in 1920. In the late 1920s she was sent to Los Angeles to help organize garment workers there; her success led to her being named a vice-president of the ILGWU in 1934 and for the next eight years she continued to organize workers from Seattle to San Juan, from San Francisco to Montreal. In 1942, however, angry because she was the sole woman on the ILGWU's executive board—when 85% of the union's members were women—she went back to being a sewing machine operator. She resigned from the ILGWU board in 1944 but participated in some union activities. Her Bread Upon the Waters (1944) told of her union organizing experiences; her Days of Our Lives (1958) recounted her youth in Russia.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.