The Labor Movement Continues
The struggles of American workers in the twentieth century led to many advances in the labor movement. However, each generation of workers has taken up the fight to earn fair wages and conditions in their places of work. Women and minorities have faced a long fight for equality in employment and in labor unions, and continue to face discrimination today. Thanks to the efforts and hardships of women workers and activists like Mollie West, women have gained more employment opportunities and a voice in their labor unions.
Today, labor unions continue to unite workers and fight for the fair treatment of workers in a variety of professions. Minimum wage, health care, and safe working conditions remain important issues for many workers. The stories of labor activists from the past can provide today’s activists with an understanding of the challenges that those before them have experienced, and the triumphs that have given workers what they have today. These individuals from the past can also serve as role models, showing the strength and perseverance required to create change.
Speaking microphone
Mollie West delivers a speech at a labor union event.
Mollie West, A Part of Labor History

Since her teenage years, Mollie’s compassion and belief in a better future drove her to commit her life to improving life for the working class. From fighting for the right of students to express themselves through music to showing an international union that women deserved a chance to speak and to lead, this woman’s life impacted individuals, a city, and a movement.

Years into her retirement, Mollie continued to fight for women’s place in labor history and for the education of future activists through her work at the Illinois Labor History Society.

By donating her papers to the Women and Leadership Archives, Mollie ensured that her story would be preserved so that her experiences can educate and inspire future generations. Her collection documents the efforts of communities to come together to solve problems. Researchers who explore the Mollie Lieber West Papers will find a wealth of information about the past.

Learn more: The Illinois Labor History Society
Learn more: The Women and Leadership Archives



Header image: Mollie West Portrait


Last: Labor History and Community Involvement