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September 29, 2020 10:40 AM Subscribe
Brutally exploited by their bosses and landlords—typically also Jews who had arrived in America earlier— Jewish labor agitators came to understand that their numbers meant power. They organized strikes not only for better wages and shorter hours in the workplace, but also for manageable rents and improved living conditions. From 1907–1909, there were dozens of rent strikes in New York’s immigrant neighborhoods. Picket lines were set up in front of buildings with exploitative rents, many of which led to altercations with landlords, their hired goons, the police, and police marshals. In 1908, Morris Rosenfeld fictionalized the rent strikes in a short one-act play called Rent Strike, translated from Yiddish for the Jewish Current's Housing Issue.
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