On this day in 1931, governors of Florida, Virginia, New Mexico and a few other states rejected proposals from the Cotton-Textile Institute to forbid women from working factory night shifts. The appeal was a Depression era effort to pit male against female workers. Over 80 percent of the cotton industry complied with the request. This struggle against workplace discrimination was led by the National Women’s Party who said the “National Woman’s Party calls your attention to nationwide effort to throw women out of night work and otherwise handicap them by legislation or regulation restricting their conditions of labor but not those of their men competitors. We urge you to oppose every such effort in your own state. Women work because of necessity and should have equal opportunity with men to get and hold a job.”
Earlier the Supreme Court in 1924 had ruled it was constitutional to prohibit women from working nights in restaurants because they had a “more delicate organism.” The National Women’s Party was formed in 1913 and fought for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.