It was the Depression and even the salesgirls at Macy's were required to stand 5-foot-5 and have a college degree. Rose Schuyler had the diploma, but not the reach. She took her two-day teaching license exam, but hard times meant no jobs. So, instead, Rose Schuyler became a charter member of -- this is no joke -- the Association of Unemployed College Alumni.
Schuyler eventually got a job through the WPA as a nursery school teacher and later a state labor investigator. Finally, in 1946, she began her long-deferred dream of teaching -- paying her housekeeper/nanny just a few hundred dollars less than her $1,640 annual salary.
A member of the Teachers Guild, she found little interest in unionism on the part of her fellow elementary school teachers. So during the first teacher strike in November of 1960, just months after transferring to PS 160 in Jamaica, Schuyler swallowed hard and reported for work. It was the last strike she'd ever miss.
The next day she called an organizing meeting, followed a few weeks later by a six-week-long course on labor history. Schuyler, the chapter leader, soon found herself immersed in union activities as a member of the UFT's elementary school committee and an elected member of the Executive Board.
She retired from teaching in 1974, and was active in the Retired Teachers Chapter of which she was the longtime vice chair