Working Mother Magazine
Written by: Linda Meric, national executive director of 9to5
August 13, 2013
View the original here.
The year was 1973. Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” was at the top of the charts. The women’s movement was in full swing. Change was in the wind.
In Boston, a group of female office workers started talking about how they were treated at work; about how they trained men to be their own supervisors; about how even though they loved their jobs and had seniority, they’d never become managers; about how their male supervisors could get away with making passes at them, and worse.
These women decided enough was enough. They felt feisty, empowered and fed up. They formed 9to5 to fight for their rights and respect.
Their first major protest was on National Secretary’s Day. “Raises not Roses” was their demand. “We were workers and we expected to be treated like workers,” said Karen Nussbaum, founder of 9to5. “There is strength in numbers and if you can come together you can as women and workers make a difference.”
Many people know of 9to5 because of the 1980 hit movie and song “Nine to Five,” with Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Lilly Tomlin. The movie was based on 9to5’s work around unequal pay, sexual harassment, lack of work-family policies and child-care. Both the movie and song helped educate the public about the very real issues that were confronting women in the workplace and helped move the discussions to ‘now what are we going to do about it?’
Today 9to5 is one of the largest, most respected national membership organizations of working women in the U.S., dedicated to putting working women’s issues on the public agenda. We are 20,000 strong, including members, donors and activists. Through the years, we’ve changed from an organization of clerical workers to women working in all low-wage jobs.
Through hands-on leadership development, grassroots organizing and policy advocacy, 9to5 mobilizes women in campaigns for:
- family-supporting jobs with living wages,
- paid sick days and other family flexible policies; and
- stronger protections against workplace discrimination.
Since 1973, we have celebrated hard-won victories like the:
- Family Medical Leave Act and
- Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, as well as
- State and local laws promoting fair pay and working conditions, and protecting safety net programs that support low-income working families
Our members choose and lead our campaigns. “I am proud to be part of 9to5 because this organization is always on the right side of issues. One of my favorite campaigns was one that we won to raise the state’s minimum wage,” says 9to5 Colorado member Mary Brewerton. “We knocked on doors and made tons of phone calls in a true grassroots campaign that was as significant for the process as much as the outcome.”
“One of 9to5’s greatest impacts is its leadership development of its members. No one else is doing the work that we are doing. 9to5 is a really unique and important organization,” says Laura Kendellen, 9to5 Wisconsin member.
9to5 members like Mary and Laura and so many others speak out and take action for real change on issues that directly affect them – they are women who didn’t previously think of themselves as leaders or agents of social change, and now they are. That is a legacy to be proud of.
Click here for a gallery of 9to5ers protesting for equal pay.