“It’s been over 20 years, and my past still haunts me. Something I did at age 18 still keeps me from gaining employment and being able to provide for my family.” In a community meeting of about 30 people I listened to 9to5 member Tanesha describe how a mistake she made at 18 still keeps her from being able to get a job 20 years later. Tanesha describes how she has struggled to get housing, pay her rent , buy groceries and obtain basic necessities because she was charged with theft when she was an 18 year old girl. Sadly many of the people in that room knew the realities of Tanesha’s story all too well. As we went around the room doing introductions each person told of how our legal system has ripped them away from their families, falsely imprisoned them, kept them from getting a job and the other countless ways it has damaged their lives. The women in that community meeting were ready to take action. We knew we were not going to solve all of the problems with our legal system that evening but the women in that room decided they wanted to develop a plan and take action around ending employment discrimination against the formerly incarcerated. What happened in that room on March 9th, 2011 clearly exemplifies the mission and vision of 9to5 Working Women.
9to5 is an organization dedicated to organizing women to win justice in the workplace. That evening a group of 9to5 members talked about the discrimination they faced in the workplace because they were people with arrest records and or convictions on their record. The people in that room believed everyone should be able to care and provide for themselves and their family members, that people should be judged on their current skills and qualifications not a past mistake. In that room on March 9th, 2011 9to5’s Ban the box campaign was birthed. The group decided they wanted to launch a campaign to end employment discrimination against people with arrest and or convictions on their legal records. The first goal of the campaign was to get the city of Atlanta to remove all questions from their employment applications that require applicants to disclose their arrest and or conviction record.
As a result of 9to5’s tenacious organizing efforts the city of Atlanta became the first city in Georgia to Ban the Box! An African proverb states “if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together”. People have great ideas every day. Ideas to make our workplaces and our world more just, but in order to see those ideas executed and have the most impact we need membership organizations like 9to5 to help turn an idea into a victory. At 9to5 our members are our power. That is why our annual membership drive is so crucial to the life of our organization. New members make the organization more powerful, they bring new ideas to the organization. The members of 9to5 have helped the state of Georgia to see that employment discrimination against the formerly incarcerated is a women’s issue. New members helped 9to5 as an organization think more broadly about what we as an organization consider to be employment discrimination.
Ordinary people can do extraordinary things. A group of ordinary women did the extraordinary by launching a campaign that made history in the state of Georgia. A group of ordinary people took an idea from being discussed on the 4th floor of union hall to an executive order being issued by Georgia’s State Governor to Ban the Box on all state applications. So if you see an injustice in your community, in your workplace, in your neighborhood, Speak up and Take Action. We can change the world through our collective action!
Become a part of the movement to win justice for working women! Take advantage of our special Give What You Can rate during membership drive and join 9to5 today.