NOW PICKETS THE LOUISIANA BORDER
Orange, TX - Saturday, September 22, 1979, NOW members from Clear Lake, Galveston,
Houston and Huntsville staged an informational picket on Interstate 10. We lined
both sides of the highway with people and signs. The signs extended our sympathy
to those entering an "unratified" state and welcomed the others back into a
"ratified" state. We were well received by all the travelers who waved and honked to signify support. One woman stopped her pickup, wished us well and contributed money to the cause.
The three major networks were present to cover the story on TV. Lake Charles, LA
also sent over a crew to film our activities. (We hope they took our message back
Let us congratulate ourselves for a job well done, with special thanks to Jan
Stevens for thr organizing and Jean Saletan for the publicity. Women, men and
children worked together Saturday to further the cause of equality for all
Women's New Target:
Job Bias in Offices
Secretaries, typists, clerks
and other white-collar women
are banding together these
days to overcome their low
status—and their low pay.
Claudia Kinder, a lop-ranking office
worker in Dayton, Ohio, decided 10
protest when she could no longer make
ends meet on $144 a week.
Like these women, thousands of other office workers are beginning to rebel against what they view as low
wages, demeaning tasks, poor career
opportunities and lack of prestige in
the hierarchy of American business.
"Women office workers are mad: secretaries are in revolt," says Nussbaum,
who now heads a nationwide network
of groups representing women clerical
workers. "We're mad because we're
not being treated fairly."
Taking up arms. The rebellion has
arrived in most major cities with a flurry of interoffice memos, discrimination
complaints and lunch-hour demonstrations. In San Francisco, more than
7,000 people turned out for a National
Secretaries' Week rally addressed by
actress Jane Fonda. Some women office workers also are choosing a more
stringent solution: Unionization.
What these women are planning is a
massive worker-organizing campaign
that they hope will rival the earl)
union drives of the 1930s.
"This is a steppingstone toward organizing the unorganized workers in this
country.*' says Stella Nowicki, an
$ll,000-a-year Chicago office worker
who also was involved in organizing
packing-house workers during the
1930s and 1940s."The union movement is finally recognizing working
women as allies."*
When the leaders of this drive held a
strategy session in Ohio in mid-July.
Nussbaum predicted that by organizing women into unions and working-
women's groups they would get a better deal in the 1980s. "We can win
because there is a need for clerical
w ork." site say*. "A growing work force
is in a much stronger position."
So far results have been modest.
Some companies have been convinced
to change their policies. A few new
union locals have been formed in offices. But most employers claim to be
unconcerned by the furor that is being
stirred up by these women. Harold
for a family of four. In extreme cases,
women college graduates get so little
that they must hold two jobs or rely on
food stamps to get by.
In the past, few unions—themselves
male-dominated—have tried to organize office workers. Janet Selcer, organizer for the women's groups, explains:
"These women have been difficult to
organize because of the traditional relationship between a secretary and her
boss. There's been a veneer of fanci-
ness to office work. Plus, many women
are afraid of standing up to the boss."
Are these barriers breaking down
now? Most experts think so. The rea-
sons include inflation, the dramatic influx of women into the work force, the
influence of the feminist movement
and recent technological changes in office work. I'nions also have become
desperate for new members.
'Traditionally, women have been
judged by their measurements." says
Elizabeth Koontz, head of the National
Commission on Working Women. "Today's women have new measurements—42-56-33. Forty-two percent of
the American work force are women,
56 percent of adult women hold paid