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Working 9 to 5: A Women's Movement, a Labor Union, and the Iconic Movie (Hardcover)
"A must-read for any activist or reader in search for a piece of inspiration." —Liz Shuler, president, AFL-CIO
2022 Sarton Awards Finalist for Memoir
2023 Independent Publisher Book Awards Gold Medalist - Women's Issues category
9 to 5 wasn’t just a comic film—it was a movement built by Ellen Cassedy and her friends.
Ten office workers in Boston started out sitting in a circle and sharing the problems they encountered on the job. In a few short years, they had built a nationwide movement that united people of diverse races, classes, and ages.
They took on the corporate titans. They leafleted and filed lawsuits and started a woman-led union. They won millions of dollars in back pay and helped make sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination illegal.
The women office workers who rose up to win rights and respect on the job transformed workplaces throughout America. And along the way came Dolly Parton’s toe-tapping song and a hit movie inspired by their work.
Working 9 to 5 is a lively, informative, firsthand account packed with practical organizing lore that will embolden anyone striving for fair treatment.
About the Author
Ellen Cassedy was a founder of the 9 to 5 organization in 1973. She is the coauthor of 9 to 5: The Working Woman’s Guide to Office Survival (with Karen Nussbaum) and The 9 to 5 Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment (with Ellen Bravo). Cassedy is a former columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, was a speechwriter in the Clinton administration, and has contributed to Huffington Post, Redbook, Woman’s Day, Hadassah, Philadelphia Inquirer, and other publications. She lives in New York City. Jane Fonda is an Academy Award–winning actor, producer, author, and a longtime activist. She lives in Los Angeles.
“In her latest work, feminist trailblazer Ellen Cassedy takes us through her journey as a founder of the 9 to 5 movement, where ten brave women came together to take a stand against sexism in the workplace. Their battles fought at the intersection of the women’s movement and the labor movement are even more relevant today, making Working 9 to 5 a must-read for any activist or reader in search for a piece of inspiration.” —Liz Shuler, president, AFL-CIO
“The 9 to 5 movement inspired organizers and working women everywhere. Finally, sexism that was a part of working women’s lives was exposed and became a rallying cry to address what so many women endured just to earn a living. This engaging book by Ellen Cassedy gives a behind-the-scenes look at the organizing behind this important movement, and how it inspired a generation of women to stand up for themselves and their sisters for fairness on the job.” —Cecile Richards, cofounder, Supermajority; former president, Planned Parenthood
“In these days of hard times for unions and workers, it’s good to have Ellen Cassedy to remind us of a struggle that looked pretty hopeless when it started but made a big difference. Women’s work is still undervalued and underpaid, so what are we waiting for? Read Working 9 to 5 for the story of a not-so-distant past that could help us figure out how to make a better, fairer future.” —Katha Pollitt, The Nation
“A fresh and timely resource for labor educators that underscores the power of workers to change conditions inside and outside the workplace.” —Mary Bellman, president, United Association for Labor Education (UALE)
“Working 9 to 5 imbues social history with practical knowledge about movement-building and the day-to-day work of collective power. The timing for this book couldn’t be better—as labor’s popularity surges, especially among young workers, people are seeking exactly these kinds of stories for inspiration and guidance.”—Michelle Miller, cofounder and co-executive director, Coworker.org
“We at the Fight for $15 stand on the shoulders of women who organized before us. The story of 9 to 5 is inspiring for organizers today!”—Ciara Fox, Wisconsin lead organizer, Fight for $15
“History we can learn from, and be inspired by. The women of 9 to 5 joined together for respect, recognition, and rights, paving the way for so many of today’s organizing efforts for economic and gender justice.”—Ai-jen Poo, cofounder and executive director, National Domestic Workers Alliance; cofounder and director, Caring Across Generations; cofounder, SuperMajority
“The women of 9 to 5 were among the first in modern labor history to model the significance of community/labor partnerships, not simply as a general alliance but as a necessity to build worker power and women’s power in the face of racial and gender discrimination. We are their legacy. And we owe it to them to continue the fight.” —Erica Smiley, executive director, Jobs With Justice, coauthor of The Future We Need
“An engaging first-person look at a group of amazing women who changed workplaces across America. Cassedy takes us back in time, lets us feel the thrill and uncertainty, the courage and verve of the small band of women who spoke the truth they saw, learned to organize, and broke the mold of the obedient secretary.” —Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, Academy award–winning filmmakers of 9 to 5: The Story of a Movement and American Factory
“The women of 9 to 5 were gutsy and creative. Their story can inspire a new generation fighting for fair pay and fair treatment.” —Saru Jayaraman, president and cofounder, One Fair Wage, author, One Fair Wage: Ending Subminimum Pay in America
“If the pandemic has surfaced any one truth, it’s that American women are the spine of the workforce, and also the first to fall prey to its inadequacies and injustices. With Working 9 to 5, longtime organizer, activist and truth-teller Ellen Cassedy expertly guides us through the women’s labor movement from its modern roots to the present day, highlighting the double-binds and second shifts, the hidden injustices and the manifest change that organizing can bring about. Anyone who thinks about gender, labor, and equality will be grateful for this comprehensive look at where we’ve come from and what comes next.” —Dahlia Lithwick, senior legal correspondent, Slate
“If we organize, we can change the world. This book gives us a detailed and personal view of how a determined group of women organized and achieved more than they ever imagined.”—Heather Booth, founder, Midwest Academy"This is an entertaining and occasionally enraging reminder of just how long and hard the fight for women’s equality has been." — Publishers Weekly