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Working 9 to 5 A Women’s Movement, a Labor Union, and Iconic Movie with Ellen Cassedy

“Sexual harassment was completely legal. Pregnancy discrimination was legal...We held these bad boss contests. Where the first winner was a boss who had asked his secretary to sew up a hole in his pants while he was wearing them. So it was really dire out there. And when we started speaking up, everyone was so shocked. It was like the wallpaper had come alive.”

Ellen Cassedy, 9 to 5

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About the 9 to 5 Movement

Starting out in Boston in 1973, the women of 9 to 5 built a nationwide feminist movement that united people of diverse races, classes, and ages. They took on the corporate titans. They leafleted, 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 entire time that we were working on the movie I could carry in my heart that this was married to a movement.”


When women rose up to win rights and respect at the office, they transformed workplaces throughout America. Along the way came Dolly Parton’s toe-tapping song and the 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.

Buy the book 9 to 5 at https://ellencassedy.com/#9to5

About Ellen

Ellen Cassedy was a founder and longtime leader of 9 to 5, the national association of women office workers. Working 9 to 5 is her first-person account of this exciting movement, which began in the early 1970’s, mobilizing women across the country to organize for rights and respect on the job. The movement inspired Jane Fonda’s hit movie and Dolly Parton’s enduring anthem. 9 to 5 is still active today.

Ellen appears in the documentaries “9 to 5: The Story of a Movement” and “Still Working 9 to 5.”

Ellen is the award-winning author of We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust, in which her journey to connect with her Jewish family roots expands into a wider quest. She explores how people in Lithuania are engaging with their Nazi and Soviet past in order to move toward a more tolerant future. Winner of the Grub Street National Book Prize for Nonfiction, shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing.

Ellen is also the co-translator of Oedipus in Brooklyn and Other Stories by Blume Lempel, a collection that moves between the realistic and the fantastic, the lyrical and the philosophical. The translation received the Leviant Memorial Prize from the Modern Language Association, among other awards.

Ellen is the translator of On the Landing: Stories by Yenta Mash, which traces an arc across upheavals and regime changes, making a major contribution to the literature of immigration and resilience.

Ellen’s play, “Beautiful Hills of Brooklyn,” celebrates the spare beauty of a small but important life, with help from Walt Whitman. It was adapted into a short film starring Joanna Merlin, which qualified for an Academy Award nomination.

Ellen was a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, a speechwriter in the Clinton Administration, and author of two previous books for working women. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications. She lives in New York City.

Ellen’s Tips for Writers offer advice about writing and being a writer.

You can follow Ellen’s work at


About the Labor Solidarity Podcast

The Labor Solidarity Podcast highlights the work of labor leaders while discussing historic struggles and the importance of organizing with the goal of building international labor solidarity. Learn more at: https://www.empathymedialab.com/laborsolidarity

The Labor Solidarity Podcast is a part of the EML Publishing brands and we are a proud member of The Labor Radio Podcast Network. Learn more: https://wlo.link/@empathymedialab

Union Solidarity Forever.


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