November 17, 2011

The Following article originated from

"9 to 5, National Association of Working Women" describes itself as "a national, grassroots membership organization that strengthens women's ability to work for economic justice." Its mission is founded on the axiom that discrimination and injustice against women permeate the workplace, from the mailrooms to the boardrooms.

This Milwaukee-based group was founded in 1973 by Karen Nussbaum, who served as 9 to 5's Executive Director from 1977 to 1993. (She was also President of the SEIU's Local 925 in 1975, and in 1993 was appointed by Bill Clinton to be Director of the Women's Bureau in the U.S. Labor Department. She is now the Director of the Working Women's Department of the AFL-CIO.) The current Director of 9 to 5 is Ellen Bravo, a trainer, public speaker, and author who believes that women face severe economic and professional discrimination in the workplace. 

In addition to its national headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 9 to 5 also has nine local chapters in five other states. It is currently the largest membership organization of working women in the U.S., with activist members in all 50 states. 9 to 5 identifies its constituents as "low-wage women, women in traditionally female jobs, and those who've experienced any form of discrimination."

9 to 5 wields considerable political influence: Its staffers have served on the Governor's Task Force on Sexual Harassment in New York, the Legislative Council on Sexual Harassment in Wisconsin, and the Mayor's Task Force on Sexual Harassment in Atlanta. U.S. policymakers have often invited 9 to 5 representatives to provide expert testimony on workplace issues.

A member organization of the National Committee on Pay Equity and the National Council of Women's Organizations, 9 to 5 has produced fact sheets explaining how women are routinely mistreated and underpaid (earning just 76 cents for every dollar that their equally qualified male colleagues earn). The organization supports the Fair Pay Act which would establish "comparable worth wage scales" to regulate worker wages.

To remedy what it deems the widespread discrimination suffered by American working women, 9 to 5 has initiated a number of activist campaigns. One of these is called "Support Paid Sick Days," which the organization characterizes as a "women's issue" (because women as a whole earn less than men, and thus are presumably more affected by sick days for which they are not paid). 

Another 9 to 5 campaign is called "Stop Family Medical Leave Cuts," an initiative that would allow all workers to take a 12-week leave from their jobs for medical reasons. Because women often serve as caretakers for ailing relatives, 9 to 5 deems this a women's issue as well.

9 to 5 opposes the privatization of Social Security, which it says would create "huge benefit cuts and less security for working families."

9 to 5 endorsed the National Organization for Women's 1996 "Fight the Right" campaign, whose stated mission was to prevent "religious, political extremists" of "the radical right wing" from taking away the rights and liberties of Americans. Fight the Right's chief concerns included the maintenance of race and gender preferences in employment and education, and the affirmation of every woman's right to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand.

9 to 5 strongly opposes welfare reform initiatives -- in particular the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which moved large numbers of people off the welfare rolls and into jobs, and moved 2.3 million children out of poverty. In 9 to 5’s calculus, however, the 1996 Act was emblematic of "punitive approaches to welfare" that ought to be avoided.

9 to 5 invites its members to participate in its "Speak Out" program, which provides forum where women may publicize any negative experiences they have had in the workplace. The organization also provides a Job Survival Hotline where women may call or email a "trained staff" about issues of concern to them -- most commonly sexual harassment, family leave, and pregnancy discrimination. 9 to 5 reports that some 15,000 women make use of this hotline each year.

To address some of these same issues in a written format, the organization produces such publications as: Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment; The Job Family Challenge: Not for Women Only; The 9 to 5 Newsline; and What Do I Do if I'm Experiencing Race Discrimination?

9 to 5 has assembled a Speakers' Bureau of several "Experts on Working Women's Issues," who not only give public presentations but also host "diversity training" workshops and seminars for corporate employees. Among the corporations to have made use of 9 to 5's Speakers Bureau and training services are: Blue Cross/Blue Shield; Colle & McVoy; Japan Airlines; Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District; the Police Academy in Wisconsin; South Oaks Hospital in New York; The Atlanta Journal Constitution; the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; the Kansas City (Missouri) Fire Department; the United States Bureau of Prisons; and Winnebago Bingo and Casino Halls of Wisconsin.

To finance its many organizational activities, 9 to 5 solicits private donations from its members and the general public. These are supplemented by membership dues, which bring in $25 per year, per individual. Foundation donors in recent years have included the Ford Foundation; the Ms. Foundation for Women; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; the Rockefeller Family Fund; the Annie E. Casey Foundation; the Ben and Jerry's Foundation; the Joyce Foundation; the Public Welfare Foundation; and the Rockefeller Foundation. The Capital Research Center reports that from 1998 through 2000, total revenues for 9 to 5 exceeded $2.13 million. In 2004 the organization received grants totaling $300,000, and it spent $267,189 on "Program Services" designed to "Assist Women to Stay/Survive on the Job."


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