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August 22: A Woman on the AFL-CIO’s Executive

August 22, 2013

joyce_miller_1977-1Joyce D. Miller (born Hannah Joyce Dannen), a vice-president of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, became, at age 52, the first woman to serve on the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council on this date in 1980. The Chicago-born labor leader was an innovator in the labor movement who set up childcare centers for the Amalgamated and housing, legal assistance and college scholarship programs for its members and their families. She was appointed to the Glass Ceiling Commission, investigating the obstacles to women’s advancement in the workplace, under President Clinton in 1993, and later became a special adviser to Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich. She was a founding member of the Coalition of Labor Union Women in 1974 and served as CLUW’s president from 1977 until 1993. She died on June 30, 2012 at age 84.

“When secretaries were men, clerical work was well paid, upwardly mobile and high status. When women became secretaries, they hit a low-paid dead end. The same thing happened when women replaced men as sewing-machine operators, bank tellers and telephone operators. The market seems to notice when the workers in a job undergo a sex change.”—Joyce Miller