ERIC Number: ED247204
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Apr
Reference Count: 0
Working Women's Consciousness: Traditional or Oppositional?
Based on an analysis of oral history interviews, this paper examines the events and consciousness surrounding a 1979 strike initiated by 53 female office employees of the Wisconsin Education Association (WEA) Insurance Trust. Faced with sex-discriminatory working conditions, the women at the Trust responded by initiating a strike. For many of the women, the strike was extremely stressful, requiring that single mothers risk financial hardship, that some married women challenge traditional power relationships with their husbands, and that all women confront conventional expectations about proper feminine behavior. Although the strike received little publicity and support from other labor unions, supportive comments in a speech directed to the WEA by Jane Fonda resulted in more publicity, increased support, and confirmation that the strike was a legitimate action. Despite the elimination of the salary schedule, the strike resulted in gains in the area of improved grievance language and strong union input into work rules. In the estimation of many of the Trust women, they had won the strike. By enabling the women to challenge the restrictions of work and family, the strike resulted for many in changes of consciousness including greater self-confidence, outspokenness, and independence. Although some ambivalence was expressed over support for the labor movement in general, for many, the process of striking led to the solidification of women's relationships, a growth in critical consciousness, and a greater identification with feminist issues and working women. (LH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Consciousness Research; Wisconsin Education Association
Note: Paper presented at the Berkshire Conference on the History of Women (6th, North Hampton, MA, June 1984).