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Dial-an-Organizer: Using Storytelling and Emotion to Build Movements

By Kressent Pottenger

Imagine: you call a hotline to complain about how you were fired for being pregnant or harassed by your manager. On the other end, an operator gives you advice on organizing and labor law.

It sounds unlikely today, but in the 1970s, a group of women clerical workers, frustrated with their treatment, developed and achieved success with these non-traditional methods of organizing.

Migrating from the unpaid labor of the home to wage labor in the office, women workers needed a safe way to confide the humiliations and degradation they were experiencing in their offices. The working women’s group 9to5 therefore developed the “9to5 Job Survival Hotline,” which functioned much like hotlines for domestic abuse or suicide. This private hotline allowed women workers to call, anonymously, describe their grievances in what was at times embarrassing detail, and determine how to push back. 9to5 thereby created a safe space via phone for women workers to call and speak about what they endured on the job, and learn what course of action to take next. Continue reading Dial-an-Organizer: Using Storytelling and Emotion to Build Movements