” A Pale Green Mermaid Blog”
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This post is dedicated to,
Crystal Lee Jordon who was the inspiration for the Movie ” Norma Rae”. Her book is titled ” A Woman Of Inheritance” She died in 2009.
Crystal Lee Jordan (née Pulley; December 31, 1940 – September 11, 2009), also known as Crystal Lee Sutton, was an American union organizer and advocate who gained fame during the early 1970s. She was fired from her job at the J.P. Stevens plant in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina for trying to unionize its employees. She was earning $2.65 an hour folding towels. The poor working conditions she and her fellow employees suffered compelled her to join forces with Eli Zivkovich, a union organizer, and attempt to unionize the J.P. Stevens employees. “Management and others treated me as if I had leprosy”, she stated.
She received threats and was finally fired from her job. But before she left, she took one final stand, filmed verbatim in the 1979 film Norma Rae.
“I took a piece of cardboard and wrote the word UNION on it in big letters, got up on my work table, and slowly turned it around. The workers started cutting their machines off and giving me the victory sign. All of a sudden the plant was very quiet…”[
Jordan was physically removed from the plant by police, but the result of her actions was staggering. The Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union won the right to represent the workers at the plant on August 28, 1974. Jordan later became a paid organizer for the ACTWU.
“Norma Rae ” the film, says something that was never said before so distinctly and will never be said again. It is the definitive statement on why unions matter.