9to5: The Story of a Movement, an Independent Lens presentation

9to5: The Story of a Movement, an Independent Lens presentation

Mon, 02/01/2021 - 10:00pm - 11:00pm
9to5 Cleveland holds an action in protest of National City Bank.  

Credit: Courtesy of Steve Cagan

Go inside the inspiring movement for women's workplace equality in the 1970s.

Before the hit song and Hollywood movie, “9to5” was an inspiring grassroots movement for equality that fused the spirit of both the women’s and labor movements of the 1970s. From filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, the duo behind the Academy-Award winning documentary American Factory, 9to5: The Story of a Movement chronicles the waves of secretaries, starting in Boston, who in the 1970s and 80s fought to create impactful changes in their workplaces. Their ideas spread rapidly, eventually leading to a nationwide movement at the intersection of the women’s movement and the labor movement, and changed the American workforce forever.

Commended as “stirring” by Variety and “urgent” by The Boston Globe, 9to5: The Story of a Movement premieres on PBS’s Independent Lens on February 1, 2021 at 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV.

Watch the Trailer: 

In the 1970s, secretaries and clerical workers made up the largest sector of the American workforce, with over 20 million employed. Inspired by the growing Women’s Liberation Movement, secretaries Ellen Cassedy and Karen Nussbaum got mad, got organized, and started a group called “9to5.” The group grappled with class and race barriers, and deployed humor and wry publicity stunts to shame their bosses into change. Their goals were simple: better pay, job descriptions, respect, advancement opportunities, and an end to sexual harassment. What Cassedy and Nussbaum didn’t know is that similar groups were popping up in Chicago, San Francisco, and other cities across the country. Clerical workers were the low-wage workers of their era. As America confronts the growing reality of deep income inequality and commonplace sexual harassment, the stories and strategies of these bold, creative women continue to resonate deeply almost 50 years later.

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