The Willmar 8 were eight female employees of the Citizens National Bank in Willmar, Minnesota, USA who went on strike on December 16, 1977 over charges of sex discrimination. The tellers and bookkeepers were protesting unequal pay and unequal opportunities for advancement.[1] The women were Doris Boshart, Irene Wallin, Sylvia Erickson Koll, Jane Harguth Groothuis, Sandi Treml, Teren Novotny, Shirley Solyntjes, and Glennis Ter Wisscha.[2] They set up a picket line outside the bank when the wind chill was -70°F (-57 °C).[3] One other employee, Lois Johnson, quit just before the strike began.

The Willmar 8 picketing Citizens National

"The women's strike caused stress for many in the Western Minnesota town of 14,000 people. Few outwardly showed support for the strike and the lawyer who took the women's case, John Mack, lost his position as county chair of the Republican Party."[3] From outside Willmar, women's and labor groups as well as private individuals supported the strike in various ways.

In the summer of 1979, E. Dorian Gadsden of the National Labor Relations Board issued a ruling on the complaint. The NLRB declared that the bank was guilty of unfair labor practices, but those practices did not cause the strike. The NLRB ruled that the strike was "economic". As a result there was no back pay and no guarantee of the women recovering their jobs.[3]

Rhoda R. Gilman, the author of The Story of Minnesota's Past observed that "across Minnesota and elsewhere, banks quietly began to make some changes."[4] In 1981 Lee Grant directed a documentary on the Willmar 8 entitled The Willmar 8.[5] A 1984 docudrama, A Matter of Sex, also directed by Lee Grant, was based on events related to the strike.[6]

References edit

  1. ^ (UPI) (December 17, 1978). "Women Still On Strike In Bank Sex Bias Case". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Kimberly Wilmot Voss (May 3, 2003). "'Willmar 8' Earn Rank as Equal-Pay Pioneers". Women's eNews.
  3. ^ a b c Asa Wilson. "Decades later, Willmar 8 are heroes to a new generation". Workday Minnesota. Archived from the original on 2009-12-04. Retrieved 2009-01-24.
  4. ^ Rhoda R. Gilman (1991). The Story of Minnesota's Past. Minnesota Historical Society Press. ISBN 9780873512671.[page needed]
  5. ^ "The Willmar 8". IMDB. May 3, 2003. Retrieved 2009-01-24.
  6. ^ Corry, John, "TV: 'A matter of sex,' story of a bank strike", The New York Times, January 16, 1984

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