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Norma Rae Dead at age 60

September 14th, 2009 2 comments

Crystal Lee Sutton the inspiration of Sally Field’s Character in a 1979 movie Norma Rae has died at age 68.  It is reported that Sutton died from brain cancer in the Burlington Hospice Home in Burlington, North Carolina.

According to Sutton herself in an article from Facing South the health insurer delayed treatment.

Read the Facing South article for more information about her treatment and history as a labor activist.

Real ‘Norma Rae’ dies of cancer after insurer delayed treatment

The North Carolina union organizer who was the inspiration for the movie “Norma Rae” died on Friday of brain cancer after a battle with her insurance company, which delayed her treatment. She was 68.

Crystal Lee Sutton, formerly Crystal Lee Jordan, was fired from her job folding towels at the J.P. Stevens textile plant in her hometown of Roanoke Rapids, N.C. for trying to organize a union in the early 1970s. Her last action at the plant — writing the word “UNION” on a piece of cardboard and standing on her work table, leading her co-workers to turn off their machines in solidarity — was memorialized in the 1979 film by actress Sally Field. The police physically removed Sutton from the plant for her action.

But her efforts ultimately succeeded, as the Amalgamated Clothing Workers won the right to represent the plant’s employees on Aug. 28, 1974. Sutton later became a paid organizer for the union, which through a series of mergers became part of UNITE HERE before splitting off this year to form Workers United, which is affiliated with the Service Employees International Union.

Several years ago, Sutton was diagnosed with meningioma, a type of cancer of the nervous system. While such cancers are typically slow-growing, Sutton’s was not — and she went two months without potentially life-saving medication because her insurance wouldn’t cover it initially. Sutton told the Burlington (N.C.) Times-News last year that the insurer’s behavior was an example of abuse of the working poor:

“How in the world can it take so long to find out [whether they would cover the medicine or not] when it could be a matter of life or death,” she said. “It is almost like, in a way, committing murder.”

Though Sutton eventually received the medication, the cancer had already taken hold. She passed away on Friday, Sept. 11 in a Burlington, N.C. hospice.

“Crystal Lee Sutton was a remarkable woman whose brave struggles have left a lasting impact on this country and without doubt, on me personally,” Field said in a statement released Friday. “Portraying Crystal Lee in ‘Norma Rae,’ however loosely based, not only elevated me as an actress, but as a human being.”

Field won an Oscar, a Golden Globe and the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for her portrayal of the character based on Sutton. The film in turn was based on the 1975 book “Crystal Lee: A Woman of Inheritance” by New York Times reporter Henry P. “Hank” Leiferman.

Sutton was only 17 when she began working at the J.P. Stevens plant in northeastern North Carolina, where conditions were poor and the pay was low. A Massachusetts-based company that for many years was listed on the Fortune 500, J.P. Stevens is now part of the WestPoint Home conglomerate.

In 1973, Sutton, by then a mother of three, was earning only $2.65 an hour. That same year, Eli Zivkovich, a former coal miner from West Virginia, came to Roanoke Rapids to organize the plant and began working with Sutton, who was fired after she copied a flyer posted by management warning that blacks would run the union. It was that incident which led Sutton to stand up with her “UNION” sign.

“It is not necessary I be remembered as anything, but I would like to be remembered as a woman who deeply cared for the working poor and the poor people of the U.S. and the world,” she said in a newspaper interview last year. “That my family and children and children like mine will have a fair share and equality.”

For more on Sutton’s life and work, visit the website of the Alamance Community College’s Crystal Sutton Collection.

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Wickers Review: Made in America Clothing

August 19th, 2009 No comments

This post has long been overdue.  This is part of my Made in the USA series.

As you may know that I have joined back up in the construction trades.  I am a union electrician and spend lots of time out in the sun and in holes full of filth.   So comfort, durability, and moisture transport is a must.  When you are climbing around machines in the basement of a power plant you want to make it as comfortable as possible.  And your base layer is what makes you the most comfortable.  For my base layer I like WICKERS.COM


Premium performance underwear - www.wickers.com


This may be a bit personal…  I wear their boxer briefs.  They are comfortable offer a nice elastic waist band and keep me dry and smell free!  I have been wearing them exclusively for the past few months in all types of conditions and can say they get my nod for best boxer brief.  They are more comfortable and stand up to the abuse of hard work.  The bad thing about them is they are a bit pricey.  If you shop in their store on Wednesday they will have promotional products up to 40% off. CLICK HERE for great American base layer undergarments.

Made In USA – Review Series

May 3rd, 2009 No comments

For the past few months you have inevitably heard the phrase “Buy American”.  This isn’t a new phrase by any means, especially if you have been around me.  It is almost a humorous statement usually followed by a smirk from most people.  It is no mystery to anyone that has been around me long enough to know I get on my soap box when confronted with the question “how do you plan to solve it”.  I’m not totally sure how to end it, in fact I don’t want to end it.  Globalization at its finest created the US – sailors hitting the shores of North America searching for riches.  What I do want to end is the displacement of American’s for manufacturing jobs overseas.  In other words I don’t want an American to be out of work so that a product can be produced in another country.

This post isn’t about history or so much about social awareness of my fellow American’s as it is an introduction to a series of post I am writing about American Made goods I have bought and used over the past few months.

I plan to do a post about each of the products.  I have no time-line for completion or number of post.  As a disclaimer I have not been paid or even requested to do reviews of these products. So far I plan to do a review of:

  • Work Boots
  • T-shirts
  • Jeans
  • Socks
  • Tools

You know the basic guy stuff.  My inspiration comes from a fellow blogger Stephanie at On My Mind.  Stephanie runs a website,dedicated to goods “Still Made in the USA.”  Stephanie’s Why Care page states it well the reasons I care and what my intention of the post to come are about:

According to consumer polls, most Americans don’t know or care where products are made, and if asked will say only that they would buy American-made products if the cost were the same or nearly the same as the imported versions.

With our single-minded pursuit of low prices, we have attained unprecedented levels of material possessions, but what have we given up? The answers are all around us if we would but look. The more I read and listen, the more reasons I find to pay attention to where things are made.

The purpose of StillMadeinUSA.com [in my case the corresponding post] is not to stridently criticize, but to gently persuade. The decision to be an informed consumer must come from within. Below I suggest some reasons why consumers should care about looking for products that are made in the U.S.

Stay tuned for more info and post to come. Don’t forget you can sign up to recive post via e-mail.

China is Upset about US Steel Probe

May 2nd, 2009 No comments

In the early part of April US Steel manufacturers filed suit against China for dumping steel on the US Market.  It is no suprise that the Chinese Government is upset about the probe and for the obvious reasons.  As a product of the US Steel Market and the tublar pipe used for the Oil & Gas industry the probe is welcome.

I am all for fair trade and globalization…  But the dumping of cheaper goods unfairly is dangerous to all involved, especially my family.  There are lots of problems in the US Steel Market all the way down to raw ores and scrap metal – I am not defending that.  But, what the Chinese have done over the past few years is detrimental to the global economy.  Not only in a monetary standpoint – also environmentally (see my Earth Day post “American-made steel is cleaner than steel made in China.”

I found an interesting article on United Press International titled “China dismayed over U.S. probe of steel

China dismayed over U.S. probe of steel

BEIJING, May 1 (UPI) — U.S. investigations into tubular and pipe steel imported from China is troubling for the Chinese government, the Commerce Ministry said.

The U.S. Commerce department this week said it was launching anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations into Chinese steel pipes used in oil and gas drilling, China’s state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

Countervailing duties are duties imposed under World Trade Organization rules to neutralize the negative effects of other duties, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia said.

The U.S. decision to open the investigations has been protested, Commerce Ministry spokesman Yao Jian said. Warning the move would send the wrong signals to the world, Yao said China would monitor the case and respond as appropriate.

“The steel pipe is the main product of Chinese steel exports to the U.S.,” Yao said. “The move will seriously hurt the Sino-U.S. steel trade and pose negative impact on the relevant U.S. industries.”

U.S. steelmakers April 8 filed an anti-dumping suit with U.S. trade bodies for an investigation into the steel products, Xinhua reported.

Yao said the probes constituted discrimination against Chinese products and an abuse of special safeguard measures.