Abby Zimet

R.I.P. Crystal Lee Sutton, then Jordan, the North Carolina textile worker and union organizer whose real-life stand for justice
inspired the movie "Norma Rae." In 1973 Sutton was a 33-year-old mother
of three earning $2.65 an hour folding towels at the notorious J.P.
Stevens when she decided, like Rosa Parks, that she was tired of being
tired. As in that explosive moment in the film, she really did stand on
that table: "All of a sudden, the plant was very quiet." The next year, the Amalgamated
Clothing and Textile Workers Union won the right to represent 3,000
employees at seven Stevens plants. One formerly ordinary person, making a huge difference.

Bruce Raynor, of Workers United and the Service Employees International Union, who worked with
Sutton to organize the Stevens plants: "Crystal was an amazing symbol of workers standing up in the South
against overwhelming odds - and standing up and winning." 


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