Union organizer Rebia Mixon reviews Made in Dagenham
A union member and organizer assesses the British film about women in a Ford plant organizing for equal pay in the 1960s.
MADE IN DAGENHAM
The movie This uplifting drama, loosely based on real events, follows the career of Rita, a woman working in Ford’s Dagenham factory in England in the late 1960s. She becomes a union spokesperson and leads female workers in their fight for equal pay.
The expert Rebia Mixon is a member of the Service Employees International Union and a home-care worker assisting her brother, who has severe cerebral palsy/paranoia schizophrenia. As an SEIU collective bargaining representation intern, she has been involved in union organizing and negotiations with the state government.
Were there things you recognized in this story?
When Rita was first chosen to lead, it’s like it was almost my story. People in the union were telling me, “We need people like you.” I was reluctant at first, but after some coaxing, I decided to be a part of the union. In that sense, I got what was going on in the movie.
Is the issue of women in the workplace and fair pay still relevant?
There’s a lot that is relevant. I’m in home care. Until just a few years back, we were called glorified baby-sitters. And it was the same with the women in the film. The company figured sewing [seat covers] is not a real job.
The union men in the movie, even Rita’s husband, can’t get behind the women.
It’s gotten a little better, but it has a long way to go. I remember when I first started, the man I was seeing was gung-ho for [me to join the union]. But once we were married, and I needed to be gone and talk with political figures, there was reluctance. After a while, he came on board. The movie rang true in a lot of areas in my life. —Hank Sartin
Made in Dagenham is in theaters now.