Saturday, September 12, 2009

Real ‘Norma Rae’ Dies After Battle With Health Insurer (Video)

Crystal Lee Sutton was the courageous woman who inspired the 1979 Oscar-winning film Norma Rae, starring Sally Field.

Thank you, Crystal Lee Sutton.

She became a hero to the labor movement in the 1970s, when she took on her employer, a North Carolina textile plant, and unionized the factory floor. Her story became famous nationwide in 1975 after New York Times reporter Hank Leiferman wrote Crystal Lee: A Woman of Inheritance.

From a news account in 2008:

Crystal Lee Sutton, 67, says she never lived on easy street and wasn't born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but none of that stopped her from making a difference in this world. . . She went two months without possible life-saving medications because her insurance wouldn’t cover it, another example of abusing the working poor, she said.

“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.”

"When I went in the plant with my union pin, you would have thought I had the plague and that is when the trouble started. It was truly different because a woman had never done or dared to do such stuff."
-- Crystal Lee Sutton

"I would like to be remembered as a woman who deeply cared for the poor people of the U.S. and the world."
-- Crystal Lee Sutton