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Black Women Built That: Labor and Workers’ Rights - Hattie Canty: One of the Greatest Strike Leaders in U.S. History (1933-2012)

Born in rural Alabama in 1933, Hattie Canty was one of the greatest strike leaders in U.S. history. She found work as a cook in California before settling in Las Vegas with her husband, who supported the family and ten children. Except for a short stint working as a maid at the Thunderbird Hotel in Las Vegas in 1972, Canty largely stayed home to raise the family’s ten children. In 1975, her husband fell ill and succumbed to lung cancer. Facing the prospect of caring for eight of her children who were still living at home, 41-year-old Canty took another maid job at a hotel – this time the Maxim – a hotel unionized with Las Vegas Culinary Workers Union Local 226. Because of the union, the job afforded Canty health benefits, a pension, and wages far above the minimum wage. Over the next dozen years, Canty rose through the ranks, being promoted from maid to attendant. She spent every one of her off-days walking a picket line when there was a picket line to walk.

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