Evy Dubrow, Worker Advocate, Dies at 95

Evelyn "Evy" Dubrow, a longtime worker advocate whom one U.S. congressman called "an American hero," died of a heart attack June 20 at George Washington University Hospital. She was 95.

Branded as the "union label" for championing the cause of low-wage workers, Dubrow also worked tirelessly for safe working conditions for employees across the nation.

The daughter of a union carpenter and younger sister of a suffragette, Dubrow became famous fighting for labor rights as a congressional lobbyist for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union in 1956. When the union merged with another to form UNITE! (United Needleworkers, Industrial and Textile Employees), she became vice president and legislative director, then special assistant to its president.

Dubrow founded the Coalition of Labor Union Women and Americans for Democratic Action, where she tackled difficult issues ranging from fair trade to civil rights. In 1999, former President Clinton awarded her the Medal of Freedom the nation's highest civilian honor for her role in fighting for social justice for all Americans.

However, it was her all-around commitment to labor rights whether it was increasing the minimum wage, granting pay equity to women, health care reform or improving working conditions that helped Dubrow win the respect of both union and congressional leaders alike, as she became a regular fixture on Capitol Hill.

Clinton once said Dubrow was a "tiny woman, larger than life," referring to how a petite, 4-foot-11-inch woman could cause such a stir in Washington by bringing people of opposing views together.

Since her passing, union leaders and politicians have said the following about Dubrow:

  • House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.: "With the death of Evy Dubrow, America's workers have lost one of their greatest and most effective champions."
  • Rep. George Miller, D-Calif.: "Evy Dubrow is an American hero. I will be forever grateful for her tireless efforts on behalf of working men and women in our country."
  • AFL-CIO President John Sweeney: "I'm convinced that the biggest reason she won so many victories over the years was that she was lobbying for a cause she loved with all her heart: the women and men of her union."
  • Unite Here General President Bruce Raynor: "Evy Dubrow may have stood only 5 feet tall, but she was a giant in the halls of Congress."
  • Change to Win Chair Anna Burger: "Her brothers and sisters in the labor movement, and generations of lawmakers, knew her charm, intelligence and indomitable spirit. But all working Americans owe Evy a debt of gratitude for her lifelong efforts to improve their working conditions, pay and benefits.
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