Women applaud a labor plug for the ERA

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"Women have to stop downgrading themselves," said Illinois state Sen. Lynn Martin, a candidate for John B. Anderson's seat in the US House. Like scores of other speakers addressing the 20,000 women attending the three-day women's career convention here, Senator Martin stressed that even when they have never held a paid job or have been out of the job market for many years, women are highly qualified, thanks to their unpaid work as housewives, mothers, and volunteer workers, Monitor correspondent Jonathan Harsch reports.

Gloria Steinem, the editor of Ms. magazine, told women that "we are just beginning to recognize the degree to which we have been imprisoned and humiliated."

The feminist leader welcomed unprecedented support that came Saturday from a Chicago meeting of top labor leaders. AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland called on the Illinois Legislature to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution. In pledging total union support for the ERA campaign, Mr. Kirkland said that "equality should be a constitutional right, rather than a statutory right or a right only guaranteed those protected by a union contract" -- and the auto workers, steelworkers, and mineworkers in Plumbers Hall shouted their approval.

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Teamsters general secretary-treasurer Ray Schoessling -- who said he represented the "International Brotherhood and Sisterhood of Teamsters" -- was cheered by the packed house of trade union workers when he said that "no employer has the right to declare that the work of a woman is worth less than that of a man."

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