WASHINGTON – Elinor Marshall Glenn, a co-founding officer of the Coalition of Labor Union Women and an instrumental organizer of its Los Angeles-based West Coast chapter, died April 24, CLUW announced. Glenn was 98.
“CLUW’s legacy is that much richer as a result of Elinor Glenn,” organization president Karen See said. “Her leadership, strength and wisdom contributed to CLUW’s growth and will inspire young leaders in the future.”
Glenn was CLUW’s Vice President-West Coast from 1974-1975 and also served on the group’s national executive board. She was elected as CLUW’s national Corresponding Secretary from 1982-91. L.A. chapter President Maggie Cook called Glenn “a mentor to every woman that knew her.” And Glenn was the first woman to become General Manager of a Service Employees local, Local 434 in Los Angeles.
“The beautiful part of CLUW is the sense of sisterhood that it set up while we were fighting for the goals for women,” Glenn said.
While attending New York University, Glenn met the author Herman Wouk at a summer camp for theater artists and is supposed to be the model for his character Marjorie Morningstar. She graduated with degrees in economics and drama.
Her activism started with a student protest at NYU and was followed by volunteer work for the Seafarers, and teaching English during the Depression-when she was also Vice President of the Works Progress Administration Teachers Union.
After moving to Los Angeles in 1944, Glenn became more deeply involved in union organizing. She was fired three times – but reinstated – for organizing workers at the World War II-era Office of Price Administration. She then joined, and moved up the ranks in, the National Federation of Federal Employees, before being elected president of the United Public Workers Local 246.
Glenn later became GM at SEIU Local 434, organizing thousands of public hospital workers in L.A. County, lobbying successfully for a collective bargaining ordinance and leading a successful county workers strike to protect wages and seniority rights. She was elected to the SEIU executive board in 1972 and retired in 1979. Survivors include her daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.
Becoming an organizer was not easy for a woman, Glenn once recalled. “Each time I went up the ladder it was a fight to recognize that a woman could do the job. And in each case, I suggested a temporary probation period to see whether I would make it or not,” she added.