Iron Range newspaper profiles early ‘silence breakers’

Charlize Theron starred in “North Country” (2005) a film based on the Jensen vs. Eveleth Mines case.

On Sunday, the Mesabi Daily News featured a major story about the #metoo movement with a special tie to Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range.

Penned by editor Jerry Burnes and reporter Leah Ryan, “One of the First Silence Breakers” includes an interview with Lois Jensen, the original Eveleth Mines sexual harassment case plaintiff.

This story is significant. The book “Class Action,” on which the movie “North Country” is based, lamented the lack of local coverage of harassment in the mines. The chief culprit: the Mesabi Daily News. When the story of the lawsuit did make the MDN in the 1980s, it was either buried inside the paper or painted in a negative light.

Here in 2017, the paper interviewed several women for valuable perspective. Perhaps hard feelings still dwell somewhere in parts of the Mesabi Range, but the rancor of the past seems to have subsided. Now, the MDN finally reads an important account into official record of the Iron Range. This story stands as an effective localization of an important issue.

Progress can be slow, but should be celebrated when we see it. Many of the women who worked in the mines endured extremely difficult decades navigating a changing and sometimes dangerous workplace. Their work and hard-won victories now serve workers across the country.

As Jensen states in the story:

“I fought back first for myself, then requested a class to give the other women the opportunity to stand up for themselves, if they chose,” she said. “Ironically some of the men got it … some understood that when you make things better for one or a group, you benefit as well.”

The issue of sexual harassment in the workplace raises a lot of tumult, hard feelings and misunderstanding. That’s why it feels so uncomfortable. But no one knows better than Lois Jensen the real goal: a better workplace for everyone. Safer, more productive, and professional.

That’s what’s best for the next generation. That’s why we go through this.

Speak Your Mind

*