From the Legacy.com obituary today:
Alta made Indiana a better place for women to work and live. But, one should say, not only for the women of Indiana, but for all women throughout this great country. She fought to eliminate barriers by filing a class-action sex discrimination suit against a corporate giant and a local union more than 40 years ago. And her effort has not been forgotten. A statewide council of judges from the Indiana Commission for Women has acknowledged her commitment to battling discrimination by presenting her its Torchbearer Award for labor advocacy. She was nominated by the Indiana Women's History Association. The state honored women torchbearers at the second annual “Salute to Women” held in November, 2005 in Indianapolis. There were 42 finalists in 23 categories. Just to be a finalist is an honor. All were recognized for their accomplishments and they received certificates. Alta was also the recipient of the “2005” Women at Work Award” presented by the Indiana Women's Commission in October. She made history during a 10-year legal battle with Uniroyal and United Rubber Workers Local 65. On Jan. 13, 1970, Alta and seven other laid-off female co-workers traveled to Chicago to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's office to file a lawsuit. Her objective as the lead plaintiff in the sex discrimination suit filed against the corporate giant and the union was clear. Alta wholeheartedly believed that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was meant to protect workers from discrimination on the basis of sex or race. Her story is as dramatic as that of the story of “Norma Rae” and how she unionized workers into the Textile Workers Union of America. Alta's struggle was every bit as difficult. “We had to go through so many lawsuits to achieve our goal,” she said. In 1959, she was hired at Uniroyal in Mishawaka. More than 1,100 local women worked on footwear lines. However, in 1969, Uniroyal began closing down manufacturing lines. Alta was laid off in August 1969. “I was self-supporting,” she said. “And I didn't realize how hard it would be financially.” When her supplemental unemployment benefits were cut -- along with those of female co-workers -- she prepared to file charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. May Alta's legacy live on.