Thank You, George Miller

By Motlagh, Jason; Taylor, Susie | Ms, Summer 2014 | Go to article overview

Thank You, George Miller


Motlagh, Jason, Taylor, Susie, Ms


The retiring longtime congressmember deserves a lion's share of praise for his women's rights work

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) is often called "the Liberal Lion," a politician apt at walking both sides of the aisles on behalf of working-class Americans. Now serving his 40th year in office, he remains a stalwart for the same core issues that first got him elected: quality education, a healthy environment and the rights of women in the workplace, at home and abroad.

Born and raised in Richmond, Calif., Miller arrived in Washington as a 29-yearold "Watergate Baby," part of the liberal wave that followed the ouster of President Richard Nixon. In March 1976, less than three years after Gen. Augusto Pinochet had the democratically elected president of Chile assassinated in a military coup, Miller traveled to the South American nation. "It was a transformational experience for me to see a country being robbed of its democracy, and it led me to focus on human and labor rights during my time in Congress," he says.

By the late 1970s, Miller had established himself as a fierce proponent of women's rights. Though hospitalized because of an injury, he came to vote in favor of the ERA extension in 1978. "He was literally rolled in on a hospital-like gurney. We needed every vote and never forgot it," says Ms. publisher Eleanor Smeal, then president of NOW and leader of the campaign.

One of Miller's recent notable campaigns was to expose and confront systemic labor abuses in the Northern Mariana Islands, a string of western Pacific islands captured by the U.S. during World War II, where legal loopholes allowed manufacturers to label goods "Made in USA" and not pay import duties or be subject to regulatory oversight [see "Paradise Lost," Ms. …

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