In May 1993 Joyce retired from ACTWU and stepped down from the AFL-CIO Executive Council to accept the appointment as the Executive Director of the Glass Ceiling Commission under the Clinton Administration. This federal commission held hearings around the country collecting testimony from women on the status of female employment and investigating upward mobility of women in the workforce that culminated in a report on their findings.
She became a Special Advisor to the DOL Secretary Robert Reich at the conclusion of her work with the Glass Ceiling Commission.
Joyce later became a member of the Wage Appeals Board under the Department of Labor serving as a judge adjudicating wage dispute cases until 1998.
During her retirement Joyce had been active in labor related activities as well as the Women’s National Democratic Club and she volunteered on the comment line for the Obama White House.
Joyce raised 3 children as a single parent: Rebecca – who followed her mother into the labor movement, Joshua, a college professor and Adam, an attorney. She has 2 grandchildren, Lillian, 13 and Sarah, 11.
Over the years she was recognized with honors and awards. What follows is a sampling:
May 1978: Midwest Labor Press Association presentation of Eugene V. Debs Award to the first woman recipient. The award is given annually to a person who exemplifies the spirit of Debs, the great union leader of the 20th century.
June 7, 1979: David L. Clendenin Award. Distinguished Service to Labor’s Rights- Workers Defense League
May 7, 1981: Recipient of the Florence Criley Award by the Chicago CLUW Chapter
October 9, 1985: Pioneer Women Na’amat Celebration of Women Award
June 19, 1993 Americans for Democratic Action: For her work on behalf of working women
In March 2010 CLUW Executive Director Carol Rosenblatt interviewed Joyce Miller as part of the March 2010 CLUW Working Women’s Award Celebration. Joyce was an award recipient
Joyce D. Miller’s responses are indicative of her world view:
When did you first walk in a picket line – where/when/what job action? What was your impression?
I was first involved in the Farrah (Farrah Pants) strike and organizing effort which lasted for 18 years. I was in El Paso and San Antonio, TX. I walked the picket line and did whatever was necessary to support those that were picketing. This took place during the 1970’s. The workers were very brave, courageous and received substandard wages. This strike was the story that was told in the movie “Norma Rae” There was an 18 year struggle to organize the workers.
What is something that no one else knows about you that added to your growth as a leader?
My background was in education and for my master’s degree I wrote on the role of the residential school in labor education and used the UAW model in Port Huron, Michigan. After World War II I taught English in a displaced workers program that was held in the union building of the RWDSU (Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union). This early experience of contact with a union environment helped me to know that I wanted to become a union leader.
Services were held for Joyce Miller at the Washington Hebrew Congregation on July 2nd in Washington, DC.
On October 9th the Coalition of Labor Union Women, Workers United/ SEIU, and the AFL-CIO hosted a memorial/tribute to Joyce Miller at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, DC.
Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends and with her CLUW family also. Our sister Joyce was a treasure to us and will never be forgotten.
Please see other Obits in the New Your Times, The Washington Post, the LA Times, Talking Union Blog and Jewish Women’s Archives that follow.
New York Times Article
Washington Post Article
Los Angeles Times Article
Talking Union Word Press Article
Jewish Women's Archive Article