Co-founder of first woman-run union, Edith Lauterback, dies

Edith Lauterback became a flight attendant at a time when stewardesses could be fired for being deemed overweight or hitting their 30s.

The last remaining co-founder of the first union run by women has died.

Edith Edna Lauterback was 91 and lived in San Francisco when she died Feb. 4, Bloomberg reported.

The Association of Flight Attendants issued a statement after her death.

"Today, the Flight Attendant community lost our hero, our guiding light," the statement said. "As our heavy hearts remember our friend and trailblazing founder, we reflect on Edith's contributions to our profession and our union each and every day."

The association said Lauterback became a flight attendant in 1944 when she was hired by United Airlines. She quickly began questioning the airline industry on issues like safety, wages and working conditions.

Bloomberg said that at the time Lauterback became a stewardess, flight attendants could be fired for getting married, being deemed overweight, or hitting their 30s.

A year after starting her career, Lauterback helped found the first union organized, run and controlled by women. The association said she worked for that union for nearly seven decades.

"Edith's legacy to our profession still touches each and every Flight Attendant across the country," the association said in the statement.

In 1952, Lauterback helped create federal regulations for flight attendant safety and evacuations that remain the basis of modern evacuation processes.

Bloomberg said Lauterback was a flight attendant for more than four decades before retiring in 1986.


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