Fight back complete optimised pdf

  • 2,650 views
Uploaded on

 

More in: Career
  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Be the first to comment
    Be the first to like this
No Downloads

Views

Total Views
2,650
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0

Actions

Shares
Downloads
4
Comments
0
Likes
0

Embeds 0

No embeds

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
    No notes for slide

Transcript

  • 1. STEELWORKERS FIGHT BACK s T E E L s H A v I N G s Inland's Local Union 1010 and the Sadlowski/Balanoff Campaigns Ed Sadlowski Jim Balanoff Rank and File Insurgency in the Calumet Region during the 1970s James B. Lane and Mike Olszanski, co-editors Indiana University Northwest, Volume 30, 2000
  • 2. Steel City, Stone City by Robert Buzecky Buzecky, Miletich, Debryn, Rodriguez, Kowalak, thousands of Somebodies from all over the planet. Names make them different, blue shirts and steel make them family. Steel threads suspend giant sea hooks from overhead cranes. Steel coils sharp as razors reach out to slice the unwary. Rumbling railroad cars and dump trucks carelessness and exhaustion strike others down. The burial grounds not far from the mills now hold the steel men. Their dates are carved in stone. Between the dates is blank space - their lives where they labored at handwork, double shifts, sweated through their blue shirts, inhaled coal-dust air, smelled the stench of burning coal, and endured monster machines that hammered pounded rendered hauled iron and steel. That is not chiseled in the stones. Editor's Note By James B. Lane In 1986 my wife Toni and I went to an Oral HistoryAssociation conference held aboard the Queen Mary, a luxury linerpermanentlydocked in Long Beach, California. One session featured a tour of the Los Angeles-area waterfront conducted by veteran longshoremen, whose rich vein ofanecdotes evoked organized labor's militant depression-era beginnings. Inspired by their passion, I vowed some day to put together an oral history of Calumet Region steelworkers which would carry their story forward from the union's "heroic" 1930s origins and focus on the lesser-known activities of rank-and-file activists 40 years later. In 1981 , I had devoted a Steel Shavings issue to Work Experiences(volume 7) which included articles about numerous insurgent steelworkers, including Cliff"Cowboy'' Mezo, a charismatic union officerat InlandSteel. In 1990, inspired by Richard M. Dorson's book Land of the Millrats: Urban Folklore in Indiana's Calumet Region, I edited an issue entitled Steelworker Tales(volume 19), which contained lengthy interviews with a number of rank-and-file activists. During the early 1990s I began researching the District 31 Womep's Caucus, whose leaders supported progressives Ed SadlowskiandJim Balanoffintheircampaigns for districtdirector. Then Iturned my attention to the crucial role steelworker unionists played in the Bailly Alliance, a grassroots antinuclear coalition. One of its leaderswas MikeOlszanski, whowaschairman ofLocal1 01O's Environmental Committee and later its president. In the mid- 1990s Mike (or "Oz," his nickname at Inland, as I've come to call him), was a brilliant student in two of my American History courses. When he told me he was looking to use his talents as a historian upon his retirement from the mill, our collaboration on this project commenced. We decided to examine 1970s steelworker insurgency from the bottom up, starting with individual activists and then at the local, district and nationallevel(lnternationallevel really, since the USWA included Canada). It was a natural choice to concentrate on Inland's local union ' 1010, nicknamed the "Red" Local, which had a long history of rank and-file activism. Oz and I sharedthe interviewing duties, myconcentration being some of his old political rivals while his most memorable interviews were with Eddie Sadlowski and Clem Balanoff. Poor health has slowed down Jim Balanoff, but we recorded his succinct reactions to certain queries during a visit to his home on Elm Street in East Chicago, where his wife Betty added her insights and contributed a rich vein of anecdotes. We have supplemented the highlights of our three dozen or so interviews with findings by laborhistorians as well as primarymaterialsgleaned from minute books, convention proceedings, newsletters, Continued on inside back cover
  • 3. john Sargent: A young fella who hasn't got a broader perspective than just the union, sees the union as a step- ping stone to security for himself, either to get a job in the union or to use the union to get a job with the company, as a foreman for instance. Unless the guy has a socialist viewpoint, or some kind of broader viewpoint, you're not gonna get good leadership. The other side ofthe coin is that some become purists, and like any religion, you can't dissent any more. I was fortunate to be caught up in a great movement, and that doesn't happen very often in one's lifetime. Workers were gonna have a union, come hell or high water. Nothing was gonna stop them. History's important, but if anybody tells you you gotta believe a guy like me because he's been through this stuff, don't listen to him. It's not 1936 now. Use your own ini- tiative. The old guys did what they had to do. Introduction: Hiring In at Inland Mike 0/szanski: My dad grew up dirt poor in a small town in Poland and worked for the church as a grave digger. He left home because there was nothing to eat. He went to Germany, became a carpenter's apprentice, saw World War I about to start, and got the hell out of there. He was lucky enough to get on a boat in steerage and come to America. He arrived at Ellis Island around 1917 and got arrest- ed his second day in the country. Having no money, he started hanging out with hobos, who said, "You can eat with us, but tomorrow you have to bring something." He stole a quart of milk off a door step and got caught. He went before a German-born judge. Because he was able to speak German, he got off. Later on, while I was learning, "Thou shalt not steal," my dad told me, "When you or your family is hungry, it is not a sin to steal." From New York my dad went to Chicago, where his older brother was. How he got to Hammond, I'm not sure, probably looking for work. He did have some dis- tant cousins in the Region. He did all kinds of jobs: baker's apprentice at Wonder Bread, tailor's apprentice. He married a woman who got TB, out of poverty basi- cally. The cure was bed rest, but she couldn't get that or proper medical care and died very young. With no job or income, he put his baby girl with relatives and joined the CCC. He married my mother a couple years before I was born. She was about 20 years younger, probably in her late 20s. I was born in 1945 in East Chicago, at St. Catherine's. My family lived at 813 Hoffman Street in north Hammond -natives say 'Nord Hammond -in an ethnic neighbor- hood similar to Chicago's Southeast side. By the time I was three, my dad was building a place at 4539 1 Johnson, literally digging the hole for the basement with a shovel. One of my earliest memories is of him throw- ing the dirt out of the hole and me throwing it back in. He put a roof on the basement, and we moved in. The place was right next to the South Shore tracks in a Polish neighborhood. The plan was we'd save our money and go upstairs, but every time he saved some money, something hap- pened, like my older sister got polio. I grew up in a basement with a flat roof on the top and tar paper. It was actually pretty deep and came out of the ground a little bit. It was small, but we were happy there. One time somebody tried to sell my dad a deal on building the upstairs. He signed papers but backed out at the last minute when advised it was a bad deal. As a kid, I felt a little different. We were never hungry, but we were poor. My dad spoke with an accent. Most of my friends' parents were second-generation. In ret- rospect, I gained a lot from my father being first-genera- tion but at the time wanted to be "Joe Average." I start- ed off in kindergarten with the nuns at St. Casmir's. I was beaten often but never into submission. Perhaps that inspired my first radical ideas. My dad worked in a small shop called Standard Railway, which made railroad cars. It was on Columbia Avenue, walking distance because dad didn't drive. During World War II, when my dad hired in, they made gun shields for planes and tanks. My dad never got much above laborer. Overtime money was put in the bank as security against strikes and layoffs. There was a lot of them in the 1950s so he never quite got ahead. He was always getting ready for a strike. I was inquisitive and got into everything. I wanted to know how things worked. I built an amplifier for a high fi system. It didn't work the first time, but I kept at it. Once I damn near burned down the house. My dad was tol- erant; he'd say, "Let the kid alone." He was proud of all my experiments. When I wired up a light and got it to work at the age of 12, after blowing a bunch of fuses, he told his friends how ingenious I was. He only went through sixth grade but had figured out a lot of things. We got our first TV when I was about ten and became glued to it. Before that, it was the radio. My dad used to watch the news on TV and curse out the "God damn capitalists." He was an FOR Democrat but with an anti- capitalist twist. I never knew exactly where that came from because he was scared of the communists. It was, "Fuckin' Republicans" and "God damn capitalists." Once I asked, "How do you decide who to vote for?" He said, "I vote for the Democrats." When I asked him about the
  • 4. 2 primaries, he said, " I always vote for someone with a Polish name." He was very much into the Polish National Alliance. He hated fascism but not communism like those who left after the war. I always knew I was a member of the working class. Most people are raised to think this is a classless society, which is bullshit. When you're working class, you're on one side of that great divide. My father talked a lot to me, like I was his confidant. knew his whole life story before I was 12. Half the time, I didn't know what he was taking about, but I later fig- ured it out and really valued it. He told me that soon after he came to America, he married a woman who turned out to be a hooker. When he found that out, he got a quick divorce. "She was no fuckin' good," he'd say. He could not get an annulment since he didn't have his baptismal papers from Poland. Up until the year he died, the Catholic Church would not let him get married in the church nor receive the sacraments. These old Polish priests wouldn't bend the rules. For a long time he held a grudge. When he was literally on his death bed, a young priest cut the red tape somehow and my parents got married. To me the Polish stuff seemed old-fashioned. They tried to teach us Polish in grade school as a second lan- guage. My dad was thrilled, but not I. Most of the nuns spoke Polish and made us learn our prayers, the "Our Father" and "Hail Mary," in Polish. My dad would take me to the Polish National Alliance Christmas party, stand me on a table, and make me say my prayers in Polish. It was embarrassing, but I couldn't break his heart. My dad was joyous, very happy-go-lucky. He always managed to have a good time. He'd do all the polkas with other Polish ladies while my mother sat and watched. He'd go around and around the floor until I thought he'd drop. My mother worked at St. Catherine's as a nurse's aid and in the kitchen. My father was old- fashioned and didn't want her to work, but we needed the money. My younger sister stayed with mom until she died, never marrying, and still won't move away from the old place. In eighth grade, the nuns wanted us all to go to Bishop Noll and be priests. "Let me out of here," was my atti- tude. I had come to an awakening that I was not a devout Catholic. My parents, had they the money, would have loved for me to go to Bishop Noll. They had actually managed to send my older sister, but it was get- ting expensive and he was about to retire. I told them I wanted to go to Hammond Tech, which at the time had a poor reputation of servicing kids without any potential. But they had shops, and they had just put in a college prep program. Since I didn't know what I wanted to do, I figured I'd cover all the bases, learn electronics and also get myself ready to go to college. At first I made pretty good grades; but after I became a party animal, my grades went to hell. I almost didn't make it. I wanted to play sports in order to be one of the guys. I was skinny and never very athletic but stuck with foot- ball for four years and got my letter. I hardly played but was determined not to be a quitter. Being on the team, I got to hang out with the jocks. We went to Kelly's and Serenades, two adjacent drive-ins on Indianapolis Boulevard which attracted dragsters from all over the Region. I never had a fast car but hung out with guys who did. We'd go to Kelly's with our quart of beer and maybe get one order of fries for the six kids in the car so they wouldn't kick us out. Many school nights, we'd sit there chug-a-lugging beer. We could always find some- body to buy it for us. Of course, when my dad wasn't looking, I'd take some of his. Dick Biondi on WLS was the closest thing we had to Wolfman Jack. He'd tell you where the dances were and be live at Madura's Danceland, across from Lever Brothers. Sunday nights we'd go to Midway Ballroom in Cedar Lake. One time I saw Jerry Lee Lewis there. They had good deejays. The cops would take you away if you got too wild. Effie and Steve were the best dancers in the Region. At some point they'd do "the bitch," a dirty dance. Everybody would clear the floor. Half-way through the song troopers would kick them out; they'd be back the next week. There were four or five guys I ran with in a fairly tight circle. We had pretty wild adventures. Sometimes I wonder how we survived. If we weren't going to a dance, we might cruise 119th Street in Whiting, whistling at good-looking high school girls and trying to pick them up. It was like a ritual, all summer long. They'd be in shorts, and we'd try to get them in our 1953 Cadillac. Once we actually got two of them in the car. We chased a lot of girls but almost never caught them. I had a lot of dates but was a teenager right before the sexual revolution and drugs got to be widespread. Only one or two kids in our school did reefer, and we thought that was scary. One kid we called "Beatnik" because he wore sunglasses, even at night. He'd come into Kelly's with this beautiful 1957 Ford. One night he had cut the top out of his car with a torch. It was really jagged all around the top edges. He was stoned. Then it rained and he had to stay under Kelly's awning. After graduation in 1963, most all my friends went into
  • 5. the mill. We had been on that track. Steelworkers could make big bucks with no experience. I planned to work a couple years, make a bunch of money, buy a car and start college. I had no intention of spending my life there. I wanted to go to college; my mother liked that idea but my dad thought college was for rich kids and that learning a craft was more practical. When I was an electrician at Inland, he bragged on me. My father told me to work in a union shop: otherwise, ''they'll work you to death and can fire you at any time." Of course, I had to test that for myself, and sure enough he was right. I worked in a nonunion shop for about a month, and the boss's son wanted my job so I was let go. There was no security. "I told you about that," my dad said. He always went to union meetings. It was like a regular duty. He never got involved in union poli- tics to my knowledge but instilled in me the idea that you went to union meetings. He always talked union. Labor history filtered in to me by osmosis from my dad. He died at age 72, of smoking too much basically and from living a hard life. My first job after high school was at Shopper's World for minimum wage, a dollar an hour. When I graduated in the spring, Inland wasn't hiring, but by September they were losing college kids. I went to their employ- ment office, and it was like the military. They treated you like dirt. It was, "We're not hiring today; come back next week." They wouldn't even give me a form. The follow- ing week they said, "Well, we ain't hiring now either. Here, fill this out and we'll contact you." In other words, "Don't call us, we'll call you." Somebody told me I had to go back every day to show them I really wanted a job. That's what I did. Plus I put down that I knew Mr. Richards next door, who was a foreman. After two or three times, the guy said, "Oh, all right." I was green as grass. I knew nothing. I finally got an interview with a guy who wasn't so gruff. He asked me where I wanted to work. I said, "To be honest, I don't know one department from the other." He smiled at me and said, "I'll tell you what. I'm going to put you in the blast furnace. I guarantee, in six months you'll be sign- ing up for college." The first day at the blast furnace they handed me metatarsals, a hard hat, safety glasses, gloves, a broom, and said, "Sweep." It was all dirt. "What are we sweeping?" "Never mind, just sweep." Around 11 o'clock a guy said, "Have lunch, then go sweep some more." Next day they put me near these huge cylindrical stoves. I started sweeping and came upon a big sign which said: DANGER! CARBON MONOXIDE. COLORLESS. ODORLESS. DEADLY. I thought, "Oh, this is nice. I'm not gonna see it. I'm not gonna smell it. It's gonna get me." 3 Mike 0/szanski I went to college at night, but the shift work started interfering, so I tried to get a job which allowed me to go to school. I ended up working shift work for 30 years. Meantime, Barb and I got married, right after my 20th birthday. We were young and foolish and in love and started having babies. She was 16 and had to quit school. I was still living at home. When I first mentioned her to my dad, he had asked, "Is she Polish?" I said, "No, dad, she's German." Then he said, "Well, is she Catholic?" Pulling his leg, I said, "She's Jewish." Actually, Barb's parents were Protestants. He swal- lowed hard, rubbed his head, and said, "Well, do you love her?" That's the kind of guy he was. In the fall of 1965 a letter commanded me to take a preinduction physical. I went up to Chicago with a bunch of guys from Hammond. After we got off the bus, a sergeant lined us up and ordered us to be silent. I'm thinking, "This isn't boot camp. I'm not in yet." A guy next to me was laughing until the sergeant got into his face and said, "Son, I can have you in Vietnam in six week." Suddenly it dawned on us that he probably could. Barb and I had kids before they started taking married guys, but at any time they could put me in a foreign country and tell me to shoot at somebody I don't even know. I learned Democrats could screw you as bad as Republicans. Maybe worse. Johnson did a lot for minorities and the working class, but I hated him because of Vietnam. In 1966 I had been out of the mill for a year. I had flown the coop. Now I was coming back with my tail between my legs. Rob was a year old and Barb preg- nant, so I was facing two kids to support. I was a little depressed but made the best of it. Inland had just start- ed up an apprenticeship program at night so I couldn't
  • 6. 4 continue with college like I wanted. Inland had a con- tract program with Purdue Calumet, and they taught electrical engineering technology courses that weren't much different from regular college courses. It took three years to become a standard electrician. It was a working apprenticeship, answering calls and fix- ing things. You had the shit jobs to begin with, natural- ly, that required little skill. I was in Number Three Cold Strip, a rolling mill where we pickled coils of stripped steel after they had been hot-rolled in the hot strip. We put them in a tank of acid to remove rust, then through big rollers which mashed the steel down and got the gauge down. From there the steel got put through a temper mill. Mills are run by big, sophisticated electric motors. We had every type of electronic control imagi- nable in Number Three Cold Strip. For a motor inspec- tor the work was dirty, hot, and nasty. You'd strap on a bunch of tools when a craneman would have a problem and go trouble shooting. Sometimes problems would almost reach out and bite you; other times they were harder to find. Once you found the problem, then you might have to go down and get some parts. It was all bull work. Our mill was divided into three areas; each had three or four electricians per shift. A technician was the brains of the outfit and an expert at delegating. He'd carry a flashlight and maybe a screwdriver and say, "Don't make me pull out this screwdriver." Under him was an operator, who'd carry a small pouch with little tools in it but didn't do heavy work or go on cranes. Then there was a motor inspector and finally the vocational motor inspector, who was below whale shit and carried the heavy duty tools. The most embarrassing thing was when an apprentice couldn't find the problem. The tech- nician would call you stupid and tell you to try harder. They wanted you to learn the hard way, which was in some respects good but dangerous. Gradually you got to be the older guy. After a couple of years, it became clear I was going to be in the mill for a while. Every once in awhile I'd put out a resume. A couple guys got hired at Illinois Bell, and I thought, "Maybe that's my ticket out of here." I applied and had a bunch of tests. I did so well they said, "We don't even want you to be an installer. We want you to give presentations." Unfortunately, they offered me about half of what I was making at the mill. There was no way I could do it. The mill's golden handcuffs had me. I hated the shift work. We'd swing shift every week, the worst possible way, backwards. Sometimes they'd switch you every four days. Your days off would change. You never knew if you were coming or going, especially on midnights. It helped break up my mar- riage. The final nail was the union. Between being a grouch on midnights and being active in the union, it was too much. Somehow we made it last 15 years and got the kids almost raised. At one point I was a real chau- vinist. It took exposure to social movements to realize what an asshole I was and embrace the women's move- ment. I was getting more political. I gradually decided that I had to do something. I had no idea what; I had no con- nections except for one friend who was a dissident in the Democratic party. In 1968 he wanted me to run for county commissioner. I said, "What are you, crazy?" He said, "No, there's this guy named Olszewski and his name's just two letters different from yours. And his first name is Stanley and yours is S. Michael. You could draw votes off this sonovabitch." Since he was with Democratic boss John Krupa, whom I hated, I agreed. I didn't know what I was getting into. My name went on the ballot, and shit hit the fan. Krupa's people went to my father and tried to intimidate him. Olszewski won in spite of me. But that gave me a taste for politics. I ran for state representative and for the Hammond city coun- cil but wasn't going anywhere as an independent Democrat. So I started going to union meetings and fig- ured how that worked. The union had not been on my mind when I first hired in. Hardly anybody went to meetings. It had dropped out of favor. I saw right away, however, that it could help you out. One time I worked a Sunday and wasn't paid time and a half. Another guy and I went to our griever, a black guy named Alexander Bailey. It was quite an experience. Bailey had fixed up a shanty in the pig mill like an office. He did his business behind a table that looked like a desk. The guy weighed around 300 pounds and looked to be damn near seven feet tall. He towered over us as he squeezed the hell out of our hands. We explained our problem, and he said, "That sonovabitch is always cheating people. Don't worry, I'll take care of it." Afterwards, the boss called us into the office and said, "So you went and saw Bailey, did you?" He pretended it was an oversight, but the next pay- check, it was taken care of. In union meetings Bailey would stand in the back, against the wall where he could view everybody. After others were pretty much wore out, he'd take one step forward and in his booming voice say, "Bullshit!" His tim- ing was perfect. Having everybody's attention, he'd give his position. He became chairman of the grievance committee, then went on staff. We had a parting of the ways, but he never failed to impress me.
  • 7. -------~- - - - - ------- -- Part One: Roots of Insurgency Philip Roth (uom I Married a Communist, 1998): [From the South Shore train] I saw block after block ofsoot-cov- ered bungalows, the steelworkers' houses, with gazebos and birdbaths in the backyards, and beyond the houses the streets lined with low, ignominious-looking stores where their families shopped, and so strong was the impact on me of the sight of a steelworker's everyday world, its crudity, its austerity, the obdurate world ofpeo- ple who were always strapped, in debt, paying things off, it inspired the thought: For the hardest work the barest minimum, for breaking their backs the humblest rewards. Trade Union Democracy Curtis Strong: The democracy movement was a phase of the 1970s. AI Samter: Rank-and-File is a generic term adopted by progressive opposition groups, a favorite name for cau- cuses formed to protest the union leadership. In the 1970s many progressive unionists throughout the coun- try independently formed rank-and-file groups. Philip Nyden: While the ultimate cause of rank-and-file militancy was the reaction against company policies, militancy often surfaced in opposition to autocratic or corrupt union practices which dulled the ability of the union to protect members' workplace rights. Mary Hopper(1978): The way they run that International union, it's a little private organization all their own. We can't tell them anything. They are very cocky about it. They say,."We don't have to listen to the membership; we're going tp run it our way." Seymour Martin Upset, Martin Trow and James Coleman (Union Democracy, 1976): Democracy is strengthened when members are not only related to the larger organization but are also affiliated with or loyal to subgroups within the organization. Alice and Staughton Lynd (Rank and File, 1973): What do working people mean when they say "rank and file." In a general way, it refers to workers on the job, not paid union leadership. Rank-and-file activity usually means people on the job taking whatever action they think is necessary, doing something for themselves rather than waiting for someone else to do it for them. Rank-and-file activity may be directed against an intol- erable employer or an unresponsive union bureaucracy. Too many unions have become bureaucratic corpora- 5 tions, like the craft unions of the old AFL. At best they are concerned with material benefits for their members, not with the welfare of working people everywhere. At worst they have become a new kind of company union, financially and politically independent of the rank and file. Some union members say that they have two ene- mies, the company and the union leadership. After World War II the labor movement fell silent. But working people are stirring again, beginning to question foremen and corporate executives and union officials who have lost touch with their members. The groups which took part in the cultural revolution of the 1960s are moving into the workplace. Blacks have become a majority in many steel mills, veterans are returning from Vietnam, women have gone out to work in larger num- bers than at any time since World War II. A new rest- lessness is evident in wildcat strikes, in rank-and-file rejection of contracts, in demands for humanizing work and a safe, hazard-free work situation. Origins of Inland Steel Edward Zivich: The depression of 1893 destroyed the Chicago Steel Co. Its chief creditor, Block-Pollack Iron Co., bought it up and incorporated the new Inland Steel Co., which became a highly prosperous rolling mill. By 1897 corporate expansion seemed absolutely neces- sary. Inland worked out an agreement with the Chicago- based Lake Michigan Land Co., which held title to over a thousand acres of marshy land destined to become Indiana Harbor. The Blocks got 50 acres of prime lake- front land and assurances of railroad ties with Chicago. Inland agreed to construct a $900,000 open-hearth plant on the Harbor site. The promoters would get an indus- trial "boom town," Inland its expansion. The Blocks sold their interest in various East Chicago forge enterprises to finance the building of the Harbor works, which in July 1902, poured its first ingots. Ed Sadlowski: The Blocks were chiselers, despite the myth that they were paternalistic. Edward Zivich: By the 1930s the works had expanded to include four blast furnaces and 31 open-hearths. Despite some outside influence, the Block family ran the company personally and held a reputation for paternal- ism. The corporation influenced East Chicago commu- nity affairs and politics. Republicans favored by the company held power. Republican Andrew Rooney was elected mayor in 1936, despite the Democratic landslide that swept neighboring cities. Inland weathered the early years of the Great Depression and was operating near capacity as the CIO drive approached, turning out 60,000 tons of steel per week.
  • 8. 6 1010: The "Red" Local Edward Zivich: Between 1936 and 1942 relations at the mill were conducted without a signed labor agree- ment. Local 1010 enjoyed a period of success unequaled in its subsequent history. Through a variety of militant "on-the-job" actions, particularly as military orders increased the need for uninterrupted production, the union secured unprecedented improvements in wages and working conditions. It obtained the loyalty of the overwhelming majority of Harbor steelworkers and the active participation of the rank-and-file in the daily conduct of union affairs. James Kol/ros: The fact that Inland had only one main steel plant gave the local union much more leverage over "its" steel company than locals of other steel pro- ducers. The local union was always inclined to negoti- ate on its own and to disregard directions from SWOC's top leaders. Cliff Mezo: Many organizers were radicals who got the job done. Roberta Wood: Communists played a major role. Edward Zivich: There had been a union at Inland since 1902, the Amalgamated Association, but it remained underground and small until it became part of the new CIO. SWOC obtained several thousand dollars from the CIO for organizing expenses and borrowed dis- trict staff from John L. Lewis' United Mine Workers. SWOC charged no initiation fee and only a dollar per month dues. Despite its general "top-down" structure, SWOC at the Harbor works was built primarily by young, Left, rank-and-filers, like the remarkable Socialist Party member Bill Young. Bill Gai/es: Bill Young was a hell of a guy. If somebody come to him with a grievance, he'd pick up the phone and call the foreman. He'd say, "God dammit, if you don't put this man back to work, I'll do this and I'll do that." He could tell people off. He kicked tail. Mike 0/szanski: 1010 had a long tradition of militancy. Local leaders negotiated their own contracts before the International had solid control. Bill Young, whose father was beaten during the 1919 Steel Strike, recalled being clubbed on the head at the Memorial Day Massacre, where ten union men, including three from Local 1010, were gunned down by "Chicago's Finest." "They beat me pretty good, but I was on the picket line the next morning." When asked why he joined the union, Bill Young replied, "You had no rights the boss was bound to respect." - - --- ------ ---- ------- Two Left groups held the most influence - Pete Caracci, Max Luna, Manuel Trbovich and other Socialist Workers Party Trotskyites on the one hand, and John Sargent, Nick Migas, Bill Maihoffer and fellow Communists on the other. Migas' father had been a member of the IWW and Big Bill Haywood influenced his views on class and race. Sargent had been a leader of the Young Communist League. A militant local union, largely defiant of bureaucratic district leadership, would prove to be the Left's legacy at the Harbor. During 1936- 37 radical factions stood united and formed the nucleus of the two or three hundred men in a work force of over 12,000. 1010 began to pick up thousands of new mem- bers in the winter of 1936-1937. By spring the drive had recruited a majority of Inland's workmen. Mass Meeting at Indiana Harbor Philip Nyden: The use of strikes, lasting a few hours and involving a few workers in a work setting, was effec- tive in pressuring company officials to expedite settle- ment of grievances. When supervisors refused to deal with pressing issues, the men thought nothing of stop- ping work and letting gondolas full of molten steel hang in midair. The approaching danger that production would be interrupted acted as a time clock forcing the company to bargain. More often than not, the supervi- sors settled before much production time was lost. Edward Zivich: In May and June of 1937 one of the bloodiest industrial conflicts in American labor history took place. In March U. S. Steel had signed a collective bargaining contract. When Youngstown, Bethlehem, Republic and Inland refused to sign similar agreements, SWOC called a nationwide strike against the compa- nies. Violence by company thugs, police and militia wrecked most of the urban centers of the "Little Steel" strike. East Chicago suffered no major trouble due to several factors. The governor, a New Deal Democrat, played a key conciliatory role, restraining city officials more inclined to use the militia. The union maintained
  • 9. Memorial Day Massacre good discipline and enjoyed the support of most Inland employees. Community pressure kept down police vio- lence, and township relief kept many workers from feel- ing the full pinch of the strike. Lodge 1010's three strike deaths occurred away from the Harbor. On Sunday May 30 fifty cars full of Lodge 1010 members, families and supporters demonstrated their solidarity with the workers on strike against Republic Steel's plant in South Chicago. That day 1010 members Alfred Causey, Kenneth Reed and Sam Popovich were gunned down with other steel union mar- tyrs in the infamous Memorial Day Massacre. The May 31 parade scheduled previously for the Harbor thus became a commemorative demonstration for the dead and wounded. Bandages from the previous day's assault were in evidence in the crowd. That evening plant police brutally clubbed four SWOC pickets as they attempted to prevent an unannounced freight train from entering the mill. This proved to be the only violence that occurred during the walkout. When Inland announced it would reopen if provided police protection, Mayor Rooney petitioned for sheriff's deputies and militia to protect people returning to work. SWOC vowed to maintain its picket line by any means necessary. Yet Governor Clifford Townsend refused to answer the Mayor's pleas for deputies and militia. The corporation finally set the reopening for eight a.m. July 1. Worried about civil disorder, the Mayor ordered the 7 taverns closed. SWOC held a dance to bolster its mem- bers for the anticipated picket-line defense of the next morning. At midnight, strike director Jack Rusak received word of a compromise and announced the agreement to the astonished crowd. The dance sud- denly became a victory party, as thousands sang Solidarity Forever! The crisis had passed, despite incredible tensions. Behind the scenes, Governor Townsend had been working hard for a settlement. In the end Inland and SWOC signed an agreement not with each other but with the Governor. Inland's labor policy was now in writ- ing, and the State of Indiana assumed responsibility for settling disputes unresolved by the plant's grievance procedure. While the union was unrecognized in the other three Little Steel companies, Inland's strikers had obtained a binding written settlement. Lodge 1010 was at Inland to stay. Renewed depression dampened union activities and temporarily prevented Lodge 1010 from following up on its victory. Orders for steel dropped, followed naturally by a large number of layoffs. Dues money dipped and the union reduced its staff. There was great pressure from the district not to strike or carry out any other job- actions despite anti-CJO abuse by supervisors. In January 1938, Local 1010 elected a slate of militant offi- cers, led by William Maihoffer. As outlined in the Townsend agreement, grievances moved from the shop floor to Superintendent Fred Gillies' office by several intermediary steps. Most were handled verbally on the shop floor; they covered the spectrum - discipline, dis- charge, safety, wage rates, anti-union and racial dis- crimination, sanitation. The union was able to establish a seniority basis for rehiring laid-off workers through its monthly meetings with Gillies. 1939 brought financial recovery. Defense orders played an especially important role in reviving Inland's sagging sales. Lodge 1010 was signing up new mem- bers, 1,500 in a single three-week period, and employ- ing a dues picket line famous among CIO officials in the Midwest. For two or three days each month members would mass picket the mill gates, demanding to see paid-up union books from each worker. Nonunion work- ers had to climb the high company fences to get to work. Once in the plant, they faced the silent treatment and other persuasive digs from unionized coworkers. 1010 staged a Labor Day parade and picnic in Wicker Park involving an estimated 60,000 people. By the end of 1939 union grievance handling changed drastically. To cut through red tape and counteract Inland's stalling, 1010 engaged in numerous strikes, sit-ins, and slow- downs. Croatian steelworker Matt Vuxinic recalled five
  • 10. 8 departmental walkouts between 1939 and 1942. The union took advantage of a unique pre-war situation that made uninterrupted production (and profits) Inland's goal. African-American Bill Young was a leading figure in nine stoppages in the Structural Department. In April of 1940 the Structural Department struck for weekly pay- checks called for by state law and won. In May 1941, steward Louis Abrams led a work stoppage in the cold strip mill over an unsettled grievance. In June 1941 Inland obtained a restraining order against 101O's dues picket lines. SWOC members were arrested for violat- ing the order in August while organizing the Blast Furnace. The CIO shut down the blast furnaces, threat- ening Inland with the costly job of rebuilding them, and Inland's action against the dues picket lines stopped. A November 1941, walkout in Structural failed to gain pay- checks for the day before Thanksgiving but won such checks for Christmas Eve. A February 1942, Structural strike won equal pay for women. While these job actions had local union approval, they were primarily movements from below. The walkouts received the total condemnation of the International. The stoppages were generally successful in regaining jobs for discharged or disciplined workers, removing safety hazards, disciplining abusive foreman, getting wages raised, and the like. By 1942 Lodge 1010 mem- bers enjoyed the best wages and working conditions of any steelworkers in the world. Philip Nyden: 101 0 was organized by "insiders" who formulated bylaws which encouraged rank-and-file involvement. Union offices, such as assistant grievers, safety stewards, and committee heads, were elective, in contrast with most USWA locals. The democratic mechanisms stimulated grassroots involvement. As one insurgent put it, "The lining up starts a lot lower on the totem pole than it does in most locals." Cliff Mezo: In the old days, organizers had to sell their product. Mike Mezo: Local 1010 has a history of militancy. The early organizers left a legacy and a model for dealing with a brutally militant company that made you earn every damn thing you got. Inland fought the union until the end and still had an arsenal of weapons during the 1950s. If it hadn't been for World War II, we'd probably still be fighting for recognition. The local never got com- fortable because they knew the company would stab you in the back if you let down your guard. AI Samter: Local 1010 led the area in progressive pro- posals, due to Nick Migas, John Sargent and the Rank and File Caucus. When the question came up of "30 for 40," meaning a 30-hour week for 40 hours pay, only Local 1010 made it part of their demands. Germano verses Patterson, Round One James Kollros: At the 1942 convention Joe Germano was re-elected to the post of district director by the dis- trict delegates. In the end he ran unopposed, but that fact masked an intense political struggle behind the scenes. Germano's opponents nominated George Patterson to oppose him. Patterson agreed to run at first despite threats and appeals to withdraw. In the end Patterson realized that the meeting was being "stuffed" and that he could not win. At the last minute he declined to run. David McDonald(Union Man,1969): All the results were in but District 31 . I dispatched Howard Hague to find out the cause of the delay. He hurried back to tell us our candidate, Joseph Germano, was in trouble. He was being challenged by a man who had consistently followed a Marxist line and whom we believed to be a Communist. He had been in the Memorial Day Massacre and was looked on as a hero by many mem- bers. One of Germano's friends was presiding and trying to delay a vote as long a possible while Germano's hench- men beat the auditorium for votes. I told Hague to round up members of our auditing staff who could circulate unnoticed among the Chicago delegates. Then I offered chairman John Doherty a hand. He didn't need it. He was pretending to be confused about the vote tally and doing a magnificent job of stalling. I watched Hague's recruits drift into the room and counted them. When we had enough to swing the election, I nodded to Doherty, and he called for a vote. A Dubious Contractual Breakthrough John Sargent(Rank and File, 1973): Inland Steel Company said they'd rather shut their place down forev- er than recognize the Steelworkers Union. The workers developed the most militant and the most inspiring type of rank-and-file organization that you can have. When the company realized what was happening, they became smart and understood that they had to recog- nize the International leadership and take the affairs out of the hands of the ordinary elected officials on a local scale. Local 1010 Steel Worker (Aug. 28, 1980): John Sargent gave his time and energy in the days when
  • 11. 9 Local 1010 Pres. John Sargent witnesses signing of 1942 contract by J. Doherty, J. H. Walsh, Fred Gillies, P. Murray and J. Germano nobody was paid for organizing and many got fired. He was Picket Captain in the 1937 strike and in 1942 was elected President of the Local, then reelected in 1943 and 1944. In 1944, he resigned to join the navy for 3 years. When he returned in 1946, he was again elected president and held office almost continuously for 20 years. James Kollros: In 1944 John Sargent beat James Johnson for the presidency by a vote of 1,658 to 1,168. Harry Powell beat Joe Jeneske for vice-president and replaced Nick Migas, who had gone onto the district staff in 1943. A couple months later Sargent resigned and enlisted in the Navy. Powell took over as president for the rest of the term. Bill Young (sitting) and Manuel Trbovich Edward Zivich: The War Labor Board provided Philip Murray and national SWOC with ultimate victory in the longstanding feud with Little Steel companies; but the contract, coupled with America's involvement in World War II, ended Inland SWOC's militant strike years. The International obtained institutionalized collective bar- gaining. An era had ended. On August 5, 1942, Inland became the first of the Little Steel group to sign a union contract. The agreement granted a retroactive wage increase but drastically modified 101O's grievance han- dling. Local 1010 could not strike to settle grievances; some would be tied up for months or years. A strike on grievances could now bring jail sentences and firings. Direct-action labor tactics were now costly and illegal. Mike 0/szanski: President Sargent's 1943 letter to the War Department, threatening to strike Inland in defiance of the CIO (and CP) supported wartime no-strike pledge, brings into question Sargent's adherence to any "party line" during the war years but adds weight to his image as a militant rank and file oriented leader. Edward Zivich: With 101O's CP radicals pushing for unhampered war production, the ban on strikes only dis- turbed one ideological faction, the Trotskyites. Trbovich and others, at great risk, led a departmental strike over a discharge to a successful rehiring. But the strike tac- tic was clearly dying. A plant-wide stoppage after the war, again on a discharge case, was pinned on "Wildcat Johnny" Sargent and the CP faction.
  • 12. 10 Germano verses Patterson, Round Two James Kollros: Germano conducted a dirty campaign. Patterson's supporters were threatened. The Local 101 0 nominating meeting was stopped by the chairman before its business was finished. Subsequently, the International tellers ruled that the nomination for Patterson was invalid. Nick Migas, Local 101O's staffman, was excluded from staff meetings. Except for Migas and Mayerik, the staff supported Germano and did not hesitate to use their influence for him. In fact, many Patterson supporters expected Germano to win and campaigned only in the hope of raising issues. The most disruptive problem for Patterson was that he was drafted in the middle of the campaign. He had to report for service some six weeks before the vote. It was insin- uated that the Germano forces may have been respon- sible for Patterson's induction. AI Samter: Just before the election, Germano used his contacts on the Draft Board and got Patterson drafted. Otherwise, he surely would have won. He was President of Local 65 and had support from all the Left- led locals, including 1010 and 1011, in addition to 1014. John Mayerik got fired from his staff job for supporting Patterson against Germano. He got rehired at U.S. Steel and about six months later got elected President of 1014 again. The charismatic Mayerik, an original organizer at Gary Works, had gathered around him many leaders of the Eastern European groups, includ- ing Russians, Poles, Czechs, Lithuanians, plus leading black activists. Later Mayerik ran against Germano, the last guy to make the ballot before Sadlowski. From Tokenism to Anti-Discrimination at 1010 Betty Balanoff: Local1010 stayed militant longer than most locals. It stuck out like a sore thumb in that respect. Inland was very involved in civil rights, in get- ting city Fair Practices laws passed, for instance. Morris Janowitz(The Community Process in an Urban Setting, 1967): Trade union democracy is not merely the formal elections but the system of coalition between ethnic groups. The emergence of blacks rep- resents the latest stage of leadership succession. Mike Olszanski: Nick Migas, an open member of the CP and an ally of John Sargent, led a wildcat strike in number one Open Hearth when the company refused to promote a black man to second helper on the furnace. He recalled telling his fellow workers, "Discrimination starts, maybe, with a Negro, but next it will go to the Mexican worker and then maybe to the so-called hillbil- ly. And where will it stop?;' The man got the job. Ruth Needleman: Leftists made civil rights an integral part of the Local's culture. William Maihoffer, John Sargent, and Nick Migas, each of whom served as pres- ident, spoke out strongly against discrimination. In 1938 Bill Young became 101O's first vice president. During World War II he served as chairman of the grievance committee. His position and credibility, however, seemed to be linked to his identification with "real union issues" acceptable to the white majority. Still his leader- ship position demonstrated that blacks could be elected to top office. James Alexander: Alexander Bailey and Bill Young were strong black leaders at Inland, but it didn't seem that their intentions were to get doors open for others. Each seemed to be saying, "You've got me." Bill Gailes: Bailey was a good union man but con- cerned mostly about his own department. A real leader is concerned about the whole ball of wax. Ruth Needleman: After the war, more blacks spoke out at meetings, and more positions were set aside for minorities. Glover Gary, chairman of the East Chicago NAACP, complained about the company's barring blacks from certain departments and about the union's failure to challenge employer practices. Clarence Royster, AI McClain, Eugene Blue, Eugene Jacque and William Gailes gained visibility. I~ time African Americans used the political rivalry between caucuses to secure white support. Initially, caucuses began to set aside positions for blacks but then slated them to run against each other so fighting developed between groups of black activists. The vital factor in moving beyond tokenism was inde- pendent organization, an insight eventually acted upon by Bill Gailes. Bill Gailes: In Fairfield, Alabama, I had worked for Tennessee Coal and Iron. Their company union had a sadistic initiation ceremony, like the Klan. When they assigned me to the sheet mill, I thought I'd be making sheets. I had black and white shoes on, that's how little I knew about what I was getting into. I quit the mill five times. I had the wanderlust. I wanted to finish college. I went to U. S. Steel once. After I came back to Inland, they put "No more hire" on my record. That would be my last chance. I never missed a day after that. It was time to settle down. After the war, they hired D.P.s before they'd hire blacks with honorable discharges. I saw one guy tear up his discharge papers and throw them on the ground. That was the position they put us in. When they moved the first black man up to heater, all the whites quit. When they put a black women in the tin mill, the whites
  • 13. there walked out. Don Lutes stuck with her. He said, "If you want to quit, fine." Ruth Needleman: On April 25, 1946, Local 1010 sent a resolution to union president Philip Murray protesting ''the segregation of colored delegates attending the con- stitutional convention" and urging "that those who made the arrangements be condemned." On October 2, 1947, Local 1010 sent a communication to the International criticizing "the small number of Negro representatives on staff." In January 1949, at a union meeting a worker observed that Local 101O's basketball team still played only in Whiting, a Jim Crow town, and, as a result, had no black players. In September 1950, Local 1010 debated whether to provide support for a Mexican youth organization. President Bill Maihoffer urged the Local to allocate $500 to help organize Mexican workers recently recruited into the mill. This motion drew substantial opposition. At the next meeting Recording Secretary Mary Kelley (later Mary Gyurko) suggested that an organization open to all young people would not be discriminatory. In fact, the Local bought tickets for events and organizations that excluded blacks. Maihoffer pointed to another request from a group of lady bowlers. He asked if the union should drop the request "because the women who wish to bowl are all white women." After a voice vote, hand vote and division of the floor, the president's motion was defeated. As late as 1952 a resolution asked Inland to "allow the Negroes to have their own bowling team." Local 1010 helped integrate East Chicago theaters, restaurants, and bars long before apprenticeship pro- grams or craft jobs were open to black workers. In January 1952, when Jesse Godwin transferred into the Power and Steam Department, workers threw three gal- lons of torch oil on him while he was smoking a ciga- rette. The grievance officer brought Godwin to talk with top officers, but there was disagreement over whether to charge all three white workers, or just one, as the com- pany wanted. Union elections being a few months off, politics prevailed. Maihoffer feared a white backlash while grievance committee chairman Don Lutes saw an opportunity to establish his anti-discrimination creden- tials. Eugene Blue, chair of the Anti-Discrimination Committee, was outraged but backed off when Maihoffer warned him not to aggravate racial tensions. When Clarence Royster insisted that all three men be charged, Maihoffer accused him of being obstinate and urged him to sign the majority report. Bill Gailes stood behind Royster. Bill Young and Buster Logan, the two African-American old-timers, were cornered by white financial secretary Tom Conway, who persuaded them to 11 try to change Royster's mind. ''They told me," an unmoved Royster recalled, "that my attitude was too harsh and white people might rebel against finding three white men guilty of discrimination. If I persisted in going for three, I might lose all three as well as commit politi- cal suicide." The incident seemed to mark a turning point in black activism in Local 1010. Bill Gailes convinced his all- black sheet mill crew to attend the union meeting at which the vote would be taken on the trial board's rec- ommendation. The presence of so many African Americans must have been intimidating. Only five peo- ple voted against the recommendation of the trial board to bring all three up on charges. The strategy won over Don Lutes, who had spent the previous evening repair- ing his relations with the white workers in the Power and Steam Department. It took the International more than a year to consider an appeal and in the end ordered punishment for only the ringleader. He was denied participation in union affairs for two years and prohibited from holding office for five years. The Power and Steam Department remained white, although a few months later Bill Young thanked the Grievance Committee for advancing "the first Negro ever to hold a machinists' job in the mill." The company took no disciplinary action against any of the three. Experiences of Mexican-Americans Mike 0/szanski: Some Mexicans were brought in by Inland as scabs in 1919. Many were housed in a com- pany-owned flea bag hotel in the shadow of the mill known as the Baltimore. Many helped build the union. Cliff Mezo {The Great Divide, 1988): There were two halves to East Chicago. One is the Irish and Polish end. Closer to the mills is where you had all the hotels and where they recruited Mexicans and Puerto Ricans and blacks from the South. They imported the Mexicans with one thought: to weaken the union. Actually they became our staunchest union people. Ed Sadlowski: My dad started in 1936 or so in the labor yard. Some Mexican guys had been there 15 or 20 years. Some had come during the 1919 strike. My dad had been trying to get into the open hearth, which paid much better, and this Irish foreman kept giving him the run-around. Finally, when the 1937 strike started, the foreman promised to get him transferred if he didn't walk out. My dad said, "No, mac, I'm going out." They were sitting by the shanty, and the foreman asked a Mexican, "How about you?" The Mexican said, "Mac,
  • 14. 12 you fooled us in 1919, but you're not going to fool us again." Nick Migas(Rank and File, 1973): We had a lot of Mexican workers in my department. They were con- stantly kept on small, menial jobs - scrap yard, labor gang, furnaces - dirty, menial, hard work. And no chance of promotion. That's why the union swept like a wildfire through the mills. James Kollros: In the summer of 1943 the company fired several Mexicans at the urging of the FBI. The union managed to put a stop to that. In 1944 the local asked the national office to print copies of the contract in Spanish so that Latino workers could read it. The local also bought 100 fund-raising books from the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee (defending several Mexican youths in Los Angeles). In the summer of 1945 two union leaders investigated how the company recruited Mexican workers in South Texas. They dis- covered that Inland paid for their transportation in advance and housed them in company housing in Indiana Harbor, thus creating a compliant group of work- ers. Roberto Flores: My father was a veteran of World War I. After his discharge, he heard about Hispanics getting jobs in steel mills in the Chicago area. He came to the Region in 1924, the year before I was born and worked at Inland. I started working there in high school, while attending East Chicago Washington, before I went off to World War II. Inland executives recruited about a hun- dred of us at an assembly to work from 4:30 to 8:30. Those under 18 had to wear a red badge, which meant you couldn't handle mobile equipment. It was hard work in the open hearth. If we stayed until11 :30, they paid us for eight hours. Many times we stayed. It was difficult to get up for school, but a lot of families needed the money. On weekends we worked eight hours. I played on the Midwest Mexican All-Stars. My uncle was manager. One day at Block Stadium we played against Satchel Paige. I was the first Hispanic to pitch for Inland in the Industrial League. Many of us who played baseball did well in union politics. Once you've played sports, you want to keep competing. I was work- ing in the 44-inch mill. We were only working four days a week, so I transferred to the open hearth, where they were working six days, plus overtime. I became a safe- ty rep and steward. I was aggressive in pushing for bet- ter conditions. I bid on the clerical sequence and became a weigh master. After the strike of 1959, so much steel was stockpiled, they didn't call everybody back. After a seven month layoff I ended up in the met- allurgical section. Hispanics weren't being slated by union caucuses until we allied with one slate, and it made other caucuses realize they'd have to slate Hispanics, too. In 1956 the leader of the Union Builder Caucus, Don Lutes, Sr., took a foremen's job, so I was asked to run for recording sec- retary. Later on we merged with the Rank and File Caucus for the convention delegates election. When I won; I was amazed. I was the 29th out of 30. AI Samter and Civil Rights Committees AI Samter: After the war I had worked for a small record store in New York and then got laid off. The big chain stores started reducing prices on phonograph records, which forced mom-and-pop stores to cut back. I was finally hired as an organizer for the union, but then the union itself suffered because of the cutback in the retail business. I was off and on the unemployment rolls and finally decided to make use of my G.l. Bill of Rights and get into an apprentice program. Everybody was going to the big industries, so in April of 1949, I came to Northwest Indiana and applied for an apprenticeship. They didn't have any such programs open but were hiring for the summer. They sent me out to the coal chemical plant, as a pump operator. At that time there was a lot of movement among employees nationwide. If you stayed in one place, you could move on up. The summer job turned into a permanent job. I stayed 37 years. I never did get into the apprenticeship program. My job, especially after they built a new coal chemical plant in 1955, paid more than I would have got- ten in any of the craft jobs. My department took light oils which come off the coke-making process and separated and distilled them into the industrial oils benzene, toluene, and xylene. I became a shop steward and got acquainted with Curtis Strong, who was running for grievance commit- teeman to replace a man retiring in the middle of his term. I wrote some of his material. After he was elect- ed, I became a shop steward. One of my jobs was to sign up new members. The agreement in force at that time had a "maintenance of membership" clause. If you signed the people up, they remained union members until the termination of the agreement, at which time they had the option of withdrawing from the union. There were still some old-timers who were not union members, but I kept signing them up until our depart- ment was 100% union. Because of all the new people coming in, I was pretty busy. Shop stewards went to Political Action Committee meetings once a month, and during election campaigns we got dollar donations from union members. On elec-
  • 15. tion day we went out on our off-hours and took people to the polls. A few of us would be paid to take time off from our jobs. We were an effective force. Partly as a result of our efforts, we elected a member of the Local 1014 executive board to the Gary City Council. Within the John Mayerik caucus at 1014, black leaders such as Jacob "Jake" Blake, Curtis Strong, Pat Riley, and John Howard were beginning to form their own coalitions in order to push for more representation. John Howard went on the slate as vice-president as a result of this pressure. Blake persuaded Mayerik to form the 1014 Civil Rights Committee. He then appointed Blake as chairman, and added me and several others. The committee elected me secretary. Jake Blake was a great actor. He was a trustee on 1014's executive board and an assistant grievance committeeman. He could charm an audience. His whole family was very religious. There was pressure on him to get into the religious field and eventually he became a minister in East Chicago. At one point we decided to have a joint civil rights committee meeting at Local 1014's headquarters. At that time Fred Stern was working at Youngstown. He was an officer in his civil rights committee. Jim Balanoff was part of that civil rights group. At that point the International decided they better recognize us, so they sent somebody in from the International. It was one of the things that pushed them into having a civil rights divi- sion. Red Scare James Kollros: Many of the leaders in 1010 had a left- wing analysis of class struggle. They believed the real strength of the union depended on mass support. They encouraged rank and file involvement in organizing. The fine union built up in the early years eventually suc- cumbed to bureaucratic leadership. The main reason was because the top leadership of the country and the district replaced the left-wing, democratic leadership. The process of this replacement lasted well into the 1950s and was not the result of one magic moment. Part of the process involved being in a national union and in a world war against fascism, where local groups had to sacrifice special benefits for the common good. The divisions of the Cold War years further undercut the left. AI Samter: Open communists played a leading role in the formation of the CIO. Used because of their dedica- tion and ability to organize, they were thrown out when it was felt they were no longer needed. Mike 0/szanski: Phil Murray was probably a virtuous 13 man; but after he kicked out the communists it was all downhill. Jesse Reese: The Communists built the union, but John L. Lewis and Philip Murray fired every Communist organizer, and the union's been going back, back, back, ever since. Edward Zivich: Made bold by the Taft-Hartley Act and the Cold War, the company fired over 80 workers in a flurry of red-baiting. In 1950 1010 lost its monthly griev- ance meeting with management. Contract bargaining moved to Pittsburgh with little direct input on local con- ditions. A local that once had unbelievable membership participation became the concern of the few. Conditions in the mill deteriorated. Grievances remained unsettled. As John Sargent concluded, in making the International part of the establishment, they took the guts and the fight out of the union. Philip Nyden: McCarthyism had a dampening effect on the formation of political opposition groups. Many dissi- dents were prohibited from holding union office. Conservative union leaders used anticommunism as a license to squelch dissent. The top union leadership fur- ther consolidated its control as a result of dues "check off" systems and by using its right to take control of a local union in the event of "questionable" practices. They consolidated their control over bargaining, conven- tions, finances, staff, committees, and district leader- ship. At the 1950 Convention, the International leader- ship was made the sole "contracting party" for all collec- tive agreements and took from District Directors their discretion in interpreting contract language. Mike 0/szanski: When the Left was run out, it left a vacuum, and pulled the teeth out of the union. Left lead- ers were no longer in positions to remind others that the adversarial relationship was basic and fundamental to capitalism. Still, 1010 remained a rebel local and did not tow the line. The Taft-Hartley Act's anti-communist affi- davit requirement put increased pressure on non-com- munist union leaders, who by signing would not only throw their more militant brothers and sisters to the reac- tionary wolves, but also demonstrate their total disre- gard for Constitutional rights of free speech and associ- ation. Many capitulated. To those brave trade unionists who refused, the USWA constitution branded them as "devoid of principle and destitute of honor." I don't think union leaders were on the take, but they didn't need to be. If they "do the damn deed," what's the difference if they got paid for it directly. It was probably more insidious that they did it because thought it was the right thing. Being anti-communists, they felt they had to
  • 16. 14 Striking tor Pensions, Steelworkers demonstrate at Plant 2 South defend the company to the workers paying their salaries. They were class-collaborators. John Brophy(C/0 leader quoted in Labor's Untold Story, 1955): The real objective of redbaiting is to kill the CIO, to destroy collective bargaining, to destroy the unity of the organized and unorganized workers, that the CIO is building throughout the nation. Mike 0/szanski: John Sargent, Joe Gyurko, and Nick Migas, who negotiated the workers' first contracts, got beaten up on the picket lines, and collected dues at the plant gates, were hounded by the FBI, dragged before HUAC, and redbaited in union elections. Gyurko had started at Inland in 1939 and paid his first union dues before his probationary period ended. During the war he packed tin-plate in crates destined for our ally the Soviet Union and admonished coworkers who, in his words, "nailed the crates just any old way 'cause it was for the Russians." FBI agents sat in a car in front of his house day and night, watching his every move. Migas was beaten by USWA goons for exercising his right of free speech at the 1948 convention, where as a duly elected delegate, he challenged President Philip Murray over his Cold War positions. James Kollros: Nick Migas was a former griever, a for- mer staff man and president of Local1 01 0 during the big wildcat strike in 1945. At the 1948 convention a leaflet was put on the delegates' seats over the lunch break, signed openly by Migas. Its two linked themes were that the steel workers needed a large raise and that Philip Murray and the union leaders were sellouts for not win- ning such a raise. Ostensibly, the leaflet was issued as a way to force Murray to call on Migas to speak. Migas was recognized and made a speech, but the pro-Murray delegates drowned him out. After the speech, Migas was escorted outside by Murray's personal bodyguard, where a gang of thugs beat him up. After Migas was elected griever in June of 1948, Germano induced 15 workers to bring charges that he should be removed because of his membership in the Communist Party. The local trial committee refused to remove him. The local voted to support the trial com- mittee. Germano's people appealed to the International Executive Board, and it decided that Local 101 0 must remove Migas or face administratorship. Migas quit his job and moved to a farm in Wisconsin before the final verdict was issued. Mike 0/szanski: An especially poignant example of guilt by association was the case of Stanley Rygas. In 1953 he was removed from office as assistant griever by President Don Lutes for allegedly rubber-stamping his name to Communist literature and mailing it to other members. While he "emphatically denied this forgery'' and subsequent charges of violating the USWA's anti- Communist clause, the International's secretary-treasur- er upheld Lutes' motion to terminate his union member- ship subject to appeal in Pittsburgh. He subsequently kept his membership but never again ran for union office. When Sargent's eligibility to run for office was challenged in 1954 and when he was called before HUAC in 1958, his association with Rygas was in turn used as evidence against him. Betty Balanoff: The union had a rule that no commu- nist could hold office. They tried to get rid of both Stanley Rygas and my husband Jim, but they said they weren't communists and challenged them to prove they were and the union backed off. Otherwise, Jim would never have got past griever. AI Samter: When they used the communists as whip- ping boys, they also threw out all those who opposed the administration. Union leaders redbaited as bad as HUAC and Joe McCarthy. If you weren't virulently anti- communist and opposed the administration, you must be a communist. The participation of the left-wing was drastically reduced. In its hearings in Gary HUAC tried to put me in a category, and I refused to say, "Yes, I was an active member of the Communist Party." I wouldn't give HUAC any names. As far as I was concerned, I did- n't know who was and who wasn't. Roberta Wood: My fath.er worked at Bethlehem Steel in Sparrows Point. He was fired during the McCarthy era. He and some others refused to testify before HUAC, to name names. They hadn't done anything
  • 17. wrong at work. They had a rule that anybody who had worked in the Henry Wallace campaign couldn't be an officer in the Steelworkers Union. It was part of the cam- paign to purge Communists and progressives. The International told the local, don't touch these cases. So they wouldn't file a grievance. People collected petitions for them, which was pretty brave in those days. Because of McCarthyism, my parents had the habit of not discussing their CP affiliation. People still have these habits, even when there's no rational basis any more. It's like some secret, shameful thing. It's really hurt not only the Party but the labor movement. A lot of "Red Diaper Babies" feel like their life was scarred by growing up in a Communist family, especial- ly during the fifties. That was such a terrible time for working-class people. It was so stifling. There was this TV ideal that nobody lived up to. Everyone felt deficient. To me I think I was better off in an activist household where it was O.K. to be different. But a lot of people felt bitter and at a certain point left. Then naturally they came up with a rationale for leaving. Other people I worked with in the mill, when I met them years later, would remark, "Oh, yeah when I was in the Party..." And they were never in the Party, at least as I saw it. We were afraid to ever ask them to join, yet they felt like they were in it all along. These kind of experiences have given me, in my "old age," a broader idea of the Party's role in the working class struggle. From Murray to McDonald John Herling (In Right to Challenge): The last days of Philip Murray were days of disappointment. He died suddenly on November 9, 1952, five days after Adlai E. Stevenson had been defeated for the national presiden- cy. The Stevenson campaign had represented not only a deep political commitment for Murray but also a large- scale investment of money, energy, and union manpow- er. He was also weighed down by a more intimate bur- den: the necessity of dealing surgically with an unpleas- ant personal problem, the removal of Secretary- Treasurer David J. McDonald. For many years Murray had regarded him almost as a son, whose career in the union he had launched and advanced but was now determined to halt. During Murray's serious 1951 illness, McDonald had taken over the reins and instructed his public relations men to revise the Murray obituary. But Murray recov- ered and learned of McDonald's meticulous prepara- tions. He exploded to a visitor, "See what the dirty little son of a bitch has done to me. He's got me buried." For weeks this was his constant refrain. On the eve of the 1952 convention, Murray made it clear McDonald's days 15 Director Germano listens while President McDonald Speaks were numbered. After his death, however, McDonald won the board's agreement that he take over the presi- dency, which now embraced powers heretofore resident in the secretary-treasurer. McDonald had indeed inher- ited it all. Staughton Lynd (The Guardian, Feb. 1973): McDonald never enjoyed the genuine affection which Murray commanded. He was immensely vain and soon earned the phrase ''tuxedo leadership" for his high living, his hobnobbing with celebrities, and his disdain for work- ing people. H. W Benson (Union Democracy Review, 1973}: In 1955 President McDonald ran a handpicked candidate for vice president to fill a vacancy created by the death of an incumbent. His man won, but only after stubborn resistance from within the official family. Joe Molony broke ranks to run against McDonald's choice. When Molony supporters tried to campaign in Germano territo- ry, thugs invaded their rally and four Molony backers ended in the hospital after a beating. In that campaign, Germano showed how effectively his organization could perform. Molony did well almost everywhere but in Germano's district was swamped 50 to 1. Dues Protest Movement Philip Nyden: Between 1948 and 1956 the International leadership's domination of Constitutional Conventions allowed it to win dues increases three times despite considerable opposition. This helped build up a substantial treasury, much of which could be
  • 18. 16 used at the leadership's discretion. When a rank-and- file reform organization did emerge, it was weak but did represent a changing consciousness among dissidents. The Dues Protest Committee, formed as a protest to a dues increase at the 1956 convention, pursued issues related to democracy, accountability, honesty in elec- tions, protection of local autonomy, and better shopfloor union representation. Initial recruitment centered around a petition and local resolution campaign calling for a special dues rollback convention. Betty Balanoff: Goons threw Curtis Strong out of a third-floor window after he protested the dues increase. Curtis Strong: Steelworkers didn't go as far as the Teamsters or Mineworkers, but the leadership was not adverse to certain persuasive measures. There were times when I felt in danger, but I was young and crazy and not intimidated. At the 1956 convention these guys had gotten into my hotel room and jumped me while I was putting my pajamas. One held me, and another hit me so hard he broke my jaw and knocked me out. If I had not been unconscious, the doctor said, the fall prob- ably would have killed me. I landed right next to an iron fence; in fact, my pajama top got caught on a spike. Staughton Lynd: When McDonald proposed an increase in his own salary from $40,000 to $50,000 and an increase from $3 to $5 in monthly membership dues, rebellion broke out on the floor. The leader was Donald Rarick, then a politically conservative grievance com- mitteeman from McKeesport. McDonald gavelled the dues increase amid a storm of booing and calls for a roll-call vote. Rarick and others used the long train ride home from Los Angeles to good advantage. On Oct. 19, 1956 the Dues Protest Committee (DPC) was organized at a meeting of some 50 representatives of Pittsburgh- area locals. John Herling: Confronting the Dues Protest movement was the problem of communication. Internal channels were under the strict control of the International office. Anybody bucking the leadership would have to piece together the necessary lists over a period of many weeks. The process of instructing local supporters to petition for a special convention was slow and discour- aging work. There was no experience to fall back on. Out of about 700 locals needed, no more than a hun- dred petitioned for a special convention, but among them was the largest, Local 1014 of Gary. Staughton Lynd: After the petition drive failed, the DPC then decided to try the electoral route. Rarick put himself forward as a candidate for president. The McDonald administration tried desperately to head off the challenge. According to reporter John Herling, Rarick was offered $250,000 to withdraw. He refused. AI Samter: Rarick traveled around the country in his own recreational vehicle. He came to 1014 and parked in this little lot behind the union hall. While he was speaking to us, Norman Harris, a staff representative for Joe Germano, came over with a bunch of goons from Chicago. A few of them came upstairs and started a ruckus while Rarick was trying to speak. Meanwhile, Harris and a couple of other guys set fire to Rarick's RV. All of a sudden somebody comes up the stairs yelling, "Hey, there's a RV on fire in the parking lot." Ed Sadlowski: I hadn't been working long but got active in the Rarick campaign. That's when I met Curtis Strong. Stealing elections was so common, guys would sit around drinking and brag about it. John Herling: McDonald defeated Rarick 404,172 to 223,516. Detailed charges of vote rigging were made by Rarick backers. Although Rarick claimed to have won Local 1014 in Gary by 9,000 to 3,000, he said the count had been turned around through fraud. Rarick's charge was labeled ''fantastic" and "sour grapes." H. W Benson: Rarick's followers claimed that votes were stolen wholesale and demanded a local by local breakdown instead of an overall count. In those days, there were no federal controls over union elections. McDonald simply turned down their demand, and that was that. Staughton Lynd: Despite widespread fraud, Rarick received 36% of the vote, an astonishing showing for a grievance committeeman unknown six months before. John Herling: At the 1958 convention the International I. W Abel, in Gary for a school dedication ceremony, hosts dis- trict leaders, including African-American John Howard and bow- tied Orval Kincaid, April 19, 1959
  • 19. attempted to expel the DPC leaders on the charge of dual unionism. 1959 Strike Michael Bayer: The 1959 strike was a combination of rank-and-file militancy and timidity on the part of the International. A pent-up demand for improvements in working conditions forced McDonald to lead a strike he never wanted and tried to sabotage. Even though the result was at best a draw, steelworkers got a 13-week vacation and a sense of their power. Jack Parton: I came out of the coal fields of Virginia and hired in at U.S. Steel five months before the strike. My father had worked for the Pocahontas Fuel Company in the 1930s. We lived in a company house. The only thing that wasn't from the company was electric power. The company paid in scrip. Any safety equipment that the workers felt they needed, they had to buy it from the company. The place was really a company town, like the line in the Tennessee Ernie Ford song Sixteen Tons, "I owe my soul to the company store." My dad was very active in the union, which finally forced the company to pay out real money that workers could spend wherever they wanted. Coming out of the coal fields, I saw that the only way workers could ever share in the wealth that they helped create was to form unions and do collective bargaining. I went into the Marine Corps in 1956. I was 17 and wanted to get away. I had dropped out of high school. My mother agreed to sign for me if I could get my older brother to join, too. He didn't have a job. There were no jobs in the area at that time. It took me about a month, but he finally agreed. I served in Okinawa and Korea and got discharged in February of 1959. I really liked the Marine Corps, and it was my intention to remain in the service. Meanwhile, my brother had gotten married, had a son, come to Gary, Indiana, and got work at U. S. Steel. He called me and said, "How 'bout bringing my wife and son up here." That's what Southern folks did; they got a job and an apartment and then sent for their families. I arrived on the afternoon of March 20, 1959. My brother said, "Why don't you put an application in for U.S. Steel?" They were hiring a lot of people because they were stockpiling in anticipation of a strike. I told my brother I didn't want a job, but he put me on a guilt trip about having agreed to go into the marines. He took me to Virginia St. gate around 4 p.m. I said, "If they don't call me by tomorrow, I'm leaving." About the time we got back to his place, they called and said, "Show up tomor- row." 17 The contract was up July 31. Then there was a two- week extension before the strike began. I spent a little time on the picket lines but couldn't afford to stay in Gary. I went back and lived with my parents. That was the longest industry strike we had ever had. Then I came back, worked a very short period and then there was a big layoff. In fact, my first five years of employ- ment, I probably didn't work a solid year, but I always came back. I worked in the No. 4 open hearth, where there was great camaraderie. I liked the Region and became involved with the union. William Andrews: I was born in Alabama but have lived in Gary since I was six months old. I graduated from high school in 1957. I went to work for a company in East Chicago for two years. I got laid off, so I reapplied at Inland in February 1959 and got hired. I told the guy in personnel that I didn't want to work in a coke plant, a blast furnace or an open hearth. He said, "I'm going to give you a good job." And he did. He put me in the slab yard, where were very few blacks or Latinos. We made good money. I worked there over 17 years. I did a little moving around in the early 60s because of the layoffs, so I got a chance to see other parts of the plant. I was interested in the union from the very beginning. Of course 1959 was the year of the 116-day strike, so there was a lot of anticipation about what was going to happen when the contract was up. At union meetings I'd sit and listen, just to keep up with what was going on. When we went back to work after the strike, I just con- tinued to go. I never said anything, but you can learn a lot by listening. I've always been interested in my sur- roundings, in what I can do to make things better. 1960 Convention Roberto Flores: Conventions could get stormy. In 1960 McDonald supporters beat up Donald Rarick and two of his friends. Some of us heard a commotion behind the curtain at the entrance. We jumped in and pulled them off. It just wasn't right. Sometimes you'd be at the mike, and some 300-pounder would come and adjust your mike as a form of intimidation. Joseph P. Molony(Convention Proceedings): No man who is a member of the Communist Party or the Ku Klux Klan can be a member of this union. Why in heaven's name don't you add "dues protesters" to that group? This man who covets the presidency has the effrontery in God's daylight to come here and to sit among decent trade unionists. I identify the traitor-Rarick, the strike- breaker. Donald Rarick(Convention Proceedings): I would like
  • 20. 18 very much to debate Mr. Molony at any time. I heard Mr. Molony and if he calls anybody a strikebreaker, my God, Joe, you had better look in the mirror. John Sargent(Convention Proceedings): This union must strengthen the seniority clause in order to protect people being unjustly displaced by the introduction of new technological processes in the mill. Change of Administrations at 1010 Mike Olszanski: Before appointed subdistrict director by Joe Germano, former Trotskyist Peter Calacci was President of 101 0 from 1956 until 1962. An opponent of John Sargent's center-left Rank and File Caucus, he supported the USW~s redbaiting anti-communist line. Roberto Flores: I moved around from caucus to cau- cus. Calacci, the head of 1010's Unity Caucus, gave representation to blacks and Latinos. In 1962 John Sargent lost a close election to Joe Wolanin. We felt the Rank and File Caucus didn't have the strongest Latin slate so we didn't support it. Two years later, I ran on the Rank and File slate and was elected guide. In 1960 Sargent had wanted me to run for financial secretary against Jesse Arredondo, but Calacci's Unity slate was so strong, I knew I didn't have a chance. Hank Lopez was on the Membership First slate so I told Sargent he should consider double-slating Hank. I had nothing against Jesse but thought it would be a good strategy. I told Sargent I'd run for trustee, but he didn't want to slate me for that. So I didn't run. Hank was dou- ble-slated and barely beat Jesse. Not winning that office started some division in the Unity slate. James Alexander: I joined the Rank and File Caucus during Joe Wolanin's administration, when there was not one black person on the executive board. I worked on the open hearth, on the pit side. What you found there were blacks, Mexicans and Polish. It was a death zone. So far as safety was concerned, the union didn't get anything for us. We'd make a complaint, but it wouldn't get anywhere. It was treated like a joke. Finally in 1962, five years after I hired in, we decided we were going to change things. I got everyone together, and we talked to the griever, Joe Gyurko, who said he'd slate one of us to run department wide. We agreed and they picked me. They ended up combining our depart- ment with two others, but I won the election. John Sargent said he was going to slate four blacks for the 11 executive board positions. We tossed names back and forth, and finally John asked me to run. I did- n't think I was well enough known to have a chance, but he said I'd balance out the ticket and added: "How can you complain about conditions if you don't go out and do something about them?" So I agreed and got elected, as did Bill Gailes and C. C. Crawford. Balanoff got elect- ed secretary of the grievance committee. In 1964 we expected the opposition to use redbaiting tactics and were ready for it. We hit the gates with liter- ature on all three shifts. The redbaiting never bothered me. I knew Balanoff was trying to help blacks. I didn't care about 20 years in the past. We did very well. Hank Lopez, Bob Flores and Gavino Galvan were the only successful opposition candidates. Mike Olszanski: John Sargent was just leaving when I was coming in. He was a tremendously positive force in our union. In 1964, all over the mill were hand-made fly- ers claiming that he was a commie. His enemies used excerpts from six year-old HUAC hearings to incriminate him. Despite his being cleared by HUAC's inquisition, Sargent's opponents posted copies of excerpts of the testimony with "commie" scrawled across them in red marker. I remember thinking, "He must be pretty good at raising hell if they're calling him a commie." Most of the blast furnace electricians were for Sargent, and none of them were communists, but as a joke called each other "comrade." I thought that was cool. Sargent over- came vicious redbaiting and won reelection as President in 1964. Ed Sadlowski: I met John Sargent around 1964 when we were flying to a wage policy meeting. I was wearing my old man's retirement watch from Inland. He noticed it and said, "You're not old enough to have that watch." We started up a friendship from there. We often drove together to Pittsburgh and even roomed together a few times. Sargent was at the first steelworkers convention, as were Patterson and Mayerik. He was just 23 or 24, but so were most of the other guys. I guess the lesson is, if you want radical change, get some young guys. Roberto Flores: Sargent was aggressive. At conven- tions he wasn't afraid to get up on the floor and chal- lenge the dues structure. He had a good voice which would reach a fever pitch by the time he was finished. Mike Olszanski: In 1965 John Sargent and the local officers refused to sign the contract agreement, but the International had the power to approve contracts, whether the locals agreed or not. James Alexander: In 1965 while attending labor lead- ership classes at Indiana University, I asked how we could get more people involved in the union. Later Bob Hoggs berated me. He said, "Dummy, we don't want
  • 21. people to come out to union meetings. That's your job. If they come out, they're eventually going to run for office." He said, "Just watch. If a griever sees some- body from his department attending a meeting, he's going to get real concerned." He was right. Three times during my tenure as griever somebody came up to me packing a gun. I had a guy point a pis- tol right at my head. He had been off sick, and they gave him a vacation check with dues deducted. He got his check. Another guy didn't put down on his application that he had a police record in Arizona. During his pro- bationary period Inland found out about it and terminat- ed him. He came down to get representation, and I said no because he hadn't finished his probationary period. He said he had paid union dues during that time and showed me his check stubs. I said that didn't matter. He said, "Mr. Alexander, I don't have any problems with you. I don't want to hurt nobody, but I'm going to be back in two hours and if I don't get all the money you took out of my checks, somebody is going to get hurt." I said, "I don't know what to tell you." He said, "Well, when I come back, we won't be doin' no talking." After the guy left, I took the check stubs over to Hank Lopez's office and said, "I don't know what's wrong with this fool." Hank said, "Well, what was he in the peniten- tiary for?" I said, "They robbed a bank, and somebody got killed." Hank said, "You go back over there and make that monkey out a check." We both signed the check, but we needed the signature of Bob Flores, the treasurer. When the guy came back, he had a pistol with him. I told him the check needed Flores' signature, and he hollered out, "Where is Bob Flores?" Meanwhile Hank had called Bob up and he was right outside, ready to sign that check with no questions asked. Bob nor- mally kept a log of every check he signed but didn't log that one. Little Joe & Cowboy Joe Gutierrez (Race, 1992): My father worked at the Ford plant in Detroit when he first came from Mexico. Then he came to Chicago and the steel mill. During the Depression he paid a guy 50 cents a week to teach him how to weld. My mother was a hillbilly from Georgia. She married at 14. We're 15 children. She didn't speak Spanish and he didn't speak English. I didn't know two words of Spanish until I got out into the mill. Studs Terke/ (Race, 1992): [Gutierrez] has worked in the steel mills ever since he was 18. He is now "union full-time for Local 1010." Joe Gutierrez: I hired in at Inland Steel when I was 18 19 on June 16, 1959, right before the strike. I had spent four years in a seminary, studying to be a priest. Three months after I left, I'm in the steel mill. People would say, "Jesus Christ" and I'd bow my head. When the strike started, nobody asked me to join a picket line. I worked at number three cold strip, which was only about a year old. I got laid off and in 1961 went to the galva- nized department, which was a world of its own, even though it was near the 24-inch bar mill, the weld shop, the machine shop, the 100-inch plate mill, and the spike shop. There was not much sense of unity. You identi- fied with your department. They were islands unto themselves except for a common canteen. I got drafted in 1963, went into the army and came back to that department. I never expected to stay past the summer. My first union meeting, it seemed like a closed set of people and that they wanted to keep it that way. It looked like the Mafia sitting up in front. I was totally turned off. I did not have the historical background in terms of knowing what unions had done. That wasn't taught in school. The only union person you ever heard of was John L. Lewis. Unless his father was a steel- worker, the average kid didn't know anything. The union was like, "that place over there." The company had taken advantage of the workers for so long because of poor union leadership. Most grievers eventually became foremen. People would be one-term grievers. It was a stepping stone. CliffMezo: Coming from a southern Illinois coal mining family, I'd been involved with unions all my life. There's nothing like miners for union loyalty. It's a religion. Nobody crossed a picket line. It took me a while to get used to the steel industry's slow-ass grievance proce- dures. When miners had a grievance, they immediately shut the mines down, until it was settled. Miners carried their water for the day in a bucket. When they threw out their water, that was it for the day. I hired in at Inland in 1962. I'd been working con- struction after I got out of the service. That's what paid. I helped put in sewers. We used air spades to get out the clay. A crew of tunnel men could cut 12 feet a day. I wanted to be an iron worker and went to welding school in Chicago, but it was getting hard to get work. I had to go further and further from home. Then my wife had two sets of twins within two years. My buddy kept telling me, "Cowboy, come into the mill. It's just like being on pen- sion, compared to construction." In fact, I had been working for Great Lakes Dredging and Dock Company at Inland and Youngstown, putting in sea walls and underground intakes. I kept watching the guys in the mills and figured they had a pretty good deal even though I took a pay cut.
  • 22. 20 I made noise about how little we made as skilled craftsmen. Most people thought I'd been there for years. I hadn't been there ten months when I put out The Percolator. I was editor, publisher, chief writer, car- toonist and distributor. I organized the Committee on Field Force Improvement. We had badges and hat stickers, which bugged management. A foreman told me to take the stickers off. There wasn't any way I could because there were guys all around looking and listen- ing. I said, "Well, Eddie, you've told me. Thank you for carrying the message." And I walked off. Figuring they weren't going to back down, I found out about all the stickers they had out, commemorating various things. Even though hats were supposed to be clean, I was ready to argue that if their bright colored ones weren't a distraction, then neither was my yellow one. But I heard nothing more about it, so we kept wearing those god- damn stickers. In 1964 when Sargent was running for president against two other guys, I went and heard all of them because I was new in the mill. I was impressed with Sargent's ideas and said to myself, "He's my man." He projected a picture of progressive unionism fighting the status quo. Jim O'Connor headed what was called the Blue Slate, which was favored by the International. He was a good griever but very conservative. A lot of steel- workers were almost rightwing at that time. This was a trend nationally as well with AFL-CIO President Meany. Palace Coup Philip Nyden: Given the absence of any grassroots organization, it is not surprising that the next electoral challenge came from within the top ranks. In 1965 Secretary-Treasurer I.W. Abel ran against McDonald. Abel organized grassroots support by using his position as an officer to enlist the help of staff reps and District Directors. John Herling: The 1962 convention had drastically increased the number of nominations required to run for district and International union office. This helps to explain why an I. W. Abel rather than a rank and filer like Rarick finally beat McDonald in 1965. Steel Labor(June 1977): A native of Magnolia, Ohio, Abel went to work for the American Sheet and Tin Mill in Canton in 1925, learning the molding trade. Losing his job in the depression, he fired kilns in a brickyard for 16 cents an hour, 12 hours a day, seven days a week. He helped organize the Timken Roller Bearing Co., eventu- ally becoming local president. The next year he was singled out by President Murray for the fledgling staff. The first elected director of District 27, he served for ten years before being elected International secretary-treas- urer in 1952. Staughton Lynd: In October 1964, McDonald announced he was not going to reopen the basic steel contract before the 1965 contract expiration date, that is, he did not intend even to threaten a strike. Opposition erupted. Abel, Burke and Molony met that evening and decided to run. John Herling: Abel's challenge was undertaken with considerable misgivings. The campaign was mounted not in hot blood but largely as a result of cold exaspera- tion. The candidate had carefully prepared the ground- work. He was the No. 2 man in the union; respected dis- trict directors were with him, and he had the majority of the weighted vote of the executive board. Some hailed Abel's campaign as a crusade, but his most influential backers wanted it to be a "quiet" one, not wishing to be embarrassed by an excess of unaccustomed fervor. For they were challenging the leader of the establishment whom they had largely sustained for twelve years, even as they were often dismayed by him. Over those years, they had stockpiled- or slag-heaped- their suppressed rages, their postponed indignation, their ulcerous frus- trations. All of which ultimately served to fuel the open hearth of the political campaign. Curtis Strong: The union had started losing its militan- cy under David McDonald. When I was supporting Abel, I chaired a meeting in Chicago Heights. Germano got us the use of a tiny hall. So many black people showed up they called the fire department. They thought it was dangerous. They had a shit hemorrhage about all these blacks getting together. George Bogdanich(Nation, May 7, 1973): McDonald became identified with management. Dressed in a tuxe- do, he toured mills with company executives, promoting what he called "mutual trusteeship" and infuriating steel- workers. Abel expressed the sentiments of many rank- and-file steelworkers, saying: "So long as management is primarily concerned with profits, the interests of man- agement and labor cannot be identical. Mike 0/szanski: After he got elected, Abel became a McDonald. There's a history of this in the union. Staughton Lynd: The rhetoric lasted only as long as the campaign. Philip Nyden: Once in office, Abel consolidated his power and insulated the International from the rank and file. Those who accepted his campaign promise of "return the union to its members" were quickly disillu-
  • 23. sioned. Collective bargaining remained centralized, and the power of International staff representatives was not reduced. Curtis Strong and Black Advancement Curtis Strong: The idea of a Black Caucus started at 1014 while I was a grievance committeeman. We called it the Sentinel League and then the Eureka Club. They were very strong caucuses. The mill work force was 40 percent black, a formidable voting block. We were fight- ing discrimination in the plant as well as in the union. To move ahead we had to have numbers. We never ran an all-black state. We allied with other caucuses. Our phi- losophy was to coalesce with like-minded whites. We didn't try for the Presidency of Local1014, even though I think we could have won, but concentrated on such positions as financial secretary and chairman of the grievance committee. The power of a Grievance Committee Chairman varied depending on the union local. If he was chairman of the negotiating team, as was the case at 1014, then he was very strong. If the President does that, then the chairman is secondary. Our idea evolved first into a national Ad Hoc Committee and from there a district-wide Black Caucus was formed. We were aspiring for leadership. We raised so much hell the International established the office of Vice President in charge of Human Relations. Philip Nyden: Growing out of the Negro American Labor Council campaign to reverse the tradition of exclu- sion of Blacks from union leadership, the Ad Hoc Committee of Concerned Black Steel Workers was formed in 1964. Their "Three-Point Program" demand- ed: (1) a Black representative on the IEB, (2) integration of all14 USWA International Departments, and (3) reor- ganization of the Civil Rights Department to give Blacks a strong voice. In the 1965 election Ad Hoc backed Abel. Many observers felt that the Black vote gave the challenger his narrow margin of victory. Following the election, Abel appointed a Black Detroit union official, Alex Fuller, to be the head of the Civil Rights Department. Curtis Strong: Bill Gailes was an active member of the Black Ad Hoc Committee. We're good friends. He had one idea about fighting for the rights of minorities, and I had another. You try various methods of playing the game. Sometimes none work. Bill believed in becom- ing part of the union structure. My philosophy was to destroy that structure and start our own structure. Bill was not an advocate of a strong local union black cau- cus, while I was. At Local 1010 he was very influential within the Rank and File caucus but didn't control it. 21 When we destroyed a structure, we built one that we controlled. I said to hell with the Mayerik caucus, so we got rid of it. Bill worked from within; I worked from with- out. I don't know who was most successful; all the chips haven't been played yet. Bill Gailes: After we were through, we had blacks in every department. Ruth Needleman: In 1964 John Mayerik went on staff. When Steve Bazin took over the caucus, Curtis Strong pledged the support of the black caucus in exchange for some post-election appointments. Bazin won but reneged on his promises. Strong subsequently approached Mark Tincher, head of the opposition slate, to make a deal for the 1966 election. Tincher was elect- ed president. For the next go-around, Bazin approached Strong early-on to offer the black caucus more positions. Strong accepted, and Bazin was elect- ed in the next round. AI Samter: There were two caucuses almost equal in strength, one headed by Steve Bazin and the other by Mark Tincher, a wheeler-dealer, good-old-boy type whose main support came out of the open hearths and was mostly Appalachian. The Bazin caucus contained most of the Eastern Europeans. It was not an ideologi- cal split. By this time under Curtis Strong's leadership the blacks had a fairly large caucus of their own. In the first election pitting these two caucuses they went to Steve Bazin and asked for certain accommodations. He won but didn't come through with the promises, so Curtis Strong went to Tincher in the next election and that caucus won. Mike Bayer: Curtis Strong was pretty aggressive about teaching folks lessons. He even allied with Mark Tincher, the KKK candidate, to show people what blacks could do if taken for granted. AI Samter: In the next election he went back to Bazin and Bazin won. So the black caucus controlled the bal- ance of power. They moved the meeting to elect the election board from the union hall meeting room to the Tivoli Theater on West Fifth Avenue. So many people came that they filled the theater, and there were mobs outside who wanted to get in. A riot broke out and the cops had to break up the fights. They called out the fire department and used hoses to break it up. Curtis Strong was eventually taken away from District 31. I. W. Abel brought him to Pittsburgh and used him as a trouble-shooter; he'd meet with dissident blacks and then go back and tell Abel what he had to do. Curtis knew how to get his way. Soon after he went to
  • 24. 22 Pittsburgh, he complained that virtually all the office workers were white. When told that they couldn't find capable blacks, he went to a local employment agency and told them to send up a certain number of qualified black office workers to apply for jobs. He changed the complexion of the office. Joe Germano John Herling: Under McDonald and Abel district direc- tors exercised almost autonomous powers if they were loyal to the International. Jack Parton: I only met Joe Germano once. He was not very accessible. He pretty much stayed in his ivory- tower office in downtown Chicago. Mike Mezo: Germano had his office in Chicago. Nobody even knew where it was. He's credited with get- ting Daley elected the first time. William Andrews: Joe Germano had two offices, one in Chicago and the other in East Chicago, where he very seldom turned up. He was more a downtown, Richard J. Daley type. He did not get out and mix. Ed Sadlowski: Joe Germano was no fool. Those who had tried to challenge him were kicked in the balls and banished. He understood that the International's General Council basically ran the union. He'd been instrumental in Arthur Goldberg being made General Council and then Chicago lawyer Bernie Kleinman, who had been legal council for District 31 before moving to Pittsburgh. One of the problems I had with the International was that lawyers rather than steelworkers were running it. AI Samter: Germano was a dictator. You didn't even have a chance to get on the ballot to run against him because you needed too many locals to nominate you. The procedure was at open meetings, which staff men and local presidents could dominate. Betty Balanoff: The joke was, if Germano hadn't gone into the union, he would have gone into the rackets. He never was a militant. He was a coward and a sellout. Cliff Mezo: Germano used heavy-handed methods against union opponents. The company started the commie stuff, but then Germano did it, too. If a guy did- n't agree with him, he called him a commie. The guy was very tough. He cut right through the crap. He told me once, "Cowboy, you can't threaten me, so just get off of that shit." Germano's subordinates had done bad things. One of his subdistrict directors had a check cashing scheme going one time. He and I were always at odds. The Rank and File Caucus was a pain in his side. Curtis Strong: Joe Germano was exceptionally strong willed, to the point of being dictatorial. His district office was miles away from any steel mill. Politicians catered to Joe. He and I got along fairly well, primarily because we both supported I. W. Abel. He practically ran the Abel campaign. The subdistrict directors under him, such as Orval Kincaid, who was not the darling of blacks, also had political influence. AI Samter: Staff representatives were powerful. They decided what grievances were worthy of going to arbi- tration. Then they conducted the arbitration proceed- ings from the union's side. They decided who'd be the witnesses and in essence acted as lawyers. They tend- ed to be political appointees beholden to the International or the district director and went to International conventions as voting delegates. One nin- compoop in subdistrict two sat in the office and stared at the walls. His main claim to fame was that he always wore red socks. Members of the Black Caucus pushed to get a black appointed subdistrict director, a position above thel sub- district staff representatives. District Director Germano was resisting them, and they had a rally in front of the union hall at which they hung Germano in effigy. Germano relented and promised to make Jim Baker director of subdistrict 2. Gary unionist( Blue Collar Community, 1974): Joe "Big Tuna" Germano has about 60 staff guys who owe him their jobs, and he has put them in places where they can do him the most good. It's been almost impossible for anyone to go against that organization. Cliff Mezo: In his last years nobody had been able to challenge Joe Germano. He'd run unopposed. The hard thing was getting on the ballot. A lot of smaller locals were frightened because they had to depend on the International to process their grievances. They did- n't have enough dues coming in to meet their expenses. He was a good example of the corrupting influence of power. Rough-house tactics might have been neces- sary in the early days when the company had thugs. You can't organize by running or bleeding all the time, but the time for busting heads and other strong-arm tac- tics had long passed. He was a dinosaur. George Bogdanich(Nation, May 7, 1973): It is at the lower levels that the process of democracy has broken down most grievously. Germano's rise to power is the
  • 25. classic story of an old-style labor boss. Like mentor Philip Murray, Germano sought and received support from Communists during the CIO organizing drive only to drive them out once he became entrenched. Having the ability to reward local union presidents with staff jobs, he has used both stick and carrot to keep would-be challengers in line. Though only a handful of radicals survived, Germano has since used their presence to redbait any major opposition. Bill Gailes: When Germano went to conventions, it would be "Joe, Joe." The International officers would act real deferential and agree with everything he said. Even the President. That showed me how powerful he was. It would be, "Yes, Joe, you're right, Joe." One time Germano had C.C. Crawford and me down to his office and offered to put me on staff if I'd break away from the Rank-and-File Caucus. I said, "Thanks, but no thanks. If you appoint me, you can take me off any time." An elected position gave me freedom. Jim Balanoff Mike Olszanski: Balanoff was the conscience of 1010's Rank and File Caucus Ed Sadlowski: Everybody in our neighborhood knew the Balanoffs. When I was a kid, I'd steal chickens from the old man; they'd be brought in to his store alive in crates. They had big tubs where they'd take the feath- ers off. All five of the boys worked in that store. Jimmy's old man was very active on the left side of the ledger. Jimmy was the oldest and the most active politically. He had worked at South Works in the electrical department after the war. This scumbag grievance committee chair- man used to brag about how he had gotten "that Red son of a bitch" fired. AI Samter: Balanoff came from a family of long-time union people. His father was probably a radical in 1919. Jim was a good talker who knew what he was doing. He was everybody's buddy, real down to earth. Philip Nyden: During the 1960s the Rank and File Caucus adopted a more formal organizational structure. In addition to regular meetings, elected offices were cre- ated, regular internal elections held, and essential func- tions formally coordinated. During election campaigns, the Caucus rented a storefront near the mill. It pub- lished a newsletter and sponsored dinners, picnics, and educational events. Compared to the six or seven active leaders of the 1950s, the Caucus now had ten or fifteen active leaders and the capability of mobilizing fifty or more to attend important Caucus meetings. This tighter organization was a more effective net in catching 23 disenchanted shopfloor workers. Many activists attributed the beginning of their involve- ment in union politics to specific workplace grievances. If the grievance was handled successfully by the union, it often represented the beginning of closer contacts between the individual and Rank and File Caucus offi- cials. Conversely, where grievances were not success- fully handled, members sought out Rank and File Caucus leaders because of their record of criticizing company and union policies. Jim Robinson observed that wages and benefits under the union's contract were not bad, but what disturbed him and others was the lack of control production workers had over workplace deci- sions. Robinson remarked, "We haven't kept up in terms of rights on the job, working conditions, and safe- ty. It's what goes on during the eight hours you're in there that aggravates people." Jim Robinson: My future wife was Jim Balanoff's daughter so I had a family connection to the Rank-and- File Caucus. It probably would have been my choice anyway. Balanoff was its driving force. Jim was a good recruiter; but in those days if you went to a union meet- ing you got approached by all factions. Any new face was fair game. I don't think the Rank-and-File Caucus was all that radical. It organized around pretty simple issues of democracy and responsiveness to the mem- bership. The Caucus generally met on Tuesdays before union meetings, which were held the first and third Thursday nights. The idea was to organize for whatever was on the agenda. We met at a church basement at Elm Street and Columbus Drive. At election time we'd get a storefront. We also met at Little John's Tavern, a shot and a beer shift change bar open maybe from 6 to 9 a.m., then 1 to 4 p.m., and 7 to 10 at night. Philip Nyden: Balanoff realized the need to establish on-the-job social ties after a conversation with a fellow worker, who said he did not vote for him because when Balanoff passed by him every morning on his way to work, he never once said, "Hello." Through personal contact the Caucus gained visibility. It emphasized developing networks in each department so workers came in contact with Caucus members on a daily basis. Jim Robinson observed that the bottom-up forging of ties had more impact than general plantwide politicking. Betty Balanoff: Jim's attitude was that the company was only out for money and you could never trust them. The adversarial attitude was seared into Jim's soul from an early age. He knew workers had to battle for every- thing, that the company never gave anything away. He
  • 26. 24 was a child of the depression and a teenager when the CIO was organizing. His parents ran a boardinghouse where CIO organizers stayed. Members of his family were at the Memorial Day Massacre. You don't forget events like that. When Jim was working at U. S. Steel right after the war, he ran for Chicago alderman of the 1Oth ward. That's how I met him. His brother Clem was getting stu- dents from the University of Chicago to campaign for him. Then he got fired for taking the day off. Jim Balanoff: I hired in at Inland in 1951. Maihoffer was President of Local 101 0 at the time. Betty Balanoff: He was one of the better presidents. John Sargent was a Maihoffer supporter. Jim and Sargent had a friend in common with the Packinghouse Workers. He told Jim to look Sargent up. When he became president, Sargent put together educational programs for any worker who wanted to come. He'd get movies dealing with labor and poverty. The black guys helped make the Rank and File caucus different from most others. They had a fundraiser and several of the white women were there cooking. The invited black •steelworkers brought their wives. The whole nature of the caucus was affected by that. From then on, the Caucus had family picnics with wives and kids. Cliff Mezo: Jim Balanoff got more people involved in union activities than anyone I knew, but he made life- long enemies. If there was a sore, he'd pick it. This one guy took some money from the Rank-and-File caucus. Every time Balanoff ran into the guy, he'd bring it up. He never let it rest. Crossing Balanoff meant war. Guys who had supported him for years, if they supported another candidate, he didn't take it well. Balanoff had enemies who went to their grave cursing his name and supporters ready to die for him. There wasn't much in between. All of us in the Rank-and-file caucus were constantly subjected to the commie thing, no one more than Balanoff. I think that's one of the reasons he was so abrasive. The status quo guys all had their positions and didn't want too many new people coming in who might create a challenge to them. Balanoff never worried about that. If you started making noise and wan~ed to run for shop steward, say, Balanoff was there to help you. If you were a young guy, you appreciated someone with a lot of experience willing to help you. A lot of people were recruited to switch caucuses, but everybody knew I was Rank and File. I was only asked once to be a foreman because the company knew I wasn't going in that direc- tion. I never left much doubt about where I stood. James Alexander: Balanoff could maneuver. Six in the morning, he'd be shaking hands and talking to people with pencil and paper to write down people's problems and complaints. He was a fantastic organizer. At the union hall he'd be shaking hands and whispering. During elections he'd put his arms around people and lead them right on in to the tent. He'd tell them, "Hey this is our ticket. Take care of us." It went straight on down the line, black candidates as well as white. Balanoff was a loyal ally. If he was with you, he was with you. Balanoff was a man of his word. Whatever he'd tell you, he'd do everything possible to get it done. He wouldn't say, "I'll take care of it'' and then that would be the end of it. He'd call other people up and say, "We've got a fellow over here who needs help. How about giv- ing him a hand?" And he'd deliver. One time I was in his office while he was on the phone trying to convince somebody to come out for a black guy whom the Caucus had endorsed. Evidently the other guy didn't want to go that way. Finally Balanoff said, "I know how you feel, o.k., but do it for me." Balanoff was a civil rights pioneer. Many times he'd stand up at meetings and tell how blacks were getting the short end of the stick. He complained about the small number of black women hired by Inland. He had the figures. Working with him and Sargent, I came to see that interracial cooperation was possible. They took the view that discrimination was wrong and that we were going to fight it. Before International conventions, Balanoff would tell white delegates that they should speak out on having a black on the Executive Board. Some would try to pass if off on somebody else but Balanoff would say, "It sounds better coming from you." He'd take individuals aside and tell them to speak out on certain resolutions, even if they weren't entirely for it. To see the Caucus functioning like that was a new experience for me. It was like taking a little country kid to Paris. I was amazed at Balanoff's skill in holding dif- ferent factions together. He'd bring them into the same household. We had a few "hundred percent" Latinos. He could pick up candidates from all sides, like Bierman and Doug Driever. I recall a meeting at Balanoff's house at Eighth and Polk in Gary. Bierman asked him, "When areiyou going to get the hell of here?" Balanoff told him, "It's my house. I paid for it, and I see no reason for leav- ing.r Bierman told him, "You better get out while you till have a house to get out off." In 1967 I told Balanoff I was for Hatcher and he said he was, too. I said, "Whose leg are you pulling?" He said, "Hey, get a sign, and I'll put it in my office." I found the biggest sign I could find, and he put it up. He took
  • 27. all kinds of criticism for that. This was at the height of the Black Power Movement. I figured this guy was def- initely putting nails in his own coffin, but he and Sargent were always there in the front at events for Hatcher. Balanoff would go to a NAACP affair and stay the whole time, right through the speeches. Now he'd try to eat everything on the table, mind you, but he'd stay. Often dignitaries would leave after saying a few words. Balanoff would ask questions and take a lot of notes. His wife and son were also outspoken. Mike 0/szanski: Under Balanoff's influence the caucus was a center-left as well as a black-white coalition. At union meetings he'd get on young guys like flies on shit. He was the hardest-working recruiter I ever knew. He'd come sit next to you and say, "How ya doin? These bums are no damn good. They're just in it for the money. You want some real fighters in there." He had come out of the Old Left and was still operating on a lot of those principles. Under Jim the Rank-and-File cau- cus was better organized than most. Rather than just coming together for elections, it had regular meetings. BeHy Balanoff:Jim concentrated on recruiting young people. He said, "That's the future. If you have a good thing going and only have older guys, it won't last long. You've got to have continuity. Mike Mezo: Jim Balanoff was like a whirlwind, con- stantly moving, agitating. Clearly, the Rank and File Caucus was fueled by his perspective that the union should be more militant and confrontational. Part of that was very healthy politics and but part of that was a gen- uine belief that the International's exclusive leadership style would come back to haunt us one day. And, of course, it did. Jim Balanoff: The role of a union leader is to organ- ize. You have to have a base of strength. These other guys play with the International. They have no princi- ples, so they can make alliances with anybody for their own good while our options are limited. We had to have guys that would agree on some program. So if we want- ed to survive, we had to set up a rank-and-file organiza- tion. Roberto Gil: Rank-and-File leaders had guts. Jim Robinson: Other caucuses came and went and never took any strong positions except for the standard stuff, more money, better pensions. Rank and File was the only caucus with a consistent program, an identity; "Rank and File" meant certain things. Atlantic City & Chicago 25 John Herling: With considerable trepidation, the lead- ership approached the special "dues" convention of March 20, 1968, in Atlantic City. Not since 1952 had a special convention been held. Ever since the roaring 1956 convention, the idea of a dues increase was con- sidered dirty, dangerous, and repellent, no matter how great the need. At the 1962 convention, an oblique for- mula for replenishing the treasury was beaten by the mistrustful delegates, much to McDonald's disgust. As recently as 1966, the newly elected leaders thought it wise to turn off what appeared to be considerable senti- ment for a dues increase. By 1968, the reality was grim: the union's finances were run down; costs of adminis- tration had more than doubled since 1956; the copper strike had taken about a million dollars a month for relief; and the new leadership faced negotiations with the basic steel corporations. A new delegate from 1010, the union's largest local, chided the leadership for failure to provide more infor- mation on matters before them: "Some of us haven't been coming to these things for 35 years. Some of us must run for local election. We are small people who do not get elected every time and are not sent down here free. We have a right to know what's going on. There is not a damn thing wrong with acquainting the member at the bottom, the little guy like me that supports you, with what the hell I am going to pay you." Applause punctu- ated his insistence for better internal "communication." The convention moved to consider the graduated dues proposal. John Sargent, the highly articulate president of Local 101 0, recalled that at the 1964 convention a dues increase was considered unnecessary because the executive board intended to eliminate overhead by combining several smaller districts. But, said Sargent, the executive board pigeonholed the district merger pro- posal while the district directors were voted a $4,000 a year increase. He now challenged the Abel leadership to eliminate unnecessary district organizations. Although the dues increase was declared adopted by a voice vote, another delegate insisted that only a roll call could adequately reflect the sentiment of the con- vention: "If you put it to a roll call, you would be dis- graced by the vote you would get here today." His chal- lenge was disregarded. Abel reminded disgruntled del- egates that a general motion for a roll call on major issues had been voted down earlier. With the enact- ment of the dues increase, the union's leadership could presumably look ahead to a period during which the bruised feelings of the Dues Protesters could be healed. Repeatedly, delegates had risen to say that they would not object to a dues increase if they had received more "service" from the union.
  • 28. 26 Bill Gailes: The fight to get an African American on the IEB began on the Boardwalk of Atlantic City and moved to the stockyards of Chicago. The convention was sup- posed to be held at McCormick Place but it caught on fire. That's how we came to be at the stockyards. Alexander Bailey(Convention Proceedings): Brother Abel, there was always a lack of communication between you and the people who really support this union, the small guy that carries it on his back. It is a shame that in District 31 there is no Negro today in posi- tion to advance even to District Director. William Gailes(Convention Proceedings): The Negro is systematically kept out of these positions. We are only asking to be put in a position where we are not sys- tematically prohibited from being where the policies and decisions are being made. It can be done in this con- vention. I don't personally think that one member of the IEB would necessarily be called tokenism. But if that is called tokenism, then how long do we have to wait before we get realism, get the real thing, the real McCoy? Jim Balanoff(Convention Proceedings): The Negro brothers have raised serious questions and we ought to give serious consideration to them. Bill Gailes: So many Rank and Filers lined up at the mikes they couldn't ignore us. At one point Abel asked what I was doing at the mike since I had already spoken. I said, "I know you think we all look alike, but I have not yet spoken." I told Abell had read where he said that if he put a black person on the executive board, he'd have to put a German on and a Polish American and so forth. I said, "Mr. President, I'll tell you what, whoever you put on, it won't be a black dude." Then he said that a black person could run for the board. I told him a black could- n't get elected so he picked out one to prove me wrong. But he failed. John Sargent(Convention Proceedings): Staff repre- sentatives voting at our conventions has been a bone of contention for many, many years. It is very difficult to overcome a voting block of 700 staff members. We believe every staff member should have the right to attend, but they should be elected, not be able to pick up credentials from some obscure little local that in reality does not even have elections for delegates. Ed Sadlowski: In 1968 I got the skin rubbed off my back when I stood up and opposed the war. All I got was, "You commie motherfucker" and "Sit down!" There were probably 5,000 delegates there. When we broke for lunch, somebody suggested I go out a side door. I said, "No, once you start going out the side door, you never stop. It becomes a way of life." As I was walking out of the hall, some guys whispered, "You're right, kid." Of course, in the final analysis, whisperers are worse than those who boo. Philip Nyden: After continued pressure by the Ad Hoc committee, culminating in well-publicized demonstra- tions outside the 1968 Chicago USWA Convention, Abel worked to meet Ad Hoc's demand for more Black staff representatives; by 1975, 57 Blacks, many of them for- mer Ad Hoc leaders, were on the International staff of 1019. Latinos Organize John Herling: Black members, making up about 15 per cent of workers in basic steel, became more assertive of their rights. Their insistence that their time had come was soon echoed by Mexican Americans. Philip Nyden: Discrimination by the company led to union activism. Joe Pena explained: "When I first went in, I had no choice where I would work. They hired me into the coal processing operation of the coke plant. Most Blacks and Latins were given jobs in the coke ovens, blast furnaces, yard department and open hearth." These jobs tended to be dangerous and pro- vided little opportunity for advancement in pay or skill level. Roberto Flores: I went to 15 conventions in a row over a 30-year span. The more your name is seen, the stronger you get. My first time, I was 29th on the list, then 14th, then 9. I even ended up first once. It had been customary at conventions for Hispanics to have a get together to exchange ideas and socialize. During the 1960s we became more political. We petitioned the union to have a conference of Hispanic delegates from other unions. That was the beginning of the Labor Council for Latin-American Advancement. When Cesar Chavez started his grape boycott, we helped the United Farm Workers. Chavez came to the convention, and we had him come to our Hispanic gath- ering. We took one of Chavez's people to different clubs in East Chicago and had gate collections for his union. We boycotted and picketed Jewel Foods and Kroger's. They took the nonunion grapes out, but Kroger's busi- ness declined so much it closed. 1969 Election: RAFT and Narick Philip Nyden: Dissidents regrouped under the name Rank and File Team (RAFT). Concentrated in the
  • 29. Youngstown area, RAFT relied heavily on the rank-and- file's familiarity with their candidates' names rather than on any reform program. The death of their candidate Donald Rarick prior to the nominating period hurt the campaign. RAFT joined with Emil Narick, an assistant general counsel who had used his position as International staff representative to win enough nomina- tions to appear on the ballot. John Herling: In Pittsburgh, the 52 year-old Emil Narick formally announced his candidacy. His 15-point program included a "cost of living" clause in future con- tracts and "total job security and guaranteed annual wage." To make "wage conferences truly productive," he proposed company by company bargaining. He pro- posed two reforms to end convention control by the "palace guard": agenda to be supplied to all local unions at least 30 days prior to the convention, and the use of the roll call to tabulate all major votes. Just as Abel had charged that local issues were scanted by the McDonald leadership, so Narick claimed that "pressure from the top caused local issues to be dropped from the last settlement." He proposed reserv- ing to the local level the right to strike on plant issues after completion of negotiations. The basic steel negoti- ations of 1968, he charged, had been conducted "behind a curtain of secrecy." Locals were not allowed to make their opinions known until too late. The turnout of voters was distressingly low. While Abel ran well ahead, there was little to cheer about. Abel received about 260,000 votes to Narick's 180,000. More than 700,000 workers did not vote, as against 400,000 who stayed away from the polls in the previous contest. To the public, Abel kept a fairly cheerful face, but the results stunned him. Narick's showing represented far more than the normal "protest'' vote. The small turnout signified pervasive apathy. Philip Nyden: Narick's vote total was surprisingly high, given that he was relatively unknown and had a weak organization. Lee Dembart: Little-known lawyer Emil Narick got 40 percent of the vote and carried the basic steel industry. Steel Labor(May 1969): Also reelected were Secretary-Treasurer Walter J. Burke and Vice President Joseph P. Molony, who was unopposed. Arredondo Elected President of 101 0 Roberto Flores: Jesse Arredondo saw an opportunity to win with three other slates in the contest because 27 Hispanics were about 30%. He didn't succeed entirely on the Hispanic vote. He had vote getters on his slate. It was a brilliant move. I give Jesse a lot of credit. He went out and worked, starting about a year before the election. I ran for financial secretary against Hank Lopez. That was my only big loss. Hank was very pop- ular. Hank won but no longer ran the Local. The previ- ous president had let him make a lot of decisions him- self. When Jesse became president, he made the deci- sions. It was a big difference. Mike 0/szanski: Arredondo ran on a Latin slate. Balanoff was hurt by the defection of Bill Gailes, who ran an all-black slate. What happened was an aberration. Bill Gailes was pissed off at Balanoff about a slight. Bill Gailes: The East Chicago politicians saw an opportunity to elect a Mexican, with Bennett, Balanoff and me in the race. Sure enough, that's what hap- pened. If I'd have supported Balanoff, the whole slate would have walked in. I had a lot of support. The rea- son I ran was that Sargent had suffered a heart attack and was out for 18 months and as vice-president I ran the Local during that time. I thought I deserved to run for President and even took my case to the executive board. I said, "Look, if anybody else had been president for 18 months, he'd be the candidate. I'm running." It was an affront. When Jesse won, we had eight Mexicans, three blacks and one white on the board. Mike Mezo: Gailes felt there was a chance for a minor- ity to slip in because there were two white candidates in the race. Balanoff and Bill Bennett were two old-timers, well respected unionists. Gailes was right except that the minority that slipped in was Arredondo. The votes were all bunched. After he lost the Presidency to Arredondo, Balanoff came back into the mill, in fact into the same department as mine. Mike Bayer: When Gailes felt the Caucus wasn't pay- ing attention, he shifted sides to show people where the balance of power lay. Some called him opportunistic, but he felt it necessary in order to be treated fairly. William Andrews: Gailes had been acting president when John Sargent got sick. He was chairman of the Black Caucus, well over six feet, slim, wore dark glass- es. He was outspoken and quite a character. For many years while he was Vice Chairman of the Grievance Committee, he didn't have a car. When he had to go to Third Step at Labor Relations, he'd get a ride with whomever he could, usually the person he was repre- senting. One day the guy he was representing had a motorcycle, so here was Gailes on the back of this motorcycle. Soon after that, Gailes bought a car.
  • 30. 28 Mike Olszanski: Balanoff had given incumbent President Bill Bennett the nickname "Shaky" because he was so week-kneed. The company almost had to kick him out of bed sometimes, he was so eager to make a deal. His caucus was pro-International, conser- vative, anti-communist, and soft on the company, while ours was militant, leftwing, and basically a black-white coalition with some support from the Puerto Ricans. The Mexicans, therefore, looked elsewhere. There were ten times more Mexicans than Puerto Ricans, and we never could get that much Mexican support. Cliff Mezo: Sargent had always wanted to unite the Latin-Americans. It never happened. Times were pret- ty good, which meant it was harder to rally the forces. In good times people more or less don't realize they need the union. Arredondo was helped by the fact that his family was politically prominent in East Chicago. It was the first time computer cards were used. Ironically, it was one of Sargent's reforms to have a fair system of counting ballots. A Brinks truck picked up the ballot boxes and took them to Chicago. They were counted two ways to insure accuracy. Local1010 Minutes, July 2, 1970: Chairman reported the results of the June 18, 1970, election as follows: Jesse Arredondo, 2,371; James Balanoff, 2,332; William "Bill" Bennett, 2,254; William "Bill" Gailes, 1,797. Brother Calacci stated the International at no time had supported any candidate. Brother Balanoff urged sup- port of the new administration and said our fight was with the company and not within the union. Mike Olszanski: The loss didn't discourage me. I fig- ured good guys usually lost anyway and wanted to be with the good guys. If being with Balanoff and the insur- gency taught me anything, it was that we needed basic change. What revolted me was union leaders thinking, "If I play this right, I can get out of the mill with a full-time union job." Being a careerist was to me the same as being an opportunist. James Alexander: It really hurt Balanoff when Gailes left; he felt he had done everything he could to advance blacks. Being the politician that he was, right after the election he mended fences and picked up those people again. The only other person on Arredondo's slate to win was John Gutierrez. Any time something controver- sial came up at a board meeting, Arredondo would run from it and Hartman would have to take care of it. Mike Olszanski: Shortly after the election, Arredondo appointed me steward to fill an unexpired term. He was trying to recruit me. Stewards handle grievances in the first step; they are under the griever but, in our local at least, are elected. In our thousand-man department we had three stewards plus a safety steward, an assistant griever and a griever. Officially I represented the whole number three Cold Strip, but informally, I kind of repre- sented the electricians. That worked out fine because nobody wanted to tuck with the electricians; they were prima donnas. I took it upon myself to learn about the union. I read all kinds of radical literature, not only The Militant and the Daily World but the IS paper Workers Power, even some Maoist literature. I was starting to put two and two together and figuring out that Balanoff wasn't just bull- shitting: a union's main purpose was to fight for its work- ers, not take the easy road. Even Adam Smith, the hero of capitalism, said in The Wealth of Nations that the interests of capitalists and workers are not the same. Jim recruited me to write for a new rank-and-file news- paper. I asked him who was going to edit my stuff, and he said I could write what I want. I agreed to try it on that basis. I started coming to caucus meetings, and Balanoff let me write pretty much what I wanted. Joe Gutierrez: I felt Arredondo was a "puppet" of the International. In those days there was such animosity, we regarded the International as the "evil empire." There was an us against them mentality. 101 0 was unique in that we did everything ourselves. In most places the staff man literally ran locals, even if he was the dumbest man in the world. If they were on your side, half the battle was won. I saw the analogy between the International putting people on staff to the company pro- moting foremen. You'd say, "Why did they pick this idiot?" Local 1010 Minutes, Oct. 15, 1970: Brother Balanoff said to Pres. Arredondo, why did you vote against our "Right to Strike" resolution at the convention and also vote a wage increase for all the executive officers. Brother Arredondo replied, this is my prerogative on how I vote. Local 1010 Minutes, Mar. 18, 1971: Bro. Ted Rogus said to get the word out about absenteeism, that this is the layoff problem now. Bro. Balanoff stated he would not ask the membership not to be absent, this is what the company would like but I don't work for the compa- ny on these matters. Bro. Balanoff also stated to Bro. Rogus that strong wording be put in our coming contract in regards to not forcing our members to work overtime. Unity Slate at 1014 Jack Parton: I had about ten years experience before I ran for grievance committeeman in 1970. Around 1960
  • 31. I became a steward and later accepted an appointed job as an assistant griever. A Unity Slate had gotten togeth- er headed by Harry Piasecki, Bill Todd, Oscar Reeves, Johnny Maier, Bobby Demby and a few others. We elected all 13 grievers and 11 executive board people on the slate. It was a first. The Unity Caucus had a good mix racially and supported change. AI Samter: There are no legal rules regarding caucus- es. It's like forming a club; you can make your own rules. Different factions go out and get new members. A lot of fluctuation goes on, where people gravitate from one caucus to another. The Unity Caucus had many aspects of the old Mayerik caucus. Piasecki had a lot of support from Eastern Europeans. Jack Parton: Politics in 1014 has always been geared around belonging to a caucus. I think it's better that way. When a slate stands for certain things and is elected, members expect action on those issues. We started putting the slate together in 1969. You don't put them together overnight if you want to be successful. The opposition slate was headed by Phil Cyprian. He had moved up from vice president when Steve Bazin went on staff. There were a lot of issues: cost of living adjust- ments, job description, incentives, health care, pen- sions, and, of course, money. One big issue was bus transportation. In the winter if you worked near the lake, it was goddamned cold walk- ing out there. You'd be half froze to death. We wanted bus service since you couldn't take your car there. We had a hell of a fight over that. The company just didn't want to do it, even though it was quite inexpensive. In the beginning we had to pay something like 10 cents or a quarter. We were arguing to drop the fee. We were asking for their books, so they caved in. U.S. Steel has always been pretty arrogant about not showing their books to anybody. AI Samter: Early in 1969 Bazin went on staff but did not resign from the presidency, mainly because the vice- president was a black fellow named Rip Ward, and that caucus did not want him to move up. Although on staff, Bazin came back to conduct the meetings until Rip Ward retired when he reached the age of 65. Bazin got his executive board to appoint Phil Cyprian vice-president and then resigned. That meant Cyprian would be pres- ident during the campaign for the 1970 election. Curtis Strong came to me and said, "We have two things going on. Number one, we've got to stop Phil Cyprian. Secondly, Germano will be retiring and we have to get a campaign going to keep Sam Evett from succeeding him." One possibility was that Harry 29 Piasecki might run. If so the stepping-stone would be as President of 1014. Piasecki headed the Unity Caucus and had enough charisma that he might be a viable can- didate for district director. Curtis asked me to meet with Piasecki. I met with Harry for several hours at his house. He came up with a pretty progressive platform. So I joined Piasecki's campaign. Of course, nobody wanted Phil Cyprian, who had a shady reputation. On top of that was the undemocratic maneuvering against Rip Ward. Curtis Strong by this time was on the International staff, but he was supporting Piasecki. His close friend Bill Todd was the Unity Caucus candidate for vice-president. Parton was running for grievance committeeman in the open hearth. Once elected, Piasecki appointed his defeated oppo- nent Phil Cyprian chairman of the incentive committee. That immediately set off warning bells. Here we were fighting the guy on a principled basis, and the first thing Piasecki does is put him in a position where he sat down in the union hall full time. Then we started getting dou- ble-talk about who Piasecki was going to support for dis- trict director. I had a long relationship with Jim Balanoff and he told me he was supporting Sadlowski and asked me if I could tie Piasecki down to a commitment- at least, if he wasn't going to be a candidate, that he'd sup- port Sadlowski. Piasecki kept telling me that he would. All of a sudden the Unity Caucus voted to support Evett. Shop Steward at Bethlehem Paul Kaczocha: In July of 1970 I hired in at Bethlehem. I had applied for a clerical job; but when I wasn't called for a month, went back and said I wanted any job. There was an opening for a millwright helper. They asked me whether I knew anything about mechanics. I said, "Yeah." I had been on an academic track in high school but had worked in a garage. So I went to the library and studied a bunch of books and next day passed the test. There were two openings, one in the shop complex and the other in the blast furnace for a dime more an hour: $3.35. The guy said it was an inside job, but it turned out to be an outside job, for the most part. Before I got hired at Bethlehem, I worked part-time at Federal Cement in Hammond while going to school. That is the first place where I went to a union meeting. I was the only one there besides the union officers. It was a steelworkers' represented place. I was working five hours a day, and when a holiday rolled around, they did- n't pay me any holiday pay. I filed a grievance. I didn't win, but they said they made a change in the contract so that in the future part-time people would get holiday pay. I got married in February of 1970, and we went to
  • 32. 30 Canada to dodge the draft. I couldn't find a job so I entered the first draft lottery and drew a lucky number. At the time I felt unions weren't really representing the workers. They were big fat-cat organizations whose bigwigs wore suits and went to conferences and acted like businessmen. I didn't see unionism as a social movement or class struggle. My maternal grandfather, Stanley Bigda, had been a staff rep for Joe Germano. I lived in the same house with him until I was ten. He was very anti-communist. Both he and my other grandfather had worked for American Foundry. Bethlehem was a relatively new plant. The company had recruited in predominately white areas in the rural south, hoping to get people with anti-union attitudes. Instead they ended up with militant former coal miners. There were hundreds of wildcat strikes during the first five years. Any excuse, people would walk out. It was a very militant atmosphere, but it got to the point where the union agreed with the company to put an end to them. I hired in right after a wildcat strike over incentive pay where the union went to bed with the company and agreed to have everyone fired who participated. Len Hickey was the staff rep then and Dutch Jones the President. Hickey really ran things. He had helped organize the plant, even though younger than Dutch. Soon after I hired in, one issue that came up was the wearing of beards and mustaches. The company didn't want us to have them because of gas masks. They had a legitimate point; but when you're 18 or 19, you don't like it. There were a hundred guys in my shop, hardly any of us out of our teens. The blast furnace had just started up in December of 1969. They were going through people. Some older guys had transferred there, but most were right off the street. People were getting sent home and disciplined for silly things. They were trying to get us to shave and cut our sideburns. It was like being in high school again. Your mustache couldn't extend beyond your mouth. There were locker search- es. When you hired in, you had to purchase a long list of tools that probably cost more than a paycheck or two. If you were missing one little tool, you were sent home, even if you never used it. Crane operator(Biue Collar Community, 1974): We're tired of hassling with the union staff and manage- ment about discipline problems. We're making good money and all that, but we always have people being sent home for smoking dope and coming in late. We've been waiting for someone younger to come along and change the way the union is run. Paul Kaczocha: I became a shop steward not long after I hired in. I observed different stewards: one guy couldn't read or write; another was totally apathetic. One guy I admired was real radical and became my unofficial adviser. He'd say, "You ought to do this." I'd just do what he said. I might be scared but I'd make calls and yell at people. Being a steward was a way to fight authority, a direction I was coming from. I was a product of the Sixties protests, plus my father had been very anti-war, way before people realized that kids like me might be drafted. He'd have loud arguments with my grandfather and other relatives. He refused to watch war movies or talk about what he did in World War II. Communist Party Organizer Michael Bayer: I had been a union organizer in New York and before that an organizer for SNCC in the South. I felt that being a union organizer just wasn't speaking to some of the more fundamental questions I thought needed to be addressed. I went to the Communist Party and expressed willingness to work full- time as a Party organizer. Claude Lightfoot said, "Boy, have I got the place for you. We need somebody in Indiana. Would you be willing to go?" The Party was, for all intents and purposes, nonexistent in that area. There wasn't a single CP member in the steel mills. The CP had a policy called industrial concentration based on the premise that fundamental social change can only be brought about by the working class organ- ized as workers and that the section of the working class potentially most powerful were the industrial workers. The Party believed that those people were most likely to understand the nature of the capitalist system because there's no such thing as individualism in a steel mill. You're part of a big process. You're always part of a work team and see that it is the collective action of peo- ple that accomplishes things. You also see pretty clear- ly who the enemy is. Whether I should go into the mill was a question. In the late 40s and early 50s, a bunch of comrades very much like me decided to become industrial workers and hopefully become union leaders and organize left wing politics from among the workers. A lot of people of my generation also did that, but it left the Party without a public face. I thought my role was making sure people never lost sight of the big picture. It's very easy to get involved in really hating some individual and personalizing politics. Internal union hall politics has very little to do with changing anything. When you are involved in local fights, it's easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. I thought my responsibility should be showing how nation- al issues were reflected in the locals.
  • 33. All the mills seemed fertile ground. A lot of what I did was based on establishing personal relationships. I was very interested in learning from people like Curtis Strong and Bill Todd. Most of my work focused on Local 1014 at Gary Works and 6787 at Bethlehem. I did not con- centrate my efforts at 1010 because nobody needed the CP to get things started there. Jim Balanoff and Cliff Mezo had the franchise on the leftwing at Inland, and there was no point in challenging for that. Frankly, I did- n't get very involved in internal union politics. If some- body doesn't want to run for griever, you can't force him to campaign in a way that will get him elected. I never saw my role as saying, uYou run for griever; you run for vice-president." I worked with activists of various stripes, including but not limited to Party members. At 1010 you never had a sweep of political left wingers taking over the union. It was always a case of different folks changing their positions. 1014 was an even better example of people shifting back and forth, depending on the winds of change. I encouraged comrades to run for union office because my view was that the more princi- pled people you had in leadership positions, the more effective they'd be. If somebody got on the bandwagon so he could get his annual trip to the educational con- ference, you couldn't really depend on that person, whereas if a progressive got elected griever or onto the executive board, it made a difference. And there were literally hundreds of very principled activists who were becoming a base for progressive politics. 1971 Contract Negotiations Mike Mezo: I got elected safety committeeman in 1971, two years after I hired in. Actually I started short- ly before I graduated from high school. I went to Inland probably because my dad was there. I had failed the physical at LTV because my eyes were very bad. I guess Inland needed people more than LTV. I became a pipefitter. I worked in Central Forces, which was all over the mill, a great situation if you were running for office. I could get around. They even gave me a truck at one point. In 1971 contract talks went up to the deadline and then were extended one day. We had spent two or three weeks preparing for a strike, setting up clinics, washers and dryers, things like that. Management didn't scab the plant but intended to have personnel occupying it to keep the furnaces from caving in. Routinely, employees made the facilities habitable for the bosses. In fact, you'd joke back and forth. You'd tell the foreman, "Remember, this way to turn it off." When it got settled, people were pissed; but it was far and away the best contract we've ever received. 31 Mike 0/szanski: The contract was signed, sealed and delivered to us without our input or approval. Steelworkers are sitting at home or in a bar and hear about it on TV: "Contract is signed." Now that's my god- damned contract. How come I don't get to say some- thing about it before it's signed? Negotiating, as Jim Robinson said, is like armed robbery. You put a gun to their head and say, "I want some of what's in your pock- et." So don't go there without a gun. Those sonov- abitches don't want to give you a dime. You have to take it from then. That's why you don't give up the right to strike. There is just so much money that a steel mill brings in. How much the capitalists get, there's that much left over for the workers, and vice versa. A leftist perspective allows one to see that when the member- ship is involved, it gives you much more leverage. You can get better contracts when you can say to manage- ment, "You don't just have to please me. You have to please a half million steelworkers or they'll vote the sonovabitch down." McDonald and Abel squandered that power. Jim Robinson: When I got a job at Inland in February of 1971, I started in a mechanical gang at the number 2 blooming mill. I had dropped out of college and been kicking around. I had a draft deferment and no particu- lar goal, so I was working or not working as the spirit moved me. I had a job at a cardboard box factory in a south Chicago suburb when I noticed a billboard adver- tising that Inland was hiring. In the early 70s Inland was actually having trouble maintaining a labor force and recruited with billboards. I intended to stay a little while and then go do something else. Everybody was expecting a strike on August 1. The schedule went up Thursday, July 29. A couple senior people were scheduled for fire watch; nobody else had a schedule. Instead, a note in effect said, "If there's a strike, see you when it's over. If not, you're laid off." There was a 24-hour extension and then the contract was signed, but there had been so much stockpiling that it was October before things got back to normal. The mills had run flat out all the way up to August 1 and then shut down. The market was flooded with steel; also there was such a strong belief that there was going to be a strike, companies went to Japan as an alternate source. That really opened the door for significant imports. So the strike threat was really disruptive. I got laid off. I was first recalled to the Number 4 B.O.F. I was working five days and could have worked overtime if I was from that department. Then I got called back to the bloomer, working four days a week. Logic told me that the B.O.F. was a better place to work, so as soon as there was an opening, I transferred.
  • 34. 32 George Bogdanich (Nation, May 7, 1973): The 1971 basic steel contract contained a highly controversial "productivity clause" which linked future wages and benefits to long-term prosperity and efficiency and com- mitted local union leadership to meet regularly with management on the problem of "increasing productivi- ty." The effects of the productivity committees have been disastrous. The steel companies introduced a massive speed-up campaign as a result of which thou- sands of jobs were eliminated or combined. Bias Protest Local 1010 Minutes, June 17, 1971: Letter from Sister Juanita Holmes, stating there is no Black Staff Rep from Local 101 0. Executive Board recommends a letter be written to Director Joe Germano. There was a very lengthy discussion. Bro. Gailes said we went on record about a black staff brother and a resolution was sent to the International convention. Motion adopted. Jim Robinson: Bill Gailes had been around a long time and was a straight ahead guy. He really believed in doing the right thing. Tom Stundza(Post-Tribune, June 1, 1971): As the sun broke through the blue-white cloud, Joseph Germano was hanged in effigy in front of the Philip Murray build- ing. Then began a day of picketing with signs which said: "Equal Rights Denied"; "Germano is a Racist"; Minorities Too Pay Union Dues"; "Abel is a Bigot"; "Racism in USW'; "Latins Rights Denied," and "Blacks Not Promoted in USW." The 20 or so picketers were demonstrating against alleged racial discrimination in the union's hierarchy. Germano, with Abel's approval, chose Andrew White to succeed Orval Kincaid as Subdistrict 1 director over caucus protests that John L. Howard, a staff represen- tative in Subdistrict 1, was as qualified as White. William Todd pointed out that Howard is the only minor- ity group staff representative of the 10 in the subdistrict. "Germano preaches, but doesn't practice civil rights," Todd charged. Local 1010 Minutes, April 20, 1972: Bro. Dennis Davis said he'd like to see our local give full support to the bricklayers in their strike struggle. There was a very lengthy discussion pro and con. Bro. Holmes said they are discriminating against our black and brown brothers. Philip Nyden: Sexual discrimination contributed to rank-and-file involvement. Mary Hopper remembered that when the "boss" would come around, many women "would say their 'Our Fathers' and 'Hail Marys,' hoping he wouldn't come near them. They were afraid of them. You couldn't stand up for your rights." However, "a few brave souls, a little at a time" would not take the abuse. ''There's always a breaking point when you figure, The heck with it, I'm going to fight this"' A friend introduced Hopper to a Rank and File activist who convinced them that some of their problems could be solved if they joined together. Evett Testimonial Local 1010 Minutes, May 4, 1972: Letter from Sub- District #2 about a dinner for Asst. Director Samuel Evett on May 13 at the Knights of Columbus Hall at $10.00 per ticket. Bro. John Gutierrez made a motion to purchase 50 tickets. Bro. Gil seconded the motion. Bro. Balanoff said that he strongly opposes this motion. "I don't mind purchasing tickets for retirement purposes but not for political purposes and that's what this is!" There was a lengthy discussion. Bro. Arredondo said that he also opposes this motion and stated strongly he would not sign any checks of this nature. Loca/1010 Minutes, May 18. 1972: Bro. Balanoff said that the Recording Secretary writes what he wants to write and not what the membership wants for him to record and this is wrong. Bro. Sosa Alamillo, Recording Secretary, asked Bro. Balanoff, if you want correctness on the minutes, just state what you want recorded and this shall be done but please don't harass me and ridicule another union Brother. "You seem to make this a habit, and this is not becoming a union Brother." Steel Labor (June 1972): More than 950 union, busi- ness and community leaders honored Assistant Director Sam Evett. Joseph Germano related Mr. Evett's many contributions, describing him as "a good trade unionist who never asked for anything for himself but always asked what he could do to make the union better and the lives of the workers easier." He added, "During my long career I have had a lot of tributes paid to me because of projects spark-plugged by Sam Evett." Gabriel Favaino: All the big Lake County politicians turned out to pay homage, repay favors, and pay their dues. It was $5 a plate, in a room with gold wallpaper and drawings of Chinese birds behind the speakers' table. The Perennial Congressman (Ray J. Madden) was there, naturally. Not a steelworker in sight. Convention Delegates Local 1010 Minutes, June 1, 1972: Executive Board recommends to send 5 delegates to the NAACP con- vention in Detroit and expense monies to come out of
  • 35. the general fund. There was a lengthy discussion, pro and con. Bro. Mezo said one delegate would represent our local union well and we in turn would save funds. Bro. Gailes said, "I strongly go along with Bro. Mezo's comments." Bro. Holmes said we for many years have sent many delegates to NAACP conventions; it shows that our local union has interest. Sister Juanita Holmes spoke very strongly in support of the recommendation. Bro. Arredondo called for the vote. Bro. Gailes said, "No, I would like a standing vote." It passed unanimous- ly. Local1010 Minutes, Sept. 7, 1972: Bro. Sowa spoke very strongly in regards to our resolutions and that all delegates take the convention floor and let them know that we are disturbed, we want action. Bro. Mezo said that he personally promises that he will hit the floor on all resolutions. Mike Mezo: In addition to Rank and File leaders, Ace Sowa was a big influence. A lot of guys said he couldn't read or write, but he made firebrand speeches, did a lot of pounding on the desk and got elected off and on for 40 years. Griever Jim O'Connor commanded a lot of respect even though we weren't aligned with him. I gravitated to the Rank and File Caucus initially because of my dad. At the beginning I saw everything in moral terms. We were the good guys, the opposition the bad guys. We felt their attitude was: "Just shut up and pay your dues. We'll run the union." Mike Olszanski: Jim Balanoff encouraged me to use a nickname when I ran for convention delegate in 1972. I used "Mike" but later changed to "Oz." Other nicknames on the 1972 ballot included John "Hawk'' Aguilera, Aurelius "Fire Ball" Allen, Hatton "EI Gordito" Blanton, Jesse "Spider" Campos, Louis "Baby Lou" Gonzalez, Linda "Lee Baby" Hall, William "Sherlock" Holmes, John "Doe" Hurley, Araldo "Yoyo" Manzo, Fernando "Skinny" Martinez, Jose "Running Bear" Mendoza, Nick "EI Gringo" Koleff, Leroy "Lippie" Liptak, Cliff "Cowboy" Mezo, Yvonne "Sugar'' Porter, Felix "Cat" Prieto, Elmore "Peanuf' Scott, and Joseph "Ace" Sowa. Jim Robinson: The convention delegates election was a big deal, a measure of the relative strength of the cau- cuses as well as the major players. You ran as an indi- vidual, so the ballot might have 120 names on it. You needed to be on a caucus slate to get elected unless you were a Jim Balanoff or Bill Gailes, who were known all over the plant. Jim Balanoff(Voice of the Rank and File, July 1972): What is it like to attend an International Convention? Mainly, it's one big struggle to try and exercise demo- 33 cratic procedures supposedly guaranteed to us. The rules are all changed. At our local union meetings we follow Roberts Rules of Order, but at the convention they work under Cushing's Rules of Order which makes it easier to confuse us. Over 700 of the delegates are paid staff men, many who couldn't get elected from their home locals. They go around to locals that are too small to have a treasury big enough to send their own dele- gates and pick up credentials. Then they proceed to vote the dictates of their bosses. Many issues will be settled by voice vote. Even when the voice vote is in dispute or clearly on our side, the chair will rule the opposing side won. At the last con- vention we fought to eliminate the no-strike clause, and it sure sounded like the convention agreed with this, but I.W. Abel ruled we lost. Abel controls the mikes. He calls on whom he wants, passing over the known oppo- sition. In the meantime the staff men will be fanning out through the convention hall putting pressure on dele- gates to support the administration's position on all issues. Origins of Environmental Committee Mike 0/szanski: My interest in environmental issues went back to the Calumet Community Congress, a neighborhood organization on the Saul Alinsky model which in the early 1970s was taking on the NIPSCO rate increases and environmental issues. John Sargent, in fact, was the compromise choice to chair the convention to elect a president. I was very impressed with the way he handled the two factions battling it out. Local1010 Minutes, Feb. 3, 1972: Bro. Olszanski said that the Central Labor Union and Local 1010 opposed the NIPSCO increase in electricity rates and would like for our local to get a bus and go to Indianapolis on a protest organized by the Calumet Community Congress. Local 1010 Minutes, Feb. 17, 1972: Bro. Aguilera, chairman Cope Comm., made his report on the protest march against the NIPSCO rate increase at Indianapolis to the Public Service Commission on Feb. 15, 1972. March 2, 1972: Bro. Connolly(chair of the CCC) con- gratulated Local 1010 for participating at the Indianapolis protest march, also on the publicity. Mike Olszanski: One time we were having a caucus meeting at Little John Klobuchar's Tavern. Klobuchar, an East Chicago Councilman, showed Balanoff some pictures he had taken from a small plane about lake pol- lution which had occurred when the Indiana Harbor Ship Canal had been dredged. They were making a huge
  • 36. 34 Inland Steel and J & L from Whiting Beach mess. Klobuchar was a fisherman and wanted some- thing done. The dredging material had been put in the Inland Steel landfill. So I said, "Hell, the environment's a big issue, and the biggest polluters are the damn steel mills. We ought to look into this." Joe Gyurko made the motion to form the committee and I seconded it. Even though Arredondo was presi- dent, the committee was all rank-and-filers. Arredondo thought we'd make fools of ourselves. Big mistake. We got a guy to volunteer his boat and took samples and pictures. We got stories in the paper and took samples to the EPA. We questioned the dredging of the Ship Canal by the Army Corps of Engineers. We could say to our members, "We're directly involved. They're putting the stuff right in our mill and spreading stuff all over the lake. We can be a powerful force for getting it stopped. Or if they're going to do it, at least make them do it right." We raised hell and got the dredging stopped. Local 1010 Minutes, Nov. 2, 1972: Letter from Mr. Tenenbaum, Pres. Inland Steel Co., in regards to the resolution on Inland's current landfill project, saying it is regrettably disturbing. Bro. Olszanski made a motion that the Pres. appoint a committee and make funds available to take samples of water in and at the mouth of Inland's land fill and where pollution is found, to submit samples to the EPA and appropriate State agencies for action against Inland to cease this pollution. Also that 1010 go on record in opposing Inland's plan to close off the mouth of this land fill; we want it open for inspection of pollution. Motion carried. Cliff Mezo: Arredondo thought he was being clever when he responded to our agitation for an environmen- tal committee. He gave us no budget, thinking we'd die on the vine. We scheduled a meeting, inviting the newspapers and a whole lot of environmental groups. Arredondo decided he'd better see what we were up to. The place was so packed he could hardly get in the door. He was back against the wall. I said, "Oh, I see our local President has found time to be with us. Come up here." A guy lent us a boat, and we took water samples. We got a helicopter and took pictures of Youngstown dump- ing acid into the lake. They ran it in the paper. One of Arredondo's guys said we should join the "Beautify America" campaign if we wanted to do something. I really gave it to him. I said, "All that garbage in the park and beside the road looks bad, but it ain't gonna kill nobody. These god-damned blast furnaces kill people and that acid poisons our water supply." Mike Olszanski: I called up all these environmentalists, and we had this big meeting with people like Lee Botts, who was chair of Lake Michigan Federation, and Sylvia Troy of the Save the Dunes Council. We said, "We're just getting started. Show us what to do." They were tickled pink and just about fell out of their chairs because unions were normally on the side of the company on such matters. Since the rank-and-file was on the outs at the time, it didn't sit well with the local administration. They put things on a back burner. Arredondo suspend- ed the committee after a few meetings and then put his own people on, and they didn't do anything.,__ Cliff Mezo: Arredondo packed our committee by appointing three other members. He was a maneuver- er; these tactics had worked all his life. But he was deal- ing with zealots. We didn't have any trouble selling our program. They had more trouble selling theirs.
  • 37. Part Two: Insurgency in District 31 Ed Sadlowski(Studs Terkel's American Dreams Lost and Found, 1980): After I became president of Local 65, guys 65 years old came into the office takin' their caps off. One old guy holds his cap in his hands: Mr. President Sadlowski-all that kinda shit. I'm a punk kid, 25 years old, and here's this old guy. It don't lay right with me. I stopped all that. I took a hammer and chis- el, we take the hinge offthe door. Where's Joe? Insurgent Worker (Feb. 7, 1973): With considerable advance publicity, the joint productivity committee of the Steelworkers Union and the steel companies have released a film called Where's Joe? It will be shown at all major plants. It begins with thinly veiled racist appeals showing Japanese workers and talking about how ''they" took "our" jobs in several industries. Soon the film zeroes in on the real issue bothering steel companies: contract negotiations and the threat of a strike. Ed Sadlowski: I remember meeting Mike Olszanski when they had a screening of Where's Joe? What bullshit. The International put it on. AI Samter: The International was supporting man- agement propaganda about American jobs being lost to Japan. There were ads about, "Where's Joe?" I W. Abel had his picture on the ads and talked about the need for American workers to be more productive. Wall Street Journal, Feb. 16, 1973: The message is to be carried into steelworkers' homes by way of comic books, a comic strip, educational television and possibly even a game, tentatively called "Hedge," after the practice of hedge buying of steel in anticipa- tion of a strike. Labor Today(April 1973): Where's Joe? Working His Ass Off. The gist of this thing is crap. George Bogdanich (Nation, May 7, 1973): Where's Joe? tries to frighten the American steelworker into thinking that "Joe" lost his job because of competition from "Hans" or "Oda," who, by outworking Joe, enabled German and Japanese companies to under- sell their American competitors. ''They got to be kid- ding," is the typical reaction of steelworkers, especial- ly younger ones. The question arises: If the International is concerned about jobs, why is it collab- orating with management in the speed-up campaign? 35 It is hardly surprising that many young workers view the union bureaucrats as an extension of manage- ment. When unions promote class collaboration and economic nationalism, they call to mind the parts played by unions in prewar Germany and Italy. Staughton Lynd(The Guardian, May 1973): The message of Where's Joe? is that the threat of a steel strike causes "hedge buying" or stockpiling before each contract expiration date. The inevitable result is a slump in steel production after the signing of the contract, as during the second half of 1971 . During this slack period, the movie warns, domestic buyers place orders with foreign steel companies. Experimental Negotiating Agreement(ENA) New York Times(Mar. 30, 1973): The USWA execu- tive board and 10 major steel companies tentatively agreed to an experimental negotiating agreement which provides pay increases of at least 3% over each of the next three years as well as a $150 bonus for each steelworker in the first pay period after September 30, 1974. The unprecedented agreement virtually assures labor peace in basic steel through July 1977. Mike 0/szanski: Abel met secretly with the Steel companies. Deciding that strikes were detrimental to the industry, they signed a no-strike ENA agreement. Unresolved issues would be submitted to binding arbi- tration. Thus the union gave away the right to strike, in advance of negotiations. I. W Abei(April 1973): We have embarked on an unprecedented experiment that we think will not only relieve both sides of the pressures of a potential shut- down but offers us a genuine opportunity to achieve results equal to those obtainable when the threat of a strike exists. Staughton Lynd: What can the rank and file do to protest the ENA? A way to begin would be to put up resolutions at local union meetings demanding a spe- cial convention to consider this issue. Better yet would be a strike against the no-strike clause. Unless the right to strike is preserved, rank-and-file electoral campaigns to place new men in office will lose much meaning. The officer of a union that is not free to strike will be an officer doomed to frustration. I. W Abei(July 1973): Surprisingly, some people are opposed to peaceful relations between labor and management. The theme of the San Francisco con- ference was, "Is the Strike Outmoded?" If this new,
  • 38. 36 peaceful approach in collective bargaining works to the satisfaction of both sides, we will continue to uti- lize it. If it proves unsuccessful, then it's back to the drawing board. If we can enjoy peace and make progress, then let us have it and be thankful for it. At least, the new approach deserves a chance. Philip Nyden: The no-strike provision, highly unusu- al in American labor agreements, gave the industry a guarantee that steady production and profit levels would not be disrupted. Although opposition to for- feiting the "right to strike" became a major rallying cry, the wage improvements the ENA brought calmed down some disenchanted union members. Mike Mezo: The ENA was a huge issue. The International argued, rightfully so, that strike threats were detrimental to the industry. Every time there was a strike threat, there'd be a flood of imports. ENA provided good economic packages, but the rank-and- file had been excluded from the decision-making process and mistrusted both the company and the union. So first the men in suits told them they didn't need to vote on contracts and now don't need to strike. It caused even more alienation. Cliff Mezo: We certainly used the ENA as an issue. Whether we were right or not, I don't know. Abel was no dummy. It's easy to talk militant, but the no-strike clause worked pretty damn well. At times it didn't, but nothing works perfect all the time. It wasn't as bad as some of us thought. In terms of pay, we got right up there with auto workers. The danger about too many agreements was the union had a tendency to stop . working for the support of the worker. The company has a lot of goodies to offer, so if unions don't work hard to keep guys on their side, they'll lose members. Jim Robinson: There were legitimate arguments for the ENA. We were against the way it was sprung on us without warning. People found out about it on the radio. The membership felt disenfranchised by the system. There were some positive aspects, but when it got done, the average guy out in the mill didn't feel like he had any control over it. The reaction was that, ''This was a sellout." Michael Bayer: During the period of the ENA the work force was shattered, safety in the mills undercut, and the International totally collaborative with man- agement policies. The industry had to give the International something, so they gave COLA, cost-of- living raises. Because of the big inflation, there were several years where COLA gave some decent raises, and they got rid of that as soon as they could. Jesse Reese(Rank and File, 1973}: We have in our unions a pet dog whose teeth have been pulled (that's the no-strike clause) and he don't bark no more. He can't hear. Curtis Strong: ENA takes away the only real club unions have. The ENA was the same ideology they handed the blacks: we'll negotiate for you. Blacks said, ''The hell with that." A lot of jobs were lost. People were working overtime while the company downsized. Philip Shabecoff(NY Times, Sept. 14, 1973): A spreading revolt is threatening the no-strike labor con- tract. A letter, signed by more than 2,000 workers, calls on union officers to declare it void and inopera- tive. It warns that workers will take their case to court if the agreement is not revoked and all internal union procedures failed to have it rescinded. Staughton Lynd (NY Times letter, Sept. 27, 1973): Rank-and-file steelworkers, had they been consulted, might have suggested ways for dealing with the prob- lem of stockpiling. One suggestion is to shorten the duration of the contract. If the contract ran for only one year, stockpiling could not occur. But rank-and- file steelworkers were not consulted. The right to strike is the most important right of working people. Were a union to give away this right permanently, it might well be concluded that it had become a compa- ny union. Even a temporary abrogation of so funda- mental a right should not have been made except by those most affected, the union's members. Jack Parton: I came down on the side of ENA. We made significant wage gains. If we could go back in time, I wouldn't support ENA. If people don't have to fight, they become complacent and don't understand why they need a labor movement. The company pounded away that, "We're giving you this." Shit, they gave it in return for the non-strike assurance. Mike Ofszanski: In District 31 a Right-to-Strike com- mittee sued the International over signing the ENA without membership approval. It was a loser suit but a good organizing technique. One of our attorneys, Michael Tiger, was pretty radical and came to court in cowboy boots and jeans. He'd strut around the court- room and put his boots on the table. I'm saying to myself, ''This judge is going to throw him out of court." He never did. The Reds were very involved in the Right-to-Strike committee, not only the CP but Trotskyists and Maoists. Somehow we managed to have a function-
  • 39. ing committee. It was my first introduction to sectari- an left politics, and it was wild but fun. Alice Peurala and AI Samter were co-chairs. Alice was a tremen- dous woman, a former Trotskyist from Local 65. There was friction between the Trotskyists and the party people, but I always thought the difference in their ideologies was exaggerated and old-fashioned. Eventually the factions would cool off because they knew they needed each other because nobody else would work with them except me and a few others. I liked and respected most of them. AI Samter: I co-chaired the District 31 Right to Strike Committee with Alice Peurala. A national rank-and-file committee was formed. Rank-and-file groups filed suit in federal district court in Pittsburgh. We walked into the courtroom and Abel was sitting along side this whole array of industry and USWA attorneys. We did- n't expect to win because we were going before a judge who went out golfing with these attorneys. After the judge ruled against us, our attorneys felt that if we appealed, we had a pretty good chance; but immedi- ately after the trial they settled the agreement. It was- n't a bad settlement. It didn't go to arbitration. Our suit pushed companies into giving more concessions 37 than otherwise. Despite our grave misgivings about the ENA, we felt we could not sell to our people a posi- tion where we were going ahead in a manner which, if successful, would have had the agreement wiped out. George McManus(lron Age, March 4, 1974): In a civil action filed in a Pittsburgh court, dissidents asked that the parties be enjoined from implementing the ENA. The complaint argues that the right to strike is guaranteed by the steelworker constitution and can't be surrendered without full democratic process. The main thrust of the complaint seems to be that the arbi- tration agreement was negotiated in private and then presented to the union's ratifying body with no advance information. Changing Political Environment David Sikes: The International was losing the authority it once had. The older generation were pret- ty rugged individuals, sometimes to their own detri- ment, in terms of telling someone to go pound sand. That's how Germano operated, but his successors didn't have that old allegiance. An anti-establishment political swing was developing throughout the country.
  • 40. 38 James Kollros: In the 1970s a steel worker could not help but be impressed with the positive side of the union. Wages and vacations were good, medical insurance was excellent. Looking back from the per- spective of a stingier time, it is hard to believe how much workers were able to win. The union was also useful for defending workers if they got into trouble. Many of my friends would have been fired if not for the union. However, there were serious problems. The union was a very top-down organization. Dissent was not cultivated, and in some places was not tolerated. Steel workers could not vote on their contract. Whatever the national leaders wanted, that was what we got. Many of the union's leaders were constantly trying to strike cooperative agreements with the steel companies, even though the companies did not respond. Philip Nyden: Steelworkers' real wages had increased by 62.8% from 1947 to 1959 but only 16% from 1959 to 1972. The number of steel production jobs never again reached the 600,000 level of earlier years. Through job and wage stabilization, steel- workers were subsidizing reorganization of the indus- try. Worker dissatisfaction increased, but structural changes made organizing more difficult. Michael Bayer: Companies were speeding up, try- ing to cut costs, and laying off people who were never rehired. Anger built up at exactly the same time work- ers had lost confidence in their union leadership. It was clear Abel was not an agent of change, partially because of the union structure, with these almost feu- dal fiefs, enabling district directors like Joe Germano to do pretty much anything they wanted. Steelworkers seemed ready for change. There was ferment, especially among blacks, who had become a major force, very much discriminated against, prima- rily by the company, but feeling that the union leader- ship was not recognizing their just position. Also a bunch of young people were coming into the mill who were affected by the antiwar struggle and other anti- establishment trends. Some were radicals conscious- ly going into the mills, not just CP members but all kinds of leftwingers. Mike Olszanski: UMW insurgent Jock Yablonski was murdered in 1969 by henchmen of the corrupt Tony Boyle. Miners for Democracy (MFD), launched at Yablonski's funeral, finally ousted the reactionaries, elected Arnold Miller in 1972, and infused the UMW with a fighting spirit. AI Samter: UMW dissidents were able to overturn the election by going to the Labor Department after a guy got killed. Otherwise, the federal government would have never gotten into it. These events gave progressive forces the feeling that if they could mount a decent campaign, the Labor Department might step in. The precedent had been set. Philip Nyden: Insurgents in the Teamsters, Steelworkers and Mine Workers attempted to mold their unions into organizations which would increase worker control over job issues on the shop floor, including safety, promotion, scheduling, and speed of production. USWA activities were encouraged by the December 1972 MFD victory in ousting a corrupt administration. MFD had obtained help, not only from liberal lawyers and activists, but from the federal gov- ernment itself, which intervened to overturn a fraudu- lent election. This was reassuring to USWA dissi- dents, since it was suspected that fraud had con- tributed to past failures. While Pittsburgh and Youngstown had been the home bases of previous insurgent organizations, the Chicago-Northwest Indiana area was the focus of the 1970s insurgency. There were two major reasons for this. First, District 31 steel membership grew because of industry expansion at Bethlehem Steel's new Burns Harbor plant and continued expansion of Inland Steel. Second, the District 31 Director was retiring. This increased the chance of success for a grassroots challenger. Mike Olszanski: The Seventies saw the USWA adopt a "horse trading" strategy, negotiating away pre- vious gains in return for modest packages which did- n't keep up with inflation. By this time the collabora- tionist leadership was seriously out of touch with the members. Then Germano's retirement set up a con- test for district director. Silver-haired Sam Evett was the International's choice, while "Oil Can Eddie" Sadlowski represented the Rank-and-File. Rise of Ed Sadlowski Labor Today(April 1973): The Sadlowski campaign didn't just happen. There has been a continuing process which culminated when all of the factors jelled at the right time. There was a background of constant frustration that the company has been able to get away with cutting crews, dividing jobs, getting people to do jobs other than the ones they're sup- posed to be working on. They are cutting down on the number of workers and increasing speedup. Plus the realization that the union was not fighting the compa- ny. Plus Germano's retirement. Plus the guy they
  • 41. Fawky and Riley by Cliff "Cowboy" Mezo put up to take his place had never worked in a steel mill in his life. So he was an easy target. Plus the fact that Ed Sadlowski is young, ambitious, willing to fight, and has the perfect background. Ed Sadlowski[Statement of candidacy]: I consider democracy within the union to be the most important single issue. If the steelworkers had been consulted they would never have agreed to an IEB which excludes blacks, Latinos, and women. If the steel- workers were consulted they would insist on their right to vote on union contracts in the same manner as other unions do. They rightfully feel they are not run- ning their own affairs and are not being represented properly on the district level. Philip Nyden: Ed Sadlowski's maverick image served as a springboard in his electoral quests. He took a strong stand against the Vietnam War and spoke of "class action." He stated, 'We can continue to give one or two men the power to affect our lives or we can create a union that gives all of its members an equal voice in decision making." Ed Sadlowski: I was born and raised in South Chicago. My dad worked at Inland at Plant Three on the dock. He started in 1937 and got to work by tak- ing the New York Central, which dropped him off right by the mill. Later he took the streetcar and the bus. My old man never gave me a bum steer. He'd say, "A spy is a spy, whether he's yours or mine. He might be spying for you one day and against you the next. You can't trust the cocksucker." We're all susceptible to doing things because we want to project ourselves. Some guys go through life being assholes. I've done some stupid things, but fortunately I've been exposed to certain things and am from a good table and some of that shit rubbed off. I· followed my dad into the mill. I came out of the army in 1956 and went to work in September, soon after the strike. While in the machine shop, I'd walk around with an oil can all day long, shooting the fat with guys. People called me "Oil Can Eddie." I got 39 thrown in with a gang of activists. The locker room was like a hotbed for pollical discussions. People would trade books back and forth with each other. Hammond Times(Dec. 12, 1972): Sadlowski became a steelworker when he was 18. By the time he was 23, he was a grievance committeeman. At the age of 25, he was elected president of Local 65's 10,000 members. After serving two terms, he was appointed a staff representative. Fred Gaboury: Sadlowski was a militant who did some good things before going on staff. The International put people on staff for a number of rea- sons, including to coopt them, if they were good guys. They succeeded in a hell of a lot of instances. AI Samter: "Oil Can Eddie" overthrew a corrupt sys- tem in his own local. He toppled a Joe Germane- dominated leadership, which included a staff repre- sentative named Norman Harris who at election time would simply walk out with the ballot box and take it into his office. Once a 60 year-old man asked him where he was going and Harris pushed the guy down the stairs. Sadlowski was put on staff because he had upset the apple cart in Local 65. It can be a clever maneuver to take an independent person who might be a thorn in your side away from his base. Give him a promotion, and he's now under your thumb. It's tough to turn such a job down. Eddie was a big, imposing, sincere, solid union guy, not someone sent in from some place else to be an office manager. He had the charisma to get up in front of an audience and make steelworkers feel empow- ered. A confluence of forces made it an ideal time for him to run. Sam Evett was an easy target. Balanoff expressed it very well, saying he was a very good man for making sure everybody had pads and pencils at conferences. He was made assistant-director by Germano when he was a kid, just to take care of the office. Hardly any staff people dared support Sadlowski. They feared that their jobs were at stake. When Curtis Strong came back to help Sadlowski against Evett, he had an office in our building. They took it away, so he set up an office in his basement. Germano wanted Abel to recall him to Pittsburgh. Curtis Strong: Sadlowski was liberal-minded and likeable. His whole family was easy to meet. I had worked with him in an organizing campaign in the Bridgeport district of Chicago. We were unsuccessful, but it was a learning process, like throwing chickens to the wolves. He was not averse to blacks or women moving into positions of influence. He believed the
  • 42. 40 Curtis Strong AI Samter union's purpose was defending the workers. He never got above the rank-and-file. There was a lot of pressure on me to support Sam Evett, who was weak-willed and could be manipulat- ed. There was some risk in not jumping through the hoop because the International's view is you're sup- posed to work as a team. But if you're not calling any shots, you're not really part of the team. We had no voice in the "official family." I was bucking the power structure because changes were necessary. Michael Bayer: Eddie had risen through the ranks while Evett was a bad candidate. A suit! He never was a steelworker. The only reason the election was- n't a cake walk for Sadlowski was the control Germano's machine had over a lot of locals. George Bogdanich(Nation, May 7, 1973): Evett had money from staff men, who had been informally assessed $500 apiece, and from the coffers of the nefarious Lake County Democratic machine. The unpopular policies of Abel and 30 years of accumulat- ed resentment against the Germano machine worked in Sadlowski's behalf. With small contributions, he put together an army of discontented steelworkers who combed the plants and foundries of Chicago and a cluster of nearby industrial cities. Inner Circle Ed Sadlowski: In 1972 at LBH Tavern in South Chicago Johnny Chico, myself, Eddie Hernowski, George Strenich, Bob McCullough and a couple of other guys got to bullshitting and decided to go after the directorship. I had been thinking of running against Germano, but they had just passed the age limitation rule that you couldn't seek nomination if you were 65. About a year before the election we had a meeting and more than a hundred guys showed up. We put some structure together and raised money with a dollar raffle. It was obvious Evett was the heir apparent, and nobody else was going to take him on. The word had already been sent down, and the staff was going to mimic whatever Germano stated. thought I had a chance. I never ran for an office I did- n't figure I could win. Germano called me in to his downtown office when I declared my candidacy. He said, "What do you want to do that for? That's going to create a breech in the ranks." Or words to that effect. I said, "I'm not doing anything you wouldn't be doing, Joe." Ray O'Malley came with me. He was the only staff guy in District 31, out of over 40 staff people. Philip Nyden: In February 1972, Sadlowski and ten others gathered in a South Chicago bar to discuss a strategy and program. By the end of the year his cam- paign organization had grown to include others, but a handful of friends and close supporters still directed much of the campaign. Michael Bayer: Eddie's inner circle was composed of people he could trust. It wasn't just Illinois people. Without Inland Steel there would have been no seri- ous Sadlowski campaign. Many people told me what a wonderful, charismatic, approachable guy he was. They talk about spending nights down in his basement listening to records and hearing war stories. A lot of people loved him. Ed Sadlowski: I owe so much to Clem Balanoff. would have had a hell of a time getting on the ballot without him. We opened up a headquarters in 1972 that we got from Powers Funeral Home. A bunch of us washed it down, and Clem sort of took charge. He was the unofficial campaign manager. He was there night and day. Clem Balanoff: People want to find some way to fight their battles but need weapons. The first thing you need is a candidate that people can rally around. He might not have all your views but hopefully will be malleable enough to go in the right direction. Eddie surrounded himself with his "pals." That's the word he used. He had very few real workers; a lot of them were more talk than work. John Chico and O'Malley didn't get around much. Alice Peurala was much more active and brought a lot of friends from Local 65 into the campaign who were willing to work. I had worked in the mill for 19 years at Youngstown, then quit to make more money as a tax consultant. I threw myself into the campaign because I felt it could make a difference. I heard my brother Jim talking about a big meeting at some tavern where they got Eddie to run. If I hadn't done many of the things, nobody would have done them. I had the time to put
  • 43. Alice Puerala & Clem Balanoff 0/a Kennedy into it. I don't push myself. I always push the candi- date. Sometimes people forget they're working for somebody else, not themselves. Any campaign needs money and volunteers. A lot of people knew about the campaign. Union elections then were a big thing. They attracted good people and bad people. Some were really lost causes. And the good people would attract others. Ed James and several others came through the Miners for Democracy. We took in people who needed a place to stay. We took in George Terrell and Rob Persons. Whatever his faults, Eddie was the best person coming up the pike at that time. Nobody else could have played the role. Whenever I told Eddie I was going to do something, he'd say, "I trust you, but remember: Politics is not the facts as much as how people perceive you." It's like Asian shadow puppets where they put a big screen up and it looks like peo- ple are behind there. You have to make people feel that you can win. That's the first thing. Otherwise, they're not going to put a lot of money or work into it. You can get around not having a lot of money by put- ting in a lot of work. If you can't put ads on TV, you hand out leaflets. We put out tons and tons of leaflets because we had no other way of getting the message out. We had some good people working on them. George Terrell: Before I joined the Sadlowski cam- paign, I worked for nine months as an organizer for the NEA in Wisconsin. I'd always been kind of an unaffiliated leftist, a socialist. I learned how to organ- ize and motivate people in the anti-war movement at Penn State. I got a call from friends who said a revo- lution was going on in the Steelworkers Union and this rank-and-file guy needed some organizing help. I interviewed with Clem Balanoff. He said, "What have you been doing?" He was very conscious of people's politics and wanted to scope out where I was from, who I was associated with and if I was a plant. Clem 41 was very suspicious of outsiders. He had to deal with Leftists trying to manipulate the campaign. It just hap- pened that we hit it off real well. He offered me a job. He said, "I'll pay you 20 bucks a week and all the cig- arettes you can smoke." He smoked my brand, Kools, so it was fine. I didn't need a real job. I had no fami- ly, no other life. Clem was the ''field general" and I came in to pro- vide organizational help. We'd get up at 4:30 and hand-bill plants and then Clem would buy breakfast at Roma's. He set me up with a buddy and I lived for free until we finagled some other kind of funding for me that allowed me to keep doing full time campaign work while getting paid for this other thing. I worked 20 hours a day. It really was exciting. I was Clem's right-hand person. It was like, "Make it so, number one," and I'd get it done. He trusted my judgment, and 1 trusted his. We had mutual respect. Clem was making it happen for Eddie. If you get up at 4:30 and hand-bill plants and then work during the day in the headquarters as virtually a volunteer day in, day out, week after week, people get the picture you're there for the same reason they are. I got accepted fairly well because I worked. Clearly I didn't come from South Chicago and never pretended I did but was able to gain some respect because I worked. 1didn't try to push some secret agenda. I found that if you want to have a say in what goes on, do the work. Our agenda was to build a rank & file movement. In lots of ways Eddie was in the way, but we couldn't have done it without him. Eddie was a staff man going against the machine. It was a kind of love-hate rela- tionship. Eddie talked a great game but wasn't tied to any particular group. He had guts and was willing to work with lots of Left folks with progressive ideas. Ed Sadlowski: I had met Ted Smolarek at an Illinois AFL-CIO convention around 1970. He had proposed an anti-Vietnam resolution. I told John Chico, "Go find this guy, Smolarek." So we went to a corner joint and spent a couple hours bullshitting and drinking beer. Early in the campaign we were putting on a party to raise money. I went to buy some pop, and it was around three bucks a case. Tony Grasich said he could get it for me for a buck a case at Teddy's can plant. They had all these cases on a palate and sent them on their way. If one a can started leaking, it was cheaper to recall them all rather than find the defec- tive one. So they'd put them on the side and sell them cheap. Once I got so many I backed a truck up. Chicago was the heart of the can industry, probably because of the stockyards and the city being so close to the farm belt. There used to be 10,000 can work-
  • 44. 42 ers on the West Side. Most are gone. A lot of women used to work in them. Conditions were terrible. Ted Smolarek: Historically, the labor movement always seems to be sucking hind tit. How these poor leaders get into positions of power is a mystery. There is not enough rank-and-file involvement. McBride never sat in a bar with the working people. When you lose touch with your roots, you become the enemy. The International tried too hard to cooperate with the company. A person needs a philosophy to sustain him against corruption and to prevent him from being coopted. The ENA was terrible. It caused a backlog of grievances and played into the compa- ny's hands. They didn't have to settle things. When I was running for President of my local, the opposition tried to say I was a supporter of Eddie Sadlowski, but the people in my Local already knew that. I got elected ten to one and stayed there seven terms. My most loyal supporters were blacks; they were the ones getting tucked. People called me n- -r-lover and communist. Redbaiting never bothered me. One time I told Germano, "Do you know what, Joe? I'm not a communist but if I was, I wouldn't be afraid to say I was. Whoever's spreading that shit, you tell him, if I find out who he is, I'll take his house from him." The shit stopped. Ed Sadlowski: I met John Askins at a White Castle. He drank about 40 cups of coffee. He'd just gotten out of a drunk tank in Elgin. He'd been a thorn in the International's side for years. He turned out to be as good as they came. Two or three of his fingers had been blown off. He was a chain smoker. He'd have a cigarette hanging on his lip and then light one from another. I showed him around and before long he brought some guys and they brought some guys and we were off and running. Some bullshit artists and tin- horns supported me, but the majority were solid trade unionists. If you run a flag up a pole, you'll find plen- ty of good guys. Somebody told me John Askins was all right if he could stay off the sauce. He'd work his butt off and then go on a bender; you wouldn't see him for a cou- ple weeks. He'd come back in bad shape and be eat- ing raw eggs and ice cream. I'd say, "John, where have you been?" He'd say, "God damn, Eddie, I was in back of the airport and three Puerto Ricans had me in the garage, held me hostage, and poured that shit down my mouth." Some bullshit like that. John was superb. He was a pal. George Tasomer was president of a small plant that had only about 150-200 people. The money and man- power he brought in was unbelievable. He'd have a dollar raffle and sell a thousand dollars worth of tick- ets. He'd have 30-40 guys passing out literature. He was a solid guy. He sent guys to Youngstown in the winter. After you park your car over there, you have to walk through a big tunnel to get across their tracks. It's encased in corrugated tin with light bulbs every 30- 40 feet. During shift changes thousands of people would be on this ramp. Joe Romano: The opposition thought we had an army, but six guys did most of the work. We hustled a lot of plants in the area. Roberto Flores: I first met Sadlowski at a conven- tion. He'd often be sitting with Balanoff. Germano had let Sam Evett run the district office, but at the con- ventions he was there politicking and in charge. I did- n't have anything against Evett but was for Eddie because I thought he'd make things more democratic. 1never forgot that beating McDonald's friends gave to Rarick. I went to a lot of meetings at Roma's, and we went around to a lot of locals on our own time. I was- n't in the inner circle. We mostly were told what the plans were after the decisions were made. Clem Balanoff: Staughton Lynd used to come to the house. I liked him. He was sincere, unselfish, trying to do the right thing. If he made a mistake, it was an honest one. He tried to do his best. AI Samter: Staughton Lynd wanted to take over the movement. His concept was, workers would do the work so he could start the revolution. Mike Olszanski: Lynd had some good ideas but was intruding into something that was supposed to be ours. He tried to back off but couldn't help getting into the thick of it. Somebody would invariably tell him he was not even a god-damned steelworker. One night he got into it with a CP member and won the argument because he was the more eloquent of the two. He shut the other guy up by saying, "They had a demo- cratic government in Russia until the Bolsheviks took them all out and shot them." That was the end of that, but I felt like saying, "Yeah, but what does this have to do with what we're gonna do next week?" Betty Balanoff: Staughton could be a good strategist when there was no leadership; but where there was leadership, sometimes he added to the confusion. He drew in a lot of students who weren't steelworkers, and there would be endless discussions on model contracts and the like.
  • 45. Mike Mezo: I first met Sadlowski at the founding convention of the Calumet Community Congress. I think Eddie was the moderator. Jim Balanoff explained who he was. Sadlowski's campaign was a turning point. I was pretty much just going through the motions until then. I believed in the union but didn't have the fire. Sadlowski tapped into the disconnect between the leadership and the rank and file and hit a nerve. His campaign was on democracy. I didn't know Germano or Evett or even what a district direc- tor did. The sense was that the union had gotten very bureaucratic and didn't have any fight left. Not enough agitation was going on Sadlowski's was a street campaign in every sense of the word, conducted at plant gates and in coffee- houses, bars and restaurants. District 31 was com- pressed around the lake. You could see a hundred thousand steelworkers just in a 15-mile drive. It was so intensely unionized in the Harbor, Gary and South Chicago, you could walk up and down the street and meet people from 30 different shops. It really opened up my eyes. Until then I thought steelworkers were in a few big mills. I found out that many small foundries, manufacturing shops, tank car manufacturers, and machine shops were part of the steelworkers union. Previously, you didn't see much gate leafletting. Passing out position papers at the gates had not been done in such a systematic way, where we sat down and delineated the issues and planned out what to stress at the various plants. I was young, and it was exciting. It was seen as an insurgent campaign, and you felt you were making a difference. Eddie was a lightning rod for the younger workers, but a lot of older workers liked him, too. You had a bunch of veterans who'd fought to establish the union and felt something was missing from the old days, when the rank-and-file used to mass on the street and get contract demands settled themselves instead of relying on Pittsburgh. William Andrews: We'd meet at Roma's on South Chicago Avenue. Eddie was very impressive, ener- getic, smart as a whip, a people person. We'd go from gate to gate passing out literature and talking to peo- ple, no matter how cold it was. We interacted with a lot of people. Jim Robinson: I didn't know Sadlowski but support- ed him because of Balanoff and the Caucus. He was running on our type of issues. Betty Balanoff: Local 1010 had been independent and willing to stand up to Inland. That was one of the things that attracted people to Sadlowski. 43 Cliff Mezo: I was in on one of the first planning meet- ings, which took place in a Serbian Church in the Harbor. Sadlowski championed union democracy, giving workers more say in contracts. He was young, aggressive, sure he was right, like young men can be. He was a back-slapping, hand-shaking, hard-drinking, charming, story-teller, a marvelous bull-shitter and great at manipulating the media. Mike Olszanski: Jim Balanoff said, 'There's this young guy in South Chicago who's talking about run- ning for district director, and I think we ought to go to this meeting and see what it's all about." Jim and his brother Clem had already been involved, so he knew more than he was saying. I said to Jim, "Do you real- ly think this guy has a chance?" He said, "I don't know, but you've got to start somewhere." We went to a tavern in South Chicago, upstairs, and heard Sadlowski make a rousing speech. Skeptic that I was, I said to myself, "He talks a good game, but I don't think he has a snowball's chance in hell. On the other hand, he's all we've got going and he's saying some pretty good things." So I supported him. The campaign attracted members of the CP, SWP, Democratic Socialists, New American Movement, International Socialists and even some Maoists. Despite long-standing animosities, a fragile unity was maintained, although I recall an incident at Little John's Tavern in Indiana Harbor where two friends of mine, one a Trotskyist and the other a Communist, got into a fist fight. The Trotskyist got the worst of it, hav- ing a beer bottle smashed over his head. Fred Gaboury: In 1971 I came to Chicago to be the field organizer of the Trade Union Action in Democracy (TUAD). We had a hard core of about 1,500 trade unionists around the country and a press run of about 2,500. The CP used it as a cover, for want of a better word. In my capacity as editor of Labor Today, I attended a lot of union conventions. We made our office available to the rank-and-file movement, and there were a hell of a lot of Left groups in the district that used our office as their headquarters. We helped produce material for many of them. Michael Bayer: The challenge of Sadlowski was a key battle in the labor movement during this period. There was a network of old Lefties, people who had been progressive union activists for a long time and who had waited for a chance to unseat the incum- bents. So Sadlowski didn't have to start from scratch. He and Balanoff were very afraid of redbaiting, even though Balanoff had been redbaited for 20 years.
  • 46. 44 They were perfectly happy to have the Left's assis- tance in handing out leaflets but wanted to make sure they wouldn't have anything to say about what hap- pened or be the front people. That made for tension. Since we were just beginning to build up the Party in Indiana, we didn't have that many comrades in the mill. Our efforts, therefore, were primarily directed on electing Sadlowski. If Eddie became district director, it would be the chink in the Old Guard's armor and provide an opportunity to speak to fundamental issues such as the speedup, the erosion of union pro- tection, the destruction of the grievance procedure, and the lack of union democracy for blacks. I tried to keep people focused on that task and not get dis- tracted with petty criticisms. Ed Sadlowski: All kinds of leftwing groups sent col- onizers into our campaign. You couldn't tell the play- ers without a scorecard. Most couldn't find their way out of a paper bag. Some were obstructionists; oth- ers bordered on being crazy. I was naive about radi- cal groups. There was a favorable story about me in The Militant, and I started Xeroxing copies. Clem told me not to distribute them because it was an SWP paper. He tried to protect me. He and Jimmy had been hurt by that kind of stuff. They redbaited me anyway, and a lot of gullible people bought it. Even so, the SWP people were all right. They were legiti- mate, whether you agreed or disagreed with their ide- ology. Same with the CP, only they wanted to latch on to you. A Maoist came to our headquarters and was giving John Askins such a hard time he threw him down the stairs, kicked him on the landing, and then went after him down on the street. He didn't tell me. I got a let- ter about it, and he said, "Yeah, he was trying to give me some shit. I didn't want to bother you." I said, ''The man said you dragged him in the street by his hair and then kicked him." John said, "Yeah, I proba- bly did." This one group I thought must have been working for the boss or the FBI. I had a confrontation with three of them while going into a drug store. One guy threw chocolate milk on me, and I nailed him good in the mouth. Another guy started in, and I nailed him and kicked him. The store manager called the cops, and they came with a paddy wagon. I knew the cop, and he arrested them for assaulting me. Which they did; they threw milk on me. Michael Bayer: The Left in general flocked to Eddie's campaign although there was a fringe, which was too pure for the Eddie Sadlowski's of this world. The Maoists' theory was to raise the red flag and tell everybody you were a revolutionary. Of course, they'd screw it up for the rest of us by giving the bad guys the ammunition to claim that communists were trying to take over the steel mills. They had no sense of unity, no sense of building alliances. They were, in fact, very destructive. Cliff Mezo: Some people have spent 50 years talk- ing about capitalist oppressors and haven't got any- where. You can sing that song, but it's never going to be on the hit parade. A Red Star Maoist was handing out literature at the gate around the time Nixon was in China. I told him I had been in China right after the war and, in my opinion, communism had helped their poor people. When I was there, people were starving. It seemed to be working for them. For the first time in many decades, China was united. Right away, the guy tried to recruit me. Clem Balanoff: Whenever you put together a mean- ingful organization, you'll get people like that. They're sincere but like to take over. Some were hard work- ers. You'll never get me to say bad things about those people. They want certain things you want. The sad- dest thing is when they start fighting against each other. I like the CP members but they're not as hard workers as SWP members. Even the Maoists were good people. You have to know how to use people and allow for differences. Once a guy from Gary complained to me that AI Samter was running off his caucus paper in our headquarters. I said, "What do you want me to do?" He said, "Get him out of there." I said, "If we do that, it's the end of everything. That splits it all to pieces." Samter never gave me a problem; he worked his ass off for us. You can't start a hatchet job on people or some day it might happen to you. That's one of the big problems with most big reform movements: inter- nal bickering kills you. Somebody told me, "Nothing good is done with a lot of people without having some bad in it. You can't avoid it." There's always a few bad apples in every mass movement. You have to have a person who knows how to put a campaign together. You've got to have a candidacy. Then once the campaign gets moving, you've got to pull other folks in. The more people you've got, the better it is. It's the only way to compensate for the lack of money. Contributors Ed Sadlowski: The first problem was money. We did the best we could with the mimeograph machine, but
  • 47. it was a mess. We didn't know how to do a campaign. There were organizational deficiencies. Nobody had the experience or the political sophistication. I wound up with over 40 nominations and could have had 150, given enough time. People were fed up; the union was not responsive. Two or three months after I announced, I got a call. Tony Grasinger wanted to meet me surreptiously at an out-of-the-way ham and egg joint. He was with Stanley Righten, a staff guy who had been pensioned off a year or two before. Righten said, "I'm going to help you." He went into his pocket and came up with 500 dollars. Whoa, Jesus, that was a lot of money then. He said it was for gas money. Later he gave me a couple thousand more. Then he produced a list with every plant and its location in the district, plus who's there and at what time. That list was invaluable. He was retired and didn't like Germano. He never asked for a damn thing. I got a call from Lindsey Jones, who was working in Bernie Kleinman's law firm. When he worked on the blast furnace at Local 65 while going to law school at night, we had been pretty tight, pool shooters and beer drinkers. He told me to go see a guy who had something for me. It was a thousand dollars cash. I put it in my pocket and left. A day or two later I thanked Lindsey and said I wouldn't say anything to Bernie about it. He said, "No, no, he knows about it. We're not going behind his back. That's office money." Later I heard that they gave Evett a thousand dollars, too. Ted Smolarek: He's putting his eggs in both baskets. Ed Sadlowski: Kleinman became very active in the Evett campaign. In essence, he was Evett's lawyer. I wasn't just running against Evett, I was running against the fuckin' union. There were all these consti- tutional obstructions, and Kleinman was the one inter- preting the constitution. Meanwhile, I had to go out and pay for a lawyer. Getting Nominations AI Samter: The Sadlowski people understood how to get on the ballot. They beat this crazy, two-tier sys- tem. They went out a year ahead of time and started leafletting places we didn't even know existed. Mike Olszanski: It was extremely hard to get on the ballot. Our local only counted for one nomination, same as a local with just a couple hundred members. It was difficult for an insurgent to overcome the proce- 45 dure. The small locals were controlled by the International through their purse strings. By the for- mula of dues rebate, every local gets money accord- ing to how many members they have. Local 1010 had 18,000 members, so they got back a big chunk of money and were able tohave full-time officers and be very independent. Small locals got back peanuts so they relied on staff reps to handle grievances. Ed Sadlowski: From my activism, I had gotten to know guys from Gary and East Chicago but didn't have many contacts in all those little shops in the Joliet area. I didn't even know where most of the plants were at. There were around 250 locals in the district and more than half were in those little shops. It was hard to get nominated by them because staff guys controlled them lock, stock and barrel. George Terrell: The hardest job was to find every Steelworker place in the District. I put down all the places, had columns for when we hand-billed them, and made sure we hit every one. I was eternally on the phone. And then hand-billing plants three times a day. Clem Balanoff: Eddie's father and I went all over town. He was a good man. He'd talk to the old- timers. We'd hit four or five locals in the morning, then four or five more in the afternoon. The west side was the key to getting a sufficient number of nominations. A lot of people on the west side didn't like Eddie. He wasn't known for his work ethic. Our job was to con- vince them it was time to make some changes. John Askins knew a lot of key people in the can plants. Modesto and Ted Smolerick were very important, too. During the month or so before the nomination meet- ings, we were really active. I got so I knew people in every one of those mills, plus the starting times so we could meet people at the gates. You'd time yourself so you could hit as many as possible. The International wouldn't tell us the meeting night of many of the small locals. We had to dig it out. Sundays were big days for local meetings. On Friday nights we'd go over the list and determine how many we could hit. I had a gold loose-leaf book and a black book to keep track of names. Now we have comput- ers, but back then I needed to write things down. Every plant was a little different in what they wanted. I took Eddie out to them. Sometimes it was hard to get him out. We were there every Sunday. Win or lose, we went. Staff people would tell me, "Hey, you don't have a snowball's chance in hell. You're wasting your time." There were some good people on staff, but you were messing with their jobs.
  • 48. 46 Ed Sadlowski: I started mooching around, picking up a guy here, a guy there. Clem Balanoff and my old man would go every day to two or three places during shift changes. He had tablets with all sorts of names of contacts. To get on the ballot I needed around 18 nominations. I could get all the big mills and still not get nominated. I first met Joe Romano when his local was meeting to nominate candidates. Joe Romano: Eddie came with Teddy Smolarek, Clem Balanoff and his old man. District 50 had just merged with the Steelworkers. I was with Ray Navarro, and we had Chicago Bears tickets. We were walking out early to get to the game and met them outside. They were trying to get our support, and I said, 'Too late. They've already voted." He looked really disappointed so I said, "Wait a minute." Ray and I went back into the meeting and raised a point of order because the vote had been for all the candi- dates at once. I said, "We're new with the Steelworkers, and our procedure really wasn't correct. We should separate them." They figured I meant no harm, so they agreed. When it came to nominations for district director, I said, "Why don't we go with a different face?" I nom- inated Eddie and he won by one vote. The second largest local in the subdistrict, 1,500 people. We reversed it. They couldn't believe it. I hadn't even heard of him before. We did it just to throw a monkey wrench in there and provide some excitement. It was- n't based on philosophy. Ed Sadlowski: About a week later I'm on the west side shagging nominations and Ray Pasnick asked me about Romano. He said something like, "You're getting all the radicals." That was typical of him. AI Samter: Being such a large unit, District 31 was split into subdistricts. No. 1 was in East Chicago and comprised Inland and Youngstown; subdistrict two extended from Gary all the way to South Bend and included the Burns Harbor plants. There was a third subdistrict in Chicago, another in Joliet, and a couple others. District 50 went back to the United Mine Workers. When John L Lewis got mad at the CIO and pulled out, he tried to organize everything that moved. They included NIPSCO, a ball bearing com- pany in Valparaiso, Scott Ladd Foods in LaPorte. About 1970 the leadership of the District 50 locals became disenchanted with the mineworkers and moved into the steelworkers union. Local 1010 Minutes, Oct. 5, 1972: Letter from Ed Sadlowski requesting permission to speak at nomina- tions meeting. Executive Board recommended we invite him to speak on Nov. 16 with a 5-minute time limit to all candidates. Voting is to be conducted after the regular meeting by secret ballots. Each candidate is allowed one watcher. You must have your union card or current pay stub. Motion carried. Bill Bennett(Voice of the Rank and File, Nov.- Dec. 1972): Members have an excellent opportunity to participate in giving new direction to our union by attending the meeting and voting by secret ballot to nominate Edward Sadlowski. He is a young man, 34 years old, but has put more work and effort into his union activities than his opponent. A lot of people worked very hard, against tremendous odds, to bring about his candidacy. Ed Sadlowski is familiar with our problems. He sounds like one of us. It is time to insti- tute new progressive thinking in our Union. Local1010 Minutes, Nov. 16, 1972: Bro. Arredondo called nominations open for District 31 Director. Bro. Peter Calacci nominated Bro. Samuel C. Evett. Bro. William Bennett nominated Bro. Ed Sadlowski. Bro. Arredondo called on Bro. Sadlowski and then Bro. Evett to speak. Exec. Board conducted the election. Cliff Mezo: When Eddie and Evett spoke, there was no comparison. Poor old Evett. God, I abused him. The best cartoonists don't take a meat cleaver approach but instead needle their enemies. Don't stab someone with a knife; needling can more effec- tively destroy him. I drew a cartoon of him in a pork pie hat and short pants, with Germano leading him by the hand. Evett wanted mail-in ballots, and I was very suspicious. I drew him as a kid on the Boardwalk who had spilled his dip of ice cream and was crying because he had lost his mail ballots. By the time we were done, he was in such bad shape, they had to try to steal the election. AI Samter: Sadlowski won 1010 because of Balanoff and the Rank and File caucus. Paul Kaczocha: AI Samter arranged for me to meet Sadlowski in my apartment. He was humongously fat at the time and looked just like another union fat cat. AI and Mike Bayer convinced me to support Sadlowski, arguing, "It's not the messenger; it's the message." It was a movement rather than a cult of personality. We weren't gaga over him, but he'd talk the talk. He was on track on the concept of union democracy and on "steelworkers deserve more" issues. I got a copy of the constitution and by-laws and
  • 49. made sure I knew everything about the nomination procedure. I contacted a group of militants from B.O.F. Mechanical, the most organized union shop in the plant. AI Samter and I enlisted the support of Bethlehem's Black Caucus. Joanne Baker arranged for us to come to a meeting at the Elbow Room in Gary. Don Moore was the leader of the Black Caucus at the time. When the nomination meeting occurred, we had enough people from my shop and B.O.F. mechanical to pull it off. We didn't put leaflets out. We organized quietly and caught them with their pants down. Only about 25 of our people were there, but that was more than the Dutch Jones forces. Even though there might have been 5,000 people in the plant, less than 50 people were at that union meeting. They were pissed and stayed pissed. After I left that meeting, I got a traffic ticket. I was so happy, I was racing home to phone in that we had won. Nominations were hard to get, so it put us on the map at Bethlehem. I became part of Sadlowski's campaign committee. I was going to South Chicago all the time. There were a lot of Sunday morning meetings. Any time of the day or night, something would be happening. We spent a lot of time at Roma's Pizza. That was the beginnings of our Rank-and-File Caucus at 6787. We asked Joe Norrick and AI Samter what would be a good name and Rank-and-File won out. We had meetings after our 3 to 11 shift that sometimes lasted until two a.m. Our caucus was a black-Left coalition. Jack Parton: The Unity Caucus at 1014 supported Sam Evett. At least 90% supported him. Personally I didn't know either candidate. I made my decision based on what Harry Piasecki and the older guys said. The caucus was pushing for a united front, but it did- n't work out that way. In 1014 elections we did not tol- erate disunity, but it was not quite the same for a dis- trict race. Vice President Bill Todd supported Sadlowski but was not driven out of the caucus. AI Samter: Piasecki told Bill Todd and me we could support Sadlowski and still be part of the Unity Caucus. Todd became Sadlowski's campaign man- ager; I became the Gary-area coordinator. We rented a storefront across from union headquarters. One day when we went to open up, our keys wouldn't work. We got ahold of the renting agent, who said, "Other people offered more money so we gave it to them." We filed a suit and learned the culprit was Piasecki. Piasecki had started a newspaper and asked me to be its editor. I prepared an election issue. The two inside pages were devoted to the candidates and 47 done in a neutral manner. I took it into the printer. When the paper came out, it was an entirely different issue. It had a lot of good things about Evett and not a word about Sadlowski. I asked the printer what hap- pened and he said, "Well, Piasecki called me up and told me not to print your issue until he could see it. Then he gave me a lot of new stuff." I went to Piasecki and said, "I guess I'm not the editor anymore." In 1973 Eddie supported independent Sam Stokes for Vice President. In fact, most locals committed to Eddie also gave Stokes the nomination. Stokes was the official candidate of the black staff. The International ignored him because they didn't think he'd get 150 locals to endorse him. Then they pan- icked and used a technicality to knock him off the bal- lot. The constitution states that if you are more than three months behind in your dues, you are considered "not in good standing." In order to redeem your good standing, you first have to make a request to the IEB. He was in the hospital, didn't pay his dues for four or five months, then got himself caught up, but he didn't know about the rule. Ideology Curtis Strong: Sadlowski advocated an ideology similar to socialism. David Sikes: Sadlowski was smart enough to justify his actions around an ideology. It brought in a lot of antiwar, pro-environment people. I don't know whether he completely believed it or was just another opportunist. That didn't necessarily make him bad. We were all opportunists to one degree or another. I was influenced by people who believed that you weren't going to get far if you got up and preached the old adages of Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas. You had to be subtle. I was tied to the Social Democrats, USA, part of the old Socialist Party. Our ties were with traditional trade unionists like George Meany and Lane Kirkland, who gave me tremendous opportunities to learn grassroots organizing. The difference between a communist and a socialist perspective was not an argument over the need for an ideological alternative to capitalism but over tactics. We believed that one couldn't stand up on a stump and yell and scream and be effective. Some of my mentors believed communism a greater threat than capitalism because capitalism by its very nature can be coopted. At that point there had never been a communist regime that had gone back. After graduation from Griffith High School in 1966, I
  • 50. 48 had gone right out to Youngstown, to the number 2 open hearth and then the 80-inch hot strip, while attending Purdue Calumet. At that time you could pay for college by working a couple days a week and sum- mers. My dad was a union painter. I remember vot- ing for I. W. Abel the first time and thinking, "If this mill is this bad, the incumbent couldn't be doing a very good job." I went into the service in 1970. I was in the last combat division in Vietnam. I got out in 1972 and was looking for something worthwhile to do. I had landed a job as a sheet metal apprentice and then ran into Casper Alessi, the regional director of Frontlash, a national youth group that did nonpartisan voter reg- istration, primarily on behalf of labor candidates. I worked on Congressman Ray J. Madden's campaign in 1972 against Adam Benjamin, getting to know John Krupa and Bob Pastrick. We registered about 15,000 union members, and it made a big difference. Pete Calacci ran Lake County on behalf of Germano. Likewise, on the Illinois side there was an Italian clique expected to keep control. Pete was real- ly involved in Madden's campaign, being gung ho to the max. He was my mentor and took me under his wing. His warmth extended to Casper Alessi, a fellow Sicilian. That had a lot to do with his accepting Frontlash, which, like Pete, was anticommunist. I recruited volunteers to stuff envelopes and work in various · "grunt" fashions on behalf of Sam Evett behind the scenes. I thought Evett to be pretty con- servative, but since he was the candidate chosen by Calacci and supported by Alessi, that was good enough for me. All I knew about Sadlowski was stuff from folks who characterized his political leanings being antiwar, pro-Jane Fonda. I found Sadlowski a bit overbearing and dangerous. I respected his sincerity but not his attacks on the S. Evett (middle) with B. Mitchell, B. Hill, T Rogus & J. Arredondo International, that everything was their fault. From my standpoint, it was more important to keep the house of labor strong. We were heading toward a time when we weren't going to have enough economic clout to make Sadlowski's style of governance practical. His supporters tended to be aligned with George McGovern and the New Politics. I didn't think their leftist views represented the actual union membership and didn't buy the argument that it was wise to give the right to ratify to the membership, who were less informed than the presidents and could be manipulat- ed. I saw it as just another divisive issue. What struck me about steelworker politics was that caucuses would fight on any issue, no matter how bad it hurt the membership. So if you gave the membership the right to ratify, one caucus would say the contract wasn't any good, just to embarrass the other. Michael Bayer: "Democracy'' and "Right to Ratify" were symptoms rather than fundamental issues. If the companies weren't cutting jobs and imposing new technology and wiping out whole departments, if blacks and Hispanics did not feel that the union had participated with the companies in discriminating against them, if you didn't have an increasing number of steelworkers who were Vietnam vets who had no patience with the old regime, "Right to Ratify" and "Internal Democracy" would never have been issues of interest to more than a small percentage of people. Lack of democracy and the Right to Ratify are only issues if they interfere with the worker's ability to force the union to do what they want. The best example of that is the senior Jimmy Hoffa. As long as he was improving the conditions of teamsters, members could have cared less about how the union was run. A union is not formed by abstract reasons but for a very spe- cific purpose. When working people have the ability to make the union do what they want, it's a weapon like no other. Conversely, when workers can't force the union to do what they need, then democracy becomes a big issue. AI Samter: Sadlowski went as far as he was able with his somewhat limited philosophy. While those of us on the "Right to Strike" Committee were big Sadlowski supporters, he never embraced that "Right to Strike" philosophy but limited himself to the "Right to Ratify." Interestingly enough, in other sections of the United Steelworkers, such as Aluminum, they had the right to ratify. Sadlowski had a lot of people with him, like the Balanoffs, who did have a broad philo- sophical base. Their philosophy, indeed mine, went beyond that, but we said, "Right now this is the guy. He's got the ability to campaign and the charisma."
  • 51. John Chico, Jim Balanoff, Eddie, and Louis Britton Philip Nyden: Some dismissed Sadlowski's militant talk as "rhetoric" and "political maneuvering." George Terrell: The early leaflets were mainly Eddie, but Clem and I had a hand in writing them. Ed Sadlowski: John Chico, Bill Kornblum and I had a big hand in the literature. After Chuck Bloom came on board, he talked us into using offset printing and graphics instead of just a mimeograph machine. Mike Olszanski: At 1010 Teddy Rogus had some- thing to do with this anti-Sadlowski leaflet. It talked about secret agents from Moscow coming by cover of night to influence the steelworkers election. Clem Balanoff: That communist stuff was their favorite theme. It harkened back to McCarthyism and the anti-Red purges. Crane operator, age 28, at Bethlehem( Blue Collar Community, 1974): Sadlowski did a real good job of talking our language. He was gutsy and knows where our heads are at. The word has gone out in the shops that Sadlowski is our man. Exchanges Ed Sadlowski(Letter of Jan. 21, 1973, to Secretary Treasurer Walter Burke): To date only 30 locals have responded to my request for a list of locations where they will vote and count ballots. I have been told some District 31 staff members are instructing local officers to disregard my letter. I am asking you to intercede on my behalf to insure a fair election. Walter Burke(Letter of Jan. 30, 1973, to Ed Sadlowski]: There is no provision requiring Local I I 49 Unions to respond to your letters or authorizing me to require Local Unions to do so. · Ed Sadlowski to Walter Burke(no date): I wish to know if I am entitled to an observer where votes are cast and counted. Walter Burke to Ed Sadlowski(Feb. 1, 1973): This question cannot be answered in the abstract. The answer will depend upon the physical situations. Our Local Unions have had a great deal of experience in conducting elections in strongly contested and close- ly observed contests. Ed Sadlowski (Letter to Post-Tribune, Feb. 4, 1973, after being branded a radical by Lake County Democratic Chairman John Krupa): What business does a has been like John Krupa have meddling in the affairs of the United Steelworkers? I assume his attack on me is payment of old debts to the Germano- Evett administration. The lies Krupa has published are a smoke screen to hide my opponent's failure to debate with me in public. Labor Today(April 1973): Evett's campaign was dependent on slush funds and patronage. He had an unlimited supply of money. Staff people were assessed $10 a month and worked for Evett on union time. Union buildings were Evett's headquarters. Evett stickers and ads, tons of them, were distributed through local leaderships. Local presidents called in patronage debts, including trips where the chosen few got lost time plus expenses. The Evett forces were buddy-buddy with the companies. He was able to walk in, distribute material, and shake hands, while rank and filers were thrown out of parking lots and pushed outside the gates. Campaigning Don Binkowski: Union politics and elections are vicious because there are no rules. Anything goes. Nothing appears to be out of bounds. Gabriel Favaino(Hammond Times, Jan. 23. 1973): They're packed into the Knights of Columbus Hall in Gary, 62 men, three women, one infant, and two chil- dren; about one fourth are black. A keg of beer is propped up by the speaker's table, with towers of giant red and blue dotted paper cups stacked along- side. Later there will be ham and cheese with mus- tard on rye bread on paper plates, and beer. The men drift in slowly. It's Sunday and they haven't been working. Some have been drinking beer, with an .·
  • 52. 50 occasioned shot of whisky. The meeting starts late. Sadlowski is tall, dark and stocky, with a round, boy- ish face. The larger portion of his neatly parted hair tends to fall down over his forehead. He's neatly dressed in a dark blue suit with a light blue shirt and silver blue tie. "Our rights have been taken away," he begins. "What happened to 2,000 jobs in Local 65? You will bear the brunt of getting out more production, more steel. The machines get faster and faster, with men pushing the buttons. We are not time clocks. We want to share the wealth. This is not a wild dream. I want the good life for everyone in the room. I have yet to hear my opponent advocate any change. He must think people are stupid. If he hasn't advocated con- structive change in 35 years, he's not going to do it in 35 days. We're not ready to wait another 35 years." A member rises to speak. "We don't have a union. It belongs to the bureaucrats. But we can get it back by voting for Ed Sadlowski." Back to the beer. The members get up, stand in line for their beer. Sadlowski moves around the room listening to a beef here, a beef there, nodding his head sympathetically. A member slips a $20 bill in his hand. "For the cam- paign," he mutters. When the beer is all gone, the ham eaten, some stale slices of bread are left. They go home. Sadlowski thinks of tomorrow. At 5:30 a.m. he's going to be at the gates of U.S. Steel Gary Works. He's there, but it rains. He and a dozen of his men stand in the dark wet streets of Gary for a half hour. "Guess that's it," says Sadlowski, "called on account of rain." Back at headquarters, there's a pot of coffee and some sweet rolls. Later that day, he'll be at a plant in Northfield. Next day, in Aurora. District 31 stretches from Skokie to South Bend. Every hour counts from now until February 13, election day. Time is running out. William C. Harsh Jr., (Chicago Sun-Times, Jan. 28, 1973): Ed Sadlowski concedes he is "up against a well-heeled, well-oiled organization" and doesn't "have the dough, the structure or the contacts to equal my opponent's," he told about 30 steelworkers at the Latin American Social Club in Aurora. "But I do have people. We must break down that mystic barrier that you can't beat city hall." He beat city hall, in a sense, by earning a place on the ballot. He won 40 endorse- ments, as Evett has pointed out to supporters who showed signs of overconfidence. Sadlowski's cam- paign slogan, "elect a steelworker," is a dig at Evett, who never worked in a steel mill. "Many things are happening inside our plants that shouldn't be happen- ing," Sadlowski charged recently. "And they wouldn't be happening if it wasn't for the lackadaisical attitude of the leadership." He promised to "take the hinges off the door and listen to people's problems." Evett replied that, if Sadlowski knew of such prob- lems, he never mentioned them at staff meetings. An associate put it more strongly, "He knew the policies of the leadership when he joined the staff. Why is it that now, all of a sudden, everything is wrong?" Bob Seltzner (Chicago Daily News, Feb. 7, 1973): There may have been a time when Evett believed that the knighthood bestowed upon him by Germano made him a cinch, that the brash young challenger could not hope to overtake him. That appears to have changed. Sadlowski started out as a distinct under- dog but is now viewed as a very serious challenger. And one can tell when the favorite is running scared. The mud begins to fly. The Evett forces initiated the mud slinging, charging that Sadlowski is supported by Communists. They have tied him with Cesar Chavez of the grape and let- tuce boycotts and charge that he has long been a strong opponent to U. S. involvement in the Vietnam war. Sadlowski is a militant, but to smear him as hav- ing Communist sympathies is to lose sight of many issues that bother steel workers. Some see Sadlowski as over-ambitious, but others view Evett as the extension of Germano's insensitivity to their prob- lems and needs. If there is an overwhelming desire among workers to clean house, Sadlowski should win. If the apathy is so inbred that it continues on through this next week, Evett should win easily. Ed Sadfowski(Statement to press, Feb. 8, 1973}: Sam Evett is in collusion with management. Our opponent has been allowed inside plants and mills to freely seek votes among the workers. These same plants, and we can name a dozen, have flatly refused our requests for equal treatment. U.S. Steel, for example, will not allow my workers on its property. We are winning this election. Not being an egotist, it's not going to be close. We're going to nail Evett in Local 1010, and we're going to nail him hard in south Chicago. Faced with this shocking reality, Germano and Evett are using the power of their office to subvert the election process. Voting places are being moved up to two miles away. This is an obvious effort to dis- courage the membership from voting. Even the infor- mation on where and when many local unions will vote has been denied us.
  • 53. 51 Sadlowski Campaign Literature Sam Evett and the Small Plants: I Can't Be Bothered James Strong (Chicago Tribune, Feb. 11, 1973): "I want Sammy to win and win BIG," thundered the fig- ure familiar to thousands of steelworkers for nearly four decades. The scene in the packed Cicero hall was not unlike countless other rallies in the colorful career of Joseph Germano. The meeting was his "last hurrah," and Germano's lieutenants make sure of respectable turnouts. The crowd that jammed Palace Hall was no exception, despite a winter rainstorm. Germano turned it on for his pal, Sammy. Wiping per- spiration from his forehead, he tore into Sadlowski, 'What's this other character telling you? He's telling you he'll lead you to great promised land, my friends. Well, I know Sammy's going to win, but I want him to win so big it will teach people a lesson." Germano was a hard act to follow. But the mild- mannered Sam Evett hit home on the bread and but- ter issues: "I see wages of $10 or $15 an hour in the foreseeable future." Far to the south, where the steel mills ring the Lake Michigan shore, Ed Sadlowski was waging a hard-hit- ting fight outside plant gates and wherever he could draw an audience of steelworkers. Campaigning is rugged. Sadlowski is in front of a steel mill gate by 5:45, then to Local 65 offices for a full day of union business, and back to the plant gates from 10 to mid- night. The routine resumes next morning at 4:45. Several union leaders begged him to wait a few years and run when Evett is out of the picture. 'Wait!" exclaimed Sadlowski. "That's the same old game, be a·nice guy and wait, your turn'll come. Why wait when I can qualify and am capable right now?" Sadlowski pitches his campaign on the need for new and aggres- sive leadership. "For the last 10 years, Germano has not understood the problems inside the steel mills and in the can industry," he said. "He's resting on his lau- rels, continuing to talk about 1937. Hell, this is 1970. Germano is completely out of it. If Sam Evett walked into a mill, he wouldn't know where to turn. They rep- resent an attitude that big union leaders know what's best for the membership." William Kornblum: Unionists distributed over a mil- lion and a half pieces of campaign literature, held mass rallies, and organized hundreds of steelworkers. Elections occur in the dead of winter, and the men and women who become involved must be prepared to spend long hours in freezing weather outside the mill gates. Campaigning begins at 5:30 at tavern headquarters and coffee shops. Volunteers go off to various factories where they will talk to workers enter- ing the plant on the day shift, or leaving it after the night turn. After an exhausting morning, many enter their own plants for work on the three-to-eleven shift. Veteran Gary unionist(Biue Collar Community): A month ago nobody gave Eddie a chance of winning but he's a hustler. There's a real good bunch of younger local officials and rank-and-file people work- ing the streets with him. People are pissed as hell about inflation, jobs getting eliminated or combined, and delays in processing grievances. There's a lot of talk about getting tougher leadership. In the smaller plants it's uphill for Sadlowski. There are over 500 shops. You've got to run all over hell to find them. They're like machine precincts. Lots of the workers are new, and the local union officials are afraid to take a leak without running to their staff man. The staff man gets them to bring out the vote he wants. Sadlowski supporter(B/ue Collar Community): The "ski" ain't going to win many black votes for Sadlowski. There's plenty who'd vote against him just 'cause of
  • 54. 52 his name. During the nominations there were shops where the other people put out the word that Evett was black. They'd tell blacks, "Vote for the brother." Then we put both pictures on one of our leaflets so everybody could see they're both white. Michael Bayer: Sadlowski needed the solid support of blacks, who had very specific grievances against the Old Guard. He knew they had to have an alliance but never understood what an alliance between equals meant in terms of being prepared to make the necessary commitments. Black middle level union leaders in many ways had more to lose than he did. They had clawed their way into leadership positions after many years of fighting. They made accommo- dations in order to do that, and for them to openly support Eddie meant that if Eddie lost, everything they had worked for all those years might be for naught. A lot of white steelworkers didn't understand that a black leader might not want to be up front about it but still could effectively be a supporter behind the scenes. Some whites interpreted that as two-faced, but the situation was much more subtle and complex than, "You're on my side or you are the enemy." Other black leaders put everything on the line. People like Billy Todd and Curtis Strong played critical roles. So in a sense it was the most important part of the move- ment and its Achilles heel. William Kornblum: Three days before the election, Germano claimed, "We are going to put Sam in by a big margin." On the other side, younger unionists believed they had upset the traditional order of authority. Both estimates were wrong. Gabriel Favaino: On election day Germano's staff representatives nervously sat before his desk like schoolboys called to the principal's office, waiting for their cue. It wasn't until the eleventh hour that things would go as planned - in Gary. Germano talked into the phone and said, ''Two thirds would be nice." The night the polls closed, Evett supporters were described as "being on pins and needles.'' Evett ordered a Times reporter out of his headquarters while he and Germano kept track of the returns. Sadlowski headquarters were open to reporters. Joe Germano had made one of his rare visits to his East Chicago office to help find an Evett victory. The lights were on till 5 a.m. Symbolically, a four-door gold Cadillac sedan was parked outside. Germano and Evett, sleek and well tailored in expensive clothes and ties, sat around a long well-polished table. Their headquarters could have been any corporate suite - modern steel furniture and all. After that glimpse, reporters were banned. "Don't want them in my hair tonight," said Evett, laughingly. At Sadlowski head- quarters, meanwhile, there wasn't a necktie in sight. The store front office looked like a strike headquar- ters. Discarded coffee cartons vied with empty beer cans as decorative accents. Election Results Mike 0/szanski: The ballots were taken to district headquarters, where they were locked up for the weekend. Nobody could get in except their guys. They wouldn't let the press in, but reporters saw their guys coming and going. Monday morning they announced that Sam Evett won. George Bogdanich(Nation, May 7, 1973): "If we're not leading by several thousand votes by the first day," a Sadlowski strategist said, ''they can steal the rest in the big Gary locals." Sadlowski's observers were physically blocked from carrying out their duties in several places. By night time Sadlowski was several thousand votes ahead, but his supporters feared the worst from 1066 and 1014, two locals with a murky history of vote fraud. The designated observer had failed to show up at the 1066 polling place, later claim- ing threats had been made on his life. At 1014 the numbered ballots were not being issued sequentially to voters, and Sadlowski's observers had difficulty accounting for ballots. The day after the election Sadlowski was still lead- ing, but barely. Although most large locals had already counted their ballots, the two Gary locals remained. The counting was held up for a third day, when the inevitable was announced: Evett had won. Sadlowski filed complaints with the International and is determined to take the case through the courts. His supporters fear he'll be transferred to anther district or fired. Bob Schenet: Sadlowski claimed he should have won by 4,000 votes. Local1010 minutes, Feb. 15, 1973: Election results for 1010. For Director District #31, Sam Evett 1910, Ed Sadlowski 3535. Bro. Torres made a motion to accept the election report. Bro. Balanoff seconded the motion with honor, and it was duly carried. Gabriel Favaino(Hammond Times, Feb. 17, 1973): Ed Sadlowski asked the Labor Department to investi- gate irregularities. Sam Evett claimed victory with a 2,350-vote margin out of 47,856 ballots cast.
  • 55. Sadlowski was not allowed an observer in Local 1066, where the vote was reported as 935 to 239 in favor of Evett, and had only one observer in Local 1014, where Evett was reported to have won, 1,720 to 365. Jim Balanoff said of the Gary vote, ''That's ridiculous. Those cats in 1014 and 1066 are not a different breed of animal than those in the other big mills." Vice President William Todd, the Sadlowski observ- er at 1014, accused election officials of stuffing ballot boxes, allowing voting out of numerical sequence, and allowing ballots to be taken in and out of the polling place. Todd estimated about 2,200 votes were cast, but the election officials' tally has 2,585 ballots cast. At one point during the marathon 36-hour count, Todd slept on the ballots to prevent tampering. The announced 1014 results were a departure from the pattern established in the larger locals. For example, Republic Steel's Chicago plant went for Sadlowski 454 to 329; the Bethlehem Steel local voted 639 to 335 for Sadlowski; U.S. Steel Corp. South Works went to Sadlowski 1,346 to 447. Evett's victory margin came from the two Gary locals and some of the smaller fabricating plants. Through the three days of ballot counting, the Evett forces declined to release unofficial vote results. No break- down of the vote by locals was released by Evett forces, only a victory statement claiming a 2,350-vote margin. His spokesmen said the reason for the news blackout was the Evett forces feared a court contest. USWA attorneys had advised them that announcing results could be used as evidence to show their con- trol over the election machinery. Tellers were appointed by local officials, generally Evett supporters, and paid $50 a day to compensate them for work time lost. The vote turnout was slightly more than one third of those eligible, and this was viewed as being favorable to Evett. The proportion of administration patronage workers voting would repre- sent a greater percentage of the total vote. Local offi- cials, staff representatives, grievers, assistant griev- ers and stewards all hold paid jobs that are influenced by local union politics. Despite this, Sadlowski ran up an astounding vote total. Gabriel Favaino(Hammond Times, Feb. 19, 1973): The stench of rotten fish hangs over Calumet Region steel mills like a putrid, low-hanging cloud. The pork- choppers say they won the election. Regardless of the outcome, "the union will never be the same," as Eddie Sadlowski says. Frank F. Felix, Jr.(P-T Letter to Editor, Feb. 21, 53 1973): USWA members have just completed an exer- cise in futility. First the farce of the nomination process; then the actual election. Ed Sadlowski: We knew we had been structurally deficient by virtue of not having enough people to be observers. We would have needed 350-400 people. In most places where we had observers, we won. Tom Fitzpatrick(Chicago Sun-Times, March 2, 1973): Ed Sadlowski won't admit he's beaten. "I come off the street of the South Side," he was saying. "I know how it feels when a guy kicks me in the teeth, and I'm gonna work at making them rue the day they did it to me. This isn't sour grapes. We won this elec- tion. I haven't got any money, but I got a bunch of pals willing to do things for nix. We're gonna prove this election was stolen from us. We put together an army of guys who sacrificed their own time. Some took days off without pay. These guys got out the cutting knives and did a job on us, but we won't quit. "Look, we put this thing together in a year. We did- n't have two nickels to rub together. But we won. Now, because we're protesting, it's blowing their minds. They expect me to be a good boy and shut my mouth. But this is too important. There's just too much the labor movement can contribute to this coun- try. Unfortunately, the people at the top have forgot- ten what the labor movement's all about. If they fire me because I'm protesting the vote, I'll just go back to work in the mill. There's lots of things worse in life. But they have to know that I'm gonna fight them." Mike Olszanski: It was a foregone conclusion that they'd steal and we'd appeal. What amazed me was that they were so bold about it. Clem Balanoff: We tried like hell not to let them steal the election. We figured it would happen. Very few elections are not stolen. You have to be really vigilant. When we finally decided to fight, John Chico called me aside at a meeting and said, "What are you wast- ing your time for? Eddie has been cryin' in his beer for the last six weeks. If you're going to get a new elec- tion, are we going to go through the same thing and lose again?" I said, "Let's find out about that." Cliff Mezo: We started investigating. As the evi- dence piled up, there was no doubt there had been massive fraud. The FBI found hundreds of identical ballots marked with the same pencil. I doubt Evett went out and said, "Boys, steal some ballots." He probably had deniability.
  • 56. 54 Local 1010 minutes, March 1, 1973: Executive Board recommended we purchase flowers for his wife and a plaque to be presented to Joe Germano at his testimonial dinner; also to send all Executive Board members. Bro. Balanoff said he felt the flowers and plaque would be sufficient because our union just had an expensive election. There was a lengthy discus- sion. Bro. Bailey said why be two-faced, the man has been our director for 33 years and now he's retiring. The Executive Board's recommendation carried. Labor Today(April 1973): We plugged the differ- ences between the candidates, and we stressed union democracy. We finally broke through the mys- tique that you can't beat City Hall. As far as we're concerned we won the election. In the final analysis they had to resort to plain stealing. Our victory was stolen from us. William Kornblum (Blue Collar Community, 1974): In blue-collar politics the victorious messenger rarely comes to herald all goals won, but every political event modifies the definition of who "belongs" and helps create a blue-collar culture that all local groups eventually come to share. The Sadlowski campaign highlights the promise and difficulty in seeking change through industrial unionism. It tended to set a gener- ation of steel unionists who had maintained their power since the 1930s against a coalition of younger progressives. Sadlowski insurgents often appealed directly to cultural differences between younger and older workers, and stressed issues which would invest more authority at the local level, such as the right of rank-and-file workers to vote on contracts. Although they seemed to have won, the incumbent group saw their unquestioned rule come to an end. The results were immediately challenged, eventually to become a federal test case, signaling the demise of the era of unregulated elections and personal rule. District Director Election Overturned John Conroy: On election night Sadlowski saw what was happening and called Alderman Despres. Next morning, the alderman convinced the insurgent that with all of the illegalities they had encountered, there was a good chance they could at least get a rerun. Ed Sadlowski: They had us counted out by 1,600 votes when they finally released the count. We had our own count, and by one a.m. we felt we had won. Later you could see that there were some glaringly suspicious areas, on the West Side, with NIPSCO workers, with 1066 and others where we didn't have observers. We had ten days to make an appeal. How in God's name are you going to put together some- thing in ten days? I started to write the appeal myself. None of us had the experience. The union position was you needed a very specific charge with time, place and date. The Department of Labor took the same position. So we had a dilemma. With about four days left, Chuck Bloom said, 'Why don't you get somebody who knows what he's doing? This is going to be a long haul." He suggested Leon Depres, a labor attorney. Depres came down to South Chicago, and we gave him a pile of stuff. He drew up the charges, and we filed it. I went to Pittsburgh and appealed to a board that had opposed me politically. The hearing lasted five minutes. They turned us down. We subpoenaed their minutes and found out they didn't even bother to consider our evidence. We had volumes of stuff. Sidney Lashaun, for example, had said that there were 152 people in his local. He had records and affidavits that 61 of them didn't vote. That left 91 and there were 140 votes from that local. All kinds of stuff like that. I asked Depres if he could get Joe Rauh interested. After Joe Yablonski had got killed, Rauh had worked with Arnold Miller and the Mineworkers for Democracy. Depres and I flew to Washington and met with Rauh for three or four hours at one of his water- ing holes. He said he'd see what he could do. The next day I got a call from a Labor Department investi- gator, saying Joe Rauh was raising all kind of hell. So he was on board and running. Rauh insisted he do the court thing and I could do the street thing. If I did- n't bother him in court, he wouldn't bother me on the street. It worked out very well. We put pressure on the International to investigate some of the charges, after they had denied the damn things. Bernie Kleinman assigned Gil Feldman to investigate Local 1066. By their count we had lost by a good chunk of votes. Feldman starts skooching around and finds that some things ain't right. The guys are scared. Meanwhile, Louie Britton called Balanoff and told him he'd been drinking with a guy who'd been a 1066 teller and the guy had told Britton what had come down. He had names, signatures, everything. I passed it on to the Department of Labor. Their guy learned what we had been told: Local 1066 president Danny Cefalia and two or three other guys shut the door and spent half the night signing seven or eight hundred signatures and stuffing the ballot box. A pal of mine got these guys to confess in writing by telling them, ''This guy is gonna put all of you in the shithouse unless you work something out."
  • 57. AI Samter: 1014's Unity Caucus reverted to the old Germano system of stealing all the votes you can steal. We voted in the union hall basement. You went in the front and registered at a line of tables. They'd look you up in books and give you a stamped card. You'd go to the middle of the room and mark the bal- lot at a booth. Then you'd go to the exit where there was a box. You'd fold up your ballot and put it in the box. A big man was standing there in an overcoat act- ing suspiciously, and at one point Harry Piasecki came over and got between this fellow and our observer, Bill Todd, and shielded him while he took piles of ballots out of his pockets and stuffed them in the box. The only local whose results the International tossed out was 1014. They decided they were taint- ed. The Labor Department then did its own investiga- tion and found massive violations at 1066 and else- where in the area. Jack Parton: The vote fraud went beyond 1014. went to one of the hearings in Chicago, not as a wit- ness but just as an observer. Clearly Eddie's allega- tions of hanky panky had some truth to them. Ultimately the International agreed to a second elec- tion. I think in an honest election it would have been close. I don't know that Eddie would have won. Betty Balanoff: The government only came in after Sadlowski's people got all the evidence. They had no funds to really investigate but proved their case. Post-Tribune(Aug. 8, 1973): President William "Teeny" Kranz said he was empowered by Local 1066's members to name a special inquiry committee so that the local's name could be cleared. The feder- al investigation, requested by Sadlowski, was com- pleted and a report submitted to the Labor Department. Sam Evett said reports the Labor Department would call for a new election were "pure speculation." The 1066 investigation will focus on complaints that many members were contacted at their homes by Labor Department agents who said their names appeared on vote ledgers as having voted; yet those members didn't vote. Kranz said, "About 90 astonished members signed affidavits that they did not vote and their names must have been forged on the ledgers." H.W Benson(Union Democracy Review, 1973): Sadlowski's attorneys submitted a long list of viola- tions, claiming that grave irregularities occurred in 147 of the district's 297 locals. Sadlowski's central charge was he was not permitted to have observers in many locals or even to know where the voting and tabulation would take place. 55 Ed Sadlowski: We were denied information. Each local union would select its teller autonomously, select its election hours arbitrarily-fifteen hours to vote in one place, one hour in the next. And you write asking where and when the elections are going to be held, and you get no answer. Having gradually wormed out the information, I got my observers into some of the polling places, only to have them kicked out. Philip Nyden: Ironically, Sadlowski's loss and the outside attention and support it attracted that caused the insurgency to bloom. Charges of vote fraud attracted lawyers who had previously guided court battles for the Miners for Democracy. The Labor Department became involved, vote fraud documented and a new election scheduled. Voice of the Rank and File(Nov. 1973): On Nov. 5, 1973, the Department of Labor ordered a new election because of excessive irregularities. "I feel the action today upholds my claim of victory and unfair campaign practices," commented Sadlowski. "I sincerely hope the injustice will be quickly remedied. There was never any question that I had won the election. It is sad that my challenge had to go to the Federal Government. I would have much preferred the Union clean its own house. One's right to a secret ballot and an honest and fair election is sacred, and it is high time the stagnant bureaucrats who lead the Steelworker Union realize it." The recent mistreatment of a Local 1010 delegate, Lyon Leifer, at the District Conference on October 13 was condemned in a resolution passed unanimously. It demands that Director Sam Evett carry out a speedy investigation of the charge that a number of Sergeants at Arms seized Brother Leifer for no cause, roughed him up and ejected him from the proceedings. Brother Leifer and another delegate were trying to disagree with the top leadership's signing of the no-strike agreement. He said, "I want to thank all the brothers and sisters who've expressed their indignation over the treatment I received from those goons." Bob Schenet{Chicago Daily News, Nov. 6, 1973): "I'm not averse to going to court over this," Sadlowski said. "In fact, I'd welcome it. Maybe it's the only way to clean this union up. In exhausting all internal reme- dies, starting right after the election, I just got scuffled and tumbled by the leadership, to no avail," Sadlowski said. "I'm not talking about sour grapes. I'm talking about out-and-out thievery." Ed Sadlowski: We appealed through the internal mechanism, which is a swamp and a fallacy. The fed-
  • 58. 56 eral government sued. Five days before going into court, our opponents threw their hands up and called a new election themselves. The election was set aside because of massive voter fraud, ballot-box stuff- ing, misuse of union funds. You name it- they did it. A. H. Raskin: The union hierarchy used so many dirty tricks that it had to agree to permit a rerun. Ed Zuckerman(Post-Tribune, Nov. 9, 1973): The Justice Department action alleges violations of the 1959 Landrum-Griffin Act, which requires unions to provide adequate safeguards to ensure a fair election. The suit alleged: (1) Inadequate control of ballots and ballot boxes; (2) Failure to maintain proper eligibility and voter lists; (3) Allowing electioneering in polling places; (4) Denying candidates a right to have observers in the polling places; (5) Failure to observe the rules of the union constitution and election manu- als; (6) Use of union funds to promote Evett's candi- dacy. James Stron(NY Times, Nov. 9, 1973): The Justice Department suit seeks the removal of Evett and a new union election in District 31. Staff representatives revealed they were forced to make $200 kickbacks for Evett's campaign in addition to monthly assessments for his "war chest." Post-Tribune(Dec. 5, 1973): All 7 election tellers at Local 1066 were fined and suspended by the local for voting irregularities. They included former president Danny Cefalia, now a district staff rep. The fines, rec- ommended by a special trial board, amounted to more than $1,000 each. The seven were ordered to make "restitution" of some $700 each. DavidS. Robinson(Times, Dec. 16, 1973): Director Evett accepted Cefalia's resignation. "No one con- dones irregularities in elections and certainly not me," Evett said. He added that the Local 1066 action ends any possible claim of irregularities. He said the union has moved independently to clear up claims of wrongdoing. Kranz, who supported Evett, said the local's action did not reflect on Evett. AI Samter: Getting the thing overturned changed the rules forever. '73 Race for 1010 Presidency Voice of the Rank and File(March 1973): The pow- ers that be are out to keep Local 1010 from being returned to the membership and have forced Jesse Arredondo to step aside. The Rank and File has a Sam Evett and Babe Lopez ~:---j ~~ ;( program, record, and candidates second to none. Jim Balanoff for President and Bill Bennett for Chairman of the Grievance Committee vow to lead our local in a new direction - in nobody's pocket. Jim Robinson: President Arredondo was a nice guy but not a real strong leader. He took a lot of flak and didn't seem to give it back very strongly. James Alexander: They ended up with a pile of stuff on Jesse, and at the last minute he said he wouldn't run for reelection. Hank "Babe" Lopez ended up in control of everything. Jesse Arredondo(Local 1010 Steelworker, March 1973): Before the rumor mill speeds into full swing, I'm announcing I will not run for reelection. The decision was one of the hardest ones I've ever had to make. I've been active in Local 1010 since 1949. My father helped start this union. My one goal has been being elected president of this local. A union president has to make many decisions. Union politicians slither up to them and fill them full of lies. Multiply the number of people who think their own situation is the most important one or who feel wronged by the company in areas the union can do nothing about by the number of political factions and you end up with a lot of people voting not for a better union but for some small token of revenge. Add to that the racial overtones. I am very proud of my her-
  • 59. itage as a Mexican American and feel deeply dis- tressed about the good possibility it will be used against me. My withdrawal may help to prevent race from becoming an issue. Mike 0/szanski: There were incentives for a union president to support the International. If he played ball, he might get a staff job even if he lost the next election. When Arredondo stepped down to take a staff job, probably the International figured he was going to get beat. Cliff Mezo: Lopez and Arredondo had been blood enemies, but the International said, ''You guys have got to get together." Frankly, I never liked Arredondo, but he was never unfriendly to me. When guys go on staff, there's a little bit more money and maybe not as much pressure, but, my God, now you're a vassal of the International. You can't stand up to them. When they tell you to do something, you do it or get your hat. Tillie(Latin Times, May 11, 1973): Hank ''the Baby" Lopez is trying to make a big jump from putting his mark on checks. I'm afraid it takes more than know- ing how to mark your X on a check to handle the job. Editoriai(Latin Times, May 11, 1973): 'What are Babe's chances?" If we had to predict, we'd be forced to say he couldn't win. Hank's well known refrain "No sweat" will come back to haunt him! Many people USED to swear by ''The Babe"; now they just swear at him. "Rocking the boat" is not one of his things. Local 1010 needs more responsive leadership to assure that the steelworker gets what is rightfully his. Balanoff could bring back initiative and independence. Hank has to have formidable support among the Latins. This support does not exist. The "Hot tamale" constituency, as Hank refers to the Latins, has a nag- ging doubt as to the "Babe's" real intentions. Jim Robinson: Hank Lopez was a formidable oppo- nent, a very affable politician who'd stand out on the corner of Michigan and Guthrie talking to the many people during shift changes who stopped in at Busy Corner Drugs. Mike 0/szanski: Lopez had spent years personally giving people their checks on time, along with a story and a slap on the back or hand shake. William Andrews: You could go into Babe's office and sit down and talk to him. He was always laugh- ing and joking. He'd make guys feel he was giving you money out of his pocket when he passed out the union checks. 57 Roberto Flores: The International knew Jesse could- n't win again so they put him on staff and sent him to Texas. Hank invited me to run for treasurer on his slate and I did. Jumping slates can cause bad blood; but if a rival slate offers you a higher position, it's an opportunity you might not otherwise have. Your own personal ambitions come into it. Mike 0/szanski: The rift between Gailes and Balanoff was over and blacks were back in the Rank and File caucus. Lopez supporters red-baited the piss out of us, and it took its toll. Some of us wanted Balanoff to respond, but he took the position, "You don't answer that shit or it just gets you in deeper." On election eve The Post-Tribune ran a front-page story by Ernie Hernandez full of innuendo that Balanoff was a commie. That was one of the nails in the coffin. They beat us, even though it was fairly close. I was on the slate for a minor position on the executive board. I came from a good department, and they felt I'd help the slate. Bill Gailes: By 1973 Jim and I were back together. convinced people who worked with me that Balanoff was a true union leader who fought for a level playing field for everybody. East Chicago Globe(June 19, 1973): Balanoff admitted membership in the CP during his youth but denied he's still a party organizer. Frank C. Gordon: Lopez beat out Balanoff, 3,948 to 3,526. Lopez campaigned for drug and alcohol addic- tion prevention and for the ENA. Hank Lopez(lnauguration Address, July, 1973}: Tonight is one of the greatest events of my life. But tomorrow there will be plenty of hard work. The most important group in our union aren't here tonight because they had to stay home and watch Kung Fu on t.v. or had to go bowling or had to stop in at their favorite bar. A few people aren't here tonight simply because they don't like the idea of being a union member. Their ranks are growing and the labor move- ment will die if we don't reverse that trend. Discrimination &the Consent Decree Jack Parton: There was a lot of discrimination at Gary Works, not just racial but in terms of nationali- ties. This Greek superintendent, for instance, would try to get mainly Greeks and Serbians. When I hired in, 13 of us from Virginia all went to Number 4 open hearth. A month and a half later, I was probably the only one left. The others all packed up and went back.
  • 60. 58 Blacks went to the coke plant. Some of those jobs, when you start on the bottom, are dirty and nasty. Local 1010 Minutes, March 21, 1974: Several broth- ers spoke about conditions in the Coke Plant and about the 30-40, or 30 hours of work per week for 40 hours of pay. They stated that working in such deplorable conditions, a six-hour day is more than enough. Bro. Balanoff motioned that we endorse the 30-40 plan. Pres. Lopez informed Bro. Balanoff that the Negotiating Committee has the 30-40 on the table and a motion wouldn't be necessary. A brother from the Coke Plant stated that a committee should be set up to promote the 30-40 plan and members only be persons who work for a living. Joe Gutierrez(in Race, 1992): I don't think the com- pany is racist. That's too simple. It's the bottom line, the dollar. They don't care about you, no matter what your color is. You're nothing to them. If you're black or Latin or white, if they can set you up against the other workers, they're going to use you. We have to keep on working together, and when we hear the word nigger or spic - or cracker - stand up and say, "I don't appreciate that. Enough of this bullshit!" Jack Parton: The first Consent Decree was a court order handed down in Alabama. To avoid a lawsuit, the union and the companies agreed to change the way jobs were posted and how people were hired. 0/a Kennedy: The Fairfield, Alabama, consent decree was initiated by the Ad Hoc Committee of Concerned Steelworkers, of which I was a member. The suit was years in the works. Little by little we built confidence and got our facts together. There were unsuccessful attempts to silence the committee by offering promotions to the leaders. New York Times(April 16, 1974): The Justice and Labor Departments and the EEOC announced a pro- gram designed to give back pay aggregating $30.9 million to victims of job discrimination. More than 40,000 black, Spanish surnamed and women workers hired before January 1, 1968, will receive from $250 to upwards of $3,000. Nine major companies signed the agreement, but Inland Steel refused, asserting it had not discriminated. New York Times(Aug. 19, 1975): AU. S. Court of Appeals upheld two consent decrees against the steel industry and ordered the establishment of a $31-mil- lion fund for back pay for victims. Mike 0/szanski: The EEOC charged the USWA with collusion with steel companies in discriminatory job assignments. Departmental seniority clauses locked blacks and other minorities into lower paid jobs in the worst departments. Sadlowski and Balanoff fought to extend the Consent Decree benefits to Inland employ- ees, obviously victims of the same practices, but got little support from the International or EEOC. Curtis Strong: I often wondered how Inland got out from under the Consent Decree. Claiming they could- n't get black bricklayers or truck drivers was bullshit. Inland had a warped public relations campaign, pre- tending they were very liberal. Jim Balanoff: Inland's claim is the biggest lie ever told. Our proposals have been turned down, but we're not letting up on this. Joe Gutierrez: Inland Steel had a sharp lawyer who said, "Look, people are tired of civil rights, of marches, of busing, of affirmative action. The mood of the coun- try is changing. Let's fight it." The government didn't follow through, and they didn't pay a penny. For years, whites had all the better jobs. Then the gov- ernment said you've got to do something about dis- crimination in the workplace or we'll do it for you. They signed a Memorandum of Understanding imple- menting plantwide seniority. It was good for every- body. Now a black or Latino as well as a white could transfer and utilize seniority. Jack Parton: While I was a grievance committee- man, we changed the way people were promoted. Suddenly everybody had the opportunity. Previously, people could be in dead-end jobs forever because if you transferred to a different unit, you kept pension and vacation rights but lost seniority. Hell, they gave people off the streets better jobs than people who'd been there 20 years. It was a much needed reform. Paul Kaczocha: Sadlowski had a hard time dealing with the Consent Decree because it didn't favor the majority. We had no problem dealing with it in our caucus at Bethlehem. 0/a Kennedy: The Fairfield case impacted on women. In fact, it gave us ideas about forming a Women's Caucus. After the Consent Degree women went into the mills but found themselves involved in a revolving door situation. They met hostility. There was a lack of washrooms. There weren't adequate places to change. Some of the women were just lost. My daughter got a job at Bethlehem. Right before her probation was up, she got a dismissal paper claiming she couldn't do her job but promising to consider her
  • 61. in the future if there was something they felt she could do. I really got upset. I told her not to sign it and to demand the union president be present when they dismissed her. They didn't let her go. They gave her the job back. Today she is a class A electrician. I had started working at Hammond Valve Corporation in 1959. It was a steelworkers local. I held union positions of financial secretary, recording secretary, treasurer, and chair of the civil rights com- mittee. On the district level I was secretary of the workmen's compensation committee. When I went to conferences, I was surrounded by men. There just weren't hardly any women delegates. Once involved with the Ad Hoc Committee and the Women's Caucus, I was looked at a little differently. You have to make the decision whether you want to work in a just strug- gle or be the little darling that is patted on the shoul- der and given some fat staff position. Once my name came up in connection with a staff job, but I was by- passed because I was too independent and blunt. I couldn't be molded like putty in somebody's hands. Roberta Wood: After the Consent Decree passed, I was hired as a laborer in the South Works alloy bar mill. I asked to get into an apprenticeship program, and the guy said, "We'll deal with that later. You have to get through your probation first." I worked in the alloy bar mill for a year, then transferred to the rod mill. I worked there another year and finally filed a griev- ance to get into a trade. I became an instrument repair apprentice because it was straight days. Mary Elgin: I hired in on September 13, 1972, and started attending union meetings a couple years later. For a gate vote in 1974 Inland bussed us to the polling places and had coffee and doughnuts there. New people thought it was great, getting a break from our jobs. Yvonne "Sugar" Porter was taillike I am. People sometimes confused us. We came from the same department, only she was in metallurgical and I was a weigher. She was very vocal and forceful. During campaigns she'd shove things in your hand, and say, "Here, vote." She didn't say "please." At a Rank and File picnic Joe Sanders persuaded me to come to a caucus meeting. He was an execu- tive board guide. At caucus meetings he'd say, "Don't forget to come to the union meeting." You had to attend a third of the meetings to qualify to run for ur:tion office. He, Tom Mill, and James Carpenter got me thinking about taking a leadership role. The cau- cus was very organized and structured. There were committees. Meetings at Big John's on Columbus Drive were well attended. The spirit was there from 59 the Sadlowski campaigns. A number of young people were interested in supporting women's issues, fighting for coke plant workers, and getting blacks into leader- ship positions. Dues and Salary Hikes Cliff Mezo (Voice of the Rank and File, June, 1974): The big shots have decided that we peons who make the steel are entitled to 28 cents more per hour. Now they'll each decide if they want a li'l raise, too. Already, they have introduced resolutions for a dues increase. They call for a $25.00 initiation fee and the $10.00 lid taken off the dues. When Balanoff moved that Local 1010 go on record as opposed to any change in the dues structure, Vice President O'Connor refused to recognize the motion. Local 1010 Minutes, June 6, 1974: Bro. Balanoff said the union is going back instead of forward, that the union takes dues out of the employee's check but the employee doesn't get representation. Philip Nyden: Pandemonium broke loose on the floor of the 1974 constitutional convention when Vice President John Johns slammed his gavel down to rail- road through a dues hike. Similar methods were used to pass an amendment increasing officers' annual salaries to $75,000. A technicality was used to deny delegates a roll-call vote. This maintained the union's perfect record of never having a roll-call vote. Local1010 Minutes, Oct. 3, 1974: Bro. Balanoff said that the convention was run by Abel and that the U.S.W.A. is not a democratic union. Local 1010 Minutes, Jan. 16, 1975: Letter from James Balanoff and C. Mezo calling for a special con- vention to lower the dues and cut the salaries of International officers. Adopted and approved. Pres. Lopez spoke on a resolution for calling a special con- vention. Bro. C. Mezo commended the President for sending a letter to I. W. Abel on the roll-back of dues. Local 101 0 went on record calling for a Special Convention. 1974 Special Election Philip Nyden: Sadlowski zeroed in on corruption, arguing that "your union leaders are squandering dues money." The campaign verbalized issues dis- turbing union members, particularly corruption and lack of democracy. The effectiveness of the corrup- tion issue was, in part, attributable to Watergate and President Nixon's resignation. The outside help and
  • 62. 60 media coverage increased the size of Sadlowski's organization and its ability to get out its message. Local1010 Minutes, Oct. 3, 1974: Rerun of the elec- tion for District Director is scheduled to take place between November 12 and November 15, 1974. Bro. Balanoff asked, Will the election be at the plant gates? Pres. Lopez replied, the election will be con- ducted under the supervision of the Department of Labor, and Local 101 0 doesn't know anything. M. Mezo, A. Beverly, J. Cuculich, Balanoff, Sadlowski, C. Mezo Cliff Mezo: Evett didn't have a chance, having been exposed as a crook, in addition to being a wimp. Calumet News(Nov. 6, 1974): Sadlowski supporters put the final touches for Eddie's party at Bethlehem Steel, complete with two go-go girls who were to put on a strip show, free food and free booze. How could it miss? Just 28 people showed up. Several nights later, Evett volunteers put on a rally and over 200 workers came. The pattern has been repeated all over the district. A rally for Evett in Joliet drew 250 Steelworkers to a dinner at four dollars a head. A cou- ple weeks earlier, Evett's opponent drew 30 Joliet res- idents to a free steak and beer party. At a Latin rally on a cold Sunday afternoon, over 100 Steelworkers came to greet Evett, while a similar Sadlowski rally for Latins drew only 16 people. The campaign has been a study in contrasts. Evett plugs from rally to rally, from plant gate to plant gate, shaking hands and talking union all the way. The news programs provide a tremendous amount of cov- erage for Evett's opponent though. One old-time campaigner said, "Eddie has a press conference just about every day around 10:30 downtown in the Hilton Hotel. Evett does his campaigning at 5:30 a.m. out at the mill gates. Steelworkers for Sadlowski Pamphlet: Just because he dared oppose a member of the union's "Official Family," Ed Sadlowski and his family have been sub- jected to a campaign of slander and innuendo. Evett claims he called for this new election. People who win honest elections don't suddenly agree to run again just to "restore the unity of the union." Evett feared the federal government making public the 1973 vote fraud and coverup. He and his few loyal supporters are reaching into the same old bag of dirty old tricks, using the Watergate techniques of rumor, lies, and a coverup to spread malicious attacks. But this time the name calling and whispering campaign won't work. Evett is afraid to debate the real issues. If you can't say it to Ed's face, Sam, don't bother saying it at all. Ed Sadlowski: It took a year and a half to get the first election overturned. After we did resolve it, it was a three-day election and we won 2 to 1. They brought in 300 or 400 federal agents to conduct it. The biggest mistake the International made was trying to cover up the vote fraud. They created a monster. It snowballed into headlines all over the place. They made our prop- aganda for us, actually. The best thing I had going for me was I. W. Abel and his organization. Curlis Strong: The establishment had cut corners and done illegal things to maintain themselves in office. Ed played on that. Mike 0/szanski: We were putting out leaflets that were copies of news accounts. It was a sweep and a big turn-out because people were pissed. Jack Parlon: The Unity Caucus at 1014 had a little bit more of a split. I again supported Evett, but the caucus as a whole did not.The second election got a lot of national attention. Many high-profile people who weren't union members supported Sadlowski. AI Samter: In the second election we did not expect to win in 1014 but to get it much closer. When we got an honest count, it was a lot closer. Michael Bayer: By the time there was going to be a second election, it was over. A political machine sur- vives on its image of invincibility. Once it was shown that they weren't invincible, then people came out of the woodwork. The vote totals showed it. I had no need to be Eddie's friend and certainly was- n't his adviser. That wasn't my role. There were plen- ty of communist steelworkers who were part of his movement. The first time I met Eddie was at his head- quarters on election day. Frankly, it wasn't so easy to be seen with a known communist. Normally I stayed
  • 63. out of the spotlight, but on this occasion went up to congratulate him. When I introduced myself, I thought he was going to drop my hand. He looked around to see if any photographers were taking pictures. It's impossible to understand how afraid people were. After all, they saw friends lose their jobs, their homes, be driven out of the industry. The McCarthy period did terrible things to people. I can't date it, but there was a point when people weren't afraid to be in the same room with me. Then it's a matter of how credible my role was. Mike Mezo: There was an electricity to the second campaign that I've never seen since. We had a rally at Assumption Hall in East Chicago. The place was packed. Many people were half liquored up. Eddie could have belched and got a standing ovation. All he had to do was say ''the boss." Ed Sadlowski: The cadre that had helped Arnold Miller joined us. They never asked for anything; they just felt they had an obligation to help. Mary Elgin: I was a poll watcher over at American Steel. Jim Balanoff called me and said, "I really want you to watch those s.o.b.'s." I made sure people weren't putting more than one ballot in the ballot box. This was all new to me and good training. Roberta Wood: My brother Dave was involved. I called up Sadlowski to offer my help. I think his num- ber was on a leaflet. He referred me to Clem. South Works was pretty much taken for granted since it was Sadlowski's home plant. John Askins sent us volun- teers to these two-bit factories on the west side. We'd stand outside the gates and hand out leaflets. It was extremely cold. If I had to do that now, I would die. And we had a lot of people doing that who were mid- dle aged or old. Working shift work, lots of times 1was able to go out in the morning, then go into work in the afternoon. It was a great way to see Chicago. Paul Kaczocha: After the first election it was a mat- ter of keeping supporters faithful for the next run. James Alexander: They had put Yvonne Porter on staff, and she talked me into supporting Evett. That was a big mistake. Balanoff was not happy. He'd see me at different benefits, and I'd have to run. He wouldn't let me go. My first convention in Atlantic City, Balanoff had driven me there. I had never been more than a hundred miles from home. He never let me for- get it. He'd say, "First time you left your mama, I'm the one who took you. I helped put shoes on you and you crossed me." 61 David Sikes:The second campaign we had less people involved. Evett was under a cloud. Even with- in the International leadership, the feeling was he may be a losing proposition. I didn't recruit young people because of the accusations of impropriety. I don't know what Evett's people did or how bad it was. But the accusations were there, and we weren't asked to play as big a role. Coming from Lake County, I have never seen a perfectly clean campaign. I didn't see rank-and-file leaders as any more or less corrupt than their opponents. Both sides were willing to do what- ever it took to win. John Herling(Washington Post, Nov. 23, 1974}: A new labor star has been born, Edward Sadlowski, 36, a rangy steel worker with the gift of hard-hitting elo- quence. The last time an electoral upheaval of com- parable magnitude caught public attention was 10 years ago when Abel narrowly defeated McDonald. Sadlowski got 39,637 votes to Evett's 20,058. Inside observers saw this election as a possible stimulus for future challenges to incumbents. Moreover, neither Abel nor Secretary-Treasurer Walter Burke will be eli- gible to run for office again. The union constitution calls for compulsory retirement after 65. Should Sadlowski try for the presidency and win, it could mean a restructuring of the union as well as a more aggressive attitude in labor-management relations. A. H. Raskin(NY Times, Feb. 15, 1975): Sadlowski is front-runner in a rebellious new breed of youthful union activists, impatient with the frozen practices of the labor establishment. Philip Nyden: After 1974 the media took the insur- gents more seriously, thus bolstering confidence and providing an invaluable means for rallying support. Increased legitimacy transformed sympathizers into active supporters. Jim Robinson recalled, "A kind of loose districtwide organization evolved. A lot of peo- ple from here, there and everywhere didn't know each other until they started coming in around Sadlowski." It helped them overcome problems in formulating their own caucus programs. William Andrews: It was unfortunate that the Evett forces stole the first election from Sadlowski. Even though he won the second time, we lost a couple years of progressive leadership. Probing the Lopez Regime Mike Mezo: While Local 1010 was founded through good old-fashioned organizing, a type of ward politics had crept in by the time Hank Lopez was president.
  • 64. 62 SIDE. L.OCAL~ The mentality was, you stay in power through patron- age and doling out money. The average worker became disenchanted, and people were elected with a quarter of the members voting. Eddie's campaigns changed that around. Cliff Mezo(1974): The Lopez administration has financial troubles. They have overspent every month to pay off political commitments. Local1010 Minutes, Sept. 5, 1974: Bro. Mike Mezo asked, who did the Election Committee get bids from for the printing? Bro. Branson replied, Haywood $12,975, Progress $13,125.25, and Calumet News $12,060. Local 1010 Minutes, Sept. 19, 1974: Bro. Balanoff asked that a survey be made on the cost of the ballots printed for previous elections. Bro. Mezo asked for the bids from two years back. Vice Pres. O'Connor said, you can get the figures from the Financial Secretary. Local1010 Minutes, Nov. 7, 1974: Bro. Mezo asked, how much of the $96,000 is in the general fund? Bro. Balanoff asked, is it true that all of the $96,000 is spent? Pres. Lopez asked, "Bro. Balanoff, did you receive your monthly check? You'll get the figures at the next meeting." Bro. Mezo said, the local has paid bills without authorization. Bro. Alexander informed Bro. Mike Mezo that he read the financial report and the bills at a previous meeting. The report was incomplete because he didn't have the breakdown on the bill that Mezo was referring to. Bro. Alexander also stated if Bro. Mike has any difficulty in under- standing the report, he will be more than glad to explain and resolve any problem. Bro. Mezo said, "The Financial Secretary is a little mixed up, because at the fast union meeting we voted $650.00 for booze." Pres. Lopez corrected Bro. Jim Robinson: I remember one guy shoving another guy into a coffee machine, but that was unusual. At times we had bitter and boisterous arguments, but I never felt that something I did was going to result in a threat to me or my family. Local 1010 Minutes, Nov. 21, 1974: Letter of Charges: From Henry Lopez, charging Mike Mezo with violation of Article 9, Section 1, E and G. Mike 0/szanski: The charge was slander, based on Mezo's article of a "$96,000 Rip Off' in Voice of the Rank and File. Local 1010 Minutes, Dec. 5, 1974: The Children's Xmas Party will be at Washington High School. Bro. Mike Mezo asked, how much did the Officers Xmas Party cost last year? Bro. Alexander answered, $760.00. Bro. Mike Mezo urged the membership to vote No. Bro. Balanoff requested the membership have a referendum vote. Bro. Gaifes stated that a Xmas Party is not new and that he was in full support of the Officers to gather socially and for them to eat, drink and be merry. Bro. Mike Mezo said people are in shock over the dues increase and the union should cancel the Officers Xmas Party. Financial Report for October: Bro. Alexander report- ed that 101 0 overspent. Bro. Balanoff asked how much? Bro. Alexander answered, $27,000. Bro. Balanoff asked, what was the cost of the Xmas Party? Pres. Lopez replied, $80,000. Bro. Bafanoff said, He wants the records to read that he asked for financial figures for the 1973 and 1974 Xmas Parties.
  • 65. Mary Elgin: The Christmas party was a huge expen- diture item. They'd buy lavish presents for union offi- cers as well as kids. Joe Gutierrez: In 1975 the union was not the most important aspect of my life. Unless you had a pretty active representative in your department, you only got a sense of union politics during election time. I voted, but in my department there was not a concerted effort to involve people because then the people getting involved might pose a threat politically. Lee Dembart:(NY Times, Jan. 21, 1975): Physically as well as financially, steel dominates East Chicago. The massive plants of Inland Steel, spread across 1,600 acres, rise alone from the flat country. "Inland was here when my father came up from Mexico. It was here when I was born. It will always be here," said Henry Lopez, 44 years old. "I got no complaints about layoffs," he said. ''The other day I sent down a couple of guys to Inland and they hired them. So far as I can see, the steel workers here don't see any problem. A few people, they're afraid when they hear about auto plants closing down. I tell them, 'You got your paycheck. What are you afraid of?"' "Cushion" is a key word to the steel workers here. Employees who are laid off can get up to $100 a week from the company and an equal amount from state unemployment insurance for a year. There is an earn- ings protection plan: for each quarter of this year, for the hours a man works, the company will, if there is a layoff, provide him the equivalent of 85 percent of his income in the same quarter last year. And during a layoff he can apply for vacation pay. Commission Report (Hugh Garee/la, chairman): On Feb. 21, 1975, Sub-District Director Calacci alleged there was good reason to believe funds of the Local had been mishandled and recommended the Local be placed under Administratorship. On Feb. 24 Director Sadlowski wrote President Abel that Local 1010 was sadly in need of corrective measures and the Local should be placed under the Administratorship of Fred Gardner. Pres. Abel complied with this request. This Commission was then appointed. The Commission convened the hearing on March 11, 1975. Auditor Canelakes proceeded to zero in on the financial situation of Local 1010. The first charge c0ncerned a highly inflated printer's bill for 18,000 bal- lots and 250 tally sheets for the delegates election. The Local Union paid $12,227.30 for same. President Lopez pointed out the heavy print relative to this issue which was put into the bylaws. The next item was the 63 Christmas party, and much debate ensued on this matter. President Lopez stated that the Christmas party had been a practice of 24 years standing and he wasn't about to do away with it at this late date. He also felt that, politically, it would be suicide and he wasn't about to commit hari kari. The cost of the Christmas party for 1974 was less than in 1973. Nothing in the International Constitution prohibits Christmas parties or other affairs of this type. Although the cost is staggering, no evidence was shown indicating impropriety or falsifying of cost. In view of the 24-year practice, no impropriety took place. Although it is extremely urgent that Local Union 1010 address its fiduciary responsibilities and obliga- tions immediately, it is the conclusion of this Commission that the officers be restored to the posi- tions entrusted to them. Local 1010 Steelworker(June, 1975): The adminis- tratorship ended with a complete reinstatement of all the officers, and the membership celebrated by pass- ing a resolution calling for reduced union dues for those workers on forced reduced work weeks. James Alexander: I was financial secretary at the time Sadlowski took over Local1 010. I had to go back into the mill for six weeks before we were reinstated. So I was none too happy about Sadlowski. Voice of the Rank and File(June 1975): The com- mission submitted a report shot full of evasions. Time after time they write a paragraph that says nothing. Listen to this: "It is evident the financial practices in Local 1010 need agonizing reappraisal. A return to constructive leadership is necessary. Local Union offi- cers should ride herd on officials who have been placed in their responsible positions." Professor Backwards never put out more gobbledygook. Listen to this double talk on the double dip: "The allegation that President Henry Lopez took double pay for the International Convention of 1974 is untrue; he did receive an advance from the Local Union of $528.00 and an advance of $500.00 from the International for serving on a Committee. He initially did not file his voucher because he did not know the procedure. The money he received from the Local Union, including wages, was returned in the amount of $911.42." Now really! Financial Secretary for 12 years and don't know how to file a voucher. Hank has been a "good boy" since he has been in office. He left his cushiony job as financial secretary to run in Arredondo's place when the International
  • 66. 64 decided Jesse couldn't win. He supported the International's corrupt candidate for director even after the vote fraud was exposed. He tried to sneak staff man Jewell Harris into the convention with phony credentials to give the International more voting power. He supports the International down the line at the Basic Steel Conferences. If you scratch Abel's back, he'll scratch yours; just be careful of blood poi- soning. Mike Mezo is only 23 years old but has stood firm in the face of threats. He needs your help. He believes members have the right to know how their money is being used. "What Do They Do With All That Money?" by Mike Mezo, became a regular column in our paper. One article, exposing the deal by which Vince Kirrin was handed $12,000 for printing $1,500 worth of bal- lots, hit a tender spot. Lopez filed charges that the article was slanderous. He packed the union hall in order to elect five of his supporters to the trial com- mittee. With this "hanging jury" he hoped to silence the criticism. Far from being intimidated, Mike became convinced there was more here than first suspected. He kept on investigating. Thanks to his persistence, our union will be cleaned up some day. Mike Mezo: Hank Lopez brought charges, hoping to get leverage against my dad and, through him, Jim. I had written an article basically calling him a crook. Rather than back down, I reprinted it. 1010 Rank-and-File Caucus Success in 1976 William Andrews: I'll never forget that 1976 cam- paign. ''Ten cents and Kotex." We took an issue to the people, and they bought it. That's what politics is all about. Plus the Lopez forces spent $10,000 on bal- lots. Ed Sadlowski: I'm probably the guy who got Balanoff to head the ticket. There was a big internal fight, and he was hemming and hawing. Cowboy Mezo and I were pushing him to run. I had to encour- age him a half dozen times. He wasn't enthusiastic because he had been defeated twice and didn't think he was sellable. I bolstered him up. I went to his home. Mike Mezo was arguing with his own father; he didn't want Jim to run. Jim told me later on that he wouldn't have run without my encouragement. Philip Nyden: Rank-and-Filers hammered away at the corruption and democracy issues. Jim Balanoff recalls, "We talked about corruption. 'They're robbing you.' The people responded to that." Incumbent lead- ers cooperated by providing plenty of cannon fodder. Roberto Flores: Lopez spent time with his friends in politics. When we'd file for our tax-exempt status in Crown Point, he'd stop in different offices saying hello to people. He got a lot of his friends city and county jobs. They'd help him out in union elections. Mike Mezo: Hank was a funny guy. He was friendly throughout the election. He saw everything as poli- tics. If you disagreed with him, he didn't get upset or try to convince you that his perspective was right. His attitude was, ''This is politics and if I can't buy you, what can I do?" Bill Gailes: In 1976 Balanoff said, "Come on, man. Let's see eye to eye." They were planning to run Cowboy Mezo for Vice-President. I wanted a black for the second spot; we figured Balanoff would run for dis- trict director. We thrashed it out until midnight. They said, 'Who do you want?" I said, "Bill Andrews, or we go fishing." Balanoff finally agreed. I said I wanted to be vice chairman of the grievance committee and we also needed a trustee and the secretary spot on the grievance committee. I called Andrews and he said, "No, man. I can't." He was just a steward. I said, "Listen, have you ever heard talk of an old-fashioned black relation?" I let him know it had already been decided. I campaigned hard for the Rank and File slate. We got support from Mayor Hatcher, Jesse Jackson, and Chicago Congressman Gus Savage. Curtis Strong: Bill Andrews was a late comer in the game. He got to be President because Bill Gailes did- n't want it. Gailes chose Andrews because he sin- cerely thought it would be more beneficial to blacks if a young man moved up. It would be progress. William Andrews: I didn't get active in running for union office until the early 1970s. An incident hap- pened where I was double-crossed by a general fore- man. I was a crane operator and left the job early, a common practice. The unit I was servicing was down. I washed up and met my relief in the locker room, who agreed to cover for me. The foreman found out and brought it up to me. I told him the unit had been down and I had cover. He said, "Nothing's going to happen, but don't do it any more." The next day I got a V.O.D.G., which means, "Verbal orders don't go." He didn't have the heart to give it to me. He had another foreman give it to me. By then I had made up my mind I wasn't going into management. I didn't want to be a foreman, so the other recourse was to go for the union. Jim Balanoff was very vocal at meetings. One day l was standing in line to sign the attendance book and
  • 67. he asked me to come to a Rank and File Caucus meeting. I had never been affiliated with a caucus and wondered, "What does this guy want?" In order to get rid of him I said, "You don't even know my name." Without missing a beat he said, "Your name is Bill Andrews." I said, "OK, I'll be at the meeting." It was as simple as that. I felt if he had taken enough time to find out who I was, I should go to his caucus meeting. I listened, looked around, and saw a good mix of peo- ple who seemed to be concerned about people, not just themselves. I decided this was going to be my caucus. I first ran for office in 1972, for convention delegate and lost. I ran for griever and lost. I ran for assistant griever and lost. Then I ran for vice president and won. Amazing. In my estimation 1010 was such a politically aware local because we were so large and our people so educated. Caucus fights were not so much over different philosophies as jobs. "You've got the job and I'm gonna see if I can take it from you." At union meetings we'd have our disagreements but wouldn't allow cursing or hollering. You might do it outside but not in the meeting. Bill Gailes was my mentor. He talked me into run- ning for vice president. I was really a novice and had intended to run for trustee. Gailes insisted on a black candidate for vice president. He and Balanoff dis- cussed two or three people and settled on me. I was like the new kid on the block and scared to death. But, being from the area, I knew a lot of people in the mill and was fortunate enough to win. Balanoff was really adamant about supporting his people. He had a light- hearted side, but you didn't see much of that. He was adversarial, always in there punching away. He never quit. He always had to give you that little dig. Cliff Mezo: I knew Jim was going to run for district director, which meant the vice-president would proba- bly move up. Balanoff put together a slate with proven winners. It was all set that I was going to be vice-pres- ident. Then Balanoff told me that Bill Gailes had to have a black vice-president. He said, "Cowboy, if you don't want this, we won't do it. You're entitled to that spot." I said, "Jim, put together the slate however you think." I dropped down to trustee. Even Babe Lopez said, "Cowboy, are you going to let them screw you like that? Trustee is for some jerk." I said, "Yeah, I've been messed around a lot." Slate-making was a complicated and sophisticated process. At one time there were more than 20,000 eli- gible voters. Candidates couldn't talk to everybody, so you needed somebody from plant 1, plant 3, plant I 11 1 I 65 4, mechanical, the rolling mills, the blast furnaces, the BOFs. Plus you had to have the appearance of racial balance. So Balanoff was out getting big names, Bill Bennett and some others, but before the election they bolted to the other slate. Balanoff was sick, but I thought it was for the best. I said, "Jim, as long as we had those other guys, I couldn't say how crooked the other side was. Now we just lower the 16-inch guns and keep giving them broadsides." He couldn't see it. Mary Elgin: Bill Gailes was the kingmaker for Andrews. He said, "Either you take him or we walk." He was a real shaker. He had his goals and fought for them, although he could also be a mediator. He came out of plant one galvanized. Some people have com- pared him to Bill Young, one of the pioneers in Local 1010. Gailes would say, 'Who is the black on this committee? Where is our representation?" He fought for community rights and was a longtime credit union board member. If a person needed someone to vouch for a loan, they'd go to Gailes. One reason I really got involved in the Caucus was because I knew Bill Andrews. The first couple months of a campaign, you're just pushing the President. Then you come out with your full slate. I campaigned hard for the whole slate. If a person would tell me, "Well, I can't vote for that person," I'd say, 'Well, give me what you can. Don't throw it all away. If you can't vote for that person, then vote for the rest of them." There were issues of fiscal responsibility and the mis- use of union funds. Partly it was taking the local back from the City of East Chicago politicians. Mike Mezo: When Balanoff picked Andrews over my dad in 1976, I didn't have a problem. We had lost twice; and no matter how young and enthusiastic you are, if you keep getting your ass kicked, you tend to wonder. We had hit an upsurge with Eddie's victory in 1974. We fully expected him to run for President. So I figured, "Let's move this thing forward. The Presidency is what counts." By 1976 we had cam- paigning down to an art form. We were kicking ass all over District 31. At 1010 we won basically on Ed's coattails but still hammered away. Half the members voted. That was unheard of. What turned it around was talking about issues at the plant gates. Before that, it was like a popularity contest and people would go around calling each other names. Cliff Mezo: Some called 1976 the dirtiest campaign in 101O's history, but we didn't tell any lies. I just put the facts out about the $10,000 they spent to print bal- lots. The job could have been done for a fraction of that. Had Babe just reached in and took the money, it
  • 68. 66 would be a lot cheaper. Calumet Printing did his cam- paign literature for next to nothing and then charged the union much more for other things. They also used the Calumet News to promote Babe's slate. They did a lot of redbaiting. Local issues was one of our big things. I'd attend the grievers' meetings and listen to what was eating people. That wasn't done much before. The International got the overall agreement. Then they said, "All right, you guys settle your local issues." In 1974 Lopez and his negotiating committee had gone to Pittsburgh and got almost nothing except a Kotex dispenser in ladies washrooms and a ten-cent increase in the overtime meal ticket. That became my theme. They went to Pittsburgh, they stayed so long, spent so much money, and came back with ten cents and Kotex. The opposition claimed I was disparaging women, but they gagged on it. I'd draw cartoons of Babe, and he'd ask me, "Cowboy, why are you doing that to me? Did I ever hurt you?" To many of his supporters, what Babe was doing wasn't that bad. ''Those gringos have been stealing for many years; it's time us Mexicans got a lit- tle bit of the pie." I don't think he thought he was doing bad. He was a hard guy not to like, and he didn't hold grudges. After he lost and started working for the city, I could go to him for help if, say, one of my kids was in trouble. Personally everybody liked Babe. Both he and Balanoff were raised over a chicken store as kids. Both were hard workers. Babe would work some- times until midnight. Babe was involved in city politics; in fact, that's what later got him killed. He would never have been beat- en if he stayed financial secretary. Even when he lost to Balanoff, he still got his 3,000 solid votes. Usually 3,000 votes is enough to win, but we stirred up so much interest that Balanoff got nearly 7,000 votes. Philip Nyden: Lopez used redbaiting in a major way, realizing that the anti-communiust issue had con- tributed to Balanoff's defeat in 1970 and 1973. Weeks before the election, small stickers warning union members to "Keep the Commies Out of 1010" dotted the reddish-brown walls outside the mill. One piece of literature admonished steelworkers to "Vote for True Americans, But Don't Vote for Communist Balanoff." Mike 0/szanski: The Rank-and-File caucus was democratic. Young radicals gravitated toward it. The International Socialists had moved to Northwest Indiana to become union activists and, by and large, jumped in with both feet. They were willing to do the shit work and weren't abrasive like some on the Left. You can always find people to wave a banner: these people were there to make the banner. They'd do anything that needed to be done. Joe Frantz, for example, was one of the finest trade unionists I've ever known. When they first built #7 blast furnace, it was a new department so he had the opportunity to get elected griever. They had an incentive problem, and he damn near took them out on strike. He organ- ized a big demonstration. He was very well-liked. The SWP made a tactical decision not to directly involve themselves. They'd came to union meetings but not caucus meetings. They'd support everything we did but weren't participating in the politics of it. The Maoists were in and out. They'd come, make demands, go off in a huff, and be back in six months. They'd support us in elections sometimes, and other times would get in a tiff and be gone. They were errat- ic. The RCP was one Maoist group, the PLP another. God, were they strident. Once we were writing a leaflet and got into a big argument over the word "Fascist." The PLPers wanted to use the word fascist three times. Balanoff told me to watch out for them because they were the "Chinese" communists. Yet the guys in the mill really respected them. A Maoist in the coke plant was always wanting to go out on wildcat strikes. He was crazy but had the work- ers' interests at heart. When people tried to recruit me, I listened to what they had to say until they start- ed telling me what was wrong with every group except their own. Every group wanted you to join, but if not, then they hoped you won't join the other guys. One radical used to call my house and talk to me for hours. He didn't speak in sentences where you could stop him. There was never a pause. He'd preach and preach and preach. He had all this knowledge to impart to the working class. Finally I'd say, "I have to go." He'd say, "We're talking world revolution here." "I'd say, ''The revolution is going to have to wait 'til tomorrow." When you worked with somebody, the way they acted was a reflection on their organization. You based things on the people you knew. I wasn't a join- er but respected an organization like the CP that had so many of the best trade unionists in it, people who had literally dedicated their lives to the movement. They weren't in it for the short haul or the goodies. They paid a high price for having stood up to be count- ed. They were always there ready to pitch in. With the party I expect I'd qualify as a fellow traveler. If McCarthy comes out of his grave, I'll probably go to jail with the rest of them. My hero Harry Bridges
  • 69. ,, always insisted he was not a CP member but added, "It doesn't matter. I believe all that stuff. I just never joined." When Bill Moyers asked Bridges what he believed, he replied, 'Workers of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains." My view was, there weren't enough of all of us put together to make a dent in the capitalist system unless we got beyond the sectarianism. I told members of the noncommunist Left that they didn't have to play into the hands of the anticommunists by denouncing the CP. The SWP did that less than others; some wanted to make it very clear they were socialists but not communists. On the other hand, CP people were defensive because of all the years of persecution. These were people whose parents had gone to jail, who were outlawed, so it was natural for them to be a little unforgiving. Some finally buried the hatchet. Broadsides Combined Caucus Comments(1976 flyer): Balanoff, an admitted Communist, has been telling us all that someone is going to jail, yet he has no proof. Under the cover of darkness, the Commie leadership from the East and West Coast slipped into East Chicago to pilot a course for their favorite candidate. The only way he could win was to lie, twist, and con- fuse. We are a people Union, not an arm of the Communist Party. VOTE FOR ... HANK LOPEZ, JAMES ALEXANDER, BILL BENNETT, JOHN HUR- LEY, GAVINO GALVAN, and Keep It An American Labor Organization. The Real Issue: Voice of the Rank and File (Feb. 1976): When FOR, John L. Lewis and Martin Luther King were fighting for the disadvantaged of this nation, they were the victims of brutal character assassina- tion. Today they are immortal. When Cesar Chavez began his crusade to organize farmworkers, his good name was dragged through the mud. Today he is a hero. These men were feared by crooked politicians because they fought for the "little guys" and couldn't be bought. Our Local is no exception. From the beginning any- one who fought for the guys in the mill was branded a communist. Today "Wildcat Willie" Maihoffer and John Sargent are legends, but they were subjected to the same treatment. When Jim Balanoff came along and it· became obvious they couldn't buy him off, they painted him with the same brush. We hope the oppo- sition would show some respect and run a campaign based on real issues. Past experience tells us, how- ever, that as election day nears, the smut sheets will I Ill ' 67 come out and the name calling will begin. The Rank and File will campaign on issues important to steel workers. Hank's negotiations are a matter of record. We'll get you more than a dime on the meal ticket and sanitary napkins. We guarantee it. Local 1010 Election Results President: Jim Balanoff, 6084; Hank Lopez, 3081 Vice President: Bill Andrews, 4221; Wally Hartman, 2345 Recording Secretary: Mary Hopper, 4835; Dave Brooks, 3454 Financial Secretary: Roberto Gil, 3836; James Alexander, 2986 Treasurer: Bob Flores, 3824; Louis Britton, 3685 Inner Guard: Mike Olszanski, 3645; AI Pena, 2865 Outer Guard: Joe Pena, 3374; Fred Jenkins, 2643 Other winners included Joe Sanders (Guide), Cliff Mezo (Trustee), AI DeJesus (Trustee), Jesse Torres (Trustee), Bill Bennett (Grievance Committee Chair), Bill Gailes (Grievance Committee Vice Chair), and Gavino Galvan (Grievance Committee Secretary) Hank Lopez(April, 1976): After running for the office for the third time, Mr. Balanoff finally made it. There will be other days. I want to congratulate Mr. Balanoff and wish him the best of luck. Philip Nyden: In the period between Balanoff's April election and his June induction, the Local spent dues money unabashedly. Lame-duck president Lopez authorized a $30,000 down payment on toys for the 1976 Christmas party. He spent $6,500 to send the 12 members of the first- and second-place bowling teams on an all-expenses-paid vacation. Usually only the first-place team received the award, but Lopez's supporters happened to be on the second-place team. Voice of the Rank and File(May 1976): Our Caucus and Local 1011's held a victory celebration attended by at least 1,500 happy people. In addition to the plentiful amounts of beer, pop, hot dogs, potato chips and popcorn, the party was highlighted by the music of Los Reales de Juan Trevino. The celebration was filmed by a CBS film crew for 60 Minutes. During the brief program Jim Balanoff said the recent election was clear proof that members are sick and tired of Inland Steel getting everything they want. He vowed that their honeymoon was over. Sadlowski came close to announcing that he will run for President when he said, "We're going to take a long look and see if we can't do something about this mess in Pittsburgh." After the cheering died down, many rushed up to urge Sadlowski to make the race.
  • 70. 68 Local 1010 Minutes, June 17, 1976: Pres. Lopez turned the meeting over to Bro. Ted Rogus, who installed the new officers. President Balanoff remarked we will change the direction of running the local; all questions of money and policy will be brought to the floor for the membership's decision. The money will be spent to fight the company, to decrease the back-log of grievances. Safety prob- lems will be answered in one week. We intend to improve the canteen service and demand better con- ditions in the mill. All this means less money for trips and parties. This will be an open administration. We will run a strong militant union to back up our mem- bers. Chairman Balanoff ended by asking everyone to work together and to attend union meetings. Jim Robinson: Balanoff got elected in large part because of local issues. There were questions of financial impropriety; but more important was the real- ly bad 1974 local agreement, which we labeled, ''Ten cents and Kotex." That year Frank Guzzo, the President of Local 1033 at Republic in South Chicago, had left Pittsburgh without a local agreement. People told him he was nuts, but he came home and took a strike vote. He got so many local benefits he made everybody else look bad, including Hank. Mike Olszanski: In 1976 the times were changing. We were building momentum. Babe Lopez got caught stealing. We swept the local, taking all but one position on the executive board. I was elected guard. At one time inner guards and outer guards actually guarded the door to make sure that only members got in. It was a voting spot on the executive board, which decides policy for the union. Roberto Flores: In 1976 I was on Lopez's slate for treasurer. Balanoff offered me the financial secretary slot. I told him I'd talk to him about it and when I got around to it, he had already given the spot away to Roberto Gil. People in the mill were getting down on Lopez, so I knew it would be rough. I was one of the three people who survived the Rank-and-File sweep, along with Jesse Torrez as trustee and Bill Bennett as Jim Balanoff Bob Flores chairman of the grievance committee, who was very good on grievance procedures. James Alexander: Balanoff had lost a couple elec- tions in a row so I jumped to another caucus. I fig- ured, he's a good guy but can't get elected. It turned out to be a big mistake. Balanoff ended up making a big comeback, and I lost. I found out that Balanoff was the wrong guy to cross. We parted ways. Later, I tried to rejoin the Rank-and-File Caucus, but Andrews told me straight out that there wasn't enough room for both of us. He meant it, too. From then on, there was no reconciling. Joe Gutierrez: In 1976 I was appointed teller for the delegate election by the griever in my department, AI Solis. He asked me if I wanted to be an election offi- cer and I said, "Sure, what do I do?" I didn't even know what to do. AI was a good buddy of mine, but I eventually ran against him. I got elected four consec- utive terms as griever. I busted my butt. I bought some labor history books from Balanoff for a buck apiece and passed them out to everybody in my department. It got people involved. The 1976 election chairman had to resign, and they asked me to replace him. I liked the feel of the office. It got in my blood. I ran the mechanics of that elec- tion. I had around a hundred tellers. The whole thing cost around $200,000. There was a lot of waste. Brinks trucks picked up the ballots, and a company called Stat-tab tabulated them. The ballots went to Chicago, so we stayed at a Chicago hotel when we could have been home with our wives and kids. The idea was to watch the ballots, but we didn't have our eyes on them the whole time. It was crazy. Balanoff liked the way I worked as election chairman and asked me to be secretary of the civil rights com- mittee. The previous secretary got stabbed to death shortly after he retired. He'd walk around with a wad of hundred dollar bills. Everybody used to tell him, "Don't show that money," Well, he did show it, and they found him in an alley. He had been a profes- Sherlock Holmes Joe Gutierrez
  • 71. sional boxer in Puerto Rico. I said to Jim, ''You guys have been around all this time. Why didn't you try to recruit me?" Balanoff said, ''Yeah, good idea." He used to call me "Rodriguez." I'd say, "You keep call- ing me Rodriguez, I'm going to forget your name is Balanoff," He'd repeat, "Gutierrez, Gutierrez, Gutierrez," like he was memorizing it. Jim Robinson: I got elected griever in 1976. The Rank and File Caucus did not officially slate people at the departmental level. It was one of those murky areas where the announced policy was to not endorse grievers, the reason being you might have caucus members running against each other. Caucus endorsements were supposedly for plantwide races. The purpose of the caucus was to deal with the fact that people did not know each other plantwide. The other thing was that a guy may have been a loyal sup- porter but a terrible candidate for griever. Now the reality was, you invoked the policy when it caused a problem to do otherwise. Bill Bennett had been chairman of the Grievance Committee under Hank Lopez. In 1976 he beat Joe Gyurko but then got sick and resigned. The special election to replace him took place the same time as the delegate's election. Joe Gyurko won and served about 10 years. Gyurko was a solid union guy. He had been a griever in the old number-one open hearth. When I first got elected griever, I spent sever- al evenings at Joe's dining room table while he taught me quirks in the contract. I really liked Joe. He spent time telling me, "Now here's how it really works." Bill Gailes Philip Nyden: Previously, fewer than 30 percent of District 31's members were in locals led by reformers. After 1976 insurgents controlled locals representing more that 80 percent of the District membership. Insurgent candidates won by 2 to 1 margins at Inland 69 and South Works. Pro-Sadlowski challengers won at Youngstown, U.S. Steel's Sheet and Tube Mill, National Steel's Midwest Mill, Bethlehem's Burns Harbor complex, and NIPSCO. David Sikes:. By 1976 you began to have leadership changes in the various locals. The Balanoff era began at 1010. Red Watson, a Balanoff supporter, was the president of 1066. You also had changes at 1011. Under Piasecki 1014 remained loyal to the International, but the others were part of the rank-and- file movement. 1976 Election at Bethlehem Mike 0/szanski: Paul Kaczocha got elected President at Bethlehem. There was a lot of coat-tail- ing off of Sadlowski, who was starting to campaign for President. Paul Kaczocha: Aaron Littlejohn had been the 1973 reform candidate who beat the entrenched group. Paul Gipson was vice-president. Then our Rank-and- File slate ran against Littlejohn. He and Gene Mozier were part of an all-craft agreement negotiated in the winter of 1975-76 combining a lot of jobs in the craft field. There was a lot of hell raised over that. Union meetings were packed. We got wind of the agree- ment and organized to stop it. The whole idea was to eliminate jobs. Meanwhile, I got fired. On trumped up charges. When I was leaving work, plant protection wanted to search my vehicle. They said they had a tip that I had a gun; I thought it was a prank since I was known to be anti-gun. They looked in the glove compartment of my Dodge van and under the seat. Then they popped the hub caps - little, tiny ones that just covered the lug nuts. On the front passenger side a bag of mari- juana fell out. I went crazy. It was planted. I was one of the few people in the plant who didn't do drugs. We put the finger on the company even though we suspected that Gene Mozier was involved. I was stealing the limelight away from him so he had to fig- ure out a way to eliminate me. Mozier was militant, anti-establishment and a major influence in the plant. In his eyes, he was supposed to be running things. His heart was in the right place, but he wanted to call all the shots and had a crazy, unstable side to him. Mike 0/szanski: Staughton Lynn was hot on Mozier. He thought he was the next Sadlowski. I went to a party at Mozier's place; the entertainment was shoot- ing beer cans with a .45. He was big into guns.
  • 72. 70 Paul Kaczocha: George Troy organized a "Where's Paul?" campaign. People were handing out stickers at the gate. Right away the company fingered Gene Mozier as the one who planted the drugs. There was a meeting with labor relations and, ironically, Mozier was my griever. He was saying the company planted the drugs. A plant protection guy said, "Well, Gene, you're the one who called and told me it was in his car." Gene said, "How do you know it was me?" The guy said, "Gene, you call me all the time. I recognized your voice." We said the company charges weren't true, but later the guy who planted the dope admitted to it. He had been fired and Gene Mozier met him at Ming Ling's, near where I lived, pointed out my van and told him to put it in my hub cap. Local 6787 Rank and File Steelworker(Nov. 8, 1975): Paul Kaczocha has been reinstated with full back pay. He was fired last month on a phony drug possession charge. His reinstatement was the result of the tireless efforts of the Rank and File Committee and the uniting of the whole union in his defense. Leaflets and newsletters highlighted the fight to rein- state Kaczocha. Some 3,000 stickers were distrib- uted with the slogan "Where's Paul?", a take-off on the film Where's Joe? · A daily vigil was established at the plant gate demanding his reinstatement. This continued for a week and culminated in a mass demonstration. Nearly 300 workers flocked to a union meeting to demand that the local come to Kaczocha's defense. That meeting decided overwhelmingly that the local demand Kaczocha be reinstated. The company eventually agreed that Kaczocha might have been framed but suggested that it was another union official who had done it. The Rank and File Committee rejected this ploy. Their position was that since the company accused and fired Kaczocha, the company was going to have to rehire him. Bethlehem Steel agreed that if he passed a lie detector test, they'd take him back. On Oct. 20, he went back to work. Paul Kaczocha: In 1976 George Troy worked hard to get Sadlowski to endorse me; he was like a little Chihuahua nipping away until he did. The night before the election Sadlowski finally made a state- ment. We printed it up and handed it out on the day of the election. The endorsement helped. It was a three-way race: Littlejohn, myself and a guy named George Murell. I won by getting 757 votes, a slim plu- rality. My caucus did not control the grievance com- mittee and had a bare majority on the executive board. My running-mate, Don Moore, tied Paul Gibson. Each had 701 votes. Before the run-off, Gipson went around and told people that he was the white candidate. At least that's what I was told. There was an undertone in his leaflets. Philip Nyden: A backlash vote along racial lines is the only explanation for the trouncing of Don Moore. In the rerun he made a poor showing, receiving less than one-third of the total. Paul Kaczocha: The old regime signed an all-craft agreement a few days before I took office. Trying to get that reversed was like trying to reverse the rotation of the earth. You needed superman. Robin Rich: I gravitated to people who were part of the union democracy movement. Paul Kaczocha, our president, was part of the Rank-and-File caucus, which had created a very open atmosphere for people to get involved in the union. The first time I went to the union hall, I was welcomed and shown around. My department was involved in "the great slab yard war." Bethlehem was trying to cut the incentive of some of the highest paid guys, the scarfers. They fired a group of scarfers and the workers went on slowdown. The company sent foremen (one per person) to follow peo- ple around the department. It was real exciting. We had white shirt days to show we weren't going to get dirty that day. I helped organize what we called the CYA "flower fund." It stood for "cover your ass" and was to protect people getting fired. 1976 Election at 1014 AI Samter: I had split from the Unity Caucus and was with the Rank-and-File group. In 1975 I had run for grievance committee to fill the term of a guy who was retiring. They held the election at a local union meeting, even though it only pertained to the coke plant. This way the Unity Caucus could control the whole thing. I got two people as observers, including Lon Powe, who was solid as a rock. My opponent had assured Phil Cyprian that he was a shoo-in, but they wanted to make sure. The chairman of the election board was Cyprian's bodyguard, Leroy Williams, who had helped engineer a lot of stolen elections. The first thing Williams did after the election was open up the box and separate the ballots into two piles to get an idea of whether they had a problem. If it would be a big pile for the other guy and a little pile for me, as expected, he would have finished it up. When the two piles seemed about even, he put a rub- ber band over each pile and put them back in the bal- lot box. "I'll be back," he said. Then they announced they were going to dinner. Later they said they'd wait
  • 73. until morning. Lon Powe said, "Fine. I'll stay here with the boxes." So a couple people stayed all night. The following morning, the other guy was declared to have won by 10 votes. Comes 1976, Piasecki decided not to run, as he wanted to devote his time to the 1977 campaign for District Director. Bill Todd expressed his desire to be the Unity Caucus candidate. He felt that his two terms as vice-president entitled him to move up. Bill even got the support of griever Jack Parton. Or so he thought. I told Todd that if he was the candidate, I'd come back into the Unity Caucus, but otherwise, he should run as an independent. At the same time Phil Cyprian and some others in the Unity Caucus decided to form another caucus, the Spirit of '76, with Jimmy Biggerstaff as their candidate for president and Cyprian running for grievance committee chairman. Meanwhile, Todd was told that Jack Parton was going to be the Unity Caucus candidate for president and he could be vice-president again. That was unac- ceptable to him. Bill and I got together with the Black Caucus and put together a United Membership slate with Bill Todd for president and me for vice-president. The rest of the slate was made up of the independent Rank and File Caucus, the Black Caucus and several independents. Milton Ward was our candidate for financial secretary. He was the leader of the black caucus. Our opponents nominated another minor candidate named Ward to confuse voters. We were the first slate to have a woman candidate, African- American Naomi Spencer. In addition to the three full slates, other candidates muddied up the waters and created a ballot where the slates, except for the one on top, were mixed up. The Unity candidates, therefore, were first on the bal- lot. Parton got Tincher to run, but half his slate was ineligible. Biggerstaff's slate went next, followed by a fourth slate and finally us. Since Tincher's vice-presi- dent was ineligible, it moved everybody up and mixed up the rest of the slates. For example, Biggerstaff's vice-president was on a line with Tincher and I ended up on a line with Biggerstaff since the vice-president of the fourth slate was ineligible, too. It made it hard- er for people to vote for our entire slate. I helped put out four issues of a mimeographed newsletter. I made up a stencil and a few of us ran them off and handed them out. My daughter drew the black-and-white clasped hands, our symbol. I put out my own campaign literature. We put out a position paper in connection with the consent degree and back pay for people who had been discriminated against. 71 Campaign stickers were popular. After you peeled the backs off, you could put them on your hard hat or lunch buckets. It contained the names of all the can- didates endorsed by a state. We joined with the "Spirit of '76" slate in supporting candidates for the election board. We lost that round, however. John Fritz put out a leaflet arguing that Bill Todd was only running to keep Biggerstaff from being elected, so I issued a rebuttal. I tried to tell Fritz that they were making an unholy alliance with Cyprian and would get double-crossed. Russ Kern, a member of the Unity Slate, came in to the coke plant early one morning and put copies of an unsigned leaflet on the benches. It made certain accusations against me, implying that I was some kind of outside plant and would not fight for my country. One of my supporters saw him. So I put out a leaflet to answer his charges. The leaflet stated, "I have an honorable discharge, having served three years dur- ing World War II with the 9th Armored Division. I was in the Battle of the Bulge and at the capture of the Remagen Bridge. I have three battle stars and a pres- idential citation. I know the insane ravings of the mad- men responsible for that trash will not influence your vote, but this type of garbage has no place in a union election. I am serving notice that regardless of the election outcome, I fully intend to file suit against this libelous trash and prosecute to the fullest extent that the law allows." Parton won by a couple hundred votes. Biggerstaff was second and we were about a hundred behind him. I got elected grievance committeeman, the only one on our slate to win anything. Then the Unity Caucus supported Phil Cyprian for chairman of the grievance committee instead of Amos Peterson, a black secretary of the grievance committee and a loyal Unity guy. Cyprian called me in and said, "You know, if you support me, I'll take care of you but if you don't, I'll be your worst enemy." I nominated Peterson. Jim Biggerstaff and Ed Stefanco joined forces with me. We became a minority of three out of the 13 griev- ers. We questioned their plans for a new local union hall. At lunchtime ten guys went to the Golden Coin, while Biggerstaff, Stefanco and I went to 'Round the Clock. They tried to shut us out from selecting people to attend the labor training school or picking delegates to the district conference. We filed a federal lawsuit. One of their witnesses admitted they were punishing us because we wouldn't go along with their program. The judge called everyone into his chambers and told
  • 74. 72 them straight out they better work something out. So our people got to school and the district conference. U. S. Steel had a policy of not permitting leafletting even though the Labor Department had declared it legal to do this. The coke plant parking lot was entire- ly inside mill property so to give out leaflets you had to be on company property. I went out to the parking lot and gave out rank-and-file newspapers. Plant securi- ty tried to stop me, so I called the NLRB. I made out a report to them and a guy told me I was entirely with- in my rights. A week later the guy at the NLRB informed me that the company was going to fight it. At the same Roberta Wood was handing out leaflets in the South Works parking lot, which was outside the gate. When she had to go to work, they wouldn't let her in with the rest of her leaflets. She had filed a sep- arate complaint with the Labor Board, so we com- bined the two incidents, using a lawyer who had worked on the Sadlowski appeal. At the hearing were six U.S. Steel lawyers with their expanding briefcases, along with the heads of securi- ty at South Works and Gary Works plus half a dozen others. After the local judge decided we could give out the leaflets, the company twice appealed unsuc- cessfully. They failed to appeal to the Supreme Count, fearing an unfavorable decision which would permanently bar them from challenging the lower court. By January of 1977 the Sadlowski Presidential cam- paign was underway. Three or four of us started handing out literature right across from the main Broadway gate. The head of plant protection tried to stop us. I gave him a copy of the court decision, but we were soon surrounded by half a dozen plant pro- tection cars. I said, "I ain't mavin'." Now the assistant plant manager came out. I gave him the decision, too. Next thing I knew, a Gary cop arrived in a squad car. He was joined by a sergeant who tried to get me to leave. When I refused, he asked the chief of plant protection, "If we arrest him, will you file the com- plaint?" When they said yes, the three of us were put in sep- arate squad cars, taken to jail, and thrown in the tank. I called Sadlowski headquarters and they got in touch with our lawyer and with Mayor Hatcher. Hatcher called up the company and berated them for using city police as their personal servants. The sergeant on duty said, "It's three o'clock and they haven't come in here to sign a complaint, so I'm letting you go." We subsequently filed a civil suit and U. S. Steel settled out of court for $10,000. Environmental Committee Mike Olszanski: When Balanoff got elected in 1976, I asked him to appoint me to 101O's environmental committee. I was also on the executive board and a steward, so for awhile I was in there pretty deep, more than I wanted to be. Every night was meeting night; I was spreading myself too thin. So I came back to Cowboy's priority, "Is it killing somebody right now and is it killing steelworkers right now?" That cleared up a lot of fog. We knew where we had to put our resources. Local 1010 Minutes, July 1, 1976: Environment Comm. Chairman Olszanski reported on the Coke Plant problem as a life and death matter. The new battery C as bad as the old. Mike 0/szanski: Coke oven workers were dying ten times as often from lung cancer and 7 1/2 times as often from kidney cancer as other workers. So it was a health issue. For the first time in this area, steel- workers stood up against the company's environmen- tal blackmail. Local 1010 Minutes, July 15, 1976: Chairman Olszanski reported on E.P.A. conference with Inland. He stated Company should not be allowed to build any units before approval of E.P.A. standards. A visit to Coke Battery revealed it was a disgrace. It was the first time the Company was confronted on environ- mental concerns. Jim Balanoff(1976): Director Sadlowski, Bobby Joe Tomkins, Jimmie Freeman, Nate Ferry, Joe Pevio, Bob Norris, Joe Gyurko, and I got a firsthand look at the Coke Plant problem. And believe me, it is a prob- lem. If Inland can continue to force our members to work in these intolerable conditions, they will never clean up the bad conditions elsewhere. Things are bad in that mill, so I won't try to give you any baloney. It won't be easy to force Inland to make them any bet- ter. And force them is just what we're going to have to do. By ourselves none of us can stand up to the Company, but together there is nothing we cannot do. Mike Olszanski: Early on, we were floundering, try- ing to teach ourselves about air and water pollution, reading everything we could get our hands on. One day Don Lutes said, "Get you ass in the other room. There's two guys from the pollution control depart- ment who you ought to recruit for your committee." Steve Nicksic and Howard Anderson were water testers who were having a problem with their incentive rate. I quickly prevailed on them to be on the com-
  • 75. mittee. They were fantastic. They took up water pol- lution, while I dealt mostly with air pollution. But we taught each other and overlapped. We got known throughout the country because hardly any other steelworkers were doing what we were doing. We got letters from groups like Save the Whales. We'd laugh but then say, "You know, we do want to save the whales, but we want to save the people first." Elaine Kaplan from Purdue Calumet invited me to be on a panel with John Brough, the head of pollution control for Inland. I asked Balanoff and some others to come for moral support. Brough was talking about what a great job his company was doing when Jim got up and said, "Brough, you're killing people at that god damned coke plant." Brough wanted to leave. It was all they could do to keep him from walking out in a huff. Howard Anderson: At first I didn't involve myself in the union because of a feeling that Local 1010 leaders were involved in questionable practices. Conditions improved when James Balanoff took office. Donna Gonzalez: It wasn't until the water lab per- sonnel had a wage scale dispute that Howard and Steve Nicksic went to the union hall. Since they had been sampling the air and water discharge, someone introduced them to Mike Olszanski. Howard became secretary and worked with such colleagues as Jim Ross (who monitored coke plant emissions) Line Cohen (in Save the Dunes) and Joe Frantz and Dennis Shattuck (in Bailly Alliance). Howard Anderson: Without much trouble, Mike suckered Steve and me onto his committee. Unlike most conservation groups, the Local 1010 environ- mental committee had MONEY! The budget was about $12,000. Do you know how many raffle tickets you have to sell to get that kind of money? We had problems with Indiana's Stream Pollution Control Board about the Grand Calumet, a short river with a R-7 rating, the very worst rating, an open sewer. Lake Michigan had a rating of R-1, yet received discharge from the Grand Cal. We argued that the Grand Cal should have the same standards as Lake Michigan. In fact, Inland put their discharge pipes on the Indiana Ship Canal side instead of the Lake Michigan side. Very sneaky! The Corps of Engineers wanted to dredge the Indiana Ship Canal, but we argued against their plans. We got other environmental committees organized, at Youngstown, for instance. Some feared that if you asked for environmental cleanups, you'd lose jobs. I 1 73 Just the opposite happened, because environmental cleanup makes jobs. A whole new pollution control division in the Department of Power and Fuel was set up. There was resistance at first, but as soon as con- struction jobs came on line, you needed personnel to operate the various treatment plants. The union real- ized this right away. At Inland there was a poor design in a particular water system at No.4 B.O.F. The water system was on one side, and the facility that used the water on the other side, making the supplying of water difficult because of the physical distance. There was a big emergency water tower. It held 10,000 gallons, like a regular city water tower, but just sat there. The water stagnated and got all kinds of nasty things in it that plugged up the pipes. One of the easiest ways to keep it clean was to use hexa-valent-chrome. Chrome treated water is piss yellow, easy to see. This foreman got the pipe fitters out and re-piped from that tower and when he needed extra water, all he had to do was turn this pipe on and in comes this water flowing from the emergency tower. What he did was common knowledge around the area, but it went on for quite a while. Sometimes the discharge was running bright yellow! They were dumping chrome illegally. When the permit application came along, Inland didn't actually lie. Since the rerouting of the pipes was never official, it was never mentioned. But in our report, we told EPA that, "Inland never told you about the chrome water." Donna Gonzalez: The 1972 Clean Water Act estab- lished discharge guidelines which had to be reexam- ined in 1976. When Inland applied for their new per- mit, Howard and Steve went up to the Chicago EPA office to look at their information. They wrote a chal- lenge to Inland's permit request, asking for certain modifications. Howard Anderson: We saw all kinds of mis-informa- tion in Inland's request, but they were very careful not to tell outright lies. A lot of things they forgot to men- tion or stretched a bit. This was the first extensive challenge to a permit of such a large industry. So this was new to EPA and, of course, to Inland. Word got around that union guys were looking into it. After a few trips to the EPA office, we found notes in the file: "Anderson- Nicksic here again." It gave us a feeling of power, especially after we entered a successful challenge. Because Steve's involvement kept him away from home a lot, he'd say, "I have to cool it a bit, Rita is upset." I suggested we work around his dining room table, and involve Rita in what we're doing. This
  • 76. 74 worked out well, and his wife supplied us with really good tamales. Local 1010 Minutes, March 3, 1977: Nate Ferry reported a judge recently ruled in favor of Local 101 0 and OSHA, and ordered Inland to install air masks and gas sensors in all blast furnace elevators. Complaints of malfunctioning elevators and carbon monoxide gas in blast furnace area were initiated years ago, when it was found that men trapped in an elevator could be gassed. Inland fought the OSHA citation but was finally fined and ordered to comply. Mary Elgin: Between 1976 and 1979 I served on the environmental committee and the alcohol and drug committee. We gathered data on ways Inland could cut down on emissions in the coke plant. Nate Ferry was the driving force in the Caucus for treating Alcohol and Drug abuse as diseases and rehabilitat- ing those with addictions rather than just firing them. Especially in the coke plants, people were missing work or bringing alcohol to work. People were losing their jobs. He started counseling programs and signed up people to go to clinics. Mike 0/szanski: Under Sadlowski we formed an ad hoc environmental committee. We had no funding but were thrilled to have the district director behind us. When U.S. Steel closed down their open hearths, they claimed that if it wasn't for pollution regulations, they wouldn't be laying off so many people. After so many years of violations, a judge had ordered them to clean up. Sadlowski went to the papers and said, "Hey, wait a minute. They closed the open hearths because the B.O.F.s are about to go on line." It was- n't the EPA that shut down the open hearths but labor- saving technology and corporate greed. The new technology cut the work force in half, but the union protected the work force because of a manning agreement which enabled most of those laid off to go to the B.O.F. Assignment America Les Brown(NY Times, Jan. 11, 1975): Studs Terkel's opening program in the new Assignment America PBS series was entitled "A Message to Pittsburgh," but the message failed to get through. WQED-TV, the Pittsburgh public station, declined the telecast. It con- cerned a young steelworker who in a recent election overwhelmed the candidate backed by I. W. Abel. Mr. Terkel said he had been told by a station official that the program was withheld because it "lacked bal- ance." But Thomas D. Skinner, vice president of WQED, said it had merely been rescheduled: "We would automatically delay any show which involved Pittsburgh to see if it were possible to extend it with a local program on the same issue." "Of course it's advocacy journalism, if it's journalism at all," Mr. Terkel admitted. "But at least it's open advocacy, which is preferable to a pretense of cool objectivity. I equate objectivity with banality. It stunts argument and debate and gives television a zombie- like quality. My objective in these programs is to con- vey a sense of life." Abel and Sadlowski Pittsburgh Gazette(Feb. 14, 1975): At a news lunch- eon I. W. Abel betrayed an uneasiness about current minor waves of unrest within the giant union. His tone was not likely to soothe those who have complained about headquarters' impatience with dissident views. One example: Mr. Abel derided Washington attorney Joseph Rauh as an "ambulance chaser." Belittling opponents ill serves Mr. Abel's cause as he nears the end of his tenure. He should have no fears of a full airing of dissenti~g viewpoints. The tide of union democracy properly is running strong, and Mr. Abel should welcome it, not resent and dismiss it. Paul Kaczocha: At the 1976 convention Abel came up to me and said, "I knew your grandfather and he wouldn't approve of what you're doing." A. H. Raskin (NY Times, Feb. 15, 1975): Ed Sadlowski has two heroes. One is John L. Lewis, the majestic autocrat, who fastened on the steel union the top-down leadership pattern against which he is rebelling. "I have mixed feelings about Lewis," he confesses, "but he was a great man." His other hero is Eugene V. Debs, Socialist leader of the Pullman strike of 1894, who once said, 'While there is a soul in prison I am not free." Lewis's picture is in a place of honor on Mr. Sadlowski's wall. Debs's picture is nowhere in sight. Even for a successful upsetter of the establishment, caution is a passport to survival. Mike 0/szanski: When Sadlowski won, the first thing that the "official family" in Pittsburgh decided was, "We've got to cut this off at the knees. This should never happen again." They went after Eddie in a big way. Philip Nyden: Sadlowski had little opportunity to affect union decision making. A District Director does not have much power. Moreover, all staff persons in a District are appointed by the International.
  • 77. Mike Mezo: When the International froze him out, Eddie probably asked for it. I think he wanted to stay on the outs so he could use that issue to run on. Curtis Strong: Eddie was more a crusader than a politician. He wanted to change the union's relation- ship to the company. After he became director, he moved into the inner circle, but he moved in fighting. He couldn't expand his base. By then he had gotten the label of "Leather Jacket Eddie." Staff members were supposed to wear a suit and tie and white shirt. Even as director, Ed kept that leather jacket. Ed Sadlowski: Abel hated me with such a vengeance, he wouldn't even say hello. Once in San Francisco I got on an elevator and it's just me and Abel. He starts pressing fucking buttons to get off. At the convention center I went into the men's room to take a piss, and he's at the next urinal going through gyrations just to get out. I went on the executive board in December of 1974. There'd be votes of 28 to 1. We'd break for lunch and there'd be 7 or 8 tables in the lunch room. I'd sit alone. I was ostracized. It hurt. Guys on the board would not dare be seen talk- ing to me. They were generally the weaker ones. Some were outwardly hostile. That went on for a year and a half. Prior to the 1976 convention, they had a three-day board meeting in upstate New York. Nominations were coming up, but they had not put together a tick- et. They started out with gifts, stuff like salt and pep- per shakers and beer mugs. The second afternoon Abel has this big file of papers and starts reading insulting stuff I had said about him. He developed this theme of one big lie: if you tell it often enough people will believe it, like Hitler. I said, "Well, the things I've been saying are not lies." He said, "You called me a thief." I said, "You stole an election from me. That's thievery in my neighborhood." He said, "You say I'm corrupt." I said, 'Well, there's mental corruption. Let's talk about that." At one point they ordered everybody out of the room except for the board. Then Abel shifted gears and started saying there had been too much divisiveness and we ought to close ranks. It was all play-acting. After he was through, I said, "I've listened. Now it's my turn. I don't want things to continue the way they're been, but let's go back to day one. You've lied, cheated, deceived, connived, stuffed ballot boxes. Never once did you step forward and say, 'Something's wrong here."' A Canadian on the board said, "It's obvious, 75 Sadlowski, that President Abel threw out the olive branch and you stuck it up his ass." Then others start- ed at me, and the whole thing fell apart. For two days they were feeding me, softening me up, shaking my hand and then offering to let bygones be bygones and have me join the club. They had scripted the sce- nario. Their theme was that the union was suffering and our rhetorical comments were hurting organiza- tional drives. When the closings occurred in Western Pennsylvania, the union itself put the skids to any protest movement. Instead of screaming and holler- ing, the union was into retraining steelworkers into welders when there were already ten thousand welders on the streets. The dissidents did all they could. At one point they put some fish in a strong box in the Mellon bank downtown. Those sons of bitches didn't know what to do while the fish were rotting in that bank. Now that's concerted action. I was invited to speak at a Bicentennial Labor Rally in Washington. There was a huge crowd on the mall. I noticed a couple guys wearing green Sadlowski jackets and passing out Revolutionary League news- papers. I asked them what the hell they were doing. A guy keeps following me. At the podium, I ran into Jane Fonda. We got talking and this guy is taking pic- tures. I say to him, "Come here." He cuts out fast. Six months later, Fletcher and Zahn, a public relations firm connected with the International, came out with flyers showing Fonda and me together. Kleinman, that horse's ass, probably had more influ- ence than anyone in the past 35 years. He doesn't come from a working man's background and doesn't understand his problems. The mentality of lawyers like him is to go into the back room and make a deal. My view is, if you can't make it in the front room, it isn't worth making. Lawyers like Kleinman are too cau- tious and conciliatory and don't give you direct answers. Kleinman was deceitful and fabricated things in order to have his own way. Carl Alessi(Quoted in Wall Street Journal, July 24, 1976): Sadlowski got elected as a rebel. The only way he can maintain that image is to keep the pot boiling. If he were to have called the staff together at the beginning and said, "Let's all pull together," he would have lost that image. They would have said he joined the administration. Ed Sadlowski: I never want to be known as a labor statesman. The best feeling in the world is to break that chain they have around your neck, to step out
  • 78. 76 without hesitancy or reservation when the issue is right. Mike 0/szanski: In an article in Steel Labor, Abel expressed pride that his organization had become a "bread and butter'' union, avoiding involvement in larg- er social issues, sticking to wages, hours and working conditions. Demonstrating how collaborationist and out-of-touch he had become, he praised ENA and predicted a wonderful future of labor peace for the industry. In the 1976 book Collective Bargaining, Abel praised the American Institute For Free Labor Development(AIFLD), an AFL-CIO supported CIA front group, for combatting communism and nurturing responsible trade unions overseas. AIFLD was later tagged as a money laundering operation for the mili- tary coup in Chile. The Fascists, with CIA support, murdered democratically elected President Salvadore Allende and promoted the Pinochet dictatorship at the behest of American copper interests and ITT. The AFL-CIO helped them do it. USWA copper miners later suffered for it, when Chilean copper helped break their strike. Shooting Loca/1010 Steelworker(August, 1976): Ben Corum of Joliet was shot in the back of the neck about 7:15 a.m on July 26 while distributing Steel Workers Fight Back literature before the Hughes Tool plant in Houston, Texas. Corum and John Askins are waging a campaign to organize delegates to the Constitutional Convention to win the right for mem- bers to vote on Contracts and a restructured dues system. They have been sending delegations to var- ious areas of the country for several months. The attempted assassination of brother Corum fol- lowed the July 22, beating of a third representative at the Armco Steel plant in Houston. All three had been warned by staff members to get out of town. Local supporters of Fight Back have been threatened also. David Julian was told he will not return alive should he make the trip to the Convention in Las Vegas. Ed Sadlowski called upon Secretary of Labor W. J. Usery to promptly investigate the pattern of violence. In a separate telegram he called upon I. W. Abel to join him in deploring the Houston brutalities and assuring the safety of his supporters. Scott Marshall: Before Ben Coram got shot in the neck in Texas, he and I were handing out leaflets out in front of the big mill in Birmingham. When we got through, Ben said, "I can't believe these guys. They're so polite. Nobody cusses you out. They say, 'No thank ya. I don't want one a those."' One guy came up to him and said, "Sad-a-lowski. Good Irish name!" 1976 Convention in Las Vegas George Terrell: We went to Las Vegas, and we organized all over the country. We all took a different route home to spread the word. Ted Smolarek: John Johns was the heir apparent and we killed him at the 1976 convention. That's how McBride emerged. Ed Sadlowski: When we came to the convention, John Johns was the front runner. If they could have gotten rid of me, there might not have been a disput- ed election. We should have let Johns be the candi- date. We would have had a better chance against him. Paul Kaczocha: The first convention I went to, steel- workers packed a big hall in Vegas. It was wall-to-wall with people. Now they could hold a convention at a fuckin' Holiday Inn in Pittsburgh. Mary Elgin: I attended as part of the District 31 Women's Caucus. We wanted a Women's Department in the International. The sergeants-at- arms were big, burly men who sometimes blocked people, even delegates, from getting into the conven- tion floor. It was frightening but exciting. Mike Mezo: The 1976 convention was my first. The first thing I saw was my dad bleeding. He had been beaten up. I tried to get him to wash up and get to a doctor. He said, "Bull shit. We're going to milk this one." He walked around for half a day with his face bloody. Cliff Mezo: I got beat up by some local arrange- ments people. I passed a table and spotted them forging credentials in plain view. I ducked under this big staff man's arm and took pictures. 'What are you gonna do with that?" he said. "Put it in the paper," I said. Well, he took my camera away from me like I was a shittin' baby, and I hit him. We're going at it when one of the other guys hit me in the side of the face with something hard and flat. Nearly killed me. My head puffed up. I wanted to get into the main hall so the delegates could see me. The sergeants at arms wanted me to go to the wash room and get cleaned up, and I was cursing at them. That's the one time I saw Balanoff
  • 79. really get physical. This sergeant at arms had his arms out and Balanoff charged right at him, saying, ''This is my editor. He's got credentials, and he's going in on the floor." And in we went. Cliff Mezo(Convention Proceedings): I came here to represent my local both as an editor and as a dele- gate. I went to the area behind the registration booth. I said not a word but snapped a picture. I was set upon by a string of obscenities and a brother asked me why I was taking the picture. I duly presented my press badge and told him it was for publication, whereupon he grabbed the camera, even though the Sergeant at Arms was there. I was punched repeat- edly from all sides and prevented from coming on the floor at that time even though I was presenting my del- egate's badge. And now I understand that the area is barred from cameras. Is the Sergeant at Arms pro- tecting the hooligans from the camera or the camera from the hooligans? That is my question to you. Jim Balanoff(Convention Proceedings): I was at that convention when you were Secretary-Treasurer and they beat Rarick down to the ground and not one of the officers up there stood up and said a damned thing about it. We are sick and tired of coming here and being harassed. I am not going to take it anymore and want the name of that staffman now. President Abel: Let me just tell you, Mr. Balanoff, that people have the right to refuse to have their pic- tures taken and to resent having their pictures taken. Jim Balanoff: That is not the point. The point is he was beaten. President Abel: The point is that he did take the pic- ture that provoked the situation. You let me talk. I read in the public print this morning that he said these individuals were forging and changing credentials. Jim Balanoff: That is so. And what are you going to do about it? President Abel: As far as I am concerned, the inci- dent is closed. The Convention will be in order and we will continue with the work of the Convention. Mike Mezo: If you were in a crowd and there were more of them than you, you usually lost if there was a shoving match. People got roughed up once in a while but not like the Teamsters or Mineworkers. If you were smart, you didn't go where you were out- numbered. After the Labor Department stepped in, there was more scrutiny. 77 Ed Sadlowski: It was hot as a son of a gun, 120 degrees, and who is standing by the door but Gil Feldman, who had investigated the vote fraud charges at 1066. I walk up to him and say, "How are you doing, Gil?" He hemmed and hawed, and I said, "Let me buy you a beer." I put my arm around him. We got about half way across the street when a red- baiting bum from Texas named Jim Smith ran out the door of the convention hall yelling, "Paul, Paul, don't go with him. Are you crazy?" Feldman and Kleinman had a falling out over what to do with the evidence of vote fraud. When Feldman concluded that I should have won, Kleinman was upset. Feldman wouldn't back down. They had a meeting of the law firm and dissolved the partnership over that issue. Over me. They bought Kleinman out. Only one other lawyer went with him. Kleinman did everything under the sun to cover that up. He was supposed to be neutral; that son of a bitch should have been disbarred. Kleinman had no integrity, no balls. What a scurvy bastard. I've heard him lie in many situations. He was one of those, "I'll get back to you" cocksuckers you'd never hear from again. The tragedy is that, slimy lawyers like him ran the union. Mike Olszanski: In response to being redbaited, Eddie got up and said, "I've been called a communist, and I want that person to stand up now and call me a communist. Because I'm not." That last part is what turned off me and a lot of people. While it's true that he never was a communist, he sure didn't mind get- ting all that left support. That was one of those times I saw a chink in his armor. His denial fed the red-bait- ing. One would have preferred him saying, 'Well, what if I am?" I wished he would have spoken out on getting rid of the anti-communist clause. He was for the right to strike but always kept a little distance from the Right to Strike Committee. Mike Olszanski(Convention Proceedings): There is a real gulf between the officers and the membership. People believe that people who sit in ivory towers and have the top floor of the Hilton can't represent them properly. People in my local feel they can't communi- cate with a leadership that sits down to cocktails when they count their quarters to go to the corner bar for a beer. Jim Balanoff(Convention Proceedings): I am presi- dent of the largest local in this International, 18,000 members. I have been against the ENA since day one. We should never give up the right to strike. That is like keeping a watch dog and letting all the neigh- bors know he has no teeth. We ran on a three-point
  • 80. 78 platform. A 36-man slate. That slate won 35 of the 36 delegates, and what did we run on? One: Roll back the dues. Two: The right to ratify the contract. Three: The elimination of ENA. My local has mandated me to come here and speak out against ENA. William Andrews: Balanoff would get up and say, "I'm Jim Balanoff, President of the largest Local in the International." That would tick people off. Back in those days all the mikes on the convention floor were open. You could go to any mike and speak. Sometimes we'd stand by the mike during the lunch hour to get first shot. 101 0 delegates being political animals, we'd tie up all the mikes. We'd get up and go on and on and on. One day a guy got to a mike and said, "Mr. Chairman, I'd like to move that Local 101 0 hold their own damn convention." That was funny. The very next convention, they had boxes up by the mikes with the districts on them. That effec- tively stopped us from using all the mikes, but we'd line up at the mikes early and keep other districts from using them. A guy from District 34 once got up and challenged the use of the mikes, so of course Jim Balanoff responded. It was hilarious. Jon Ziomek(Chicago Sun-Times, Sept. 4, 1976): On the surface it didn't appear a good week for Ed Sadlowski, who was shot down on every issue he raised in Las Vegas. ''We took some lumps, but they were predictable ones; union conventions are not good places for reformers to take on the machine," said Ed James, a staff member of Fight Back. Jim Balanoff, President's Report(Sept. 1976): The Convention voted to retain the present dues structure and not to allow members to vote on our contracts. Our entire delegation voted against the higher dues, and for the right of all of you to vote on all contracts. We were outnumbered, but not outfought. Despite the fact that we were insulted, booed and one mem- ber was attacked and beaten by three goons, your delegates were not afraid to speak up and stand up for the issues you sent us to fight for. Local1010 Minutes, Sept. 16, 1976: Chair reported that the convention was so tightly controlled, we were seated almost behind the stage. Our Editor C. Mezo was beat up while taking some pictures. The atmos- phere was hostile throughout. Brth. C. Mezo rose to report he never experienced a convention like this one, but he was proud of the Local 101 0 delegates and of Pres. Balanoff who refused to be intimidated. Brth. Olszanski reported staff men blocked and put their hands over the mikes and that other delegates from around the country came to our table to say they were afraid to support us openly on the issues. Chair reported the IEB was expanded to include a Vice President in charge of human affairs, thanks to the efforts over the years by Bro. Gailes and others. Mike Olszanski: Continuing demonstrations by the Ad Hoc Committee convinced the International lead- ership to create a special post and therefore prepare the way for an African American to be on the execu- tive board. Some black activists considered Leon Lynch, the first man to hold that post, an "Uncle Tom" chosen for his loyalty to the "official family." Philip Nyden: The retiring Abel administration backed a constitutional amendment establishing the office of Vice-President for Human Affairs. James Alexander: When the ice did break, Leon Lynch, the handpicked boy, was put on the board, not the Ad Hoc Committee's candidate. Ed Sadlowski: Vice President Leon Lynch should get on his knees and thank God that we ever started messing around. He was a nobody from 1011 who Germano put on staff after the 1968 convention when the Black Caucus demanded some minority represen- tation. Then they sent him down South for some fine tuning. He was a staff guy down there when they tapped him for vice president. Bill Gailes: Leon Lynch was not real aggressive. He did not nail the points that needed to be stressed. But it was a step forward, thanks to the efforts of the Ad Hoc Committee. Cliff Mezo: With all its faults, ours was one of the most democratic unions around. That didn't mean it couldn't be improved. Just because I opposed the International didn't mean I was anti-union. I had a lot of respect for Abel. We went at it hammer and tongs, but he'd still walk clear across a room to shake my hand. Not McBride, not that I'd let McBride get ahold of my hand. After Abel retired to Arizona, he sent us a picture of him posing in front of cabin number 1010. "I can't get away from you bastards," he wrote. He started out as a reformer, a farm boy from Ohio, and I think hobnobbing with company officials and having breakfast in the White House went to his head.
  • 81. Part Three: Steel Workers Fight Back Mike 0/szanski: After Sadlowski became district director, he started thinking about making a run for International president. jim Balanoff was not senti- mental, but after the campaign was underway, he said to me, "You know, this isn't just an election for presi- dent of the Steelworkers union. We could change the whole goddamn country." It sent chills down my spine, the way he said it with such emotion. He really felt it. Sadlowski Will Run Voice of the Rank and File(Sept. 1976): Ed Sadlowski told a roomful of cheering steelworkers, "I will be a candidate for International President. It's time to put an end to the ineffective and unresponsive unionism of Abel and his handpicked heir, McBride. Corporate profits and production are at near record levels, but over 275,000 of our brothers and sisters are out of work. We must get rid of that kind of lead- ership. It won't be easy, but we can do it. When I ran for District Director, we were told it couldn't be done. Well, we beat them by a two-to-one margin." Curtis Strong: Fight Back evolved out of the dues protest movement, which had been taken up by Don Rarick. Although Rarick got his butt kicked, the idea remained that the power structure could be over- thrown. Ed Sadlowski: Once you win, then you're expected to hit a home run every time at bat. Then the trouble starts. There's a big difference between running and managing. Without excitement there is apathy. After 1974 and '76 we were on a roll. If you're got the dice and they're hot, play them. You could sense some- thing in the air. Philip Nyden: Given the centralization of union deci- sion making, it was logical for District 31 insurgents to raise their political sights. Most of their reforms need- ed to be implemented at the International level. Michael Bayer: The leaders could isolate any pock- et of progressivism. Because of the union structure ' you couldn't do much locally. Sadlowski did the right thing going after the Presidency. There had to be a challenge to the direction of the union. The economy was getting worse; more workers were being laid off; the open hearths had been phased out. Progressives had to make an assault on the national leadership. Eddie didn't want to look like he was running the day after he became district director, but I have no doubt 79 that he and the inner circle knew they were running in three years. Like politicians, they made a calculation of how greedy they wanted to look. While it was total- ly appropriate to deny it, they should have been organizing. And they probably were. George Terrell: There was never much considera- tion of waiting. The attitude was, "Now's the time!" Rank & Filers from a hundred different locals took their vacations to work on Eddie's campaign and went all over the country. There was empowerment. Cliff Mezo: You can have a palace revolt, but it is vir- tually impossible to have a rank-and-file challenge to the top officers. We were intent on capturing the whole ball of wax. It was like shooting craps: let it ride and roll one more time. Eddie crapped out, but much good came from the campaign, especially after McBride left office. Curtis Strong: Eddie took on McBride too soon. He should have cooled it for a while. He didn't establish a base on the executive board or outside of District 31. Many district directors were not pro-McBride. Some wanted to jump ship, but here comes this youngster, who won by being radical, and they were not going to gyrate toward him. They did not have the nerve nor did they think he had the wherewithal to win. Ted Smolarek: I've heard people say, "If Eddie had waited, things might have been different." That's such bullshit. The time was right with Abel stepping down and the field wide open. Paul Kaczocha: Sadlowski got into office and right away started running for president. I was driving to South Bend, LaPorte, Michigan City - all over the place, speaking on his behalf and giving out leaflets. Sadlowski had a lot of Left influences, not just the Balanoffs. There was a history of militancy at Local 65. His father was a militant. Eddie read a lot and knew what side of history the righteousness was on. He knew about the contributions of the reds. One-on- one he'd talk the talk. Jack Parton: The day he was sworn in as director, I think Eddie started running for President. I was dis- appointed. He should have stayed as director for a term or two and paid attention to the district. Running for President is a big, time-consuming job. Mike 0/szanski: It was a no win situation, whether or not to run. We didn't have the luxury to wait for him to establish a record as district director and for us to put together a better organization. Eddie never got to act
  • 82. 80 like a director because he was working toward the next step. He was running for President. I was push- ing an environmental committee at the time, and he'd tell me, "Yeah, go ahead and do that." But it was like, "Do what? What are you going to do to help us out?" Cliff Mezo: Eddie wasn't that good of a district direc- tor, he spent so much time running for president. He left things to subordinates. Clem Balanoff: If we had waited, it might have worked against us. You've got to do things. Maybe after four years people would have looked at his record and said, "We haven't gone any place. What are we doing, just getting together and meeting?" You've got to show results at some point or at least the appearance of fighting. I was doing things that had to be done for him to run for President. When Eddie told me he was going to run, we were riding to Indianapolis in his station wagon. He said, "You're not riding this horse any more." I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "I'm gonna run for President." Eddie was a good candidate, the best we could have had. When we were organizing Eddie's cam- paign, Jim kept asking me, "Can we win?" I always had faith that we could. We had very good supporting candidates. I met with Oliver Montgomery and he was concerned that Eddie was not going to stress racial equality enough. He wanted everybody working on the campaign together as equals and was con- cerned that we wouldn't accept the blacks as equals. He wanted the racial issue dealt with correctly. Voice of the Rank and File(Nov. 1976): Ed Sadlowski's slate to take on the "Official Family" includes Marvin Weinstock for Vice President (Administration), Oliver Montgomery for Vice President (Human Affairs), Ignacio D. "Nash" Rodriguez for Secretary, Andrew Kmec for Treasurer, and Jim Balanoff for District Director. Sadlowski said, "We are close to the membership. We understand their needs and their frustrations. We respect steel- workers and are dedicated to working for them." Mike Olszanski: The term "official-family" was actu- ally used by I. W. Abel when he announced that he was retiring and Lloyd McBride should be his succes- sor. To Abel, we were the outsiders, the bastards. Michael Bayer: It took a long time to get a black candidate to run for Vice President. Eddie lacked the relationships where somebody who was capable of being a national candidate would be willing to give up what he had for what he was offering in terms of equality and respect and assurance that he was going to be a major part of the campaign and not just some- body who would fill out the picture. Joe Gutierrez: He was not the guy to sit down and put in 18 hours, but there was a mystique about Eddie. He drew people to him. He gave such rous- ing, inspiring speeches. When he said, "Workers of the world, unite," I felt he meant it. Eddie seemed truly concerned. He always seemed to outdo himself. He always came through. I went to Notre Dame with Eddie and Studs Terkel. Studs interviewed Eddie all the way there and then spoke to the student body. I remember him saying, "Am I a socialist? Of course I'm a socialist." Eddie held his own at lunch afterwards with students and professors. He could speak intelli- gently on most anything. I loved his mind. He was a dreamer. We'd be walking by the University of Illinois, and he'd be talking about the architecture He'd draw you in, make it come alive. He was a romantic. Mike 0/szanski: Eddie cultivated this mystique. He was a great bull-shitter. His followers wore leather jackets like Eddie. The younger guys all talked like Eddie. People were blinded by his charisma Ed Sadlowski: In the political arena, in order to gain power, you must destroy the mystique of those in power. Then you have to have your own mystique. You have to be capable of moving a mountain. George Terrell: Eddie was the kind of guy who, when he takes you out for a drink to the local bar, you're in a circle of light. He had more charisma than God. Guys in the mill liked him. From his old man down, he came from good stock and basically was a real trade unionist. He was a little.too full of himself, but we weren't going anywhere without him. It was a symbiotic relationship between the cult of personality and those who wanted to build a movement. You couldn't have one without the other. John Conroy: He dressed, cursed, and drank like steelworkers did. Ed Sadlowski(1977): It's almost beneath a leader's concept to go and have a beer with a guy." Ken Kelly(1977): Sadlowski is charismatic, extreme- ly articulate, handsome and huge-240 pounds plus-and speaks with a down-home, tavern brogue as winning as the cause he espouses. While he avoids formalized ideology, he is as comfortable quot- ing Hegel as John L. Lewis. Lloyd McBride is going to get a run for his money.
  • 83. Organizational Structure of Fight Back Mike 0/szanski: Some hoped Fight Back would become a true rank-and-file movement, but Sadlowski and his people wanted to run it from south Chicago. They did not organize the grassroots like they should have because they never wanted Fight Back to get out of hand. They were afraid of too much dispersal of power. So serious mistakes were made. Philip Nyden: In 1975, Steelworkers Fight Back was formed by ten to 15 close friends of Sadlowski active in earlier campaigns. Fight Back was central- ly controlled and functioned without formal leadership, structure or membership. Backers of Sadlowski stat- ed it was not merely a campaign organization but one aimed at developing local and regional rank-and-file networks. Despite these intentions, Fight Back grew with Sadlowski's candidacy and disappeared with his eventual electoral defeat. The 30 to 40 individuals paid by Fight Back to conduct the campaign in dis- tricts outside of Chicago found it difficult to get sup- porters to contribute personal time and resources. Communications were often poor. Campaign devel- opments were not systematically reported to support- ers. Some supporters received most of their informa- tion from the Left press. Clem Balanoff, a tax counselor and former steel- worker, ran the day to day affairs: work assignments, leafletting, scheduling rallies, answering inquiries from supporters. Other close Sadlowski backers included Clem's brother Jim Balanoff, four other past or present USWA local union officers, Sadlowski's brother-in-law, and labor lawyer Joseph Rauh. Clem Balanoff: When we adopted the name Steelworkers Fight Back, some people thought it sounded too radical. Well, maybe it was, but you still hear people using that expression. Mike Boz came up with it. He was a volunteer from the University of Chicago. He was never a steelworker. We rallied some forces that were willing to work. You've got two options: have a tremendous amount of money and very few workers or else a tremendous amount of workers and very little money. We had a tremendous amount of workers and very little money. It was not our intent to set up a small inner circle, but Eddie didn't believe in organization: it was not his forte. He was more like, "I'm the leader. Let's go." The world may run that way for small moments in time, but you need masses of people to cause great changes. We didn't have the proper structure or 81 enough time. We wanted meetings to be open to a broad group. Most people aren't willing to go to a lot of meetings. Some do, and those become the so- called inner circle. Plus it's hard notifying all the vari- ous figures. We tried. We'd tell 40 people, and they're supposed to tell 40 more. Somewhere down the line, connections broke down. AI Samter: The only guy who worked as hard as Clem Balanoff was Joe Norrick, a 1011 retiree in his 70s. He went all over the place, even to Texas. George Terrell: With Eddie it was a buddies kind of thing, but the movement involved some old people who'd stuck it out over the very hard years, a whole lot of young people with no seniority, plus some middle- aged people who believed in union democracy. The goal was to take back the union. A lot of things drove Sadlowski's people. The first was, "By God, I want to control my own union. It's mine!" The second thing was negotiating concessions; getting our share of the pie. And the third step was, how do we get the labor movement involved in politics so that we can do something different in this country? My ties were with the Balanoffs. Like them, I was interested in the organization, while a lot of people around Eddie were interested in the star. I was there for Fight Back and for Clem. Not everybody is fortu- nate to have had a relationship with somebody who's made a difference in their life. For me, Clem made a difference. He took me in and led me along. He had organizational skills. Eddie was always a little stand-offish to me but lis- tened to Clem. He was to Eddie in some ways what I was to Clem, only Clem had played that role much longer. Clem could get things done, but lots of people didn't like him. He was kind of abrasive and some- times had to do things that Eddie wanted done that he didn't want to do. Eddie always wanted to control things. He wanted nothing to happen without his say. Clem brought in all these people and was more dem- ocratic but a control freak in a different kind of way. John Conroy: Sadlowski advocated reduction of dues, membership ratification, and a return to the spir- it of those days when "hitting the bricks" was common practice. He delivered blast after blast at I. W. Abel and the "Official Family," endearing him to dissidents eager to change what they saw as a dormant union. Even supporters conceded, however, that Sadlowski was "long on rhetoric but short on specific programs." Roberta Wood: It was a fight to get labor to stop col-
  • 84. 82 laborating with management and out from under the pall of McCarthyism. Mike 0/szanski: Important issues got swept off the table. I'd say, "When are we going to talk about issues?" He'd say, "Ah, let's have another beer. We can talk about issues tomorrow." Curtis Strong: At planning sessions we were talking strictly politics, how to get things done, which issues to emphasize. We all wanted the right to ratify, an active civil rights committee, and more democracy. Philip Nyden: The gatherings discussed "getting the message across," the content of leaflets, upcoming rallies, raffle ticket sales, and plant gate leafletting. Policy statements generally were not discussed. Fight Back relied on proven issues used by past rank-and-file organizations, primarily the dues increase and officers' salary hike. Ironically, pursuing a dues rollback was an attempt to emphasize an issue affecting all members. The dues increase might have cost some of the higher paid workers $100 to $200 extra annually but was not a major concern. While Fight Back did point out the centralization of control, it did not squarely address union democracy. Fight Back leaders argued that the ENA weakened the union. In the words of Jim Balanoff, giving up the "right to strike" was like "putting a watch dog on your house, and then telling everyone it has no teeth." It was unclear whether the right-to-strike issue struck a responsive chord outside of basic steel. In any case, supporters were critical of the vague character of campaign issues. A Pittsburgh-area unionist stated, "Concretely, Sadlowski hasn't said much." One insur- gent asserted that the campaign literature should have been "more hard-hitting and specific, giving peo- ple a reason more than just being a new guy." He added that Sadlowski did not deal with racism, declin- ing employment or redbaiting. Ed Sadlowski: The ideal situation would have been to set up a functional office in each district, but we did- n't have the proper logistics nor money to branch out. I don't think we stifled people locally from doing things on their own initiative. We did insist that literature be cleared through the central office because we could- n't allow people to go in ten different directions and use my name in whatever cause they wanted. Fred Gaboury: The rank-and-file had to fight to be a part of Fight Back. Clem Balanoff kept the Left at arm's length. He was a good organizer but a son-of- bitch to deal with, a Trotskyite from way back. He never had any trouble getting along with the SWP; he thought the CP was too pushy because we kept on their ass about black representation. Sadlowski rep- resented things that the Trade Union Action in Democracy (TUAD) represented, so we were among his stronge.st supporters. Labor Today put out a spe- cial issue with Sadlowski on the cover and distributed over 80,000 copies around the country. Clem Balanoff went into Buffalo and found the goddamn things in Sadlowski headquarters and ordered them taken out. Ted Smolarek went back up there a week later and said, "Put them tuckers back in there." Michael Bayer: Eddie's campaign was very central- ized because he and the Balanoffs were terrified peo- ple whom they couldn't control would jump on the bandwagon. Primarily, they were afraid of the Left and of independent black forces and that they'd press issues Eddie was not prepared to run on. They want- ed to make sure there was one campaign voice. Their dilemma was how to keep control of the campaign and broaden it out at the same time. They never resolved it. You could only do that with a disciplined organiza- tion, which meant finding local people they could trust. There might have been 20 people willing to organize in Buffalo, for instance, but they couldn't trust them because they didn't know if so-and-so was a Trotskyite or Communist or Black Nationalist. AI Samter. The District 31 Right to Strike Committee was pushing for the "Right to Strike" and the elimina- tion of ENA. Eddie wanted to keep just the broad question of "Right to Ratify." He accepted our support but played down "Right to Strike." George Terrell: Eddie was suspicious about me because I went to Cuba. I wanted to see a Communist country. Eddie didn't trust Alice Peurala because she had once been with the SWP, even though she had severed those relationships. The thing about Trotskyists and Communists, those folks come at it not from a cult of personality but from a grassroots perspective. What moved them was always the movement. Mike Olszanski: Sadlowski grew up with a respect for the CP and the left generally, which was active in his local union. There wasn't a progressive who was- n't for Eddie. He was the best hope and maybe after we got him in there we could twist his arm and get him to go a little further. Who else did we have? The right wingers were all against him. We overlooked his flaws because he was the best candidate. Looking back, some people might have been disappointed because he was just Eddie, a guy, not a superman.
  • 85. He wasn't a fraud, but I don't think he ever wanted the sweeping changes that some of us wanted. He kept the left at a distance, even though he liked using them and their rhetoric. Michael Bayer: The Left played a very big role even though the Sadlowski campaign did not·particularly welcome it. We never allowed his desire for us to be invisible to prevent doing what we thought would help his campaign. Labor Today did several special issues, including a campaign piece on black-white unity with a concrete program which spoke to all the issues, including those outside basic steel. It was totally a Left initiative, and we distributed about a hun- dred thousand copies in places the Sadlowski people never went to. We'd sent people from San Francisco to mills in northern California. Mary Elgin: Some thought Sadlowski too radical and unpredictable and arrogant, but I thought the union needed a little fire. Members of the Ad Hoc Committee from 101 0, including Tom Mills and Lyle Persons, toured around the country. In Arkansas and Alabama they encountered problems similar to the 60s. Curtis Strong: I traveled around the country speak- ing for Eddie. I was very active, rallying people. I had a lot of influence in Baltimore and Indianapolis. That helped in getting Eddie on the ballot. I was on staff, working in Pittsburgh until I was shipped out to Texas. That's one way to shut somebody down-move him out of town. I wasn't coming home to Gary often but had quite a telephone bill. I kept the fires burning. They had a rally in Birmingham for McBride and Leon Lynch, so I took off from work and went there to speak for Ed. Why they didn't fire me, I don't know. It's a wonder I stayed on the staff. Leon Lynch sent word down to my director, Alex Fuller, to fire me. I called his bluff. I said, "Go ahead, and we'll meet in court. It will take about two years to get settled, but I have enough money to live two years. So fire away." He lost his balls. I had to do it. My attitude was, "If not Eddie, who? If not now, when?" · · They had a meeting at Local 1011 in East Chicago, which was where Lynch was from. I asked for per- mission to speak, and evidently the opposition thought I was going to be booed down. They let me talk, and we beat lynch in his own local. Lynch was supposed to.be politica.!ly strong, but the white power structure didn't realize holj>,· !)lacks felt. Oliver Montgomery was a much better candl()~te. Roberto Flores: Eddie taP!'~nto the discontent 83 with the way the union was going. Even though I was in Hank Lopez's group, I supported him. A lot of Hispanic union representatives from Texas and the West Coast were unhappy with the way they were being treated. They wanted their fair share of staff representatives. I told those fellows, "Look, we have an ambitious person who wants to run for President. Maybe if you back him, we can get him to commit to appointing more Hispanics." Gavino Galvan and I introduced Eddie to them. The administration didn't like it, but we got a lot of votes for Eddie. I helped arrange a benefit in South Chicago, what we call a fandango. There was a dancing group. Eddie came and we raised several thousand dollars. Michael Bayer: Eddie did very well with Latinos on the West Coast. The Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers had been a Communist-led union, based in copper with an overwhelmingly Chicano work force. Those folks were pro-Eddie because they saw his candidacy as a chance to have their union be a real union again. They had a very tight relationship with Chicanos in Southern California, which helped Eddie there. Joe Gutierrez: A big issue was fair representation. Eddie wanted more minorities in leadership positions. Bob Flores and I set up a fund raiser for Nacho "Nash" Rodriguez when he came to town. I had contacts in Joliet and Aurora and elsewhere that we used to reap political benefits. You had to get so many nomina- tions to get on the ballot. Every place we went, we were confronted by a staff guy with two or three cases of beer for the celebration afterwards. Our money was limited. The International spent beaucoup bucks. We were at a small local in Aurora, which was all Spanish. We thought we had a lock on the nomina- tion. There must have been three dozen people there, and we didn't get one vote. Some staff guy came in, who spoke Spanish. It was like a magnet pulling them away from us. The staff guys controlled these locals. Ted Smolarek: John Chico wasn't that supportive of Ed after he became president of Local 65. There seemed to be a decided change. When we needed people who spoke Spanish, he'd arrive late or not at all. Luckily we had Modesto, who was beautiful at the plant gate. He'd talk in Spanish, and people would gather around. Roberta Wood: John Chico got elected president of Local 65 in 1976, the same year I got elected trustee and Alice Peurala got elected griever. Chico never trusted us. His faction saw us as a threat. He cut everybody out. He didn't include anybody. He ran a patronage organization. Chico took progressive posi-
  • 86. tions on outside issues but inside the local was a monster to deal with. Our local once had very strong Black and Latino organizations; Chico maneuvered to engulf them into other caucuses. A clever move polit- ically, but not the most principled thing. Clem Balanoff: Eddie wrote that horse shit literature that we sent out nationwide. All the candidates were on the front, looking like Mafia people. It was the size of a magazine. It cost a fortune getting it out. The printer we used did beautiful work, but they were expensive. The posters were better. I think Don Stillman suggested it. He said, "Look, we've got to get his face known." We pasted that poster wherever we could. He was like looking off in the distance. I still have one of those. Mike 0/szanski: That poster of Eddie, where· he needed a shave and had his jacket on and looked like a steelworker, went over good. I remember putting posters up around Inland with a cooked potato, a boiled potato. That was a neat trick I learned from Clem. Paul Kaczocha: At Bethlehem we were always wag- ging the dog and making the issues bigger. We'd print our own Sadlowski leaflets. We'd throw their stuff away if we didn't like it. George Terrell: Leaflets were professionally done by Ernie Mazey or Ed James. Then Clem and I and Eddie would criticize them and change them some. All the local union elections Clem and I did. We did hundreds of leaflets. Rank and filers running for elec- tion would come in to Fight Back headquarters and say, "We need a leaflet." So we'd talk to them about what was going on their plant. I was there all the time and talked to people open- ly and honestly as best I could and didn't have any particular political agenda. So I got accepted in a way that Ed James and the people from the Mineworkers never were. They were hot shots from the outside, trying to tell steelworkers what to do. I came in early and at a low level without pretending like I knew everything, because I didn't. Philip Nyden: Previously involved in the successful MFD challenge, Ed James provided leadership not only in daily affairs but in setting strategy. James, however, left before the election, disenchanted with restrictions on his role in determining policy. Clem Balanoff: I think it was wrong to bring in the miners. Some were good people, but they weren't the type that could get the machinery going. We didn't have the best people to keep the gears in mesh. Ed Sadlowski: The worst mistake I made was bring- ing in Ed James as campaign manager instead of staying with Clem. I got too enthralled with what James had done with the Miners for Democracy. He brought others in, and all kinds of office politics start- ed. It drove me nuts. Every day I was holding some- body's hand. I'd be in Toronto and have to be on the phone half the night making long-distance calls to soothe somebody. Through it all, Clem stuck by me. He was great. Ted Smolarek: Some characters worked for us. Joe Romano: A big kid named Dennis worked for us in Buffalo. He rode a motorcycle. He knew so many people. Ed Sadlowski: One of our guys was into wife-swap- ping. I was at home, and Alice Peurala called and said, "Do you have one of those cable boxes? Turn to channel 25." I see five or six people being inter- viewed, and here's this supporter of mine and his wife, talking about different ways to swap. He came out of the closet on that program. Later his wife left him, and he changed his phone number to 1-2-3-LOVE. Media Role in 1977 Election George Terrell: Eddie was a master of publicity. Mike Olszanski: Sadlowski had the public eye and took advantage of it. He was young, dynamic, looked like a steelworker. The media loved him. They put him on TV. Magazines and newspapers had feature stories about him. He was more photogenic than those old tuckers. You couldn't blame him for tapping in to that. He did what he thought he had to do.
  • 87. Philip Nyden: National coverage catapulted Sadlowski into the limelight. Mike Wallace inter- viewed him for 60 Minutes. The media concentrated on his personality and political style and described him variously as a dissident, an insurgent, a maverick, a Young Turk, "a down to earth guy who never forgets where he came from." Wall Street Journal reporter David Ignatius argued that the press "lovingly dis- pensed" Sadlowski "puffery," making him "a momen- tary liberal cult figure." Rather than emphasize grass- roots organization, a significant amount of time and resources were spent attracting media attention. John Conroy(Chicago Magazine, Nov. 1976): Sadlowski's style and image make him unique. He was one of the few in his union to take his case to the media. long feature stories focused on his manner, on what CBS correspondent Dan Rather referred to as Sadlowski's "old-fashioned" views of the class struggle. Sadlowski drinks beer, everyone found out. He doesn't wear a tie, says shit and bastard, loves a saloon, puts down union officials who drive big cars and drink martinis. He wears a leather jacket, argues economics with authority far beyond his high school education, plays labor songs and operas in his bun- galow, and talks of steelworkers as ''the sharpest bunch of guys I ever met." Sadlowski's Penthouse Interview Fred Gaboury: That Penthouse interview hurt. Michael Bayer: Some steelworkers were upset by the interview, where he talked about not wanting his children to be steelworkers. Mike Olszanski: He said things that pissed people off. Later he said. "You know, I was half asleep, riding on a plane, this guy's got me pumped full of booze, and I don't remember what I said." Clem Balanoff: Eddie liked the booze. We tried to keep him off it as much as possible. Now he doesn't drink at all. Penthouse(Jan. 1977): When Ed Sadlowski says that nobody should work in a steel mill, he knows whereof he speaks. His grandfather, a Polish immi- grant, worked in the mills around Chicago for most of his life. His father did, too. In 1956, when he was 18, young Ed continued the tradition. By the time he was 21, Ed was shop steward. Three years later he became president of his 10,000-man local. Penthouse: What are the chief problems of the 85 workingman today? Sadlowski: The fact that we're capable of producing but not capable of purchasing. The overabundance is the system's fault. It becomes unbearable for the con- sumer. In 1975, 11 million cars were produced, a 3 or 4 percent increase, and it keeps growing. That many cars just aren't needed. We should start looking at what we're producing, but there is a trained material- ism that blinds everyone involved. Schools, text- books, things that are really needed aren't to be had. What is needed is a whole revamping of the social needs and wants. We need governmental programs that clean up the environment while putting people to work. I don't mean enforced labor projects but things where people can be creative. That means a reeval- uation of what work itself is all about. Working 40 hours a week in a steel mill drains the lifeblood of a man. There are workers there right now who are full of poems and doctors who are operating cranes. We've run the workers into the ground. Ultimately, society has nothing to show for it but waste. A doctor is more useful than a man with the capacity to be a doctor spending his life on the crane. Such men are kept from functioning at their best, not only by U.S. Steel but by doctors themselves. I advo- cate putting people who work in the steel mills into medical professions. They have the brainpower to become scientists, yet the system sells them short. There's no open marketplace. The Sixties saw the advent of the conglomerate, or the multinational company, which is so diversified you can't grab it. Jones and Laughlin, which in my day was strictly a steel company, now makes bedsprings and bed pillows in Japan and in Europe. It makes cars. We need to start talking about one big union. The companies are doing that, but the labor move- ment has not kept up with developments. Penthouse: Why not? Sadlowski: The CIO advocated becoming part of the system; that's the mistake in a nutshell. The distribu- tion of wealth never entered into the organization. U. S. Steel made 140 percent profit from 1973 to 1974, while the workers only made 10 percent. It's incon- sistent. I'm not downgrading Abel or Meany, but we have to put our priorities in a different direction. I want the same cut of profit as U. S. Steel gets. That's not radical; that's the common sense that's been around the labor movement for a hundred years- and ignored for a hundred years. Debs talked about that. A lot of people talked about that.
  • 88. 86 When I was a kid, when the Steelworkers went on strike, the shoemaker would have a Steelworker's Special: $5.99 for a pair of shoes. Saloon keepers would have signs in the taverns, "Steelworkers Special." When I was a kid, all you heard on the streets was CIO since it was a fucking Steelworkers' neighborhood. You don't hear that anymore. Abel contributed to this apathy. McDonald contributed to it. We hear this bullshit about the Steelworkers Union having responsiveness to the industry. I'm sure Abel didn't talk that kind a shit years ago. The union has gone sour. Labor leaders like Abel and McDonald have become "statesmen." They have no compatibility with the guy in the shop. The guy in the shop doesn't want to chuck the union. He wants it so bad he's grasping for it, but "statesmanship" has dissipated militancy. The Steelworkers Union is not corrupt in the conventional sense of some industrialist paying off some union chief. Abel is no grafter. He just doesn't know what's coming down. Instead of seeking for workers the benefits of what they produce, his attitude is more sweat for more productivity. Penthouse: Are you a capitalist? Sadlowski: No, I'm not a capitalist. I've never owned anything. Penthouse: If you could replace capitalism, what would you replace it with? Sadlowski: It's not a question of a system. It's a question of the distribution of the system. The work- er should get a larger share than he's getting now. That's a simple solution to a simple problem. All I've ever advocated is for the worker to get his just due. Penthouse: Do you envision ultimate ownership of the industry by the people who work in the industry? Sadlowski: No. That might work in Western Europe, but it doesn't seem likely here. The old IWW advo- cated that. They were decent guys, but I'm not all that enthralled by the hero-worship surrounding them. That's gone out of my blood. If you hero-worship someone like John L. Lewis, you're going to get emo- tionally tucked up. John L. Lewis was a great guy between 1935 and 1938. His organizing in 1939 was a tragedy, but people can't see through the mysticism surrounding him. He left the CIO in 1941, with the election of Roosevelt. From then on, Murray set the tone. Murray got rid of every left-wing. organizer. There must have been ten or 15 major organizers who were drummed out of the Steelworkers alone. Penthouse: What was the significance of the merg- er of the AFL and CIO? Sadlowski: It was an act of self-preservation. They gave out lead pencils to commemorate it. The price that the country has paid has been dear: 50,000 kids in Vietnam. The war was supported by the AFL-CIO. I feel sure that ten years earlier the CIO would have had enough balls to stand up to it and oppose it. But now I think there will be a revitalization, a move toward the old the old CIO spirit. Penthouse: Why did you decide to run for office in your union? Sadlowski: I wanted the job, and I thought I could do the job better. We're on the threshold of bringing about a total change. We're at that first stage, that of making people feel they're a part of the union. We're trying to give people the right to vote on their own con- tracts, the right to sanction what is negotiated for them. Right now, the terms of grievance are too nar- row, and we want to widen the definition. Penthouse: Do you think workers are always going to feel alienated? Sadlowski: I do. The plants are made for that pur- pose. First of all, to start an industrial society, you have to capture people. You get a bunch of immi- grants without any legal resources, and you put them in plants. You make a language barrier. If they strike, you beat their heads in. Or you try psychic blackmail, coming up with some Calvinistic scheme whereby the worker will think he's saving his soul by becoming an ox who works from sunrise to sundown. You make propaganda about the salutary effects of hard work, about the moral stamina involved in becoming a slave. You surround it with the glamour of the American dream. The poor motherfucker who works 40 years and has nothing to show for it, who feels his whole life has been wasted- he'll disprove all of that bullshit in 40 seconds. Put the son of bitch whose father has a mil- lion dollars to work at the blast furnace, and I guaran- tee that kind of shit will cease to exist. I never met a steelworker in his right mind who loves what he's doing. No one likes to get up at five in the morning. I reme[Tlber going to bed at nine o'clock and getting up the next morning and being so tired I couldn't move. And I have a feeling that if such a guy exists, he's some liberal punk who will last two months- and feel like a he-man because he's sweated for once in his life.
  • 89. Penthouse: But what happens to the guys who get laid off? Sadlowski: In the present structure, they find employment somewhere else. Society absorbs it. I'm talking about shared technological advancements in the industry. The ultimate goal of organized labor is for no man to have to go down into the bowels of the earth and dig coal. No man will have to be subjected to the blast furnace. We have already benefitted from what our brains have produced technologically. Let's have the steel industry, by virtue of what it is capable of producing, subsidize education. Do that! We just don't need any more steel mills. We don't need that kind of industrial growth, at the expense of the environment. We can't consume what existing steel mills produce; so let's call a halt. Enough with the car! How many more cars do we need? It's too much. It's gagging me. I like candy but I get a belly- ache. Penthouse: Do nonplant workers still look down on steelworkers? Sadlowski: I remember the time when I was laid off at the mill. I was drawing about 90 bucks a week on unemployment, lying on my ass, and go down to buy a pair of shoes. I find I'm making more than this "man- ager" who's working eight hours a day! He's getting indignant about unions, saying the labor movement created the situation. I tell him to get a job in the steel mills. He didn't want that. He wanted clean finger- nails. Penthouse: Is there racism inside the union? Sadlowski: We can't stick our heads in the sand and say racism doesn't exist. It's very prevalent in craft unions. In the Steelworkers, the racism is furthered by a nepotism that finds positions for cousins, brothers, and so forth. It's existed for a long, long time. It goes back to the magnate who hired blacks to work the blast furnaces and whites for the machine shops. Theoretically, the CIO created a lot of openings. It remained theoretical. Now we have to look at our faults and correct them. I'm not one to advocate that blacks get this and whites get that, by virtue of per- centage. That's the worst thing we can do. That reverts to nationalism, and I'm a bitter opponent of nationalism. I hope someday we can say a guy is just a guy, when we don't elect people because they're white or black, but because the guy is good and ~ants to do what's right. That is the best compliment I can pay somebody. 87 Campaigning Ed Sadlowski: Some directors resented my coming into their districts without asking permission. I was really running against Abel and his loyal lieutenants. McBride was a secondary figure who didn't know shit from a bowl of turkey. Never in my life have I experi- enced such exhilaration as in that campaign. I'd walk in a room, and the adrenalin is going. Sometimes people would want something in return for supporting me, but 95 percent of the people were great and want- ed nothing in terms of personal gain. Lee Dembarl(Jan. 17, 1977): Some people call Ed Sadlowski the Jimmy Carter of the steel mills, with his warmth and smile propelling his populist campaign. He's a burly street-fighter with an engaging manner and a chance at one of the biggest prizes in American labor. Lloyd McBride refers to Mr. Sadlowski as an upstart and a creation of public relations, and warns that if elected he will destroy the union. He contends that Mr. Sadlowski is best at catchy slogans and that his economic analyses are muddled and facile. "What is his program?" Mr. McBride asks. Mr. Sadlowski's strength lies in basic steel, where the average worker is under 30 and there is the most dissatisfaction. But the 400,000 workers in basic steel make up less than one-third of the union's member- ship. The rest are in container, aluminum, chemical and ferrous and non-ferrous metals production and fabrication. The campaign is being waged in gray steel towns and at plant gates and union halls from Puerto Rico to the Yukon Territory. It is the long- expected confrontation between the business union- ists who have run labor for two decades, concentrat- ing on bread-and-butter issues, and the ideologues concerned with the quality of working life and pro- gressive social issues. Mr. Sadlowski stood outside the Clairton Coke Works of U.S. Steel near Pittsburgh, and everyone he greeted warmed up. Gray-faced men in caps and mackinaws shook his hand before going to work. Mr. Sadlowski, a large man with a youthful face, had not slept or eaten properly in days. He radiated warmth, telling each worker, "My name's Ed Sadlowski and I'm running for president of the steelworkers." Afterwards he said, "You can feel the reception come from the hands. It can be ice cold, you don't even feel it. You don't feel the wind. You could be there in aT-shirt." The morning before, Mr. Sadlowski had stood at the Jones & Laughlin's Aliquippa plant, seven and a half miles of blast furnaces and smokestacks along the
  • 90. 88 Photos by Robert Gumpert freezing Ohio River, where 11 ,000 workers produce four million tons of steel a year. "McBride's team isn't worth 2 cents," said Jane Gilbert, a 25 year-old oven patcher. 'We need somebody rebellious. These com- panies dehumanize women. We have deplorable conditions. It's pitiful, but what can you do? You have to earn a living." When Mr. McBride visited steel plants in Detroit last Saturday, his reception matched the 5-degree weath- er. "Everybody I've talked to is for Sadlowski," said Kenny Anderson, a seven-year veteran who had just shaked the candidate's hand. "It's time for a change. He's a rebel." But the mood at an ALCOA aluminum local in eastern Tennessee was all McBride. "I don't like Sadlowski's leanings, his tendencies," said Gerald Rhyne, who has worked in the ALCOA plant for 31 years. "The union needs to move ahead, but I'm satisfied with the way it's going." Ed Sadlowski: We drew crowds like you never saw before. In Sudbury, Canada, they mine nickel six thousand feet in the ground, the most destitute spot on the continent. I found more social consciousness there than in the big cities. The most astute guys were the miners. There's something about them, rural but worldly-wise. And he sure knows who's fuckin' him. His dream is to get the hell out of there. If you went into the New Mexico and Utah copper fields or the iron mines of Minnesota or Alabama or Oregon or upstate New York, you'd find a degree of sophistica- tion and awareness that would knock you out. In Hamilton, Ontario, there was a big local with 10,000 members. Supposedly the president was our guy. He stole some money and went to England. I'm at the front gate passing out literature and one of the guys I'm with was making a lot of noise. A guard told us to get off company property. I said, "I'm not leav- ing. Do what you gotta do." Meanwhile, guys are coming out, and he's trying to block me from passing stuff out. He said, "I'm ordering you off the property." A worker stopped and said, "Give me some of those." He starts passing them out. The guard went back to his shack. I thanked the guy, and he said, "I'm not going to vote for you, but you've got every right in the world to pass out literature." I'll never forget that. That made me feel so good about people. Clem Balanoff: All Eddie's speeches were the same, with just slight variations. Of course, it's hard to make new speeches every day. In Pittsburgh he said, ''Take all the guns, throw them into the furnace and melt them down. We don't need guns." Boy, we got hell in the paper the next day. It didn't come out the way he meant. A lot of Pennsylvania steelworkers are hunters who thought he wanted to take their guns away. McBride & Outside Funds Jack Parton: I supported McBride. I was President of 1014 and thought if Eddie wanted my support, it was incumbent on him to come talk to me. He did call me, but it was vefjflate in the game. Some of the ideas that the Fight Back people had were very good. I just ended up in the other camp. You've got to be in one camp or another. McBride supporter(1977): The more noise you make, the less you get. Cliff Mezo: McBride was a gorilla. I wouldn't have
  • 91. wanted to meet him in a dark alley. There was a lot of bitterness. I covered a lot of locals, distributing litera- ture and talking to people. CB's were big then, and we'd use them to find out where some of the out-of- the-way places were. Lloyd McBride: I've made it a policy throughout my career to be responsible. For the most part, I've been able to go through without any great blunder. AI Samter: McBride didn't have a brain in his head. Lynn Williams ran that campaign. He was the International man, but they were afraid to run him for President because of the anti-Canada sentiment. So they put him in as secretary-treasurer, and he ran the union from the very beginning. Paul Kaczocha: Sadlowski was getting money from a lot of outside sources, but, hell, how could you cover the United States and Canada without money? The International had an army of people who owed their jobs to them. Sadlowski was begging for pennies. John Conroy: Mailing lists purchased from liberal publications fed Sadlowski's coffers, though he says 80 percent of his funds have been raised by and from steelworkers. Clem Balanoff: We attracted money at a price. The price was not worth it. A lot of people around him weren't really steelworkers. I can name a dozen. When you get one thing, you've got to give something up. We had to have a lot of picnics and spaghetti din- ners to raise the kind of money that was suddenly available from Hollywood. I raised hell about all the effort that went into it. They went to Hollywood a num- ber of times. Once Mark Sylvester came back and told me, "We raised $30,000." It was all in pledges. I said, "How much do you have in your hand?" "Well, we have about a thousand dollars," he said. I said, "Well, that cost us about four thousand dollars." I know what pledges mean: not too much. People pledge in the heat of the moment, but go try and collect it. It's like sending a bill collector: it takes a dozen calls to get ten cents. My argument against those people was, ''Tell me what the bottom line is. How much money do we have?" New York Times(Jan. 5, 1977): The AFL-CIO lead- ership attempted to dissuade President-elect Carter from appointing Theodore C. Sorenson as CIA direc- tor last month, apparently over Mr. Sorenson's sup- port of union insurgent Edward Sadlowski. Albert 89 Shanker, president of the AFT, accused Mr. Sorenson of being part of a "radical chic" campaign. Mr. Sadlowski has drawn support from a wide variety of nonunion people, including actress Jane Fonda and economist John Kenneth Galbraith. Mr. Sorenson denied any ties with the Sadlowski campaign. George Meany charged that Ed Sadlowski had accepted illegal campaign contributions. Mr. Meany admitted the statement broke his own rule against becoming involved in the internal politics of an affili- ate. Mr. Sadlowski called Mr. Meany "a man who has spent most of his adult life chasing shadows." He added: "I'd suggest he take a page from I. W. Abel's book and go on pension. I don't know that, at the age of 84, he knows what's going on." Mr. Sadlowski has charged that Mr. McBride is running his campaign on the strength of donations from staff members who fear for their jobs and money from leaders of other unions. Joseph L. Rauh(Op Ed, Jan. 17, 1977}: Should non- members be permitted to contribute and otherwise assist in a union election? Abel says no. So do Meany, Shanker and others. But without support from the public, the challenger would never have a chance. Tony Boyle would be president of the UMW today, instead of a lifelong resident of a Pennsylvania prison, if the public had not rallied to the support of the reform group. The incumbent or his hand-selected candidate has his campaign built in for him. While Sadlowski appeals to the general public for funds, he has instructed his staff to reject a contribution from a cor- poration or business entity, or from individuals of com- panies doing any bargaining with the union, in the unlikely event that such a contribution showed up. Mike 0/szanski: A lot of us felt concern over Joe Rauh and all of those big shots getting so much atten- tion. It got Eddie media exposure, but we felt we were losing Eddie, like he was listening too much to them. McBride Team Newspaper: Ed Sadlowski's cam- paign money has come almost entirely from corpora- tion executives and lawyers, investment bankers and mystery donors. One donor, West Coast lawyer Reid Richmond Briggs, is general counsel for the Nisson Corp. of Japan. When a Chicago court ordered Sadlowski's financial records opened as the result of a law suit, the list showed outsiders contributed 94.6% of his total. Most donors reside in college towns and the big money centers of California and New York. His books revealed only 171 USWA members on his donor list of 3,063. This, despite the fact that he claimed that 87% of his contributions came from Steelworkers.
  • 92. 90 David Sikes: A bunch of us spent hours tracking Sadlowski's campaign contributions. We found all this money coming from the Jane Fonda/Tom Hayden, New Politics element. It showed the outside influ- ence. New York Times(Jan. 31, 1977): Lloyd McBride charged on NBC's Meet the Press that Mr. Sadlowski had received $2,000 from the Xerox Data Corporation. Sadlowski said most contributions had come from union members or persons such as Victor Reuther, brother of Walter P. Reuther, the late UAW president. Jon Ziomek{Chicago Sun-Times, Jan. 31, 1977): In their joint appearance on Meet the Press the candi- dates were restrained, a contrast to the bitter exchanges that have been flung back and forth. McBride has accused Sadlowski of accepting endorsements from radical organizations, while Sadlowski has responded to McBride's statements by calling them ''the babblings of a drowning man." Fred Gaboury: McBride cleaned Sadlowski's clock. Eddie didn't think he needed to prepare for it. I took Clem up to the research department of the Amalgamated Meatcutters and Butcher Workmen and said, "Anything you want, you've got." He had three researchers working on it, but Eddie didn't think he needed that. Eddie thought that a bare chest and a can of beer would substitute for knowing what he was talking about sometimes. Clem Balanoff: That was one of the big problems at the very end. He wasn't bringing out what we had to bring out to win it. The debate with McBride on T.V. was a disaster. Eddie was never good against some- body with any knowledge at all. He was a good rab- ble rouser but never could mobilize all the facts he needed in a debate. He didn't have the focus. Mike Olszanski: The opposition put out cartoons showing Eddie piloting an upside-down Polish air- plane. That made people mad. Not just Poles. David McDonald: Unless Sadlowski has an over- whelming victory in the U.S., he will not win the pres- idency. The Canadian return sheets will carry enough votes in favor of Lloyd McBride that he will be declared elected. I know how to run elections.... I stole four of them. Michael Bayer: Joseph Rauh and others were counting on the government to save the election. They knew the International was going to steal it and were hoping to have it invalidated, like in the district director's race. But there was no law Canadian law similar to Landrum-Griffin. Lloyd McBride, 328,861; Ed Sadlowski, 249,281 Lee Dembart(NY Times, Feb. 8, 1977): As the cam- paign between the union's old guard and its Young Turks ended, both sides were saying they would win. The polling is to be conducted at more than 5,700 locals. An estimated 60,000 eligible voters in western Pennsylvania are temporarily out of work, and this area is generally considered "Sadlowski country." ''The shutdowns have hurt us," a Sadlowski strategist said. "If a man lives 15 or 20 miles from his local, it's a long way to go just to vote." Outgoing president Abel threatened to retire imme- diately if Mr. Sadlowski is elected. The immediate impact would be on the basic steel industry, where negotiations are to begin this month for a new three- year contract. Roberto Flores: The election was so close, Eddie thought he had won. Then he woke up a loser after the Canadian vote came in. Lee Dembart (NY Times, Feb. 9, 1977): Complaints about voting irregularities began almost as soon as the polls opened. The Sadlowski camp said that when their observer arrived at a site in Birmingham, Ala., at 6:30 in the morning, he found "a lot of ballots already in the ballot box." William Andrews: I used to attend Fight Back meet- ings and did a lot of campaigning, passing out litera- ture. That was one of the coldest winters I can · remember. Eddie's losing really was a setback. It soured him. It was close We felt it was stolen. Joe Gutierrez: It was ten below zero. We had our voting tents out by the lake, and the wind was blowing on us observers. Nothing but icicles. Eddie losing was a bitter pill to swallow because we were so involved and felt the union needed new direction. We believed we could win. Eddie lost because of the vote in Canada, over which he had no control. In Buffalo one of the guys directing his campaign was an avowed Communist. That didn't help. Eddie didn't know it until all this stuff came out. Curtis Strong: We damn near won. I'm convinced the election was stolen. There is clear evidence. We had to deal with two sets of laws and couldn't stop what they did in Canada.
  • 93. Philip Nyden: Sadlowski received 51.9 percent of the votes from locals with 1,000 or more-locals pre- dominantly in basic steel. He only won 37.6 percent in smaller locals. Voter turnout in the large locals was not large enough to offset the votes cast by the small locals, and McBride succeeded in reducing potential- ly large Sadlowski pluralities in basic steel districts in the Pittsburgh area. In addition, Fight Back was insensitive to the national autonomy issue in Canada and the open-shop issue in the South. In District 31, where Fight Back had hoped to win big, the margin did not reach the 3:1 outcome expect- ed. Fight Back's candidate for District Director was facing four other candidates who were supporting McBride. Consequently, McBride had extra "cam- paigners" on the District 31 ballot. Fight Back sent many of its District 31 supporters elsewhere, reducing the number available to get out the vote in Sadlowski's home district. Cliff Mezo: Running for steelworkers president is maybe harder than running for president. It's a daunt- ing undertaking to get your message out. Sadlowski lost badly in Canada. The old-style stuff went up there. Local 1010 Minutes, Feb. 18, 1977: The final Local Union tally for International President was: Lloyd McBride, 2,854; Ed Sadlowski, 5,783. Mike 0/szanski: There was a pretty clear knowledge that we were going to get cheated as much as the other side could cheat. Assessment Roberta Wood: Sadlowski was bold. He was ready to try something. He picked up on the feeling that workers were ready for change. He didn't want to do it on a little incremental scale. But I think he really did- n't have the confidence that working class people could do things. That's why they brought in all these middle class organizers with technical skills, but they had no base at all so they could be moved in and out at will. Rank and filers did not have enough input. Black and Latino workers didn't feel that this was their campaign. That potential wasn't really tapped. Even so, there was tremendous rank and file enthu- siasm and participation. It developed in part as a result of the Vietnam war, the Civil Rights movement, and the Women's movement. It reinforced my faith in the strength and the uniqueness of the industrial work- ing class. How the people stuck together. The warmth. The camaraderie. The intelligence of work- 91 ers. Their resourcefulness. There's not many other groupings of people who'd get out in the middle of the winter, day after day after day, and do the leafletting and stuff like that. Mike 0/szanski: Sadlowski's campaign was too much glitz and glamour; it didn't organize around issues or go deep enough to the grassroots. Not enough spade work was done beyond District 31 to involve the guy in the mil. Sadlowski saw change within the union and power for himself as parts of the same puzzle. He believed if he could get power, he'd do good. What he missed was that gaining office doesn't necessarily get you where you want to go. Like Eugene Debs said, "I shall not rise from the work- ing class but with the working class. We rise togeth- er." I suppose it was inevitable that Eddie go in that direction. That's the way the structure was set up. The president had a tremendous amount of power, so the thinking was, "If I can just get that office, I could do good." I have no doubt he would have, too. But we missed the boat by not building from the ground up. The rank-and-file movement might have taken Eddie places he wasn't ready to go, but it would have taken him places. The people around Eddie were the best in the union. Had we been successful, it would have been a more progressive union. Philip Nyden: An emphasis on legal maneuvering weakened the movement. It provided Fight Back with access to addresses of USWA locals but distract- ed from building grassroots support. In its rush to win the top office, Fight Back did not run candidates for offices in such areas as Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Cleveland, Baltimore, Bethlehem, Detroit, and Milwaukee. Michael Bayer: Eddie won the basic steel locals, but bec~use of the machine's ability to count the votes, it didn't always show up that way. He got more votes than McBride; I don't think there's any question about it. I do not think that he did not win because the work- ers were not ready to vote for him. In order to have an honest chance, he needed a broader base. He had to have activists in more locals where they could control the vote. They never built an organization that could guarantee the vote count. That was always the ques- tion. The issue was whether Eddie's votes could get counted. You certainly had to have people in all the big basic steel locals. They never got as much of an organization nationally as they needed. I don't think the accusations about outsiders helping Eddie hurt him. The criticism that he attacked the
  • 94. 92 union leadership more than the companies had some validity, but in an election campaign you're running against a specific opponent. He was running against Lloyd McBride, not U.S. Steel. On the other hand, why you are running against McBride is because McBride's letting U.S. Steel and Bethlehem Steel screw the workers. Eddie didn't make that second connection enough. Sadlowski never successfully talked much about the economic crisis in the alu- minum and copper industries. Democracy was a big issue in basic steel but not with most other members because they had ratification. They didn't pay enough attention to Canada or take advantage of union leaders who would have been willing to help. A coalition of Communists and Social Democrats controlled the major mills in Canada. These were leftwing unions on the European model. They considered the Pittsburgh leadership so bank- rupt there was a strong movement for secession. If the Sadlowski people had made an alliance with those anti-International forces, Eddie could have won Canada. They didn't because of this fear of reaching out to Left forces that they couldn't control. Therefore, Lynn Williams stole the election in Canada. That was a big chunk of votes, and they had no ability to con- test it because they abdicated that fight, being absolutely convinced they would have to win it in the courts anyway. Scott Marshall: Republic Steel in Anniston, Alabama, went for Sadlowski three-to-one. That was a militant mill, probably about the only mill we won in that region. We'd get these votes-especially in the smaller shops-of 300 for McBride, one for Sadlowski. Fred Gaboury: Eddie was afraid to make any alliances with Canadian progressives. He didn't want to agree to support their program, which was socialist. So they never got off their ass to help him. In 1977 Meany was on his last legs. Just think about the pos- sibilities of Eddie becoming President of the Steelworkers. You wonder what might have been. Jim Robinson: Sadlowski would have been very dif- ferent from McBride. It was more than a battle of per- sonalities. More important was the effect the race had on the union. From that perspective, we won. Paul Kaczocha: We'll never know if Eddie would have turned out to be another I. W. Abel. Odds are he would have. I have that dark side, where I think, "It's not going to come out as good as it sounds." On the other hand, Sadlowski's election would have empow- ered the rank-and-file, moved the union in a leftward direction, and given the labor movement, especially steelworkers, a bigger voice within the Democratic party. Steelworkers were a big union. In 1976 we constituted a million and a half people. Lee Dembart(NY Times, Feb. 11, 1977): Ed Sadlowski refused to concede his loss. He was con- sidering challenging the results on the basis of fraud. "He can't just lose an election," Mr. McBride scoffed. "He's got to continue to attack the union. It would seem that on the basis of this clear rejection of what he stands for he would have the good grace to quit hurting our union. So far he hasn't decided to do that." New York Times(Feb. 19, 1977): Ed Sadlowski filed a protest with the union yesterday seeking to overturn the election. His 19-page challenge charged that union activities had made the election invalid. New York Times(April 27, 1977): Unofficial returns show that the establishment candidate Lloyd McBride defeated the insurgent, Edward Sadlowski, by nearly 80,000 votes, 338,861 to 249,281. Steel Labor(June 1977): Lloyd McBride brings more than 40 years of experience to the office, leaving his previous elected job as director of the St. Louis based District 34. His father made 75 cents an hour as a painter in a steel fabricating plant. In 1930, McBride's father was laid off, forcing the 14 year-old son to go to work at the same plant for 25 cents an hour. He joined SWOC in 1936. Ed Sadlowski: My supporters suffered repercus- sions. There was a tremendous amount of vindictive- ness. Oliver Montgomery found himself in a state of limbo for 15 years, relegated to a back desk almost in the cleaning closet. The same thing happened to a dozen other guys who supported me. No wonder people don't step forward and speak out. I still expe- rience people being fearful around me, looking both ways to see if some honcho is watching who he's talk- ing to. I felt low when I lost. Naturally. But, I'm not sorry I ran. Hell, no. New York Times(June 18, 1977): Edward Sadlowski asked for a Labor Department investigation. Lloyd McBride called the protest ''the biggest case of sour grapes in union electoral history." The complaint is basically the same as a protest rejected by the steel- workers executive board. Roberto Flores: Eddie had to concentrate on paying creditors back, so he never ran again. He took an appointment as subdistrict director. Some of his
  • 95. Hispanic supporters in the West were put on staff to equalize things. For them it was a positive thing. Things became more democratic. Clem Balanoff: We were very tight with money but ended up heavily in debt. I paid off 90% of it. Eddie didn't want to appeal it beyond a certain level. At least that's my feeling. We couldn't have appealed Canada. Dissolving Fight Back Fred Gaboury: The International gave Eddie a talk- ing-to, telling him, "You either let this shit all go, or you'll end up in Alaska." He let it all go. He destroyed Fight Back. I don't know if it was deliberate, but he sure to hell didn't make any effort to keep it going. He froze his grassroots supporters out so fast it wasn't funny. He never saw Fight Back as an ongoing organization. His view was, "You've got me. What else do you need?" Like Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition, it was just a campaign organization. Mike Olszanski: Even though the organization was more than Eddie, when he said it was over, it was over. George Terrell: Eddie was of two minds about Fight Back. Like, we need it, but not after the campaign. It was only because of people like Clem that we kept that going as long as we did. Clem Balanoff: Who causes the dissolution of an organization? It's not always who you think. It was a maneuver to chop off one of our arms. It happened on the inside. There was never any big formal meeting. I couldn't fight it. There are certain fights I don't take on. I walked away from it. If I could go back, I'd fight that battle, very openly. Teddy Smolerick would have preferred to fight. That's the kind of guy he was. Any dissident group that wants to continue to grow and be of any value must keep an army marching. It's not easy, but you can do it. A lot of people followed Eddie and Jim when they said an ongoing organiza- tion wasn't necessary. Eddie was a prima donna in that respect. It's not unusual. It's just something that is. That was his milieu. But that's a very small part of the story. I didn't feel that he was essential, but what were we going to do? You were up against a very big stack of chips. Others demanded that we close up things. It was a very small meeting. Some people were there who shouldn't have been. Askins and I disagreed with the majority, but we were not ready to wage war. 93 Disbanding the headquarters was a backward step. It would have cost a lot of money to keep things run- ning. At that point most of the money was coming from me. We couldn't keep paying for that hall. When it was disbanded, the money in the treasury was used to pay off Eddie's old bills. You didn't have a mechan- ic to put the machine together. Nobody put the machinery together. You needed somebody who knows how to do it, and it takes time. I never was home for a long time there. My son, Clem had to cover for me in my business at tax time. Any growing organization needs a center where people can go with problems. Half the time regular union officers don't want to bother with them, and the other half of the time they don't know what in the hell to do with it. So people got lost in the cracks. Dissident groups are like a booster shot. They make things work better. Yes, they're a target but if they are doing their work, they're a moving target and moving targets aren't easy to hit. The Miners for Democracy and Teamsters dissidents played that referral role a lot, of lending a helping hand to individuals. George Terrell: Was Fight Back just a campaign organization to get Eddie Sadlowski, the great guy, elected? Or was it a meaningful rank and file move- ment? A lot of us tried to build Fight Back, but at some point Eddie didn't want it there, and we were unable to sustain it. Part of it was, if it's not from the bottom up, it's not gonna last. So the seeds of the organization's destruction were in its schizophrenic birth. Ed Sadlowski: We didn't feel capable of putting together a national organization. We wanted to give first priority to the district. We were also in debt for more than a hundred thousand dollars and pretty down in the dumps. I couldn't get a hearing in the courts. The life blood had been sucked out of us. We had been through eight years of turmoil and abuse. It was particularly hard on me because I had never lost in my life. Naturally, I felt rejected, like horse shit. We kept the Fight Back office open for more than a year but weren't generating anything. I'm not sure we knew what the hell to do in terms of having a flag to rally around. You have to build movements around causes, not just personalities. Sometimes it is hard to live up to expectations after you win. When you lose, it's ten times as hard. Some guy might come up to you and say, "I bet you don't remember who I am." You'd try to apologize, and he'd say, "Fuck you, I stood out at the gate at three in the morning for you." That kind of thing happened.
  • 96. 94 We didn't do things to destroy the union, contrary to what the opposition said. I loved that union. When people would say, "Fuck the union," I'd say, "No, no, no. Don't burn down the church because the priest is bad." The union is the only thing the working stiff ever had going for him. You couldn't repay the union enough if you lived a million years. Not only in tangi- ble things but by giving workers pride. Clem Balanoff: Eddie represented the possibility of change but didn't leave a big legacy afterwards. You wonder why. Mike Olszanski: We expect a lot out of our people. I had a disagreement with Eddie after he went on staff in regard to a proposal U.S. Steel made to build a new mill if they could combine certain maintenance posi- tions. I never had that problem with Jim. I always knew where he stood. There was never ever any question where he stood. "Fight the company," he'd say. "A union representative's purpose is to fight the company." We may have disagreed on tactics or strategy but not on the big picture, on what's right and what's wrong. Jim had made a record for himself on standing up for racial equality. He had paid his dues on that issue. Eddie was kind of an unknown in that regard. He hadn't really established a record. 1977 District Director's Election Joe Gutierrez: We concentrated more on the Sadlowski race because Jim's victory was more of a given. He just floated in there. George Terrell: Sadlowski's campaign made it pos- sible for people like Alice Peurala and Jim Balanoff to get elected to offices that otherwise would have been impossible to obtain. Jack Parton: I supported Harry Piasecki. Initially there were several people in the race. Balanoff won because of Eddie's popularity. Under Balanoff Local 1010 had pretty much withdrawn from the International, like they were an island onto them- selves. The attitude was, "We're a big local union and don't really need you guys." Clem Balanoff: Chico would have liked to have been director. Eddie would have preferred Chico. I told him, "Eddie, nobody else will have as much support as Jim." I was close to everything going on. We final- ly had a big open meeting about that. Ed Sadlowski: The decision to support Balanoff was made in my house. Romano, Smolarek, Chico, and O'Malley were sitting around the table with me and Balanoff. I was leaning toward Ray O'Malley, but he really didn't want it. His health wasn't the best. Joe Romano: He was always complaining of his balls swelling up. Ed Sadlowski: Ray had big balls when it came to doing things that had to be done. He had a good set of balls. I pushed for Jim, who would have supported O'Malley. John Chico got up and vehemently opposed Balanoff, said he wouldn't support him under any circumstances. He knew Jim better than any of us and probably had personal reasons. Paul Kaczocha: Len Hickey, our staff rep at 6787, entered the race for district director. He was a smooth operator, an "official family" kind of guy, a good old boy who knew everybody. He had been 6787's first pres- ident and had led a lot of wildcat stuff so he had a lot of respect. We were never chummy. We went from pissing him off to really pissing him off. We stuck knives in him. For Hickey to get into the race, certain forms had to be signed to certify he was a member in good standing for five consecutive years. George Troy started looking for the books. It turned out that from time to time he had gotten too far behind on his dues. He had a pretty good campaign going, but we certified that he was not eligible. We derailed Hickey. We met with him and tried to act like we were just doing our job, but if he had a gun, he'd have shot us. I passed out leaflets for Balanoff in the freezing cold. I observed Balanoff campaigning and picked up some tips. He was very aggressive. He'd run at people and pay no attention to any guard. It was, "Damn the tor- pedoes; full speed ahead." He'd say of plant protec- tion, "Screw these guys; they're just tin cops." He almost welcomed confrontations Jim Balanoff (1977 leaflet): When I started in the mill, the company feared the power of the Union but not anymore. I say it's time to put that fear back in the heart of the company. It's time our Union started to remember how to fight. Philip Nyden: Jim Balanoff made criticism of the weak grievance procedure a central theme. A Balanoff leaflet titled with a typical company refrain - "If you don't like it, file a grievance"- asked the ques- tion, "How many times have you heard this?" The flyer stated that Jim Balanoff "remembers when they wouldn't have dared." Clem Balanoff: One night my son Clem and a gang
  • 97. of his friends snuck into one of those little plants and put signs all over. He said, "It's easy to do." What do you say? He was a young kid, around 17 or 18. George Terrell: I had a collection of all the redbaiting literature that was handed out. We made a point of picking those pieces up, and boy, they were sleazy and malicious. Historically, labor could have been such a powerful political force, but redbaiting made leaders timid. Michael Bayer: African Americans weren't immune to redbaiting but had a standard of judgment based not on what people say but what they do on the race question. To the degree that blacks didn't think that white folks cared about race, they didn't trust them. That is kind of a filtering glass; and if they concluded that you are an honest person and are prepared to deal with them openly and on the basis of equality, they'll let minor disagreements go by the way side. Fred Gaboury: I interviewed black workers who were supportive of Balanoff, and my article made up two pages of a Labor Today issue. I'm sure it helped convince some black workers to vote for Balanoff. Local1010 Minutes, Feb. 18, 1977: For District #31 Director: Harry Piasecki, 2,027; James Balanoff, 4,567; Emmett Palmer, 535. Local 1010 Steelworker(Jan.-Feb. 1977): President Balanoff wishes to express his gratitude to all the members who braved the cold to vote. "We have the best members in the world," he said. Report submitted by the International Tellers(April 28, 1977): District #31 Director: James Balanoff, 19,540; Harry Piasecki, 13,750 Roberta Wood: Jim Balanoff was a real issue-ori- ented leader who came out of an electoral-oriented machine shop caucus. Balanoff gave good advice on how to do something. He had been through the mill and had a wealth of experience. Michael Bayer: Jim Balanoff came out of the left, so in a sense we talked the same language. We weren't close, but I think it was a healthy relationship. Most of our conversations he spent telling me what was wrong with the Old Guard leaders in the Soviet Union and all those Reds who didn't know their ass from their elbow and who were too god-damn lazy to get up at 4:30a.m. Mike 0/szanski: Balanoff had wanted to be presi- dent of Local 1010 his whole life but like a reluctant 95 bride gave it up after just a year. He managed to get elected director partly because the ballot was split. The International didn't select a hand-picked candi- date. They were a little bit confused. Balanoff Takes the Helm Michael Bayer: Balanoff's being director opened up an atmosphere which allowed progressive issues to come to the fore. Jim Robinson: Jim Balanoff tried very hard to reach an accommodation with the International leadership. Lloyd McBride was one of those, "You're with me or against me to the death." So there was no accommo- dation. That was a real tragedy, because Jim worked very hard for the union and was a very good director. Mike Olszanski: McBride decided he was going to kill Jim politically by not allowing him to choose his staff and cutting off funds. Balanoff couldn't spend a dime without Pittsburgh's approval. In the past the district director could do pretty much what he wanted. Now they stopped Balanoff from doing things. When we had conferences in District 31 , we had to raise our own funds. Jim tried; he even invited McBride to speak. McBride called us Fight Back people "out- siders." Steel Labor(Nov. 1977): President McBride, addressing some 1,000 delegates at the District 31 Conference, pledged to do ''the best I know how to build this union." Director Balanoff shook the presi- dent's hand and said, "We both believe in the same thing - a better union." William Andrews: Balanoff was completely on the outs. They wouldn't let him pick his assistants, like other directors. McBride hated rank-and-filers with a passion. He couldn't get beyond that Fight Back challenge. Cliff Mezo: Balanoff did everything a district director possibly could. Even McBride would say, "Every time I call, Balanoff is either in his office or gets back to me within 30 minutes." He told other directors they should emulate Balanoff. And this from a blood enemy. Mike Mezo: Jim made an honest attempt to say, "Look, I'm elected. I'm on this board. I've got a dif- ferent view, but that doesn't mean we've got to fight." But McBride was determined to destroy Jim. Lloyd McBride (Letter to Balanoff, Jan. 5, 1978): While I have not, until now, expressed my concern to
  • 98. 96 you about the qualifications of Edward Sadlowski to adequately represent our Union in the capacity of Sub-district Director, your letter of December 19, 1977, prompts me to do so. I am aware that some of his harmful actions and the derogatory and untrue statements about our Union have been used by employers to defeat our organizing activity. I feel that his statements did irreparable harm to our Union. For these reasons and others, I am unwilling at this time to reward him with a salary increase. Clem Balanoff: Jim should have gone to court on the right to appoint staff, but some advisers thought we were going to the courts too often. Fred Gaboury: I went to see Balanoff one time and he said, "Who the hell do you think you are?" I said, "Jim, I'm your conscience." He instituted some reforms that were forerunners of what the AFL-CIO is doing, such as educational conferences. George Terrell: Jim was less charismatic than Eddie but much more willing to build from the bottom up. The Balanoffs came out of the left and believed in empowering workers, not just self-promotion. Jim was a real gem but had that red baggage to bring with him, that was debilitating, which he had to live down. Though I was close with a lot of Communists, I never considered joining up. It was way too late in the day for that. That's not where things were: too much water under the dam and all that folderol. Jim was not pushing that agenda when I knew him. Jack Parton: Balanoff was a better director than Eddie. Jim got himself involved in the daily affairs of the district. Joe Gutierrez: Jim was very focused on doing a good job and was a hard worker, very genuine. He was very frugal and would not take a penny. If some- thing was right, he'd do it and not care about the con- sequences. He tried to mend fences but McBride absolutely refused. His attitude was, 'There's no way, Charlie, we'll get rid of you next time." Curtis Strong: Jim Balanoff was rough and tumble. The rough edges were never taken off. Nobody ever took time to polish him. I don't think Jim was a vision- ary, like Ed. He got his philosophy from his wife Betty. He was never forgiven for supporting Ed. Some peo- ple have long memories. Loca/1010 Minutes, July 5, 1979: Motion to adopt a Resolution supporting Director Balanoff's appoint- ments, as allowed by Directors in the past, and to allow the appointment of Tom Barrett as the Sub District #2 Director to stand. Director was ordered to remove Barrett. Brth Rogus rose to say he is neither for or against the Resolution. The issue, he said, was seniority. Four others had far more seniority than this man. Brth M. Mezo rose to say, Staff has never been appointed by seniority. This Director has the right to make appointments. Brth Gailes said this is not the first recommendation McBride has vetoed. Others with many years of service were vetoed, including women and blacks. Brth Olszanski said it was time to consider the election of Staff representatives. Maybe McBride doesn't like Jim but we do. Brth Perkins said a moral issue is involved. He never supported Balanoff; but if it has been a practice to accept a Director's appointment, it should continue. Motion carried unanimously. Installation of Bill Andrews Loca/1010 Minutes, June 2, 1977: Director Balanoff installed William Andrews as President of Local 1010 and said he'd pay his dues to this local and leaves with reluctance. President Andrews remarked he'd make his own decisions and do his very best, just as he has while President Balanoff was busy with nego- tiations. He said he would retain all present full-time officers and standing committees and announced the appointment of Cliff "Cowboy" Mezo as temporary act- ing Vice President. Joe Gutierrez: A lot of people thought Jim still ran 1010, but he really didn't. He had strikes going on, like with NIPSCO. American Bridge and mills all around him shut down. So he had his headaches. Andrews couldn't be elected departmental steward, and here he becomes President. Actually we got along pretty good for a while. William Andrews: When I moved up, my choice was Cowboy Mezo for vice president. A lot of people resented him. He rubbed some people the wrong way. For awhile it didn't look like the election was going our way. James Ross, a black griever from the coke plant, didn't have any special love for Cowboy. I told him, "I want you standing outside that door, right by Cowboy, and pass his literature out and put it in the hands of everybody who comes through that door." He did it and everything else was history. ·1 could always depend on Cowboy. When I was on vacation, I'd leave him in charge and never call to see what was going on. He'd tell me he'd get in certain situations and think, "Now what would Bill do." He was a terrific guy, a hard worker, dedicated, comical at times. He could crack me up.
  • 99. Eddie, Ken Massengill and Bill Andrews Cliff Mezo: Bill Andrews had no union background. He was put in there cold but turned out to be capable. I had a lot of influence because of my experience. People looked to me because they thought I could cut it. While he got his feet under him, I helped him run it. We did things more honestly and correctly than in the past. Grievances had priority over everything. That's one thing I stressed: grievances were more important than fancy trips. Mike 0/szanski: Andrews didn't know shit from shi- nola when he first became president. Balanoff guided him as much as he could, as did the rest of the cau- cus. He learned fast. After a couple years, he was pretty good in that spot. Mary Elgin: Bill Andrews took the helm rather quick- ly. He had a lot of advice from Bill Gailes and Tom Mills. He was more an administrator than a union rep but ran the local very well. People respected him. Some didn't like hearing the truth, but if you asked him something, you got the truth. If he said no, he meant no. He was fair and gave many members an oppor- tunity to expand to higher offices. Andrews insisted that everyone on his payroll attend union meetings. If you didn't, you were called in to see why not. He kept the members active. He was a very stern leader. William Andrews: I didn't have a problem within my caucus. Everybody pitched in to help because I was new and had a lot to learn fast. If you didn't, you did- n't survive. I had problems with people in other cau- cuses. They probably thought, "Who is that guy? How did he get to be President? He hasn't paid any dues. He just walked into it." Rooster Jenkins told me, "You know, you don't have to take that job. Tell those white folks you don't want it, and we'll elect you President next time." I laughed and said, "You must think I'm a damn fool." I thought, "If that's your best shot, forget it." It would have been funny if he hadn't been dead serious. Their opinion was, the first black 97 Sadlowski, Red Watson, Balanoff, Andrews, Paul Kaczocha, R. Bambic, L. Pajowski should be one of us because we've been here a long time and this guy just got here. I had maybe two conversations with McBride the whole time I was president. Once I told him we were ready to work with him and he replied, "You damn well better be." For a long time I was on the outs because I was a Rank and Filer. Subdistrict Director Pete Calacci would come in, along with Ted Rogus, our fourth-step representative. Both were originally from 1010. They hoped to intimidate me by saying they were going to check my books. I told them, "Any time, they're open. Meanwhile, get the hell out of my office." I didn't have any more trouble with them. We had so many trial committees, it got so I knew the trial rules better than anyone. Any number of dis- trict directors came in to investigate the trial commit- tee reports. I only had charges brought against me once, when I fired Frank Gordon, the editor of the newspaper. I told him I was in charge and if he could- n't do what I wanted, he'd be fired. The President, according to the bylaws, had the right to appoint all committees, including chairmen; but if he wants to remove a chairman, he has to go back to the mem- bership. Gordon thought being editor was like being chairman and I couldn't just remove him. I didn't read the book that way. When he was through, the trial committee asked if I had anything to say. I said, "No, just go ahead and vote." When they got through vot- ing, Frank was still out. The Caucus got bigger while I was President. We slated a mix of people. If I had to appoint three mem- bers to a committee, I'd always appoint a white, a black and a Hispanic. In addition to ethnic groups, you'd slate according to regions in the plant.We brought a lot of people in by what I call "splitting the pie." If you can't get yourself elected, you can't help anybody. So I shared with others. If somebody worked hard, for instance, he got a chance to go to
  • 100. 98 conferences and get out of the mill for a few days. At one meeting we approved sending some people to an NAACP Convention in New Orleans. Afterwards, DeWitt Walton said he wanted to go. I said, "Young man, it takes a long time to get on that list." He said, 'What do I have to do?" I said, "You have to work you way up. Be in my office tomorrow when you get off work." That was the beginning. He became my pro- tege, and now he's assistant to President Becker. Mary Elgin: Andrews pushed the concept of sup- porting the entire slate. Even on election day, it you were not supporting the slate, you'd get cut. If there was enough time to print new material, he'd do it. Some people had little ways of getting around that, but most followed him and the tactic proved success- ful. We'd elect virtually our entire slate. William Andrews: We'd push the Rank and File slate and the man on top. That's how we kept control and everyone pulling together. If anybody was caught pushing themselves, they'd be cut. And it worked. During one campaign a guy from our Caucus had his name and number hand painted on a shirt. I gave him two choices; either turn it over backwards or take it off. He said, "It's cold out here." I said, "That's your two choices." A couple times Balanoff and I bumped heads. Some people wanted things I didn't think they had coming so they ran over to the District office. Balanoff talked to me and if I agreed with him, I'd go along. If I didn't, I'd say, "You run the District, and I'll run the Local." We didn't have any problems. I had a lot of good people around me. I'd listen to them and then make a decision. Jim never tried to force issues, much to some people's displeasure. He was too busy running the District. I had a different philosophy and style but the same goals. The ENA no-strike agreement was an issue that the Caucus generated for political purposes more than for what it did economically. Jim's position was, "It's us against the International. They're the enemy and if they were for it, we had to be against it." I thought we did fine under ENA. It wasn't a big deal with me. I didn't believe in the adversarial position. We got good contracts and made a lot of money. There's some- thing to be said for stability and customers knowing there's not going to be work stoppages. We were pretty successful in negotiating early agreements. Michael Bayer: Andrews had the disadvantage to being the second guy. The charismatic guy comes into office, and you inherit the mantle. Temperamentally, he was no Jim Balanoff. His lead- ership approach was cautious. Almost immediately some ultra-Leftists started sniping at him. Here he was the first black President of a major steel local, which could have been a victory for the Left and deci- sive in mobilizing black workers. Instead critics talked about how he wasn't aggressive enough. On the race issue their consciousness was not where it should have been. He didn't take a lot of chances, but on some important issues he got way out in front. Chilean Unionists Local 1010 Minutes, Feb. 17, 1977: Jorge Frias and Luis Arando told the membership they could not assemble as we do. The coup had overthrown the democratic government, curtailed collective bargain- ing and destroyed 75% of all trade unions. The others continue underground. Wages and prices favor own- ers. 2 million people have hardly enough to subsist on with over 600,000 unemployed. A motion by Brth. Olszanski to adopt a resolution supporting the Chilean Trade Unionists and denouncing the government of Chile to send to our Senators and Congressmen, sec- onded by Brth. Schneider, carried. National Negotiations Local 1010 Steelworker(Aprii-May 1977): A seven- member negotiating team inked a new three-year agreement. President I. W. Abel termed it "a good start" toward lifetime security. After ratification was ini- tially rejected, Abel told the local presidents: 'This is without question the biggest disappointment of all the years I've been privileged to serve this union. I will not have to undergo the agonies of arbitration because my tenure with you is coming to a close." He warned that ''we start from scratch" in arbitration. A long roll call vote then approved the contract. Local 1010 Minutes, April 21, 1977: President Balanoff reported the new Industry-wide Agreement is nothing to be proud of. The Presidents voted it down on the first vote. Pres. Abel accepted a motion for a roll call vote, to which Pres. Balanoff asked, would he have accepted a motion if that vote was reversed? Abel misled the Presidents on effect to local union issues. All the big locals with the exception of 1014 voted no. Nothing was gained in Seniority, on the Coke Plants scheduling, shorter work week and vaca- tions. Most everything brought up was referred to ENA and we are again stuck with another 3-year ENA. Benefits gained were 80 cents in three years, another holiday. The 20-year Income Security means nothing except to those who may become disabled. The SUB
  • 101. increase for 20-year employees would be a rarity. Little gained on pensions, and the life insurance change would deny members benefits. Director Sadlowski said it was the cheapest settle- ment in 21 years, reaffirming his belief that we are at a disadvantage due to the ENA. The Director said if the Committee accepted the proposal, the members would burn the hall down. Brth. Villalpando spoke on inadequate pensions; Brth. Torres spoke on contract- ing out. Brth. Vance urged a strike committee be organized. When Brth. Ferry called Inland a butcher shop, he was applauded. Motion by Brth. Ross to send a letter to Abel expressing our views against the accepted agreement carried unanimously. Local 1010 Minutes, May 19, 1977: Motion by Brth. Vance to take Pres. Abel's picture off the wall, sec- onded by Brth. Golden. Brth. Hurley objected, saying it was disrespectful of a man appreciated by many. Others said he was a scab and a liar and sold us out with the ENA. One no vote by Brth. Hurley. Mike Olszanski: It was a tradition at 1010 to have pictures of the International officers behind the podi- um. When we made a motion to tear the picture of Abel off the wall, Balanoff was dead-set against it, saying, "Why do you have to be so ridiculous? Let it go." We passed it anyway. 1977 Negotiations: Local Issues at 6787 Paul Kaczocha: We decided to go for the gusto on local issues. We got a lot of things straightened out, including that management had to start providing tools. We had the membership submit local issues and had thousands of them. A committee narrowed it down to 750, and we made the company go through them all. We beat them to death over this. We actu- ally had a local issues book printed up. We had everybody who was ever fired - over 300 people. We got about 27 people reinstated. The superintendent of Labor Relations, Dick Shouber, was a real eccentric. We used to put graffi- ti up in the washroom that read, "Dick Shouber before he dicks you." He'd work in his office with all the lights turned down because he thought darkness enhanced brain power. Anyway, Roy Boy the tattooist was fired for punching out a foreman. His name was on the final list. Shouber came to me and begged, "Please, we'll give you five people if you drop him. Don't make us bring him back." The opposition made fun of us for pushing white toi- 99 let seats and horse stables. Some people wanted sta- bles by the mill entrance so they could ride their hors- es to work. With white toilet seats you could see the crabs before you sat on them. We actually had a count of the black and white seats. We talked about pay issues and COLA keeping up with inflation. We won a lot of new shower facilities, especially for women. We had the coke department shower facili- ties tripled. Before that, you had to stand in line, naked. We fought for some high-dollar items like air- conditioned lunch rooms and cabs in the cranes. Mike Olszanski: We couldn't get Abel to meet with the local union presidents so about five of us sat down outside Abel's hotel room, in the hallway. At first we knocked on the door and he wouldn't meet with us. Sadlowski set up a messenger asking us what we were doing. Abel had told him to get his people out of there, but they weren't his people. Paul Kaczocha: Once when we were in the base- ment of the NLRB conference room, the company rejected our safety proposals, so we refused to leave. We decided to sit-in. I thought we could rule the steel industry if we just adopted the automakers' sit-in phi- losophy. Management would go ape-shit if workers refused to leave the plant. While we were in Pittsburgh, Sadlowski as a practical joke paid a pros- titute to go to Balanoff's room. Balanoff was pissed and rightfully so. Mike 0/szanski: Jim had a habit of sitting around watching TV in his shorts. So he comes to the door, and here's this prostitute. Sadlowski was just jerking his chain because Balanoff was not that type of guy. He probably thought the International was setting him up in a sting operation. 1977 Negotiations: 1010 Local Issues Mike Mezo: During negotiations Jim was president and Eddie the lame duck district director. Under the ENA directors became liaisons between the national and the local leadership. At some point they'd say, "O.k. you've got 24 hours to wrap up your local nego- tiations." Mike 0/szanski: Sadlowski brought to Washington about 500 pounds of Paul Robeson records. I know; I carried them up to his hotel room. "Eddie, what's all these fuckin' boxes?" I said. Every break in the nego- tiations, he'd say, "Hey come up to my room, and I'll play you some Paul Robeson." We were there one time for two or three hours. Finally I said, " Hey, Eddie, I'm gonna go down to the bar and have a
  • 102. 100---------------------------------------------------------------drink." He said, ''What's the matter? I've got lots more records. You ain't heard them all yet." He prob- ably had every Paul Robeson record ever made Local 1010 Minutes, March 3, 1977: Report of Negotiating Committee by Joe Gyurko. Over 600 pro- posals were submitted, covering local conditions. Pres. Balanoff said he will put the contract to a vote. Cliff Mezo: We sent smart grievers out there, young guys like Jim Robinson and Mike Mezo, who knew their shit. They got the job done. Jim Robinson: We started negotiations locally and then moved to Washington for six weeks. Inland's top brass knew when the industry-wide deal was going to come down. Meanwhile, they'd sit across the table and say, in effect, "Screw you." They wouldn't do any- thing until the last minute. Then they'd put a package on the table and say, ''Take it or leave it." The process reached its low point in 1974 when Inland told Hank Lopez, ''You can take a ten-cent increase on the meal ticket and Kotex for the women's locker room." Hank should have told them to stick it. Inland was a one plant operation. At U.S. Steel local plants would get together and could threaten to vote as a bloc. That would get the attention of the International, which was concerned with getting the industry-wide agreement ratified. Furthermore, Local 1010 had the reputation of voting against everything. Nobody really cared if we threatened to vote against it. It was assumed we'd vote against the industry- wide agreement any way. Mike Mezo: Balanoff appointed a half dozen griev- ers to the negotiating team, including Jim Robinson and me. A whole slew of aggressive grievers had got- ten elected in 1976, including Rudy Schneider. We were trying to get whatever we could. Inland was the only company that didn't pay apprentices to go to school. I was in a department with approximately 30% apprentices. I had gotten elected griever prima- rily with the apprentice vote. They got paid while they were at work but not the four hours a week they were in school. You might go Monday night until nine. The coke plant was a big issue. The workers there had the most rotten conditions. We were trying to get them spell time and air conditioned pulpits. The lock- er room at the number two coke plant was so hideous people would not even go in there to change clothes. There were many other Dignity issues - lousy locker rooms, crummy-ass lunchrooms. We demanded the removal of pigeon shit from pulpit number 112 and the urinal from the women's wash room. The company ridiculed us, not understanding that people just didn't want to work in squalor and be treated like subhu- mans. If push came to shove, I don't know if people would have struck over these issues, but in 1977 they were voting to send a message that they didn't like those kind of conditions. Workers' total earnings were made up of two com- ponents: base wage and incentive earnings. Together they made up your average hourly earning. The the- ory was that it is tied to production but the mainte- nance people rightfully perceived that it was a give- away. For them, it was based on total tons produced in the plant divided by man hours. They didn't have any control over either one. Plus they were structured artificially low. Everybody said incentives were an economic issue except us. Eddie came up with the theory that since the plans predated the 1963 agree- ment, they could not be changed. He painted the International into a corner, because if his theory was wrong, we were left with no way to raise incentives because they weren't dealing with them at the big table. Prior to ENA, Local 1010 always got shafted on local issues, but that came to a screeching halt under ENA. On local issues you had a right to strike or lock out. Things weren't resolved so we actually took a strike vote. We just barely won it by a little over 50 percent. The leadership figured it would be impossible to get a favorable strike vote over non-economic issues. Well, we did. The company was whining that incentive pay and apprenticeship school pay were economic issues. McBride just railed about how local unions were coor- dinating their local issues. Of course, we didn't have to coordinate because Inland was just one company. We had them by the balls. The International come back in 1980 and said that if there was a dispute over whether it is a local issue, you had to go to arbitrate. That cut down on our leverage. We were in Washington D.C., for six or seven weeks. We came back for Good Friday and then went back after Easter. There'd be hundreds of local union representatives at the William Penn. You'd sit around the hotel listening to rumors. The lobby and lounges would be full. A handful of top people conducted the contract negotiations. Once in awhile, when the International President passed through the lobby, TV cameras would be on him when he came out of the elevator. He'd get in a limo, followed by an entourage, like Mohammed Ali. He'd never stop to talk. You'd just be thinking, "What the tuck is going on?" There was this invisible line separating the International leaders from local representatives.
  • 103. II I I I -------------------------------------------------------------101Mike 0/szanski: International officials were with high-level company officials, while we were negotiat- ing local issues with Inland. We'd tell them what we wanted, and they'd say they had to check with their superiors. Typically the company stalled until the last day and then said, ''This is it. Sign." Finally staff rep Dan Hannon said to me, "We're not getting any place. Why don't you ask Jim Balanoff to come and stir them up a little." Jim sat in the room the next day. We went through the same shit, talking a couple hours about nothing. Their negotiator, Phelps, kept saying he'd have to get back to us. Finally, Balanoff said, "You know, Mr. Phelps, we make proposals and you don't give us an answer. You're just wasting our time. Well, I may have to go back to the membership for a strike vote. So give us an answer: yes or no." Then after a pause he boomed out, ''Tell us no!" Phelps got red in the face. The way Balanoff talked, it was almost as if he was relishing shutting the sonovabitch down. The company never really knew that he wouldn't do something just for spite. He was tenacious, a bulldog. The company lawyer had been falling asleep all week. At one point he woke up while we were dis- cussing putting a bathroom on top of the coke battery. The guy said, "I see you want a bathroom. Do you want to take a bath or a shower up there?" Griever Jim Ross said, "No, it's for when you want to go to the bathroom." The lawyer kept at this and finally I said, "Jim, do you want a shithouse up there?" He said, "Yeah." I looked at the lawyer and said, "Do you know what a shithouse is?" That shut him up. I was there to discuss coke oven issues. We had asked for four hours relief time out of every 8-hour shift. The company said, "You're crazy." They didn't want to give us anything. We said, "Look, there's nothing illogical about this. Under OSHA standards you have been found in violation of well over two times the maximum 8-hour exposure standard. If you can't bring these emissions down at the source, do it through relief time. Simple arithmetic: give these guys four hours relief time." They thought all they had to do was pay the fines, but we said, "You're not dealing with the government." We actually got an hour or so. Bill Gailes: The coke plant was the killing fields. Mike Mezo: If you worked in the coke plant, you were lower than a mill rat, literally without a decent place to eat or change clothes. You washed up in water pumped directly from the lake with fish scales coming out of it. Guys would go into the locker room to take a nap at lunchtime and have to protect them- selves from rats running around the floor. Jim Robinson: One issue was giving straight days to people in mechanical that had seniority. I was the only mechanic on the negotiating committee so I made sure the issue stayed on the table. In some older departments people could eventually get straight days, but in the newer departments where the past practice hadn't been established, the company could put anybody on straight days or on shift work. The company would tell people they were too valuable. The reality was, if you were black or Mexican, you worked shift work. To work straight days you had to be white and in with the right crowd. The racial dis- crimination and rampant favoritism really pissed me off. I hated working midnights and figured at some point I'd want to work straight days, too. I worked with a guy who retired the moment he had 30 years to take a janitorial job with the East Chicago schools so he could get off shift work. It was outrageous. Loca/1010 Minutes, June 2, 1977: Director Balanoff said another meeting is scheduled with the Company for final answers. Brth. Mezo said there won't be a strike if we get a good "Yes" vote in view of the Company order books being full. Brth. Olszanski said it was time to leave politics behind. Inland Steelmaker(June 6, 1977): The union has asked for "strike authorization." The company is con- vinced the unresolved demands do not warrant a strike. The company and union have resolved 323 demands on such issues as air control, cab repair, earnings posting, earnings recap, locker rooms, lunch rooms, paramedics, pollution, pregnancy leave, priva- cy, showers, telephones, toilets, and waste practices. Jim Robinson: Bill Ryan, Inland's Assistant General Manager for Industrial Relations, was a big gruff guy. After we rejected their final offer, he predicted we wouldn't get approval either from the local members or from the International. So we went home without an agreement. After we took a successful strike vote and got approval from the International, they settled. Until near the end it was us being smart asses and them looking like they wished they weren't in the same room as us. It was a breakthrough. Local 1010 Minutes, June 16, 1977: Director Balanoff said #1 issue was Incentives. Local not ask- ing for anything unreasonable. Area steel company members get pay for shoes, free gloves, relief time. Former Director Sadlowski said a good yes vote will make the Company see loud and clear. All we want is
  • 104. 102---------------------------------------------------------------.our just due. We've been getting the short end of the stick too long and are sick and tired of eating dust, sweating and eating 3-day old sandwiches. Company has sat with grins on their faces for the past 5 months; we can wipe them off with a strong strike vote. He, too, was loudly applauded. Report of Election Committee for Election for Strike Authorization June 22, 1977: Final Tally accepted by Election Committee: 7694 Yes Votes; 6849 No Votes; 14,543 Valid Votes; 91 Void Votes. Mike Olszanski: Although we got a majority voting yes, the vote was too close to give the negotiating team much leverage. Local 1010 Minutes, July 21, 1977: Director Balanoff said Company sent hand delivered message suggesting a no vote at plant gates. We don't need Inland to tell us how to run our union. The Company is talking strike, we're talking settlement. The Company is more interested in making money than steel. He closed saying if there are any flunkies here who are working for a white hat, they're welcome to report what he said. Local 1010 Minutes, Aug. 4, 1977: Pres. Andrews reported the Company again bused and allowed time off to employees to vote on Ratification. Vice President Mezo questioned the Company interfer- ence in a federally regulated election. Brth. Gutierrez liked the idea of time off the job. Steel Labor(Aug. 1977): Local issues bargaining resulted in an agreement which provides that wage incentive adjustments will be made for trade, craft, maintenance jobs, productive and service jobs, equal- ization of overtime, plus the establishment of adminis- trative changes for correction of pay check errors. Relief time for specified coke plant workers was increased, and air conditioned cabs will be installed in specified coke plant equipment. Local 1010 Minutes: Helping Fellow Unionists Sept. 1, 1977: Motion to donate $100.00 to Sister Local 3293, from Carnegie, Pa., seconded by Brth. Gordon. Treas. Flores objected, saying too many locals are asking for donations. Brth. Schneider said we have an obligation to support a sister local. Brth. Olszanski said this local spends lots of money on lit- tle leagues, parades, churches, conventions, and what kind of an organization are we if we don't sup- port locals in strikes. Brth. Augustyn said community organizations were double dipping till we stopped them. Motion carried. Jan. 19, 1978: Brth Rudy Schneider moved that a letter be sent to Director Balanoff to send a delegation to the Jan. 21 Strike Rally for the United Mine Workers to find out how we can help them. He reminded that it was the UMW who gave the CIO a million dollars to organize in our beginnings. Motion amended that the Local send Brth. Rudy Schneider as a delegate to that rally. Carried unanimously. Feb. 2, 1978: Brth R. Schneider reporting on UMW rally said many Unions attended. Concerns were of scab coal being moved. District 31 is starting a regional assistance committee. Miners will be invited to speak in area. March 2, 1978: Brth Olszanski urged membership's help to pass out leaflets and attend Miners Relief Rally April 6, 1978: Motion to establish an ongoing Strike Support & Boycott Committee to be activated as needed, seconded by Brth. Schneider, carried. July 6, 1978: Rudy Schneider reported Steelworkers will picket Thrift T Mart from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. Saturday in support of Meatcutters strike. Mike Olszanski stated mass picketing has been very effec- tive, urged participation. Motion carried. Brother James Robinson introduced a Resolution calling for implementation of V. P. Odorsich's call for a one-day General Strike to dramatize our support for Labor Law Reform. Resolution supported and seconded by Line Cohen, carried unanimously. District 31 Women's Caucus James B. Lane: The purpose of the Women's Caucus was to articulate and redress problems of women steelworkers through the development of women's organizations at the local, district and International levels. For many young feminists enter- ing the mills, the Caucus served as the basis for an emotional support system necessary for survival in a hostile environment. The organization called for bet- ter washroom facilities, an end to sexual harassment and "revolving door'' hiring and firing policies, a short- er probationary period, and provisions for maternity leave and child care. A recruiting poster entitled, "Sister! Is Your Job Getting You Down?" portrayed two women, one white and the other African American, about to be crushed by the heel of management. Mary Elgin: We got to know each other during the Sadlowski campaign. We knew we could get a lot
  • 105. II I I I ---------------------------------------------------------------103done if we elected Balanoff district director. Our goal was to have a Women's Committee set up by the International and a woman on the international staff. We had fundraisers. Thursday night would be District 31 Women's Caucus night, for example, at the Blue Room in Gary. It got so successful the owners decid- ed to take over the door, thinking we'd still patronize the club, so we moved down the street. Ola Kennedy: Roberta Wood and I had been involved in the Sadlowski and Balanoff campaigns. We put together the Women's Caucus, and it met monthly on Sunday evenings at the Holiday Inn on Cline Avenue in Hammond. We raised money for the newspaper and mailings by having dances. Everybody did what they could do best. Roberta and I were kind of bossy so we were co-chairs most of the time. Roberta was such a hard worker, and so like- able. We'd be frank with each other. We had a per- fect understanding. We had our differences but they were never ever severe. Roberta Wood: A luncheon in Hammond in 1976 got us started. A lot of the people who came were the wives of people who worked on the Sadlowski cam- paign. Helen Smolarek, Marlene Sadlowski and Mary Stanich filled out the crowd. Most were honest rank and filers. We didn't have any big disagreements. We were sort of non-partisan, although we had to have somebody progressive like Sadlowski or Balanoff in office to achieve our goals. I think every- body saw that, but we didn't define the caucus in that way. My role was to find issues that were unifying and write things up, or formulate them some way. James B. Lane: When Diane Kaczocha had first entered Bethlehem's blast furnace, she learned that all previous women assigned there had been run out by the men. Her foreman made her lift hundred pound bags and caused her to get burned by not warning her of danger. The foreman's tactics only made Diane more determined to stick it out. Part of the Women's Committee leadership at Bethlehem, Diane made sure that the organization found the time to take up individual complaints, as well as more general issues pertaining to women. Cheryl Peterson: I'd warn the new women. I'd say, "Listen, you're in for the worst hell of your life." The blast furnace area was so filthy you couldn't see 30 feet in front of you. Then you'd walk the steps to the furnace. It was terrifying. My first six months, I felt so harassed. I went home too tired to eat. I'd go to sleep and wake up crying. My folks would say, "Quit." My dad would give me that look, like "she can't handle it.!" I kept going to prove him wrong. Robin Rich: I hardly knew the phrase "sexual harassment" when I first got to Bethlehem. I was only on the job a week or two when I walked an this out- door shanty area. A bunch of guys were sitting around, and one of them had his dick hanging out for my benefit. I felt like I was going to pass out, I was so upset. I went running out of there. Since I was on probation, I didn't know what to do. After my proba- tion period was over, I told the union president and he told the guy he couldn't do that to a sister. The Women's Committee put the issue of harassment on the agenda. Incidents started to come out. We cre- ated an atmosphere where sexual harassment wasn't tolerated, at least in my plant. Supervisors got train- ing in how not to sexually harass. It still happened but nothing like before. We worked closely with the civil rights committee. If we heard a story of sexual harassment, we'd take the person to that committee. James B. Lane: The Caucus was a consciousness- raising vehicle which helped win tangible benefits in terms of washroom facilities and disability pregnancy leaves. Its visibility signaled that women were in the mills to stay and that sexual harassment would not be tolerated. Especially gratifying were the interracial friendships. For many the Caucus was their first opportunity for forming intimate interracial friendships. These often outlived the organization itself, and years later, were what several women cited as the most memorable aspect of their Caucus experience. Roberta Wood: The black women had a very good sense of organization and sisterhood. When under siege, people stick together. We were lucky to have several women who really put a lot into it. Ola Kennedy carried herself in a dignified way and was a role model. She was older, and a lot of the women started calling her "Momma." Mary Elgin was there from the beginning and put a lot into it and into friend- ships with the other women. Doreen Labby played a really good role, not a role I would characterize as ultra-Leftist. She went along with the policies that the majority set and put out a wonderful newsletter. Robin Rich: Most of the women on the Women's Committee at Bethlehem were black. They recog- nized the need to organize. They cared about the issues and were used to fighting for civil rights. Mary Elgin: Sometimes the political views of some of the women created problems. We were real close and got through it. And one would let you know the other one's agenda. The socialists would resist the
  • 106. communist's agenda and vice versa. I had a real good ear for detecting when those things were hap- pening. You could feel the pressure of one's political view being pushed on you. Ola and Roberta had a real good sense of detecting when things were becoming political. The leaders made a commitment not to let their political views disrupt the Caucus. Ola and Roberta were not people who'd run people away. Ola was everyone's mother. Sometimes we thought she was too cautious, but she usually proved to be right in her judgment. It was a shared leader- ship. They'd alternate chairing meetings. Roberta basically took care of the Illinois section of the district, and Ola the Indiana side. People were always bring- ing things for us to address. There was an inner cir- cle, where we discussed how advantageous it would be for us to address a particular issue. When we made a decision that something was not in the same direction with our goals, we just didn't do it. James B. Lane: Many Caucus members believed that the key to meaningful change lay in radicalizing American workers. One Caucus member commented that "everybody knew who everybody was," although "in the beginning, people were always in the embar- rassing position of trying to recruit each other. Somebody would seem to be ~eally progressive and show up at meetings, so you'd put a lot of energy into recruiting them until you found out that they were there because they already belonged to an organization." Roberta Wood: Every left group in the world seemed to have women in the mill. We kept the worst ultra-Leftists at bay. They could have really made the movement look bad. They were involved at times but didn't make policy. They didn't become disruptive because they weren't able to get any traction. They were always running behind, trying to catch up. I was determined that we weren't going to be anti-male or antiunion. In fact, we got great support from men steelworkers. Mostly, the women were involved in the same rank and file issues that the men were. They were glad to see any kind of ferment. There was a lot of pressure on us to attack the union- to picket the union leadership at conventions, for example. I'd say, "Let's picket management." The problems we were facing were in the plant. Who was responsible for that? Management. We made it clear from the start that our position was not to go after the union leader- ship but to focus on the company. 0/a Kennedy: We didn't let one group destroy the aims of the caucus. You had to do a balancing act. We could have gotten sidetracked. Some people said, "Oh, those wild-eyed radicals. They're going to be into this and into that." But we stayed the course and made an impact. We encouraged women to set up committees in their locals. I went different places, like Pittsburgh, telling women how to organize. Others throughout the country imitated our Caucus. Michael Bayer: The District 31 Women's Caucus carried the moral weight of being attuned to both rank- and-file and feminist issues. It didn't happen the same way in Baltimore and Buffalo.
  • 107. I 1 I I ---------------------------------------------------------------105Steel Labor (March 1978): At a two-day Women's Conference Director James Balanoff said, "Obviously there would be no need for such a conference if you were treated in the workplace as just another worker." Much of the conference program centered around how to get women members to be more active in their union, "to fight sexism, racism and bossism" in the workplace. As one member put it: "We have got our foot in the door and it's with a metatarsal shoe." James B. Lane: The Women's Caucus was a van- guard movement rather than a mass movement. Perhaps a hundred women considered themselves to be members, less than 5 percent of women millwork- ers. Typically, less than a dozen members attended the Sunday monthly meetings. Two or three dozen more might show up for special events. Robin Rich: There was apathy: the feeling of let somebody else do it. Secondly, women raising chil- dren just didn't have time. They were working swing shift or when they got out of work had to cut right home to pick up their kid at school or make dinner. Thirdly, plenty of women felt it was threatening to be an outspoken woman. Cheryl Peterson: My initial reaction to Caucus organizers was, "Get away from me. I don't want to hear this. I just want to get my work done and go." I blew them off. I wasn't into going to meetings. That's what we had grievers for. I had partying to do. Every night after work I hit the bar. I became an alcoholic. Now I wish I hadn't blown them off. Ninety percent of the men at Bethlehem were assholes who treated women like shit. I learned to deal with it by becoming a thick-skinned Amazon woman. At age 21 I had my own apartment, a new car, new dishes, new every- thing. Then I was laid off and lost everything. Mary Elgin: At first women were shy about taking part. Some would listen to men say, "Oh, that's just a bunch of women." Some didn't want to be addressed as Ms. They didn't want labels like feminist attached to them. They thought they'd be seen as lesbians. Many of us were single parents with small kids, trying to maintain our standard of living. I had sought a high- er paying job at Inland because I was getting a divorce. I was a fighter. When things were not right, I'd file grievances. There were no facilities designed for women, especially in the old mills, no janitors to clean what bathrooms we had and to keep the neces- sary supplies for women in bathrooms and locker rooms. These were the things we attacked first. We wanted proper showers. adequate locker room space and toilet facilities. They'd have us walking miles to get to a portable locker room. Roberta Wood: I remember one shy woman saying, "I tried to speak at the union meeting and the presi- dent said I was out of line." I know he said she was out of order. So we were trying to get people familiar with Roberts Rules of Order and trying to get women to go to union meetings together so they'd become activated and self-confident. One issue had to do with bathrooms. At South Works you had all this billion dol- lartechnology and then dirt floors and fixtures that did- n't work, slapped together, especially for the women. They gave us whatever was left over, like wooden pal- lets to stand on in the shower. Lots of work places didn't have bathrooms at all. Or we'd be locked out at night. So we even picketed our mill for better bath- rooms. Robin Rich: We were a core group of rank-and-file women who had leadership strengths. We were try- ing to get women to stand up and be leaders. We even had a training session to get women to learn how to speak in public. Many became assistant griev- ers. I got elected assistant griever in the slab yard, my second year there. It was a lifesaver for me to know that I wasn't alone in the stuff I was doing. It was important for there to be a support group. Women were getting write-ups and disciplines for being home with a sick kid. The women's organizations created an attitude that we didn't have to accept all this. We could something about it. It was empowering. 0/a Kennedy: Once I told Gloria Kelley I wanted her to speak at the Christmas dinner. "Oh," she said, "I just can't do it." I said, "Oh, yes you can." And she did. Her first time trying to speak to 200 people, she was so nervous. But then it got easier. We trained them and encouraged them to run in union elections. Gloria became recording secretary. Women began to get attention and demand equal rights. We had picnics. Families came, and we had fun. We went to each other's homes. It was Sisterhood. Mary Elgin: Some women at Bethlehem started a law suit over the company firing women for taking maternity leave. They didn't have a job to come back to or had to come back in six weeks. After their suc- cess, the Caucus decided the best vehicle would be to have women's committees in each local union. Roberta Wood: The Supreme Court had ruled that discrimination against pregnancy was not sex discrim- ination. That was a real step backward. A lot of women would be forced to take pregnancy tests and if pregnant be fired or laid off without insurance. They'd
  • 108. 106 ----------------------------------------------------------------- get six weeks sick leave and that was it. Whereas regular sick leave was not limited. There was a law before Congress to have pregnancy treated as a dis- ability, and we chartered a bus to testify on its behalf. Here we are, riding on the bus, and on the Pennsylvania Turnpike a tree fell across the road so our bus just sat there for two hours. We were late to the hearing. Meanwhile, women who really didn't know anything about the issue had been put up by the International as witnesses. After they testified, some of us spoke from the floor, too. We won that issue and it did make a difference to the women. When my own daughter was born in 1979, I cashed in on that strug- gle, collecting full disability benefits, though I did have to file an EEOC complaint from the hospital to get it. Robin Rich: The Women's Committee leadership at Bethlehem got its reputation and respect from the pregnancy suit. I was 24 and uninterested in getting pregnant at the time but knew it was an important issue. Bethlehem had been forcing pregnant women to leave the mill. They could not collect sick leave. Diane Kaczocha organized a class action suit and lobbied in Washington for the Women's Disability Act, which passed while I was in the plant. We won the right to have pregnancy treated as a disability, once you and your doctor decided you were disabled. On some jobs women worked right up to a week before their delivery. Women on some other jobs got paid sick leave a couple of days into their pregnancy if they were working in areas that would cause birth defects. Then you could have a six-month unpaid leave. Women's Committee at 1010 Local1010 Minutes, June 15, 1978: Sister Holmes rose to report a meeting will be held to formulate a women's committee. Brth Perkins said the move could separate the minorities. Sister Holmes and Hopper said some women will not talk to anyone but another woman on problems they may have. Brth C. Mezo said we should encourage such groups. Local 1010 Minutes, Feb. 1, 1979: Sister Holmes said meetings have been held with Company about lack of facilities for women. Company answers they are working on it. A task force has been set up to examine reports of harassment. She asked others to report any similar problems. The new pregnancy amendment has been signed by President Carter; contract to include changes necessary. Some preg- nant women are being harassed into taking early leave so as not to be covered by the effective date. Sister Kimbrough rose to say local should provide child care. Brth Cohen said he has need for a service so he'd not miss meetings. Brth Holmes said certifi- cation and insurance are questions. Sister Elgin said a voluntary committee may be set up. Mary Elgin: Local 1010 had a real active group of women, including Sarah Slaughter, Juanita Holmes and Christine Kimbrough. Our Women's Committee provided child care at the Roberto Clemente Center so that women could attend union meetings. The local paid for a licensed child care person from Purdue Calumet. Some of the men brought their children. Local 1010 Minutes, April 5, 1979: Local Women's Committee recommended a child care service on union meeting nights. Motion to establish a child-care service for a trial period of 3 months and authorizing a donation of $125.00 per month for the expense to begin on the second meeting in May. Motion second- ed by Brth Cohen. Brth Perkins said hall no place for children. Brth Schneider said service is for all parents, not just women. Sister Kaufman presented lists of petitions in support. Brth Hartman said women are here to stay. Motion carried. Brth Rogus rose to say in this day of law suits the liability should be checked. District 31 Conference District 31 Report(May-Aug. 1978): Over 1,000 del- egates heard Director Balanoff call for the members' right to ratify all contracts. Balanoff said, ''This can be achieved through an amendment to our Constitution. I intend to fight for this change and urge you to sup- port it." He was backed by every delegate who spoke. One delegate cited the United Mine Workers: "They turned down two contracts which would have set them back 30 years. Our only protection against an unfair contract is our right to vote on it." A supporting reso- lution was unanimously approved. William Andrews(1978): It's obvious the present sys- tem does not represent the wishes of the membership. Our objective is not to attack Lloyd McBride. The Right to Ratify will strengthen our Union; if McBride opposes it, that's his decision. I've made mine. Jim Balanoff(1978): We are faced with the crippling double bind of unemployment and inflation. Perhaps big business is on the road to recovery, but our econ- omy is not. With a shorter work week the unemployed could have jobs. The union's greatest need is to organize more members. We have to work hard just to stay even. Since January 1977, we have organized 12 plants in District 31, adding more members than we have lost. It's been tough sledding, and changes in our labor laws would make organizing easier. We
  • 109. Balanoff: "The only thing missing from these rules is a requirement that a can- diate for international office get per- mission from the president to run." Roberto Gil sits •• vote on Right to Ratify is taken -story in column at right. Windblown Cowboy uses bull horn to address meeting Sunday night. I I I I 1978 Convention 107 . ."Right-to-Ratify banner waves from balcony where nightly strategy meetings were held. Delegates overflow to terrace as meeting room filled. Mke Olzanski raises a point. "Righf.toRattfy" looks like • winner In this photo, but opposition had more votes.
  • 110. 108-----------------------------------------------------------------Jim Balanoff as District Director Installation Ceremonies, Dawson, Pa., June 1977. ERA Rally 1978 Dedicating Union Hall flanked by Phil Cyprin, Leon Lynch, Jack Parton, John Mayer, & a smiling John Terry McBride is next to Balanoff with fist clenched. Full Employment Week, 1978 "Fire in the Belly"
  • 111. J I I J ----------------------------------------------------------109need to work on political action. Our survival depends on protecting the legislative gains we have made. Voice of the Rank and File(Aug. 1978): On July 6 a resolution was unanimously passed to send out mate- rial to the other Locals urging them to join Local 1010 in pushing for the right to ratify. A group of leftovers from the Lopez gang sent telegrams to President McBride objecting to the Mailing and accusing the Local of violating the Local Union Bylaws and the International Constitution. This was the opening McBride needed. He sent orders not to proceed with any mailing until he had investigated. The stall con- tinued with a hearing held by two of McBride's repre- sentatives. President Andrews, Recording Secretary Hopper and Joe Sanders defended the Local's posi- tion. Wally Hartman, Gene Augustine and Roberto Gill said what the Local wanted to do was in violation of the Constitution and that we don't need the right to ratify contracts anyway because the "White Father" in Pittsburgh knows what's best for us. 1978 Convention in Atlantic City Voice of the Rank & File(Oct. 1978): Brother Gavino Galvan, in his untiring effort to suck up the International, challenged the seating of Local 101O's entire delegation. Our delegates were seated, but only after a hearing that lasted most of Sunday. Andrews was tied up for two days. McBride couldn't have been happier. In fact, no delegate badges were printed up at registration time for Local 1010. Galvan's protest? That not enough meetings were required to run for delegate. This after Galvan argued that the meeting requirements should be lowered! He cost our local time, money and effort. And he did it for one reason; to move closer to the head of the long line waiting to lick McBride's boots for a staff job. Mike 0/szanski: The night before the convention, supporters of the Right to Ratify had a big meeting on the roof of a small motel. A couple hundred dissidents attended. We strategized on how to take up the issue on the floor. Somebody suggested a permanent organization with Sadlowski as chairman. Eddie urged us not to open ourselves up to the charge of being "dual unionists." He said, "If you don't form an organization, you won't be such an easy target." Cliff Mezo, Mike Mezo and Jim Robinson went along with Sadlowski. Same with Balanoff. I thought they were wrong but figured they must know better. I should have gone with my gut. I'm not sure that we could have changed the world, but without an ongoing organization we had no chance. From there it was all down hill. It petered out. A lot of people wanted to fight, but our leadership told us not to. It was like, "When we get somebody to run for union president again, we'll call you." Scott Marshall: The McBride forces hired Steve Feldman to smear Sadlowski and other "radicals." They put out a leaflet that used the phrase, "If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it must be a duck." In Atlantic City George Edwards and I were passing out a bulletin for the National Steelworkers Rank & File about what was happening. Feldman walked by and said, in a real soft voice, "Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck." Our response was that every time any of us saw Feldman, we'd go "Quack, quack." It drove him nuts. He'd start yelling, "See! Communists!" Mike Mezo: My dad was being provocative, trying to get beat up like in 1976, but there were no takers because the cameras were there. The directors all sat up on the stage rather than on the floor with the mem- bers. All except Jim. He'd make the rounds, sitting down at tables. The International leadership was shocked. They'd look at him like, "What's he doing?" He was going around saying, "Hi" but they thought he was plotting and scheming. Jim Robinson: We made a lot of racket. It never occurred to me that people might beat me up. I was never a big fan of McBride, but I'd not put him in the same category as Tony Boyle in terms of physical intimidation. Juanita Holmes(Convention Proceedings): Women in the workplace are being discriminated against. Our rights are being denied. We have not had a voice. Without an ERA amendment, we can achieve nothing. Jim Balanoff(Convention Proceedings): I rise in sup- port of ratification of the contract. We might not get it at this convention, but, believe me, it is an idea whose time has come. Mike 0/szanski(Convention Proceedings): [Getting the right to vote on the contract] deserves a roll call. I want my membership to know how I voted on it. I ask for a roll call vote, Mr. Chairman [on the committee recommendation to referj, and ask to be recorded as voting NO! Voice of the Rank & File(Oct. 1978): After they were elected on a Right-to-Ratify platform, AI Pena and Roberto Gil voted with those working to deny the members that right. This was a calculated act of deceit and double dealing that comes as no real sur-
  • 112. 110---------------------------------------------------------------prise, since they have a history of not fighting the International. The vast majority of delegates did us proud. We're sure we can depend on you, the voters to remove the two bad apples from the barrel. McBride's forces had to compromise to blunt the Right-to-Ratify movement. The issue will be voted on at the Industry Conferences. It's not all we wanted, but it's a shot. It will be easier to convince the Presidents to give their members the "Right to Ratify" than to get this through the Convention. I have asked President McBride to call an Industry Conference in the near future so that this most important issue might be settled. Jim Balanoff(Convention Proceedings): If you vote for this resolution [for no outside money in International campaigns], you close the opportunity for thousands upon thousands of people to serve this union. (The speaker was interrupted by the dele- gates. Loud chorus of boos.) Committee Chairman Williams: Permit the delegate to speak. Jim Balanoff: All this serves is to keep the present officers in office. Yes, I oppose this resolution because I believe in Democracy. The problem is how to open this union so more people can run. Cliff Mezo: These boos are orchestrated. When they want cheers, they get cheers. This is not an indi- cation of anything except a group of people under the thumb of Caesar. Betty Balanoff: Lynn Williams just let them boo, per- haps thinking that Jim would sit down. Jim wouldn't budge. He told Williams, "I can stand here as long as they can boo. You're in charge of this meeting, and if you want to proceed, you'd better shut them up." Joe Gutierrez: A director from Ohio, Dan Martin, told me how the International organized people to boo, with signs and signals. Balanoff spoke stirringly against salary increases for International officers. He said, "How can we justify raises when people are laid off and our membership is dwindling?" They practi- cally booed him off the podium. Steel Labor(Oct. 1978): Some 4,000 delegates voted strong safeguards to protect the election of its officers from interference from outsiders. The dele- gates approved a new section designed to ban out- side money and other support. Overcoming a vocally loud but numerically small opposition, the convention delegates supported the new regulations. Mike Mezo: The rules on fundraising made it even harder to challenge the leadership. Balanoff got booed when he said, ''The only thing missing is per- mission from the International President to run." Paul Kaczocha: The only way the International was able to cut the nuts of the anti-establishment move- ment was through financial restrictions. One change unfortunately prohibited outside money. All kinds of restrictive bookkeeping practices were mandated, so it made it real difficult to challenge the establishment. Mike Mezo(1978): Disguised as an attempt to keep "outsiders" from influencing our union, the new elec- tion finance rules, which prohibit contributions from non-USWA members, took a big step towards crown- ing McBride "king" of the USWA until his retirement. As Director Balanoff stated, ''The only thing missing is a requirement that a candidate get permission from the president to run." To make a contribution of $5 or more, a person must have his name and Local record- ed, which will provide an automatic enemies list. Without a full time staff, a candidate will have difficul- ty accounting for every nickel and dime collected. We agreed with the concept of Steelworker money for Steelworker elections. We submitted a resolution which called for a campaign fund to be set aside for use by each duly nominated candidate. Spending would be limited to that amount. All candidates would receive an equal amount. Candidates should be elected on their qualifications and programs. Voice of the Rank & File(Oct. 1978): Just as at Las Vegas, staff men were stationed at each mike, obvi- ously selected for their size. They grabbed the mike away from anyone the chairman wanted cut off. In addition, they signaled their stooges when to cheer and boo. Meanwhile, on the Boardwalk, flunkies (including 101O's own AI Pena) handed out literature against a dues roll-back and against the right to ratify. When some protesters showed up, these same flunkies turned into goons and beat them up. The Atlantic City police had to calm down these heroes. By the way, the goons outnumbered the protesters at least 10 to 1. But they didn't scare us. They know we won't quit. That's what really shakes them. AI Samter: The proceedings were orchestrated by Lynn Williams. He was the brains behind Lloyd McBride and gave the goons free reign. On the Boardwalk they were harassing anybody who was part of the opposition. They spotted a guy giving out copies of his local union newspaper and beat the hell
  • 113. ---------------------------------------------------------------111out of him. It was so bad that we warned members not to go off by themselves at night. They had roving bands looking for our people. Almost every speaker took off on Ed Sadlowski, like he was the biggest enemy in the world. They even had a guest speaker from the former Soviet Union take off on Sadlowski. Like he was Hitler. The only person with the guts to protest was Jim Balanoff. He took the microphone and said, "Look, this guy ran and he lost and let's stop hammering on him and realize he's a union person and not the enemy." Fred Gaboury: The leadership really teed off on Eddie. One after another got up and called him every- thing in the world. Balanoff was the only one who said, 'What are you doing?" They even had some renegade Russian general teeing off on Ed Sadlowski. Helping Sister Locals Mary Elgin: We were receiving tons of communica- tions. When there was a strike somewhere, we'd make a donation and have gate collections. Local1010 Minutes, Dec. 21, 1978: Communication from Director Balanoff: Local 8769 on strike for union recognition and a just contract. Motion by Secy to donate $94.00, seconded by Brth Gonzalez, carried. Brth Olszanski said it was not enough to give $1.00 per member and asked to pass the hat. Accepted. Brth Shattuck suggested we help on the picket line in view of all the abuse by company goons reported. Jim Robinson: I believed very strongly in the broad- er labor movement. I was chairman of the Strike and Boycott Committee and thought we couldn't just be concerned with steel in isolation. I worked on the J.P. Stevens campaign and on raising money and food for the miners' strike. Local 1010 Minutes, Jan. 4, 1979: Communication from East Chicago Federation of Teachers on strike, urging us not to cross picket lines and thanks for use of our hall. Motion by Brth Olszanski to go on record supporting the teachers strike and urging our mem- bers, their relatives, children and friends not to cross picket lines, carried unanimously. Local1010 Minutes, March 1, 1979: Communication from Director Balanoff and President McBride requesting participation at strike rally for the Newport News Dock Workers on strike against INCO, bus transportation to Virginia provided by the International. Motion to allow a $50.00 per day expense to all those attending the strike rally and to include the Exec Brd and any other member who wishes to attend at their own travel expense. Loca/1010 Minutes, March 15, 1979: Brth Shattuck said six bus loads of union people from District 31 attended the impressive Newport News rally. 4000 marched with Confederate and American flags to the beat of congo drums with a chant of "Close the gates at 88." Most workers earn about $3.80 per hour with highest skilled about $6.00 per hour. Company refus- es to negotiate. With Virginia a Right-to-Work state, this could greatly undermine the Trade Union move- ment in the South. Brth Liefer moved the Local leaflet the gate and hold open meetings to broadly popular- ize the March on Washington and take all measures to inform the members about the Webber case. Carried Local 1010 Minutes, April 5, 1979: Communication from President McBride, asking for continued assis- tance to the Newport News Dock Workers Local 8888. Motion to send a Strike Fund donation in the amount of $500.00. Seconded by Brth Deardorff, carried. 1979 Campaign at 1010 Mary Elgin: The Caucus was pretty united on sub- stantive issues, but there were cliques. If you weren't looking for discrimination, it was hard to see. I had problems with Jim Robinson and Mike Mezo. We had our in-house discussions. I had a big mouth and could not sit and nod my head without injecting my opinion. In 1979 I was asked to run on the Caucus slate as a trustee. Right away, I said I wanted to be financial secretary. He said he couldn't step me above others. I don't think they expected me to win the trustee spot, but I did. In addition to serving on the executive board, trustees are in charge of the local union properties. Their main function is quarterly audits. The other two slated Caucus candidates for trustee were Phil King and.Freddy DeJesus. Freddy was an East Chicago regular, very friendly and popu- lar, so I knew he'd win. A large percentage of whites were supporting Wally Hartman's slate. He general- ly had one black on his slate but the Rank and File had four, including Andrews. Cliff Mezo: By the time he ran for re-election, Andrews felt more comfortable. At that time we were weak among Mexican supporters. In effect we had a black-white coalition. Usually we got the Puerto Rican vote and the opposition most of the Mexican vote. Mike Mezo: Another caucus approached me, but it
  • 114. 112 -----------------------------------------------------------------wasn't a serious effort. I was probably considered untouchable because of my father. Voice of the Rank & File(April 1979): In 1974 in return for giving the company the right to force you to take your vacation during a shutdown, the Lopez Gang got 10¢ and Kotex. And they never told you a thing before they did it. In 1977 Andrews and the Rank & File issued regular reports, then held the first vote on a contract in Local 101 0 history. We made gains because we listened to you! After the Lopez and Hartman faction left Local1 010 nearly broke, the Rank & File Caucus has put a million dollars in the bank. Mike 0/szanski: Andrews' election was a major event, like Hatcher getting elected mayor. Minorities felt empowered. I barged into Andrews' office a cou- ple weeks prior to the election with news of what I felt was a campaign turning point. A co-worker, a native of West Virginia and admittedly prejudiced, had decid- ed that Andrews' right-wing opponents could not lead the local as well as we had done. Throwing into the garbage an opposition pamphlet dripping with anti- communist and racist venom, he said, "These guys are a couple of assholes! Guess I'll vote for the n-- -r. Give me one of those Rank and File buttons." He pinned it on his chest and wore it until after the election. Roberto Flores: Rank and File members considered me Hank's buddy because we had played ball togeth- er. I was somewhere in between but running strong. I think I could have beat Bill Andrews but would have had to start a whole new group, like Jesse did. I did- n't have the energy. In 1979 I became financial sec- retary. Balanoff was still running the Caucus. That didn't play too well with Andrews, who eventually broke with him. Andrews was less democratic and less anti-administration than Jim. Official Tally: President: Bill Andrews, 5561; Wally Hartman, 4825. Vice President: Cliff Mezo, 4742; AI Pena, 3318; Dave Brooks, 1896. Recording Secy: Mary Hopper, 5031; John Foster, 2856; Darlene "Doll" Morris, 1839. Financial Secy: Bob Flores, 4516; Buddy Hill, 2856; Roberto Gil, 2062; Grant "Big 0" Oden, 397. '79 Campaign at 6787 Paul Kaczocha: I lost the Presidency of 6787 to Dave Wilborn, a former ally. He had been my right- hand man, so to speak. It was a power play. Wilborn represented the steelmaking part of the mill. Our cau- cus always took the coke ovens and blast furnaces - the hot end in the steel-making process. We'd get a good part of the cold mill, but our rivals would take a majority. Part of the plate mill was ours, too. They needed to make inroads, so they offered to slate Wilborn for president. It was all numbers. You've got to offer something big for somebody big to jump. Wilborn was a militant griever but unstable and bad at paperwork. He'd file thousands of grievances and never do anything with the huge backlog. He was beginning to be on the outs when he and another guy came up with this wild idea of framing us. On their suggestion, these two yahoos went up to Jim Scott, this black staff rep who had replaced Hickey, and attacked him. Later we found out that they met at Wilborn's house and planned it all out. Then our oppo- nents asked the International to come in and take us over. The company started screaming about us, too. We took immediate action and suspended them. It had all the markings of a frame-up. You don't do something that stupid when you're in a big battle. Our political enemies had been asking the International to do something about us for a long time. When this happened, more heat was brought down. The International appointed a monitor. We weren't removed from office, but he had all the control. We challenged it in court. In fact, at the '78 convention we had T-shirts reading, "Remove the monitor." The loss was a real character builder - something you don't like to go through. Like Balanoff used to say, I lost more than I won. It was a very hard defeat. Wilborn had been best man at my wedding. Anwar Affair Mike Olszanski: There was a split within the Local over the firing of Keith Anwar for honoring picket lines of bricklayers at Inland. Local 1010 Minutes, May 17, 1979: Resolution to support Brth Keith Anwar's fight against the Company for having honored Local 8180's picket line, demand- ing his suspension and threatened discharge be rescinded and to support any other members victim- ized for the same reason. Motion to adopt Board Recommendation that Brth Anwar is already receiving the full support of the Union through the grievance procedure and adoption of resolution is unnecessary; seconded by Brth Koleff. Brth Anwar rose to state the Local is helping him but the strike would be over if we had honored it one day. He plans to file with the NLRB and said the Company is setting a precedent to divide the labor movement. On standing vote motion adopted 45 to 26 votes. Many abstained.
  • 115. -------------------------------------------------------------113Local 1010 minutes, June 7, 1979: Motion to allow Brth Anwar to pass the hat to pay for lawyers on his suspension if he states the funds will be used solely against the Company, seconded by Brth Olszanski. Brother Anwar rose to say he had no intention of suing the Union. He said he has filed his case with the NLRB, who report it will be a lengthy procedure. Said he feels he can win; grievance has been held off so he wouldn't have to cross the picket line. Motion unani- mously carried. 1979 District Conference Resolutions Local 1010 Minutes: May 17, 1979: Motion by Secretary to adopt Resolutions for June 29-30 District Conference, seconded by Brth Lopez, carried. 1. Right to ratify. 2. Right to Strike. 3. Cancel the Nuclear Power Program 4. Maternity Benefits and Abortion Rights. 5. Child Care Centers. 6. (End) Forced Overtime. 7. Affirmative Action. 8. Strengthening the Role of Women in the USWA 9. Ratify ERA in Illinois. 10. Abolish the Probationary Period. 11 . Support International Union to reverse Webber decision. 12. COLA to keep pace with inflation. 13. End the ENA 14. 25 Year Retirement, 20 for Coke Plant workers. 15. Rate Retention for Lay off workers. 16. Divestiture by Steel Corp. of interests in South Africa. Resolution to establish a third political party was not adopted after debate. Members concerned it could be misunderstood and a mistake at this time. Others were concerned with our elected representatives not delivering legislation for Labor Reform Health Insurance. Bill Carey(Local 1010 Steelworker, June 1979): Local 1010 has been leading the fight for the Right to Ratify. Since we have to work under the contract, it only makes sense that we should have the final say about it. We are the ones who get the overtime forced down our throats, our vacation scheduled during com- pany shutdowns, a pension plan next to impossible to live on. We'd have a better contract if we voted on it. Plain and simple. When contracts are shoved down steelworkers' throats, the only ones who gain are those who want to destroy unions, because they know they'll be facing a weaker target. Protest and Dissension Local 1010 Steelworker(Sept. 1979): Some 250 members marched on the company's front door to protest section C of the new Apprenticeship Agreement, which bars apprentices and craft workers from bidding on other craft openings. Additionally the new agreement would bar anyone dropped from an apprenticeship from entry into the crafts. These moves were seen as a take away of seniority rights. Mike Mezo was one of the march's main organizers. Not since 1942 have Local 1010 members marched around Inland's main office building. At Michigan and Guthrie the marchers listened to President Andrews, Joe Gyurko and Cowboy Mezo. Gyurko said, 'We need to keep the pressure up and build on what we started today." From there they marched to the Inland office, where they met some very nervous plant protection big shots and labor rela- tions flunkies. A couple of management types were headed out the door when they saw the crowd. They retreated, prompting one marcher to say, "We put hot steaks on those guys' table. It looks like they eat cold steaks tonight." The marchers took a second swing around the building to make sure the company knew they were out there. Sam Cozza: Cowboy Mezo said Local 1010 was probably the most democratic local in the industry. Cliff "Cowboy" Mezo(1979): No one outfit ever got there and ran the whole thing. This is healthy although it burns up a lot of energy and time that could be devoted to fighting the company. But the end result is they wouldn't dare stuff a ballot box or deny some- body the right to stand up and speak on the floor because there would be ten of the opposition up. This is what makes democracy, the right to speak and the right to dissent. Mary Elgin: The Rank-and-File steering committee was a mix of union officers and other Caucus leaders. I was not part of this male inner circle. I'd go into board meetings not knowing the agenda. When Tom Mills said I should be on the steering committee, the word back from Andrews was, "She's got all she's going to get. You better straighten Mary out and get her in line." The steering committee was a man's thing, and I could live without yet another meeting, with men sitting around smoking and drinking beer. My goal was to be a part of the executive board. I did- n't care about going over to Andrews' house and lis- tening to that garbage. There was a lot of sexism. I was never part of the negotiation team. It was a male
  • 116. 114---------------------------------------------------------------thing. The guys would go to a hotel, sack out for weeks and months. Who wants women in their pres- ence? It was a battle not worth fighting, but I'd throw it in their face when convenient. Local 1010 minutes, Nov. 1, 1979: President Andrews reported his appointment of the Negotiating Committee as follows: Ted Rogus (chair), Bill Andrews, Joe Gyurko, Don Lutes, Jr., Jim Robinson, Mike Mezo, Joe Gutierrez, Bobby Joe Tomkins. Sister Ann Giba protested that no women were selected, also Women's Rest Room in Main Hall was not open. Bailly Fight Ed Sadlowski: There was a big push by NIPSCO to build a nuclear power plant close to Bethlehem Steel. I had mixed emotions about nuclear power but thought it wrong to locate a plant in the dunes. Later I found out they had no safe way to get rid of nuclear waste other than to bury it for 10,000 years. Chuck Bloom introduced me to environmentalists like Lee Botts who were worried about encroachments on the dunelands. When I started opposing the plant, the building trades went crazy. They stormed my office and called me all kinds of names. One guy said they should pave over the dunes and make the whole thing a parking lot. They wanted that nuclear plant bad, but being a good trade unionist means more than just worrying about putting beef on your plate. Michael Bayer: Bailly was the first nuclear power plant defeated by a popular protest. The main reason was because the leaders of the anti-Bailly movement were steelworkers with inherent clout. The people in power didn't want to mess with them; they wanted to keep them quiet, drinking beer and watching football games. They did not want 16,000 Inland steelworkers thinking about what NIPSCO was potentially going to do to the people of Northwest Indiana or 6,000 steel- workers at Bethlehem thinking about the possibility that if something went wrong, they'd be dead. So when the unions became the mass base, the environ- mental movement was much stronger. William Andrews: Mike Olszanski was real well read on environmental issues. He was a hardworking guy with his own agenda, and it was like sometimes he had blinders on. He was outspoken. He'd sometimes speak too much. I'd read something he'd said in the paper. I'd call him in to the office and say, "Hey, I don't want to receive a call about something you said in the paper and I don't know anything about it." Jim Robinson: The Rank-and-File Caucus took some positions as a result of Mike Olszanski. Most of us were mainly interested in our work environment and saw the Bailly fight as a peripheral issue. I was a latecomer to environmental awareness and was somewhat involved in the Bailly fight, but to me that's not why we have a union. We have a union so work- ing people can get control over their working lives. Jim Balanoff deserves credit, however, for taking that stand, and NIPSCO ought to be thankful it wasn't stuck with a white elephant. Mike Olszanski: The Bailly fight had been brewing for years before we got involved. I went into it skepti- cal. I felt deep down, you can't beat city hall. I thought, ''We'll fight to stop this thing, and probably it will get built but we'll get so many safeguards that it may be the safest nuclear plant in the world. That's not too shabby if we can do that. We'll have focused so much attention, it will be hard for them to screw up and get away with it." Local1010 Minutes, Feb. 17, 1977: Motion by Chrm Olszanski for the Local to go on record to oppose building of the Bailly Nuclear Power station. Carried. James B. Lane: Local 101O's resolution cited three factors: safety, the waste problem, and the inevitable electricity rate increases to consumers. Mike Olszanski: It was surprisingly east to get Local 1010 to go against the plant. We didn't realize how ripe that issue was. At a meeting we proposed having a discussion; somebody jumped up and said, "Why don't we just oppose the damn thing? It ain't no damn good." We went ahead and passed a motion that gave our committee carte blanche. James Lane: When NIPSCO had applied in 1970 for permission to begin construction, a few environmen- talists questioned the appropriateness of a nuclear generating plant at the border of the park. In the words of Jim Newman, NIPSCO had already lost credibility locally because their fossil-fuel plant, locat- ed near the proposed Bailly site, "was emitting a lot of chemicals through its smokestack. Every night you could see this trail of red smoke going off into the dis- tance." He and several others were granted the status of "Joint Intervenors" by the AEC. In 1973 opposing parties argued their case before AEC's Licensing Board. After losing that battle, the Intervenors appealed on the grounds that the utility misrepresent- ed the number of people living and working near the plant. The main importance of the Intervenors, since they ultimately lost their court case, was in delaying construction. Then NIPSCO could not get the plant
  • 117. 'I I I ---------------------------------------------------------------115pilings down to bedrock. Even though the AEC even- tually granted permission for shorter pilings, engineer- ing problems continued to plague them. The formation of the Bailly Alliance in the winter of 1977-78 stimulated mass mobilization against com- pleting construction. The idea came from Chicagoans, but almost all members were from Northwest Indiana. Helping organize the first rally, held in November of 1977 in Chesterton, Indiana, were members of the American Friends Service Committee. Over the winter, Quaker Ellida Earnhart opened up a post office box, set up a checking account, and organized an ad hoc steering commit- tee. That June supporters from a half dozen communi- ties heeded an invitation to Surrenderyour non-involve- ment and Join us for a Non-nuclear [Italian} Dinner! The organization's overriding goal, as stated in its bylaws, was educational: to warn area citizens about the perils of the Bailly nuclear plant. Bailly Alliance members made inroads with Bethlehem Steel employees by going to a Local 6787 union picnic armed with copies of NIPSCO's emergency evacua- tion plan, which had been submitted to the AEC and thus was part of the public record. It called for a "sui- cide squad" of 170 workers to stay inside the mill and bank the furnaces while managerial personnel, in Herb Read's words, ''fled in their corporate jet." Anybody could join the Bailly Alliance. Most work was conducted through local branches. By the sum- mer of 1980, when active membership peaked at around 200, a dozen ''fully autonomous" chapters encompassed a 60-mile area. Each had its own inner dynamic, with some dominated by a single sectarian group (SWP, in Glen Park, for instance) and others relatively free of ideological baggage. For some left- wingers, especially those in the SWP, the antinuclear issue was a means to the ultimate goal of radicalizing America. To others, especially those in the IS, the antinuclear issue gradually became paramount, as it became obvious that ''the revolution was not just around the corner." While dozens of Bailly members played leadership roles, the most sophisticated was Jack Weinberg, a leader of the 1964 Berkeley Free Speech Movement, who had moved to Gary for the express purpose of becoming a steelworker. Mike 0/szanski: Weinberg went out of his way to build a coalition and do things by consensus. Steelworkers had a hard time accepting the tactic of consensus. At union meetings we were lucky to get a slim majority and were used to people being con- frontational and screaming at each other. Yet there was surprisingly little disagreement on strategy or tac- tics. Bailly Alliance leaders were very dedicated, flex- ible and mature. When you're involved in coalition- building, you try to emphasize points of agreement. James Lane: The by-laws mentioned that it might later be necessary to set up an independent Action Committee, but sit-ins and other direct action con- frontations which might have resulted in arrests were seen as counterproductive except as a last resort. The Bailly Alliance cultivated a "mainstream" image in order to counteract NIPSCO propaganda that it was a ''fringe" group, but no efforts were made to exclude communists, Trotskyists or Maoists, a lesson learned from past internecine squabbles. Disagreements were usually over rather trivial procedural matters, such as how to conduct meetings. David Canright recalled that the Quakers and hippies wanted every- body sitting in a circle with no leaders, while others demanded more structure. Arguments occurred over what kind of music to play at movement events and whether "loaded" words like "Fascist" should be used in flyers to characterize the enemy. Partisans argued endlessly over what literature could be hawked at Bailly functions and storefronts, in particular sectarian newspapers such as the SWP's The Militant. As a compromise, sectarian literature was tolerated at pub- lic events but discouraged at meetings or Bailly Alliance displays. One slight diversion from the organization's single- issue stance was supporting striking NIPSCO work- ers. Dave Canright put out a special issue of the Bailly Alliance News devoted to the dispute and deliv- ered copies to the picket lines. The lead story quoted a union member as saying, "And they think they can run a nuclear plant. They've got to be kidding." Because of the goodwill generated by Canright's action, along with prodding from fellow unionists, the striking NIPSCO employees {whose union was a steelworker affiliate) went "anti-nuke." Mike 0/szanski: At first NIPSCO workers were con- vinced the government wouldn't approve unsafe nuclear plants, but the fact that they were involved in a bitter strike made them amenable to persuasion. We raised questions like, ''What's it really gonna cost?" We had found out that at nuclear plants in Illinois, rates kept going up. We asked about jobs, "How many are they going to fill with people from out of state?" We made up a list of about a dozen ques- tions for NIPSCO workers to ask management. Nuclear workers have to wear film badges measuring exposure to radiation. What would happen to a work- er if his film badge registered too much radiation?
  • 118. 116---------------------------------------------------------------How much radiation would workers be exposed to? Are government regulations adequate? NIPSCO workers never would have met with Bailly Alliance people if trade unionists weren't there. Their view would have been, ''These antinukes are kooks." Herb Read talked to them. When somebody claimed nuclear plants were safe, he said, "I'm an architect and deal with concrete a lot. Once thing concrete always does is crack." Then he'd say, "What do you think that containment field is made out of? It's very thick- maybe 6 feet but it's concrete. What do you think it's gonna do? Crack. At the bottom there's a lit- tle trough, a drain and pump. What do you think that's for? When it cracks, it's gonna leak. And when it leaks it's gotta have some place to go." Herb was very good that way. There was a lot of mutual respect. It was a socio- logical phenomenon the way people interacted. I had a ball. I mingled with people I otherwise would have never met. At one rather formal reception I got a beer. Most every one else was drinking highballs or wine. I said, "I don't need a glass." Right away a guy said to me, "You must be the steelworker." Joe Frantz and I became an experts on energy sources. We'd debate nuclear engineers from power companies. We got a letter from a group in New York having an anti-nuclear rally. It didn't sound big so I knew the union wasn't going to pay for it. Frantz went anyway. After he came back, he said about 12,000 people attended. I spoke at a rally in Washington that went on for hours. Jane Fonda got to speak a little longer than I did. Loca/1010 Minutes, May 17, 1979: Chrm Olszanski reported the impressive rally in Washington against nuclear power. A protest is planned by the Bailly Alliance on June 3 at Michigan City. James B. Lane: A Midwest No-Nukes Conference attracted participants from more than a half-dozen states. Brenda Frantz, the Alliance's only paid staff member, did much of the planning. The affair almost turned into a disaster when NIPSCO ''turned out the lights" at the motel where the conference was sched- uled because the owner had fallen behind on his util- ity payments, thus providing company officials with an excuse to torpedo the event. Makeshift sleeping quarters and meeting rooms were found, and the cri- sis helped build esprit de corps. Safety became the issue stressed most in Bailly Alliance literature, espe- cially the inadequate pilings and the lack of any ration- al evacuation plan. As one Bailly leader put it, ''The facts were on our side, so our chief aim was to get them out to the general public and our own members, so they could be better advocates." Loca/1010 Minutes, July 5, 1979: Public hearing by the NRC Advisory Committee on Reactor Safety in connection with the NIPSCO request to use short pil- ings, to be held on July 9 in Portage. Motion by Secy to adopt Brd Rec to send one member, allowing lost time and expense, seconded by Brth Lopez, carried. Local 1010 Minutes, Oct. 4, 1979: Environmental Committee Chair Olszanski reported attending the WIPP protest on the dumping of nuclear wastes in New Mexico. His motion to allow plant gate distribu- tion of pamphlets on energy seconded by Brth Frantz, carried. Mike 0/szanski: Cowboy Mezo, Ray Wagner, and I went to Loving, N. M., at the behest of a group fight- ing a government plan to bury radioactive waste in steel canisters in the salt beds. We flew to Albuquerque and then drove for hours in a rental car. Ray was in the back with his banjo, coming up with lines to Solidarity Forever nobody had ever heard of. Native Americans arrived at the rally site to sing, dance and put a speaker on the stage. Cowboy had this saying he'd always use at meetings: "Don't shoot all your bullets before the Indians come over the hill." Before the program started, I said, "You know, Cowboy, best not to use that quote." The organizers treated us like royalty. They got us two adjoining suites, each with a king size bed plus a daybed. At the rally we ran into an attractive young lady who needed a place to stay. We offered her our place. What we hadn't figured on was that she and this other guy were a couple, so the rest of us ended up in one room and the couple alone in the second suite. Cowboy ended up sprawling out on the king size bed, and we couldn't move him. What a miser- able night, but we had the satisfaction of knowing that this young couple had a nice place to sleep. I spoke at Ralph Nader's Critical Mass Conference. Most people in the audience were either hippies with sandals or no shoes at all, jeans, backpacks and beads; workers were in a very small minority. They were all sprawled out on the floor. In the seats were all these polyester suits. At one point I actually got booed for taking a dig at the "Ban the Can" movement, which steelworkers saw as a threat to their jobs. Afterwards Ralph Nader said to me, "Why don't you guys break away from the steelworkers union and form your own union?" My mouth fell open. Nader was a bright guy but pretty naive, to say something like that.
  • 119. ----------------------------------------------------------------- 117Joe Frantz, Dennis Shattuck and I went to a confer- ence put on by the International and loaded with peo- ple from power companies. One speaker claimed it was too impractical to generate power with wind because the blades would keep falling off the windmill. We looked at each other and thought, ''This guy is full of shit." We asked him a couple pertinent questions but the man chairing the session was trying to keep us quiet. During the break we cornered him and put him in his place. We told him, 'We're two mechanics and an electrician and you're an engineer. Let's get together Saturday and figure out the design." One NIPSCO public relations guy named Roger Robb was bubbling and full of energy, just like the public relations guy in The China Syndrome. Talking to kids at libraries, he'd get up and say, "Nuclear power's great. Here I have a fuel rod. You can eat these pellets; they won't hurt you." He was a real goof- ball. We'd go to where he was talking and ask him questions he couldn't answer. We'd gang up on him until we had the audience. We didn't let him get away with his bullshit. Once I asked him why we couldn't just put a windmill on the towers of high-tension lines since it wouldn't take up any additional space or look any uglier than they do now. He thought a second and said, "Oh, no. It would interfere with TV reception." That was the best he could come up with. I said, "Roger, you're trying to bullshit a bullshitter." When District 31 hosted the Labor Safe Energy Conference, contingents came in from all over the country, including pro football players and miners from southern Illinois and Indiana, big mean-looking guys with long hair and motorcycle jackets who looked like bikers. I recruited them and the football players for security. We were concerned the building trades might try to bust up the conference, which was held at the Sheridan in downtown Gary. We had intended to have it at the Genesis Center, but it wasn't finished in time. I gave them badges and told them to stand by the door and smile at people. Nobody thought to mess with them. These guys were in the hotel bar at lunchtime. The price of beer is expensive at places like that, but we were kind of trapped there. I ordered my beer and the bartender said, "Two dollars, please." The big guy next to me leaned over, almost grabbed the bartender, and said, "Now, son, we told you beer's a dollar today." The guy said, "Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot." Sure enough, as long as those miners were there, the price was a dollar. Nobody dared argue with them. Near the end of the day, the biggest of the miners sat down and put his arm around me. He was pretty lit up and said, "Did you know you have socialists at this here conference?" I said, "Well, you know it's a pretty broad coalition." He replied, "Well, down where I come from, we kill socialists." I said, "Gee, I hope you won't do any of that up here because it could cause real prob- lems for us." He said, 'Well, there's this one little socialist in particular. If I see him again, I'm gonna have to kill him. He's getting in my face with his news- papers." I instantly knew who he was talking about. The SWP's Mitch Rosenburg stood about 5'3" and weighed maybe 120 pounds. He'd have his big Militant canvass paper bag and shove copies in peo- ple's face. He was a fireball. I started trying to cool this guy down when out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mitch at the other end of the hall. I offered to buy the guy a drink and we almost got to the bar when he spotted Mitchell and started threatening to kill him. I finally got him about halfway down the hallway when he stopped and punched a hole in the wall. He took a deep breath, and I said, " Do you feel better now?" He said, "Yeah, a whole lot better." We had our drink, and that was that. I told Mitchell he owed me one. A lot of Bailly people went to the movie The China Syndrome so often they knew the lines by heart. At certain points, they'd repeat lines and boo. Dennis Shattuck, who had come out of IS, was always loud and obnoxious. Once he got hit over the head with a beer bottle. Once Balanoff asked him, ''Trotsky is your God, isn't he, Dennis?" Dennis said, "No, Jim, you're my God." Balanoff loved it. The CP must have made a decision that Bailly was not a critical issue so as a party they did not put a lot of emphasis on it. Their position was, ''There's noth- ing wrong with nuclear power under socialism; but under capitalism management will fuck it up." It may have been just as well because it would have been a third faction. However, as steelworkers and individu- als, many did come to major events. When I needed help, I could call on party people, and they'd show up. In the Bailly Alliance you had leaders, active partici- pants, and supporters who'd come to rallies and the like. African Americans were very active in the coke plant fight, so they didn't have the energy to spend in the Bailly Alliance. But they were still part of it through their organization. They'd go to union meetings and get information on the antinuclear movement. The environmental committee would make regular reports to the membership, which made unionists a part of it. I'd rather see a labor party that incorporates "green"
  • 120. 118-----------------------------------------------------------------than a strictly green party; but I consider myself very green. Global warming is real. The capitalist system is screwing up the environment in a million different ways. If they wanted for us to have solar power tomorrow, we'd have solar power tomorrow. The trouble is, it's hard to charge much for solar power because it comes out of the sky for free. How would utility companies make their profits from windmills or panels on your roof? It's ignorance and greed that make it impractical in capitalist America to develop alternate energy sources. Steelworkers weren't about to turn off technology. That's where our jobs were. But most of us had more in common with environ- mental activists than with pro-nuke management types. It was amazing to see steelworkers marching arm in arm against Bailly with save-the-earth types. A mutual respect built up. It was a real eye-opener. A contingent of us even went to Three Mile Island. Paul Kaczocha(1980 Convention Proceedings): Local 6787 submitted a resolution opposing the Bailly nuclear power plant that is being built within 500 feet of our plant and threatens the safety and health of the 6000 workers that work there every day. Bill Carey: After District 31 passed a resolution in opposition to Bailly, 1010 delegates brought up the matter at USWA conventions but the union reaffirmed its support of nuclear power. Local1010 minutes, April21, 1981: Bro Olszanski reported successful March on Harrisburg, estimating 15,000 attended the Anti-nuclear demonstration that was down played by the media. James B. Lane: The slogan Hell, No! We Won't Glow! was one of many written on placards carried by participants at an antinuclear rally held on April 25, 1981. It was a take-off on the Vietnam War-era antidraft chant, Hell, No! We Won't Go! With NIPSCO's license running out, the Intervenors suc- cessfully demanded a new round of hearings before the AEC made any decision on an extension. Cost estimates by this time had ballooned tenfold to more than a billion dollars. Meanwhile, predictions of future energy needs had lowered, causing some NIPSCO executives to question going ahead in the face of hos- tile public opinion. In August of 1981, NIPSCO's Board of Directors voted to cancel the project. After NIPSCO capitulated to public pressure, there was an unsuccessful effort to keep the Bailly Alliance together for the purpose of putting nuclear plants elsewhere out of commission. Young steelworkers were getting laid off at this time, however, causing some to move out of Northwest Indiana. Others remained active in local grassroots conservation efforts or continued to involve themselves in safety issues in the mills. Jack Weinberg became an organ- izer for Greenpeace. Some Bailly leaders became prominent in the Citizens Action Coalition, which fought rate hikes by NIPSCO to pay for their Bailly losses. Like old World War II soldiers, many Northwest Indiana antinuclear veterans considered their Bailly Alliance days as a highlight of their lives: "For once," to quote one of them, ''we made a difference." Some friendships made during the Bailly fight have stood the test of time, while other estrangements have likewise remained. Interviewed two decades later, many recalled the "good vibrations" and "lasting friendships" which came from participating in Alliance activities. Paul Landskroener: There was a wonderful atmos- phere of fun associated with the Bailly movement. One day we had a Thanksgiving dinner, and I spent all day making giant trays of lasagna. It was typical of Bailly Alliance functions in that there were kids of all ages, lots of music. Not only did the important politi- cal work happen but we had a good time doing it. It was satisfying on a personal and spiritual level. Mike Olszanski: It was fun to be a part of Bailly. We partied. Most of us were fairly young. We steelwork- ers were in the middle between the hippies and the lakeshore liberals. At first we didn't know where we fit in, but we soon gravitated closer to the hippies. I was surprised when we won. It was probably the single most rewarding thing that I was involved in, because we got a clear cut victory. They never built the sonov- abitch. At the Bailly victory party at Bill Drozda's I lit- erally lost a shirt. That was a hell of a party. At one point a big crowd of us were in a circle, holding hands and singing Solidarity Forever. Then we started singing The lnternationale. On one side of me was CP organizer Mike Bayer and on the other a middle- class liberal. After we got through about three verses, the woman got nervous and quietly left the circle.
  • 121. II I I -----------------------------------------------------------------119 Part Four: Decline of the Insurgency Mike 0/szanski: When President Ronald Reagan destroyed PATCO, we should have given him a fight, but the rank-and-file movement was waning. We should have had a general strike, but none of our col- laborationist union leaders had the balls to say that. They didn't know how to fight because they had thrown the Reds out. Layoffs and Plant Closings Philip Nyden: 1979 was notable for one of the largest declines in steel employment since the Depression. Despite the precipitous drop in member- ship, the International leadership was not seriously affected by its shrinking constituency. The employ- ment decline was partially compensated by the diver- sification of the membership base. The top officials also benefitted politically from the layoffs in basic steel. Fighting hard to prevent the shutdowns would have meant helping the opposition maintain their ranks. Rank-and-File steelworkers were losing power and were more concerned with preserving past gains than embarking on major challenges to the industry or union leadership. Jim Balanoff(1979): Despite the antilabor atmos- phere, we must demand that this great industrial machine reward the worker as well as the plant owner and banker. Benefits like free child care centers on plant sites, company-paid auto insurance, paid pater- nity leave or worker participation on company policy boards may seem unobtainable, but it wasn't long ago that dental programs, 13-week vacations, funeral leave, and survivors' pensions seemed unobtainable. There will be more energy shortages, more shifts in the job market, increased technological displacement, and continuing inflation. Problems of union security are bound to increase with the growth of conglomer- ates and their "union busting" tactics. Local 1010 Steelworker(Dec. 1979): Inland Steel, true to form, has chosen the holidays to lay off hun- dreds of steelworkers. Adding insult to injury, Inland attempted to soften the financial impact of the layoffs by claiming the shutdowns were designed to provide "job security" for 1980. Roberto Flores: The company used to lay off sever- al hundred people right before Thanksgiving and then call them back around March. In 1980 some 8,000 people were not recalled. I saw that as 8,000 families. The company began to shut down whole depart- ments, such as number 3 open hearth. I was in charge of the membership lists, and people were com- ing and going. When they came back, Inland charged them double dues. I'd have people lined up in my office asking for dues refunds. I'd have to submit a report of the names so we'd get our share of the money. It was exhausting. I made people return money who had gotten too much refunded. Some guys wanted to fight me. I kept a baseball bat behind my desk. Local 1010 Minutes, May 15, 1980: Brother Schneider said plant closings were a growing prob- lem. 20,000 jobs have already been lost. Mike Olszanski: Traditionally it's been a manage- ment prerogative to make steel with the fewest num- ber of workers. When the industry was expanding, the union leadership was unwilling the challenge this so- called God-given right. Even the Rank-and-File movement was a little slow to pick up on it. By the 1980s, however, the issue of jobs was top priority. When world-wide competition and market pressures hit, steel companies sought concessions and shut down less productive facilities. Having purged the Left a generation earlier, the International leadership was stunned. It had forgotten how to fight. George Terrell: The whole industry was decimated. The first to go were the young people, where the rank- and-file movement was strongest. Nearly all the old Fight Back leadership got laid off. Jim Balanoff(Director's Report, Spring 1980): The current agreement requires advance notice of shut- downs. Some members enjoy limited job protection and SUB benefits, but unemployment benefits should be increased and extended to a full 52 weeks. The food stamp program and other forms of public assis- tance should be expedited in communities adversely affected by large layoffs and shutdowns. A national commitment to the shorter work week would mean jobs for thousands. Down the road, companies choosing to act like "industrial slumlords" should be bound to give workers and the community a year's notice of plant shutdowns and to guarantee workers 85 percent of their pay, full continuation of insurance benefits, and vocational retraining at company expense. Further, they should be assessed by the appropriate taxing body for the potential tax base loss to the community. Now is the time to make companies responsible to the environ- ment, the neighborhoods, and the people that have made them their profits in the past.
  • 122. 120-------------------------------------------------------------Women's Caucus in Decline James B. Lane: The annual district Women's Conferences were opportunities to reach a much larg- er audience, since the Caucus pretty much controlled the agenda under directors Ed Sadlowski and Jim Balanoff. Charlene Hart(Local1010 Steelworker, Feb. 1980): 25 members from Local 1010 were among the 350 women and men who participated in the third annual District 31 Women's Conference at the Merrillville Holiday Inn. James Balanoff stated women in the mill need proper representation. Resolutions supporting the ERA and a women's affairs committee at the International level were passed unanimously. Jim Robinson: The steel industry was male domi- nated, and most of us weren't as interested as Balanoff. The women activists I knew put a quick kibosh on any chauvinism, however. If you said any- thing that even started leaning in that direction, they'd jump in your shit with both feet. They'd keep you on your toes. They'd tell you, ''This shit don't go." Mary Elgin: Balanoff was responsible for our having district-wide Women's Conferences. We had prob- lems pulling in women who weren't Rank-and-File members. Some staff reps discouraged them from participating. Some women who supported Jack Parton knew our issues were valid and were victims of a lot of things we were addressing. But it was difficult for them to deal with us. At one conference Parton's staff people took Josephine Brooks in the back and wrote a speech for her. She came out against having a committee specifically for women because the union had a civil rights committee that supposedly could address all of our problems. Inland peaked at abut 19,000 employees, and then massive layoffs started. Our push was to get an extended period of time beyond the guaranteed two years for women to be recalled. We needed a way for them to be hired first when times picked up but didn't have contract language that guaranteed those people recall rights. We submitted something to the Rank- and-File Caucus, but the negotiating team didn't think it had much substance. We didn't get the protection until too late. Later Inland agreed to unlimited recall for people who continuously renewed their status. Local 1010 Minutes, June 5, 1980: Sister Adrian Kaplan rose to say members should not laugh at members concerned about their jobs. Blamed the sit- uation on the International leadership and the ENA. Chair said Local can do nothing about the lay-offs and mills going down. Local got the best agreement possi- ble under present circumstances. Roberta Wood: I got laid off at least a dozen times. I almost got laid off as soon as I got hired. But I kept getting called back. After I had Megan, I tried to get back to work. I heard they were hiring people at U.S. Steel's Tube Works. I should have been eligible to transfer, and they said they'd take me. They even gave me a hat. I went home, and the next day my brother, who was the griever, filed a grievance because he had people with more seniority. So they took them and not me. I finally got in the labor pool for a week or two. Then I got laid off and never got called back. I filed a grievance, but our Grievance Committee chairman was a stinker who let the com- pany contract out these jobs in exchange for favors for his machine shop guys. I lost my grievance; other- wise, I could have made my ten years, gotten a pen- sion and been able to transfer to Gary Works. Curtis Strong: Seniority was a double-edged sword. The layoffs hurt women and blacks disproportionately. But the whole fabric depends on seniority. Now they have "ability to perform" clauses. You have to take a test for almost everything. No longer do you have job training. You come in with the ability to perform. In some ways that is going backwards, so far as minori- ties are concerned. Diane Kaczocha: We became relaxed. A lot of women were involved in union office and we had accomplished our main goals. Robin Rich: The Women's Caucus lost some of its steam when women started getting elected to union positions. Once you start becoming part of the lead- ership, the reason for being is less. But I believe it would have continued to function if the leadership hadn't been laid off. I got laid off, for instance, the same week I got elected to the executive board of the local. I didn't go back to the mill for 26 months and then was in and out of the mill a few years after that. By the time I got back to the mill in 1987, it was hard to think about what we should be doing as women anymore. No longer was there a real clear, viable women's movement. The priority was survival. Mary Elgin: Caucus meetings got to be so depress- ing, it made me think about tailing it off. It was coun- terproductive to hear, "Are you still working?" "No, I've been laid off." And they'd talk about losing their homes. Over 50% of the women were not working. There was nothing we could do to save them. The
  • 123. ---------------------------------------------------------------121Women's Caucus believed in seniority. It was one of the things protecting us from being harassed. Being in a seniority pool gave us an opportunity to bid on jobs and be established with a secure job. Some women didn't get into a sequence because they want- ed to work straight days. So they took janitor jobs at a nice salary but when layoffs hit at Inland in 1984, it hit them the hardest. The Women's Caucus tried to block some of the lay- offs. Once you were laid off, you were not called back unless there was an opening in your department. We wanted the person to be able to bid on jobs in other parts of the mill. At some point, Inland was still hiring people in other plants. It took them 6 years to realize the effect. Finally it affected men, too, and they saw the light. We had to deal with the viewpoint, ''You're taking a good man's job." This view was especially strong when times got tough. James B. Lane: The demise of the Women's Caucus coincided with the massive layoffs of the early 1980s. The last hired, women became the first fired. While the Caucus had been the defender of the prin- ciple of Affirmative Action, the group never seriously considered questioning the principle of Seniority which so adversely affected women millworkers. Seniority was the cornerstone of unionism, for one thing, and was seen as protection against manage- ment harassment. To have recommended making seniority exceptions for women would have jeopard- ized union solidarity within the Rank-and-File move- ment. Instead the Caucus fruitlessly pursued other alternatives such as shorter work weeks. September 1980 Protest at Inland (Photo by Bill Carey) ~5) ············ . Pullman Standard George Terrell: John Bowman got me hired at Pullman Standard. I knew him from the Sadlowski campaign. Bowman was a stone working class guy with more guts than any trade unionist I ever knew. First day, I'm on the job, and my boss got me drilling holes in asbestos. I'm on probation for 90 days, so what am I gonna do? Bowman comes walking through and I say, "John, they got me cutting this fuck- ing asbestos." He comes back a few minutes later and says ''What the tuck's going on here? You got this probationary employee cutting asbestos! I'm shutting this job down!" So I had the job shut down my first day! They started doing it the right way; they drilled it under water, so you can collect it and bag it. George Gilford and his cronies were the leaders of Local 1834. We went on a very brutal strike. While Bowman, Ray Robles and I ran the picket line, Gilford and Treasurer Lenny Sliwa were busy stealing the strike fund blind. Gilford bought a $3,000 mink coat for his girlfriend. They're saying we have no money to pay pickets. We published a list of the stuff they'd bought when we found out. We went to Sadlowski and he brought the FBI in. They eventually indicted Sliwa and put him in jail for 18 months. The local was put into trusteeship because practically all the elected leadership, other than John, were in on this graft. It was just unbelievable! After 18 months we sued the International to get them to lift the trusteeship and let us hold elections. Our Rank & File Caucus won hands down. I helped get Bowman elected president, and we were real tight. I was elected grievance com- mitteeman. John had the kind of charisma that Eddie had but was a better organization guy. There was a back-log of 700 grievances when I took over. This in a plant of 1800 people. My first dis- charge case, the guy's accused of smoking dope on the job and, of course, he was. Then there was the case of a young long-haired welder who rarely came in on Monday or Friday. The company personnel guy said, "Joe, you're a good worker when you're here, but how come you work Tuesday through Thursday?" Joe replied, "Can't make it on two days pay." We all broke up. We negotiated a last chance letter for him and he started coming to work. We saved his job and also helped the company, who got to keep a good worker. Clearing up a back-log of grievances was good union work but also served the company's interest. Without a grievance procedure that works, you've got an angry work force, wildcat strikes and that kind of stuff, which wasn't good for anybody. John Bowman would ask me, "O.K., now where's that guy from? Is he a CPer? A Trotskyist? A Maoist?" He was a good politician. Once when a guy told him that he was a member of the CP, John blew
  • 124. 122 ..........................................~M~a·~-E~l~gi~n-an·d~M~J~ke~M~ez~o~a~t~~~O~C~on~~~e~nt~w~n............ a mouthful of coffee halfway across the room. The guy was sayin', "I can't be on your slate because they're gonna redbait me." John was as shocked as anybody. He had fought in Vietnam and didn't know his friend was a Communist. They shut my plant down despite our efforts to save it. Our industry got eaten up by the rape and pillage of financiers. Pullman was bought out by Wheelabrator-Frye, which didn't want to keep our division and thought we were excess baggage. There'd been six plant managers in five years. None knew how to built a car efficiently. I applied to 60 steel places, looking for another place. Couldn't get an interview, much less a job so I went to law school. Lots of plants got shut down. My story's not unusual. It happened all over. South Works closed up. Contract Negotiations Cliff Mezo(1979): The contract is a single-edged sword. It cuts one way. If I go to work and violate the contract, the company has about five options to pun- ish me. If the company violates the contract, my only recourse is to file a grievance which will ask them to do what they should have done in the first place. The worst they can do is break even. We've been brain- washed to believe this is the way things should be. We're indoctrinated with the idea that God must have meant companies to have the wealth and power or they wouldn't have it. You've got to change the mind of the poor working slob on the shop floor who's get- ting the screw. Bill Carey(Locaf 1010 Steelworker, Dec. 1979): The presidents voted 313 to 70 to retain the present sys- tem rather than endorse the right to ratify. Reaction was mixed. Director Balanoff saw real progress in the 70 votes. Bill Andrews was disappointed. "I thought it would be closer. We would have received more votes on a stand up vote. The membership would then know how their representatives voted." Local 1010 minutes, March 20, 1980: Negotiating Committee reported that the Company has so far granted about 60 demands concerning washrooms, showers, phone booths, etc., but refusing to discuss any top issues like Incentive Relief in the Coke Plants, Overtime or the Craft issues. Union has been chal- lenged on 373 demands, asked to answer question- naires explaining why they should be local issues. Joe Gyurko said Company not seriously negotiating. Foremen are telling members how good they have it. Union leadership wants to strike. Members need to be prepared to support the union. Brth Rogus said Company took a beating in 1977 so they are submit- ting everything to arbitration this time. Local 1010 Steelworker(May 1980): Local 1010 members voted to accept the 1980 Local Agreement. In the early stages the Company claimed most demands were not local issues. After weeks of stalling, the Union's definitions were upheld in most cases. Inland was not willing to come up with a rea- sonable agreement until the steel market fell off and Inland became hard pressed to compete for their orders. Director Balanoff said, "It was due to the strong support we received from our members that enabled us to reach a local agreement without being forced to take a strike vote, as in 1977." Pres. Andrews agreed, saying: "In Unity there is Strength. This is the lesson we must never forget." Philip Nyden: Explaining why he voted to ratify the 1980 contract, Balanoff expressed his ambivalence and frustration: "It addresses what annoyed us. Could we have done better? I don't know. Here you have only two choices-take this or arbitration. Would I take this instead of a strike? I don't know." Rudy Schneider, a longtime activist, admitted, ''They got a better agreement than I figured they would." Voice of the Rank & File(June 1980): The Industry- wide contract was once again negotiated under ENA. And once again our Union was put in a no-win posi- tion of accepting the company's offer or risking putting our future in the hands of some arbitrator. This choice is no way to negotiate! We believe if you don't like the offer, you should vote to fight harder, not send the whole thing to some arbitrator. The Convention is where opposition to the policies of McBride and his flunkies can be made.
  • 125. ---------------------------------------------------------------123Jim Robinson at the mic as Oz & Little Joe await tum to speak. USWA Convention Bill Carey(Local 1010 Steelworker, Aug. 28, 1980}: McBride said, "How can we force a company under our present free enterprise system to stay in business when they don't want to? I don't know and if some- body has a plan I wish they would tell me how." This quotation summed up the main problem facing dele- gates. With tens of thousands on the streets and numerous plants shut down permanently, Mike Olszanski suggested we should think about striking the whole industry. Mike 0/szanski: McBride said there was nothing he could do about it and asked for suggestions, then cut off the mikes so the members couldn't tell him. I wran- gled my way to his press conference by using some- body else's credentials. I put this question to him, "What are you going to do about all these jobs being lost?" His reply chillingly epitomized the bankruptcy of collaborationism. He basically said that the compa- nies have the right to shut them down. There's noth- ing we can do. We kept raising this issue throughout the convention. You know, if the union can't protect your job, what can it do? We told him, "Jesus Christ, shut the whole industry down, have a general strike, do whatever we have to do; but we can't let this go on, they're gonna bleed us dry." Bill Carey: The Constitution had to be changed to reflect dissolvement of District 26 in Youngstown into three existing districts because of plant shut downs. Cliff Mezo objected that the maneuver was a total retreat, saying, "The I.E.B. came into Youngstown like Caesar did Gaul and divided it into three parts. A dis- trict is more than an ink spot on a map. It's a tradition, a camaraderie, a sense of working together." The vote to keep the Youngstown district intact clearly won on the voice vote. To many it appeared to win the standing vote, although the chair ruled otherwise. Mike 0/szanski: The International was talking about eliminating certain union districts. Bill Carey: A pay raise for the International officers passed, but not without controversy. Jim Balanoff, the only International officer to vote against it, said, "It's a poor time to be raising salaries, the salary we have now is adequate." The porkchopper faction at the convention raised their heads to interrupt Balanoff's remark three times with boos. Jim Balanoff(Convention Proceedings): Fellow dele- gates, I didn't run for this job because of the money it paid. I ran because - (a chorus of boos). Once again, I didn't run for this job for the salary it paid. I ran for this job because I believed in it. (A chorus of boos was heard from the floor) Mike Mezo: We argued over whether to support Jimmy Carter because he had invoked Taft-Hartley on the coal miners. Jim Robinson(Convention Proceedings): Brother McBride, we are asked to endorse a candidate who has rejected labor's call for a full employment econo- my and who has pursued policies which have resulted in some of the worst unemployment since the 1930s. If President Carter can wait until after the convention to tell steelworkers what he's going to do for us, steel- workers can wait until after the convention to tell President Carter what we are going to do for him. Mike 0/szanski(Convention Proceedings): There was an old man out front this morning giving out his newspapers. As I was talking to him, 16 or 20 people came down, several of whom had delegates badges. The older man was getting beaten and I was getting shoved. I asked Brother Odorsich for some help. Maybe Joe didn't hear me. I want you to tell me, Mr. Chairman, if I should expect that kind of trouble because I'm going to stop and talk to whomever I please, I'm going to read whatever I please, and if nobody else likes it, that's just too bad. Joe Gyurko(Convention Proceedings): In our district we have a Strike and Boycott Committee. We get out and support any local, regardless if it is United Steelworkers. The words in the song Solidarity Forever mean supporting each other. Let's go home and support all those on strike.
  • 126. 124--------------------------------------------------------------- Mike Olszanski(Convention Proceedings): When we talk about the environment, we cannot even mention the subject without talking about jobs. In our district, Pullman Standard, manufacturer of passenger cars for railroads, is going out of business. Several thou- sand Steelworkers are faced with permanent job loss, yet one of the greatest pollution problems comes from the automobile. Good, clean, effective mass trans- portation could alleviate that problem. Out union has got to be in the forefront of fighting for some serious changes in our national policy and by God if this cor- poration says we are going to forsake railroad car manufacturing, then we or the government are going to have to run that company. Death of John Sargent and Babe Lopez Local 1010 Steel Worker(Aug. 28, 1980): Former President John Sargent passed away in his sleep, only months after the passing of former President Hank "Babe" Lopez. James Balanoff remembered Sargent as "one great trade unionist" who "helped found the local, was at the Memorial Day Massacre, and walked every picket line Local 1010 ever had." Joe Gyurko, a life-long friend, said, "John Sargent had great foresight and an unshakable dedication to the trade union movement. It is partly because of his efforts that Local 101 0 is one of the strongest in America today." Ed Sadlowski: Somebody put two bullets in Hank Lopez's head. He was missing for a month or two. I remember Joe Gyurko joking, "The Babe's in the canal." He turned out to be right. Around Christmas they saw the image of a car and pulled it out. There was a big cement block on the accelerator. The coro- ner first tried to claim he drove off the icy road into the canal. The Harbor was wide open then, full of bookie joints. Sailors would get off the boats and head for them. They were big spenders then. James Alexander: At the funeral mass for Hank Lopez, Balanoff was sitting there saying things like, "You can't keep messing around." People were star- ing, but he wouldn't shut up. I'd look at him and roll my eyes. Bob Flores got up and went over to the other side of the church. 1981 Balanoff-Parton Election Betty Balanoff: The tactic they used with Jim was to bury him with work, to give him so much he couldn't possibly do it all. They had him running all around the country. Plus the only person he could hire was his private secretary. Ed Sadlowski: In 1981 everything seemed to frag- ment. They had already picked off some locals in elections for president. AI Samter: I think Balanoff took his re-election for granted. He assumed an avalanche of votes from 1010. He got a huge majority but not the numbers he was counting on. He didn't see any urgency. I think he figured jack Parton had 1014 and not much else. Joe Gutierrez: The leadership in Local 65 was not doing all it could. They were pissed that Chico hadn't got the director's job. They sat on their hands. Lupe Valdez openly supported Parton. Ed Sadlowski: Local 65 turned on me. I was having problems like you wouldn't believe with guys who had busted their ass for me. They were my pals, but I couldn't get them to support Jim. I got so pissed off I walked out of the caucus meeting. Balanoff lost Local 65 by three or four hundred votes. I salvaged Modesto and guys like that. Joe Romano: Jim was a hard sell. Fred Gaboury: He snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Ed Sadlowski: People didn't warm to him. He didn't bring people around. There is an old adage that incumbents aren't beaten; they lose themselves. Jim was the worst winner I ever saw. Parton came out of nowhere to win. Jack Parton: Before I ran, I put out some feelers and then met with McBride to ask for his endorsement. I thought there were more pluses than negatives. After a period of time we met again and he endorsed me, which kept some people out of the race. It was help- ful that it was a head-up election. If someone else had been in the race, Jim would have won. David Sikes: Carl Alessi might have been the International's candidate; but when his heart problem worsened, they probably told Carl he wasn't up for it. Carl would have done well in Illinois but if he and Parton had both run, it would have allowed Balanoff to get reelected. The International knew they could con- trol Carl, and Carl understood the need for a single opponent. What I see happening was Jack telling them, "I'm going to run come hell or high water and you can either support me or not support me." Under these conditions Carl was loyal enough to drop out. Jack Parton: Opponents of Fight Back would prob-
  • 127. I I -------------------------------------------------------------- 125ably have supported me regardless of what I said. Clearly that election hinged a lot on whose side you were on. I was probably in the right place at the right time. I had a good base and a good record in negoti- ating local issues. I'm not sure I expected to win ini- tially. Jim knew where the small locals were located and had been working with them for four years. Even so, I got more nominations than Jim did. That was one of my campaign issues. Michael Bayer: Parton could play the game even better than Harry Piasecki, Balanoff's opponent in 1977, and could be a thug. Fred Gaboury: In 1981, unlike 1977, the International could zero in on District 31 . They sent in that cocksucker Gary Hubbard to run the Parton cam- paign. There was a pretty heavy barrage. Joe Gutierrez: The International went all out to defeat Jim. They brought Oscar Sanchez in to organ- ize the Latins. They spent probably a quarter of a mil- lion dollars. That was a hard election. There was a lot of animosity and redbaiting. I was trying to get Jim nominations, working with Clem. It was very difficult. Balanoff was the rough diamond, you either loved him or hated him. The bottom line was the staff. If they badmouth you in these small locals, it hurts. What they say sticks in people's minds. They can get peo- ple little freebies, get them out of the mill for a week, say, and send them to school. They determine whether your grievance continues or not. Pete Calacci and Teddy Rogus hated Balanoff. When Calacci died, Jim was asked whether he was going to the funeral. He said, "I didn't like the son of a bitch while he was alive." Paul Kaczocha: Balanoff couldn't overcome the con- trol that staff reps had over small local unions. They control grievances and wheel and deal with the com- pany. There was such an entrenched system of patronage, which was beyond Balanoff's control. Parton Campaign Apparatus Jack Parton: I tried to meet with all the staff. They were key. When Eddie had won, he only had one staff member supporting him. In 1981 it was pretty equal- ly divided. I put together a damn good political machine. At places like Inland, if I couldn't get the local leadership to support me, I went to rival caucus- es. It was a long campaign, maybe 18 months. There was a lot of wear and tear. Jim used McBride's endorsing me as an issue. He had a lot of flyers about me being his handpicked "yes man." Carl Alessi, a staff rep from out of Chicago, became my campaign chairman. We had our headquarters in a church basement in East Chicago and paid an out- side guy, David Sikes, to be campaign coordinator. We tried to establish a Parton for Director Committee in every local. The campaign probably cost close to $200,000. It had to be done to beat Jim. That old Fight Back group was still there. It was tough to beat him. He had surrounded himself with a lot of good leaders. David Sikes: Carl Alessi asked me to manage Parton's campaign. I told him that, quite frankly, I did- n't have that kind respect for him as a real leader at 1014. He set up a meeting, and I told Jack my reser- vations, that, for example, Jack's people often failed to turn out for COPE functions. I'd get a lot of lip service but no follow through. I figured that would end it right then and there. Jack gave me some reasons why those things took place and said he still wanted me to help coordinate his activities. We had the bottom floor of a church in East Chicago, located about a block and a half from 1011's old hall. We got some sign painters to put "Parton Headquarters" on a sign and nailed that sucker up on the door. We had two big boards, one for McBride, who was running for re-election, and one for Parton. We kept track of each local's nomination date, and who was who. It worked out real well. We got start- ed each day around 4 or 5 a.m. to make sure the fly- ers were out for the day. I might take off and sleep in the late morning and then work well into the night. I think we did a much better job organizationally than our opposition. Our campaign was structured around subdistricts; then you had areas within each subdistrict that I could feed information to and get lit- erature disseminated. Then it was a matter of getting Jack where he needed to be. At first I was driving Jack around a lot; we'd get in the car, and he'd talk about people's problems. He didn't need to impress me, but I began to realize he really did care about workers and didn't want to win at all costs. It made me a real believer. After thinking he was just another hack, I started thinking that he was sincere. We had a boiler room operation with 2 or 3 mimeo- graph machines. Folks volunteered to write the things up. We produced campaign literature in 60 different dialects. In Spanish alone you had to have one for the Mexicans, one for Puerto Ricans, one for Harbor Mexicans, one for Mexicans from Texas. Gary Hubbard, a steelworker International rep who special- ized in handling the press, would write stuff and things
  • 128. 126-------------------------------------------------------------would get edited. I wouldn't know the history well enough to do the editing, except from a grammatical standpoint. The rationale and the reasons for taking stuff out were purely political. Carl might say, ''This is going to come around and bite somebody on the butt who's on our side." Issues didn't sway people all that much. You had those folks whose allegiance was to Sadlowski but not necessarily to Jim, if he had pissed them off. Jim certainly had 101O's support but not enough organi- zational support elsewhere. We picked up a lot of it by default. He had strong support at Bethlehem and Midwest, but we cut into it. They had the establish- ment, but we'd develop newsletters and flyers for their opponents. I'd say, ''Tell me what you want done and we'll get them run off for you." Since Kaczocha was in power at Bethlehem, for example, we'd provide the rival caucus with literature and money. Whatever it took to help them. They were gearing up for local union elections the following year, so people were using Parton's candidacy as a vehicle to rally around. I can't believe the shit Jack took from all of us in order to make him the best possible candidate. He was an old marine and kept his own council, but everybody was constantly telling him what to do and not to do. Some were not very astute at how they did it. We'd work on Jack's presentation. He wasn't real comfortable doing public speaking, so we'd set up mock audiences. We brought in Paul Feldman, a speech writer out of the Social Democratic movement in New York. We'd point out ways Jack could polish his mannerisms. He was very quick, with a natural, down home style, and we realized we shouldn't change it. Once he got used to speaking, his "I'm one of you," c;1pproach came across. I tried to give Parton the broader AFL-CIO perspec- tive on things like nuclear power. My point would be, "Look, if you get elected, you're going to have to deal with the building trades." They tried to make an issue out of the fact that I was supposedly assigned to Jack's campaign by the AFL-CIO to assure his victo- ry. Answering those charges, I'd explain my work with unemployed steelworkers and say that I chose Jack because of my fear of having Jim lead us during criti- cal negotiations when Ronald Reagan occupied the White House and downsizing was inevitable. Carl Alessi probably had the most say on campaign issues. Harry Piasecki was a major player, too. Trella and Rogus were listened to a little bit. For some rea- son Jack brought in Jewel Harris, who was a thorn in my and Carl's side. Alessi wanted Parton to take positions which were much too hard line for him, and a real split developed. By election day Jack really did- n't want Carl's tutelage, and Carl was really angry at Jack. I don't think Jack really liked the redbaiting. Some of us didn't feel real comfortable with the com- munist issue either. Nobody liked what had been done during the McCarthy period, but God, the feeling was that Balanoff had been a goddamn card-carrying communist. You just wondered. A segment of the ethnic vote was really anti-com- munist, and Jim's past was played up in certain locals around O'Hare where there were Poles, Croatians and the like. It didn't go over as well in Northwest Indiana. Whatever it took. That was the philosophy of both sides. Both Parton and McBride were being painted with the same brush. From a rank-and-file perspective they were probably right in not having a good word to day about Jack. There was still baggage associated with how the International was run, and they had some legitimate reasons for questioning Jack's leadership of 1014. Jim was his own worst enemy. He'd allow himself to get baited on the picket line. He'd go out of his way to get in an argument. Guys would be coming out of the plant, and Jim would be arguing with me while Parton was shaking hands. With him it was always a fight. I saw Balanoff as real soft on the reds, whether in Vietnam, Cuba or whatever. I was poisoned by all the anti-communist crap that came out of our side. With time I came to understand that any relationship he and his brother Clem may have had with the CP was a long time ago and probably no more ominous than my Socialist Party ties. We ran into Balanoff all the time during the nomina- tion process. In union elections you expect a certain amount of crudeness, and our people were every bit as crude as theirs. Even so, it was remarkably similar to Republicans and Democrats during political con- tests. It went rather professionally. You began to see the same people over and over again, and after a while got tired of goading, name calling, elbowing and arguments over ideology. You'd make small talk. You began to be more on a personal level. There was a healthy respect for each other's abilities and a sense of agreeing to disagree, knowing that somewhere down the line we'd be working together. I had worked with Mike Olszanski, Mike Mezo, Paul Goin, Jim Robinson, and other Balanoff supporters on COPE functions and considered them good trade unionists, even if their antinuclear position drove me nuts. To Jim's credit, he had good people working for him. Over time most made their peace with the International.
  • 129. ----------------------------------------------------------127Any time you could get the two candidates together was to our advantage. Jim's approach was to flail his arms and pound on the podium. He obviously had the fire in the belly. If you weren't with him, he kind of scared you. For steelworkers aware that their jobs might be on the line, his combative image might have hurt him more than it helped. Jack made the better presence. Jim was more overweight. His clothes did- n't fit as well. Jack had a sex appeal with women and being single didn't hurt. Balanoff certainly had earned the respect of women and had the activists. Jim also got involved in health and safety issues. Jack Parton: If a local got a request for a candidate to speak, they had to invite both candidates, so there were some face to face debates. There may have been a casual hello, but it was pretty divided: "You're on that side, I'm on this side. Let's get the show on." Jim was not very personable. He was very serious about the labor movement. People saw me as being serious, but I tried to inject humor in my speeches. Joe Gutierrez: I first met Parton at a small local in Joliet. I walked up to him and said, "How are you doin'? Joe Gutierrez. I'm supporting Jim Balanoff." He said, "I know. Glad to know you." That was it. The two candidates would basically just say hello to each other. Parton's speeches weren't too inspiring. Depending on where he was, he could play up being a hillbilly from West Virginia. In front of Mexicans he said a few words of Spanish. He was smart and spent the bucks. He'd walk into a union bar and drop a hun- dred-dollar bill down. That had an impact. Jim was too brusque. He didn't concern himself with the niceties but was an interesting speaker. It was like someone was winding him up. He was full of dyna- mite. You knew he meant every word he said. His sense of humor ran to sarcasm, and he'd do it with everybody. People who didn't know him took it per- sonally. He didn't care. Jim was a trip. He'd get up in front of a crowd with mustard on his face.We'd be walking through a restaurant and if somebody left pizza on a plate, he'd eat it. Cliff Mezo: Parton came off as warm and likeable. He'd joke, "My name is Jack Parton, no relation to Dolly." Balanoff was a good speaker, if satire was called for, but not very smooth. Balanoff had to fight for every inch he ever got. Nobody ever handed him anything, so he was combative. David Sikes: We'd analyze what Jim had done on each individual issue and then point out what didn't get done. That's fairly easy to do when you are not Parton Wins the incumbent. Being a purist, I didn't always feel comfortable about the issues, especially those inter- nal to the various locals. I didn't know the right and the wrong and didn't want to know. The janitor flap was their big issue. We had to decide how to deal with it. Jack Parton: Jim beat me like a dog on an issue of firing a custodian. Our old local union hall had been on Fifth and Massachusetts. Mayor Hatcher wanted to use the area to build a health and fitness center, and the building was pretty inaccessible in terms of parking. So we built a new hall on 27 acres of land and invited other locals to use it if they wanted. That dissolved the building corporation. One of the old cus- todians wanted to come work with us. I recommend- ed to the executive board that we hire her but through a custodial firm, not directly. So Jim accused me of fir- ing her. That was one of his most effective issues. I used the American Bridge closing as an issue. The spin I put on it was that Jim hadn't done enough to keep it open. We also made some inroads over Inland's refusal to sign the Consent Decree. I claimed that not enough had been done to make Inland agree to pay compensation to minorities as restitution for holding them back. I've got to say, my campaign issues were probably not great issues. That's the way politics is, and it won't ever change. Balanoff had absolutely nothing to do with Inland not signing the Consent Decree. Clem Balanoff: Jim's literature wasn't that good. thought it was horse shit that we concentrated so much on how Parton was wasting money on that new union hall. There were more important things than the cost of that hall. People in some little shop in Chicago
  • 130. 128------------------------------------------------------------didn't care about what was happening at Local1014. They had more pressing problems. Mike Olszanski: At 1010 our caucus was strong enough so we put out our own literature. If there was something we wanted covered better than the district headquarters was doing, we just printed it ourselves. Of course, smaller locals couldn't do that. David Sikes: Our polling indicated Parton should win, but I felt really nervous. I was getting ready for the celebration, rolling the barrels of beer in, because, win or lose, you have to entertain these people. People were calling in results, so I was keeping track of the tallies. The local caucuses were used to doing all the last minute things to get out the vote, but they weren't used to reporting back into a centralized headquarters. Postmortems Joseph L. Rauh: The machine cut Jimmie's legs off. They wanted him out bad because he was so good. Jack Parton: Balanoff was anti-Pittsburgh, so Pittsburgh didn't help him. The public may think an election like this is pretty nasty, but steelworkers play hardball. That's pretty much normal circumstances. Local 1010 Steelworker(June 17, 1981): Parton defeated Balanoff with about 52% of the nearly 46,000 votes cast. At Inland 9637 votes were cast, slightly over 50%. This was well over the District-wide average, where the turnout was only 40% of the total. Balanoff won his home local by almost 1600 votes, 5,520 to 3,947. Clem Balanoft. We carried practically every subdis- trict for Jim except the one where Eddie was subdis- trict director. That's why you have to ask certain ques- tions. You never saw Eddie make a speech on his behalf. The night before the election, he was drinking beer with John Chico. Mike Olszanski: It should have been strong for us. What happened? Was it that Eddie was washed up and just wanted to be a quiet staff guy? I sensed that attitude, like he was washing his hands at that point. Clem Balanoff: Nothing happens accidentally. You've got to see where people are moving. If you want something and you do something about it, you'll feel good. That was one of Eddie's sayings. Others would say unless you get results, you've done noth- ing. Mike Olszanski: Parton beat Balanoff with support from the International and a lot of redbaiting. Most of the Left supported Balanoff to the end, but we just hadn't done the job of building a grassroots organiza- tion. Also Balanoff was blamed for major job losses. He gave away all the jobs at American Bridge, people said. That was a bald-faced lie. Philip Nyden: Fueled by grassroots unrest, the list of achievements of progressive insurgents in the 1970s includes local union election victories, the growth of district wide "Right to Strike Committees," a number of district directorship election victories, and a 1977 campaign for International offices that attracted the votes of 250,000 USWA members. Reflecting on his loss and on the general weakness of the rank-and-file movement, Balanoff said it was a mistake that Fight Back didn't stay alive. Balanoff's ability to win almost 50 percent of the vote represented an improvement over 1977 when he received only 40 percent of the vote in the three-way race. In 1981 an insurgent steelworker commented, "If you're looking for a rank-and-file movement today, you'll need a magnifying glass." In 1981 none of the top five International officials were challenged by reform candidates. Only a loosely connected group of five District Director candidates made an effort to chal- lenge the incumbents. The decline of the general economy caused some workers to be more hesitant in criticizing the union leadership in a time of crisis. Joe Gutierrez: The election was probably not hon- est. In some locals where a staff guy was in control, there were probably irregularities. Where they could, they would. In 1010 it was absolutely honest. We went exactly by the book. We knew any hanky panky could be punished under Landrum-Griffin. Jim carried 1010, of course, but a lot of people were angry because for years he'd been angling to be President and then when he finally got it, he moved on. Cliff Mezo: Balanoff worked as hard as anyone could, but it was tough. If you run on a militant pro- gram, it's difficult to tell workers at a plant that they shouldn't strike if there's any chance of success. The strikes weren't his fault, nor were the layoffs. AI Samter: The plant closings didn't help. And the International made every effort to get rid of Balanoff. William Serrin(NY Times, Aug. 30, 1981}: Mr. Balanoff, a pleasant-faced, thick-bodied man, is a bit rough around the edges. His story illustrates many elements of the modem union movement: the bitter-
  • 131. I I ---------------------------------------------------------------129ness that often characterizes elections, the erosion of jobs, the difficulties encountered by insurgent move- ments. He was forced to live with district staff mem- bers who were his bitter enemies. American Bridge closed and cost the Gary area 800 jobs. Mr. Balanoff, Mr. Parton's forces contend, called for a hard line, saying the plant was bluffing. Moreover, with the decline of the Fightback movement, Mr. Balanoff was left without the strong forces he needed. Paul Kaczocha: Had Sadlowski won, it would have been different. Because he didn't, Balanoff was on the ropes. He couldn't overcome the bureaucracy. He wasn't Sadlowski. He didn't have the reputation. They could redbait him outside his local. Plus the new District 50 group gravitated toward the International. James Balanoff(Protest to International Tellers, June 5, 1981): The International officers, staff repre- sentatives and my opponent corrupted the election process by cynical misuse of union funds and resources. As president of Local 1014, Jack Parton and other officers misappropriated union funds to enrich themselves personally and build up a political war-chest, as well as to divert dues money directly into the Parton campaign. For example, Parton unlawfully billed Local1014 over $10,000 to pay for an "open-house" party, which was a major political rally attended by leaders from Pittsburgh. Parton also unlawfully diverted funds of the Local 1014 Building Corporation to cover the legal fees of a libel suit brought against me two months before the election, a suit that was solely a campaign action and stratagem. Throughout the campaign Parton has refused to open the books and records of the Local 1014 Building Corporation and disclose the income he has received as its director or justify his astounding and excessive payment in 1980 of $68,663.00 in "lost time" and expenses to his campaign coordinator and closest political ally, Phil Cyprian. At a time when our Union is besieged with plant closings and unprece- dented challenges, Parton, his cronies, and our International officers are shoveling vast sums of our dues money into internal election campaigns. They do not have to stuff ballot boxes as was done in 1973, when in 1981 they can buy the election outright. I file my protest not only to challenge the outcome of this one election but to bring integrity back to our Union, so that it may address real and serious problems. Jack Parton: Jim was pretty bitter. He filed some unsubstantiated charges. It kept the camps divided longer than necessary. The district was pretty much split down the middle. I was determined to get rid of all that divisiveness. I think I accomplished that, even though I pissed off a lot of supporters. I went to locals that supported Jim and said I wanted to put an end to it. I spent a lot of time getting 1010 turned around. I finally persuaded the leadership that they needed to participate at all levels of the union if they wanted to get the real value of their members' dues. David Sikes: Jack believed in coopting the opposi- tion, making the enemy part of his team. I was sur- prised at how well he did it. He brought Rudy Nichols and Kenny Massengill in and just about everybody from Jim's side who was halfway decent. During the campaign we made fun of Ken, calling him "Massengill Douche." After Jack got elected, I was working in employment training and saw more and more people getting laid off. How Parton ever stayed in office with the downturn in steel jobs is amazing. He was the right leader during that difficult period. Parton's perspective in negotiating was, you can't hope to fight and grab it. You've got to find ways to connive and get it. He told me once he couldn't believe how much the corporations were giving the workers. During the hey day the union wasn't going to say, "No, we don't want that. Why don't you guys think about the long term problems?" You take what you can get, but unions got what they didn't even expect to get, basically because management did a piss poor job of negotiating and, unlike the Japanese, took the attitude, "I'll take my profit today. My ass is covered." Then when the bottom fell out, the attitude switched to, "God damn you son of a bitches." Unions should have a long term philosophy and, by god, part of that is keeping the steel companies in business. Local 1010 Stee/worker(Jan. 22, 1982): Because Local 1010 members have been hit with heavy layoffs and reduced work weeks, an Ad-Hoc Layoffs Committee has been formed to ensure our members receive legal advice and benefits due them. Robin Rich: Indiana benefits were nothing com- pared to Illinois. It was a special tragedy for women, but it was a tragedy for men, too. 0/a Kennedy: The International opposed local women's committees, arguing that civil rights could take care of women's issues. Sadlowski and Balanoff had been very supportive. Then Jack Parton became district director and combined civil rights and women. So the Caucus started to decline. But we accom- plished most of our objectives. AI Samter: Parton's rise elevated to the Presidency
  • 132. 130-------------------------------------------------------------.of 1014 Phil Cyprian, who was strictly a dictator. He exploited people's weaknesses and went for the jugu- lar. He had no interest whatsoever in amicable politi- cal relationships unless you were on his side. One guy in our caucus got laid off and filed a grievance. We suspect that Cyprian had the company stall it. The guy was having problems meeting his house pay- ments. He also was a periodic drunk who'd go on a bender every few months. Cyprian told him he'd get his job back and help him make his house payments if he agreed to put out a letter saying he switched sides. The guy went to Biggerstaff in tears and said he had to put the leaflet out because his wife was threatening to leave him and he'd have lost his house. George Terrell: After his defeat, Jim didn't have the charisma to continue the insurgency movement, and he had this C.P. baggage from the past that we col- lectively couldn't deal with. Councilmanic Race Joe Gutierrez: We started a grassroots alliance in Hammond. John Beckman, Dennis Terry and I went to Balanoff's house and asked him to run for Councilman. We got him going. When he lost for director, he had taken it pretty hard. He had nowhere to go. I felt for him because the Balanoffs had almost taken me in as part of their family. Jack Parton provided Jim's opponent with all this communist stuff to use against him. There was real hate there for awhile. One Republican councilwoman called me an atheistic communist. I used to read the epistle at St. James Church. Once she saw me. She walked up and said, "Well, I guess you're not an athe- ist." She didn't know anything about me except that I supported Jim Balanoff. That pissed me off. As a politician, Jim was a piece of coal in a field of diamonds, but he'd hit that sidewalk and beat that drum. Once we're knocking on doors and a little eth- nic women opened the door. Just then Jim passed gas. The woman said, "Oh, my God." He said, "It's only gas." She slammed the door. That's Balanoff. He didn't care. His message was, "I'm the right per- son for this job." That was what was important to him. We went out and registered 734 people, and he won by 34 votes. We did our homework and busted our butts. The vote was challenged, so one morning I picked Jim up at 6 a.m. and we got over to Crown Point. I hadn't had breakfast, not even a cup of cof- fee. He said, "Joe, when we get done, we'll get some- thing." About 10 o'clock I was starting to get hungry. He disappeared and then came back with mustard all over his face. I said, "You son of a bitch. You ate." He denied it, but the proof was on his face. Ernestine Mitchell, BillAndrews, Unknown, Joe Romano, Roberta Wood, Joe Gyurko, Oz, Unkonwn, BillGailes, unknown, RudySchneider Andrews Re-elected; Caucus Splits Local 1010 Steelworker(May 1, 1982): 'The mem- bership voted for No Giveaways, and we're gonna fight like hell to make sure it doesn't happen," was the way Bill Andrews summed up the April elections. His entire slate were elected overwhelmingly. 'This is a message to the company," Andrews said. "A record turnout told Inland they weren't interested in conces- sions. I know the company noticed. The turnout was especially notable because of the large number of people on layoff and short work weeks." The vote was 56% of the work force, but 63% of the number of peo- ple actually working. Andrews defeated Wally Hartman and Joe Payne. David Sikes: The mood for change swept rank-and- file folks in, but then it all began to deteriorate. You had coalitions splitting. It was a period of 10 or 15 years where the new generation just had to grow up. Joe Gutierrez: Eventually seven of us started the Steelworkers Caucus: Mike Mezo, Cowboy, Jim Robinson, Phil King, Bobby Joe Tompkins, myself and Mark Thompson. It was a gradual thing. Everybody is ambitious, but there were issues involved, things not being addressed. Mike 0/szanski: Mike Mezo told me once, "You know, I'm going to be district director some day." I started laughing, and he said, "No, I'm serious." Robinson wanted to be the power behind the throne and wasn't so eager to be running in elections. Mike Mezo: We felt the Caucus was not going in the proper direction. It had attracted a lot of pork chop- pers, people who liked perks. The day of the 1982 election, the polls were winding down and I was
  • 133. -------------------------------------------------------------131underneath the overpass in plant number one with 40 or 50 guys from the shops. My friends said, "O.k., we voted for Andrews and the Rank-and-File ticket this time, but you ain't gonna ask us to go through this again, are you?" It dawned on me that we were run- ning on a masquerade, still pretending to be militant rank-and-filers, but people were seeing through it. I drove to the north gate and told my dad I was leaving the Caucus tomorrow. He said, "O.k., me, too." I drove over to the east gate and told Jim Robinson the same thing. I came around to the south gate and told Phil King. Next day, the four of us told Andrews, "Look, no hard feelings but we don't like what's going on and it ain't gonna change so we're out of here." Bill Andrews: Mike Mezo and Jim Robinson left the caucus immediately after I won. It was all about power. I had it, and they wanted it. I wouldn't relin- quish it, and they took a walk. They said, "We think the union is going in the wrong direction, so we're leaving." I said, "Fine." Mike Mezo: I don't think Andrews believed we were serious. A bunch of people who later came with us stayed for the delegates election, which was sched- uled to take place in 60 days. We sat the election out. We didn't put our caucus together until after negotia- tions. Andrews did not ask me to be on the negotiat- ing committee although he put Phil King on. Phil got up afterwards and opposed the contract. One of our issues was they settled the 1983 local agreement without a vote, unlike 1977 and 1980. We took a lot of the old Rank-and-File with us and formed some alliances. Coalitions always come together and break up. It's inevitable and healthy. We tried to get Mike Olszanski and Rudy Schneider, but they stayed. Olszanski believed strongly in the rank- and-file movement, that the true strength of a union is an informed, active membership. His problem was he could never accept "yes" for an answer. Where I dis- agreed with Mike was that I saw plant conditions as more a safety issue than an environmental one. I thought it should have been taken up through the union apparatus - through collective bargaining, grievance handling, contract language. He believed you should attack it on a political level by changing the laws and involving the communities. In 1983 if we had a caucus meeting, it was normal- ly with six guys: me, Jim and Bobby Joe Tompkins against my dad, Phil King and Little Joe Gutierrez. So we had two evenly matched factions. When we brought in Mark Thompson, a coke plant griever, the other side said, "That's not fair." We ran the caucus that way for a year and a half. Cliff Mezo: The Rank-and-File Caucus got so pow- erful it became complacent. We'd take all but one or two delegate spots out of 30. Unlike us, the guys we threw out of office didn't know how to keep us honest. We had too much leeway. William Andrews: I was the first president who allowed management to come to the union hall. I gave them a tour. That ticked some people off, but I was always going up there. We got a labor-manage- ment relations committee going. Mike Olszanski did- n't like it, but I saw we could use it to our benefit. We did a lot of good things that usually hadn't gotten done until the end of contract talks. It made things go smoother. I always knew the guy with the pencil was the strongest, and Inland had the pencil. I'd sit down and try to talk things out and not jump up and down and pound the table and insult people. That's where Mike Olszanski and I differed. Michael Bayer: The history of the Left is replete with examples of members who moved on for their own benefit. Long before there were open attacks, there was grumbling that Andrews was a sellout. David Sikes: The split sure looked like a black-white issue. Mike Mezo and his group were looking for some place to hang a hat and absolutely destroyed the rank-and-file caucus. Jim Robinson: Mike Mezo and I felt that the heart of a local union was the grievance committee. Andrews did not have a grievance committee background and, in our opinion, was not giving it enough attention. Mary Elgin: The Caucus fell apart because strong grievers like Mike Mezo, Jim Robinson, Bobby Joe Tompkins, Bob Flores and Don Lutz formed the Steelworkers Caucus. They didn't see a future in the Rank-and-File Caucus. Because of the strength of blacks, there was not enough room to move up, so they went their own way. They had ambitions and were looking for an excuse to break away. Their thing was "new leadership." Personally I felt that Mezo and Robinson never voted for me, but I got more votes than they did. I was a high vote getter because I knew a lot of people. I graduated in a large class at Gary Roosevelt and a significant number of them went into the steel mills. The minute my name came up on the slate, they would talk to their coworkers. A lot of my classmates worked at the gates and supported the slate because
  • 134. 132---------------------------------------------------------------they knew me and Andrews, who was friendly and down to earth. His younger sister graduated with me. Mike 0/szanski: Jim Robinson told me he and Mezo felt that Andrews didn't want to fight the company, so they were going to split off. I said, "Are you crazy?" It was downhill from there. They wanted me to go with them, but I said no. I felt Andrews had never done anything reprehensible and that what they were doing was unnecessary, but they were ambitious. We had a split just about right down the middle. It was to a large extent racial. There just wasn't enough room in the Caucus for the young guys. Cliff Mezo felt he should have been president after Balanoff. His son Mike had ambitions. It ripped me apart. I spent a day and a night on the telephone trying to head it off and felt like a total wreck. I'm sure Andrews felt like he'd been stabbed in the back and had great difficul- ty trusting anybody, especially white people. He became more cautious, like his opponents had accused him of, but it was a self-fulfilling prophesy. I blame them for shoving him the other way. I think Cliff knew better, but he went with his son. Blood is thick- er than water. Andrews found somebody he could trust in Leon Lynch. I think Lynch told Andrews, "Stop bucking the International. Just go along and you'll do fine." Andrews became less confrontational, and members started liking him a lot less. I stuck out of loyalty. For all I know, Andrews might have regarded me as a spy because I had been close to Mezo and Robinson. I'd argue with him about issues, and of course he didn't like that. During negotiations he'd have me running the local for weeks at a time and not tell me shit. He knew whatever he told me about negotiations would get back to the members because I believed in princi- ple that they should have the information. Roberto Flores: Mike Olszanski had good ideas and was aggressive, but on a lot of issues he'd stick 100 percent with Andrews. Maybe he figured that was how he'd take over, which eventually he did when Andrews went on staff. I disagreed with a lot that Andrews was doing. I wanted to cut some of the spending. Your income is directly related to how many workers are in the mill. So a lot less money was coming in. 1983Contract Jim Robinson: We took significant concessions. Loca/1010 Steelworker(Dec. 27, 1982): By a vote of 231-141 the Presidents rejected the biggest pack- age of concessions in the history of the American Labor Movement. At a minimum it included an imme- diate $2.25 per hour pay cut, loss of two COLA pay- ments as well as severe changes in the COLA formu- la, loss of a holiday and the cancellation of extended vacations at the end of the current cycle. This 44- month pact would have meant a minimum loss of $9,000 for every steelworker. The proposed elimina- tion of the Extended Vacations would cost 5 to 10,000 jobs. Nevertheless, Parton believed it a mistake to turn it down. Jack Parton(1982}: I'm worried about what effect a strike would have on people who've been laid off. The public isn't with us right now. That's very important. Philip Nyden: The steel companies used the sag- ging steel market and plant closings as justifications for the concessions. Bill Andrews (Presidential Report): After two previ- ous attempts, an agreement has been reached, effec- tive through July 31, 1986. I voted against the agree- ment. I have always been against outright conces- sions. There were no guarantees of jobs that could put our members back to work. In fact, with the elim- ination of the extended vacations in 1984 more jobs will be lost. Our members will return to work as busi- ness picks up and making concessions has nothing to do with it. At our local over 1,500 members were called back prior to the new agreement. The compa- nies did agree to re-invest the money back into the Steel Industry. Hopefully this will lead to the re-open- ing of some plants. Michael Bayer: The 1983 settlement showed how toothless and irrelevant the International had become. There was no demand on Congress, for example, to push for plant closing legislation. Instead they bought into the idea of a leaner-meaner industry. There are lots of things, even under capitalism, that unions can do about plant closings. Now you can't make them lose money, but it's not as if U.S. Steel was poor when South Works closed. The corporation had just bought Marathon Oil. The union could have been much more hard-nosed about resisting the rapid layoff of large numbers of workers, about managing the introduction of new technology, about retraining, and finding ways for the companies to finance transitions to other forms of work. It could have prevented companies from walking away from poisoned mill areas without assuming any responsibility for what they had done. In Canada, Germany, France and England those remedies actually existed. This wasn't pie in the sky.
  • 135. -------------------------------------------------------------133The CP worked hard at raising the issue of national- ization. Frankly, had progressives been at the leader- ship of the union, I think people standing up at local union halls around the country raising this issue would have gotten a hearing and had a better chance of ral- lying rank-and-file support. With McBride in office, the problem was, "You can't beat City Hall." Curtis Strong: Had the union been more militant, something might have been done about the overtime and downsizing. We could have insisted on keeping full crews. I don't think arguing for nationalization would have worked. I was never too deep into social- ism. Throughout American history entrepreneurship has been stressed over real government control of business. Even FOR didn't advocate nationalization. Mike 0/szanski: When it comes to splitting that dol- lar up, every dime you get comes out of the pocket of the capitalists. A lot of us took resolutions to the con- ventions saying that as a last resort, the steel industry should be nationalized. Local 1010 passed a resolu- tion to the effect that if the steel industry can't keep itself alive, then it ought to be nationalized. It was hotly debated but prevailed. Of course, these resolu- tions were ignored, ridiculed and redbaited. What is the purpose of the steel industry? Is it to make profits for a few people or to provide jobs? This question cuts across class and ideology. Sippin' Suds and Talkin' Union Mike 0/szanski(Loca/1010 Steelworker, Oct. 1983): It was around midnight when I dragged in. My usual 3 to 11 after work stop. A hangout for some of the Cold Strip Gang. The D.J. was playing a country song: "She Got The Gold Mine, I Got The Shaft." He was right on time. We'd just heard on the radio about our dollar-and-a-half an hour pay cut. It was hot. The guy never turns up the air conditioning. And as I ordered my usual Dollar Draft Beer, I found he'd raised the price to a buck and a quarter. Same day as our pay cut, I swear to God. Just testified against NIP- SCO the day before, and they raised my electric 20% anyway. Man, was I feeling lowdown. Powerless. Shafted. Hell, I'm supposed to be some kind of Union Representative, and none of us have a damn thing to say about our contract. They take away our money, our thirteen weeks, and we hear about it on the radio. Makes you mad enough to punch somebody...But who? It's a long way to Pittsburgh. The beer was piss water, and there's no nice way to put that. And as if things weren't bad enough, here comes Charlie to bend my ear, sliding onto the stool next to me. Charlie's not a bad guy, just a crybaby sometimes. I wish he'd come to Union Meetings or read the Union paper, or vote in Union Elections, but he doesn't. Still he pays his dues which pays my Union wages and he's got a right to bitch when things don't go right. Of course, he figures I'm just part of the gang who sold him out. Now Charlie's not a violent guy, just a bigmouth. And I'm not a violent guy either and, besides, Charlie's just confused and angry, a victim looking for some- body to blame. So we drink the piss-warm beer, and Charlie blows off some steam and finally asks what really happened and I try to explain how Local 101O's One Vote against couldn't sway the International Boys or the Smaller Locals' Presidents, who were scared of a strike. "STRIKE!? Why I gotta Strike? What do I pay you Union Guys For? Can't you, ain't there some way, can't you do it some other way to get us to keep what we got at least?" Well, it's partly the Old Style talking, but Charlie's asking what most people are asking, just the same. So I could blame the International, and Ronald Reagan and other Locals and explain how Local 101 0 did the best we could with our One Vote, and all that's true, but it misses the mark. "Charlie," says I, "You wanna keep what you got, maybe get a little more, you gotta be ready to walk, hit the bricks, shut 'em down. Remember the Coal Miners, The Ore Miners, NIPSCO? We never get anywhere without a struggle. Now, were you ready for a Strike? 'Well, Ugh...Y'know things been tough. Got a house payment, car payment. I got KIDS, Man!" "Yeah, me too, Charlie, two of em, but there's no easy way out, I'm telling you. Inland, U.S., every- body's tellin' us: Give Back, or Hit the Pavement. Take your choice." 'Well, yeah I guess so, Oz. Sure didn't want no Strike, but damned if givin' up that buck and a quarter don't hurt." "Buck and a half, Charlie, and don't forget the thir- teen weeks." "Yeah. Well, ask me in three years, Oz. They gotta
  • 136. 134-----------------------------------------------------------------give it all back, every bit of it, or I'll walk. Shut the Mutha Down." "For maybe, 8, 10 weeks, Charlie?" "Whatever. We'll take our thirteen without pay. Figure we lost more'n that in Concessions." "You serious Charlie? You Sober?" "Serious as a heart attack, Oz. This contract would sober up a WINO." I'm feeling a little better now, and as I start my sec- ond beer, they're playing, ''Take This Job and Shove lt." Charlie and me and some of the Cold Strip Mechanics are singing along. "Louder," some guy yells. ''They need to hear it in Pittsburgh." New Era Bill Andrews: The adversarial style of bargaining was not my style. Some people thrive on keeping things pumped up. I like things to go as smoothly as possible. In the 1977 negotiations, we went in with almost 800 demands. In 1983, we threw out all the garbage and said, "Okay, let's get on to the important issues." I got all the grievers together and told them no demands for housekeeping items, that they should discuss those things in the plant. I gave the company a short list of demands, and then the company did the same thing. We were able to work some things out. The whole style of negotiating changed. That negoti- ation was probably my most significant accomplish- ment. We negotiated a waiver agreement, so that a person who gets laid off from his home department could turn down a pool job and draw SUB for up to a year, while a younger person, maybe, who was already on layoff, fills the pool position. We agreed to form Labor-Management Participation teams. We resolved problems that ordinarily would have waited for negotiations, not always the place to resolve some problems. We had a tremendous amount of success. We turned skeptics into believers. Ed Sadlowski: One of McBride's solutions when things started getting bad was prayer breakfasts with management. I damn near fell off my chair. McBride found himself playing in the big leagues when he was a class A minor leaguer at best. Abel had known what had to be done but wouldn't do it. McBride didn't even know what to do. Jim Robinson: The early to middle eighties were ter- rible. I was a grievance committeeman trying to get through the day. It was like getting beat over the head. People were getting laid off and demanding you do something. Given the massive economic changes, I suspect that even a more militant union could not have stopped the layoffs and closings, but we could have done a better job getting through it. The union didn't think strategically and was too much on the defensive. The beginning of the turn around came when President Lynn Williams said, 'What are we going to get in return. If we have to give, what are we going to get?" McBride never did that. It was a dif- ferent attitude. We got restrictions on contracting out, even at LTV, which was facing bankruptcy. Mike 0/szanski: Management kicked the International leaders out of bed, and they didn't know what do to. The pressure eventually killed McBride. He was trapped in his own right-wing ideology. Guys in my mill had no sympathy. They said they'd piss on his grave. Big Mill News Editoriai(Dec. 1983): The death of Lloyd McBride has made it necessary to nominate and elect a new president. Lynn Williams won support from the IEB over Vice-President Odorsich to serve as interim president and will be a candidate. Williams, a supporter of the concessions contract, has the sup- port of Phil Cyprian and Jack Parton. Executive treas- urer Frank McKee will challenge Williams. The only executive board member to have spoken out openly against concessions, he supports the right to ratify and opposes further concessions. Ron Weisen, President of Local 1397, Homestead Works, is a wild- card candidate. A long-time fighter against conces- sions and company unionism, Weisen made famous the statement that Williams and Odorsich have been in bed with the company for maternity benefits. It is not expected that he can gather enough nominations to get on the ballot.
  • 137. ----------------------------------------------------------------- 135Voice of the Rank & File(July 1986): The Rank and File Caucus supported Ron Weisen. Ronnie voted against the present contract and has teamed up with us at the last three conventions to fight for the right to ratify. Our opponents here at 1010 are supporting Williams and McKee. Clem Balanoff: When Ronnie Weisen ran, they had a meeting at a motel in Hammond, and a lot of the old Fight Back people decided to endorse him. But you could see it wasn't going anywhere. Alice Puerala, Ron Weisen and Bill Andrews Jim Robinson: From our perspective as outsiders, it looked like the International leadership was this monolithic group marching in the wrong direction. The fact is, there were differences of opinion that became obvious later under Lynn Williams. Mike Mezo: Lynn Williams was a breath of fresh air. He said, "If we have to make concessions, at least let's protect some jobs." That's when the contracting out protection came in, which saved thousands of jobs. Bill Andrews: While he was Secretary-Treasurer, Williams and I had a run-in. We had a Central Labor Union election for this area. I was promoting a candi- date, and Lynn Williams came in on behalf of another candidate. I let him know I didn't like it. After that Parton wanted me to let Williams talk to my Caucus when he was running for President, and I said, "Sure." He came down to Big John's Tavern in East Chicago. He started answering questions, and they got hot and heavy. At some point he took off his jacket and tie, rolled up his sleeves up, and said, "Pass that pitcher of beer down here." We had a good time. We didn't publicly endorse him, but I put my people to work sup- porting him. He was smart. If he had been McBride, I never would have been put on staff. Fourth Term for Andrews Mike Mezo: In 1984 we had run a delegate slate and elected half our candidates. The Rank-and-File Caucus had not been touched like that for a decade. That got some attention. We were split in 1985, 14 to 13, over whom to run. It was contentious but I didn't campaign. If I had, I'd have won. Bill Andrews: For awhile they didn't know whether to run Cowboy or his son Mike. Jim Robinson: There was a debate about whether Mike Mezo or his father should run. I thought Mike would have done better. Cowboy was charismatic but not a longtime union rep like Mike. Mike 0/szanski: In 1985 we were coming up for nominations. I was a big vote-getter and had whiskers on most of the guys, so I asserted myself and asked to be slated for vice-president. I made my pitch. Andrews had a guy, Rob Persons, he liked better, but I had seniority and prevailed upon the steering com- mittee. Andrews knew I was never a guy to bite my lip if I had an opinion different from him. Grudgingly he accepted me because I had the votes on the steering committee and had been loyal all those years. Joe Gutierrez: I ran for Vice-President on Cowboy's ticket. From the beginning it was a loser because another Latin ran for Vice-President. We won an equal amount of votes almost, and Mike Olszanski won. Personally, I always liked Olszanski and respected his environmental work. I lost a lot of respect for him when he stuck with Andrews. Andrews made Jack Parton an honorary member of 101 0. I wrote the resolution to remove him as an honorary member when he negotiated a two-tier wage scale for NIPSCO. We get along fine now. I was naive. I didn't realize how political things were. After I left the Rank-and-File Caucus, I was denied time off to do my work as griever. I'd tell Grievance Committee Chairman Joe Gyurko, "I have to be off Monday and Tuesday." He'd reply, "No, that's what you get paid for." He stayed with Andrews until the bitter end. He'd schedule third step hearings while I was working midnights. My only time off to write grievances was once a month at grievers meetings. Political decisions have always taken race into account. The goal is to strike a balance. Personally, I've had a problem with that. When AI Pena ran for President, many Latins hated my guts because I refused to support him. I said, "Look, guys, for years,
  • 138. 13&-------------------------------------------------------------.if I saw a Rodriguez or a Torres or some other Latin surname on the ballot, I'd vote for him. When I start- ed taking some interest, I realized it was irresponsible just to vote for somebody just because of that. You should ask, "Does he represent your interest, your philosophy, what you stand for?" Local 1010 Steelworker(June 1985}: The votes were 2,629 for Bill Andrews; 2,293 for Wally Hartman; 1,929 for Cliff Mezo; 1,564 for AI Pena. Mary Elgin: AI Pena had a Latin caucus called the USA slate. I think Parton encouraged Pena to get in the race, perhaps to help Wally Hartman. The racial composition at Inland was about 21% Latin, 21% black and the rest white. Pena figured to get the Latin vote and some support from whites. Some people even accused him of wanting to be white. Hartman had that determination to be president of 1010. Hartman was friendly to me and looked like an inno- cent altar boy. He could really generate funds with bingo games and other things. His followers were mainly white, and his Concerned Steelworkers cau- cus ran racist campaigns. One time his literature fea- tured a black man with his head in a noose. Mike Mezo: Joe Gyurko was chairman of the griev- ance committee. He was a pit bull, always there no matter what the weather or time of day. We tried to make a truce with him for old time's sake, but the Rank-and-File Caucus sucked him into the fray. He went out pretty battered. Gavino Galvan got elected grievance committee chair. We also elected the other two grievance officers, Gutierrez and Lutes, as well as the Vice President and two or three board members. Mary Elgin: Gailes and I were called to task for balk- ing at supporting Jack Parton against John Bierman, who came out of 1010 and had been allied with Wally Hartman. At the Caucus meeting Andrews had stat- ed, "We are not going to endorse a candidate until we have talked with him." At a district conference John Deardorff, our insurance rep, was passing out Parton buttons. I put mine in my pocket. Suddenly every- body was wearing Parton buttons. Later on some- body gave me another and I put that one in my pock- et, too. When Andrews told me to wear the button, I replied, "We need to talk about that." Line Cohen, the union newspaper editor, also had his reservations, and they were trying to get him to change his mind, but they wanted me to go along without even telling me why. All I was doing was following what was said at the meeting. Andrews was very active in the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, which Parton and the International frowned on. Andrews did not like being told what to do, so our Local sent delegates to Coalition confer- ences. Parton formed a rival to the District 31 Black Caucus, but was an election ploy and didn't last long. Mike Olszanski: Andrews joined the All Unions Committee to Shorten the Work Week, which had a reputation as a radical organization. I was thrilled but amazed because he usually didn't go out on a limb. AI Samter: Bill was a good guy. He just had limita- tions. Fred Gaboury: He told me he couldn't ever go back into the mill. Roberto Flores: One of Bill Andrews' classmates at Gary Roosevelt had been Leon Lynch, who was very influential in getting Andrews to take the Caucus in a more conciliatory direction. Inevitably it caused a rift. I was in the middle. The split came, and I had to go one way or the other so I went with the Mezos. Andrews' group gave Roberto Gil fifteen hundred dol- lars to get in the race against me, but they couldn't beat me. Wally Hartman headed a third slate. He had lost two or three times and didn't want to run for President again. Wally wanted to join us. All he want- ed was a grievance position. Cliff Mezo did not want to merge, so it became a three-way race. Otherwise, Andrews would not have been elected. Cliff was a good union man, but it was a mistake not to merge. I had to sweat that one out but still got elected financial secretary. Local Ratification of Contract AI Samter:After a couple extensions of the ENA, the companies said, ''To hell with it." They also broke up the unified negotiating. At that point the International let members ratify agreements so they'd bear part of the onus in an era of "give backs." They'd basically get local union presidents to ratify and then bring it back to the various locals. There was no voting by mail or ballot box. Philip Nyden: Less vulnerable to strikes because of automation as well as diversification, steel companies were not as anxious to "buy'' industrial peace. The ENA's exchange of a cost-of-living provision for a no- strike guarantee was no longer attractive. The indus- try was in a position to make inroads in wages and workplace issues. Jack Parton: ENA's demise led to company-by- company bargaining. I told Lynn Williams, 'We have
  • 139. I I ---------------------------------------------------------------137 Local Ratification in Action (Photos by Line Cohen) to go to the concept of membership ratification." With the presidents as a group no longer ratifying, it was too much pressure to put on individual presidents. We recommended a process that needed to be made and is in place today. Lynn Williams did a lot on the nation- al level to bring people together. He was a visionary. BillAndrews: We spoke out for the right to ratify and made sure we got our names and positions in the pro- ceedings. We took it to Abel and McBride and finally Lynn Williams, who saw the light. After U.S. Steel pulled out of Coordinated Bargaining, the union had to bargain one-on-one with the companies. Before, the Presidents would vote on the contract, but that didn't work without coordinated bargaining. Williams formed a committee chaired by Leon Lynch, which recom- mended the right to ratify. Parton and I spearheaded it. The executive board bought it. I think the International wanted to get the onus of harsh con- tracts off them. The local presidents decided to give the members the final vote on their 1986 contract. The vote came with the endorsement of President Williams. Line Cohen(Loca/1010 Steelworker, July 1986): For the first time ever, members of Local 1010 got the opportunity to vote on the contract under which they would be working for the next three years. The agree- ment, which Director Parton called "the best in the industry," was ratified by a vote of 8471 for and 1173 against. "Membership ratification helped us immensely in achieving such a top rate settlement," Pres. Andrews said. Hammond Valve Stafford A. Garbutt(1986): The strike against the Hammond Valve Corporation is a classic example of our union's total commitment to ensure justice pre- vails. Local 1273's 110 members were forced on strike at the beginning of July by a company seeking wage cuts of up to 58 percent. The other concessions are so deplorable that, were the workers to accept, they'd need no union because the company would prac- tically have the right to dictate any terms it chooses. The strike has been marred by police-instigated vio- lence in which 13 of our members were arrested. Our union is pursuing every avenue to bring the Hammond Police Department to account. We were instrumental in having the city council establish a special investiga- tive committee. We intend to let Hammond Valve know that this is still America. We are determined to militantly safeguard our rights. Betty Balanoff: The Hammond police were out in riot gear, looking like something out of the 1930s. Jim was driving me to work when we heard about the con- frontation on the radio. Parton and Sadlowski were there, and it looked like a riot was about to break out. Jim went up to the police and told them to cut it out. He came close to getting arrested. For awhile, the news reports were blaming Jim for almost starting a riot. Fortunately, IUN professor Ruth Needleman had been filming what happened. The Hammond City Council investigated and made the police change their training program. They were trained as if to expect rioting every day. Mike 0/szanski: The company was determined to break the union. The contract they offered was a joke. Most demonstrators were just marching and singing. Some people were yelling at scabs and, off to the side, some Maoist-types had flattened a bunch of tires. I watched cops beat people up who hadn't done anything. They'd single somebody out and then three cops would jump him, beat hell out of him, and throw him in a paddy wagon. They looked like Gestapo, with
  • 140. 138---------------------------------------------------------------their gloves and everything. They even had Parton's hands behind his back. Betty Balanoff: From that point on, Parton was always nice to Jim. He had opposed him in his first election for city council but supported him in his sec- ond election. Jack Parton: After Jim helped curb the antiunion activities of the Hammond police during the Hammond Valve strike, I became friendly with him and supported him for re-election. Ola Kennedy: The union at Hammond Valve was decertified in 1987. USX Lockout James Lane: The 184-day Lockout at USX was the most traumatic event of the decade in the Region. Lance Trusty: Militant unionism was swamped. Line Cohen(Local 1010 Steelworker, Oct. 1986): Local1010 members chipped in an initial contribution of $9801 in plant gate collections to benefit locked out workers at USX. Collections will continue on the day following each pay day until the lockout is over. Andrews Appointed to USWA Staff Mike Olszanski: In 1987 Jack Parton appointed Andrews staff representative. Frankly he would have had a hard time winning reelection. I was vice-presi- dent when Andrews left, so I moved up. There were about six months until the next election. Bill Andrews(1987): The members of Local 1010 have given me the privilege of representing them for the past ten-and-a-half years. I thank them for pro- viding me with some of the best years of my life in service to them. Now I've been given an opportunity to serve our union in another capacity. There is no more important task than organizing. We must try to convince unorganized workers that unionism holds the key to the betterment of their lives. Jack Parton(1987): I look forward to having Bill on our staff. We'll put his talents and abilities to good use in our organizing department. Mary Elgin: At the end of Andrews' tenure there was something like two and a half million dollars in the treasury. When we did the Christmas party, we had a set budget that was less then a third what our prede- cessors spent. We bought American-made toys, and nobody went without. The International made us very professional because they were right on our backs. We had to protect ourselves against them. Mike 0/szanski(President's Report, Nov. 1987): The entire labor movement faces its most serious chal- lenge since the Thirties. The question is one of sur- vival in the face of the most pervasive Union Busting campaign imaginable. It is well to remember that workers organized unions to look after our interests, which are not the same as the interests of the compa- nies. Let us strive to build solidarity locally, in other states, and internationally. The Reagan years have been tough for steelworkers. After we were forced to accept a $1.50 an hour cut in 1983, the companies came back for more in 1986. At Inland we success- fully negotiated a model contract. Demands for fur- ther wage concessions were held back, by the strength and unity of our members, as well as the tire- less efforts of the local's negotiators. Our Unity Paid Off. Still we face the serious issue of job loss. We must use every strategy to keep our jobs. Our contract contains some of the best language in the industry on Contracting Out. A top priority of this administration is to enforce this language. Forced Overtime also eats up jobs. While some members work all the overtime they can get to supplement an eroding wage, we should not be forced to spend our lives in the mill just to maintain a decent standard of living. Increased job security will help ease the com- pulsion to "make it while we can." If overtime were strictly voluntary, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of jobs could be secured for our members. Our goals should be to build job security and wage security, so that a 40-hour week will once more provide a decent standard of living. You will be listened to when you have ideas, suggestions, or complaints. I will be work- ing to make a reality the words we have borrowed from the United Electrical Workers Union: The Members Run This Union! Roberto Flores: By 1987 job pressures had increased. One of my worst days was when I filed charges against somebody who didn't want to pay back money he'd been given because the vouchers were wrong. The evidence was very clear that the fel- low had filed incorrect vouchers. The trial committee found him not guilty. I couldn't get over it. I started drinking after work. I got into some bad habits. It ruined my health. Around that time I lost a stepson, and my wife never recovered. So I had to take care of her. I told young Mezo and Jim Robinson of my plans and suggested they merge with Wally Hartman's
  • 141. ------------------------------------------------------------139group. ·The previous year I had told him I was tired and that if he joined the Caucus, he could have my spot. He started attending Caucus meetings, and they gave him the spot. 1988 Election at 1010: Mezo Defeats Olszanski Voice of the Rank & File(June 1988): Pioneering such issues as civil rights, environmental protection and the Right to Ratify Contracts, 1010's Rank & File delegates have earned respect for over 40 years. Now the USWA is at a turning point. How will we deal with the loss of jobs in basic steel? The Rank & File says IT'S TIME TO FIGHT BACK! We must coordi- nate bargaining in basic steel whether the Companies like it or not. We say make job security the number one priority. We say the time is long overdue to build a movement for the SHORTER WORK WEEK - with no loss in pay - to create jobs. The Rank & File will fight to make our Union tougher, more unified, more demo- cratic - just as we've done for over the past 40 years. Mike 0/szanski: I ran at the head of a rank-and-file slate. The margins were close, but the other side got all the major posts. I hold the record for the shortest term of office as President of 1010. Jim Robinson: I ran for Vice Chairman of the Grievance Committee. I lost but Mike Mezo was elected president and Bobby Joe Tompkins was elect- ed chairman of the grievance committee, so I went to work for the Local. We had a big backlog in the griev- ance procedure, so I tackled that. Mike Mezo(1988): I'd like to thank the members for giving me the privilege of representing you. To those who ran but were unsuccessful, I urge you to remain active. With the efforts of all of us we can keep Inland's feet to the fire! Jack Parton: The structure before 1988 didn't leave the local union enough power to settle cases. Before that, staff people arbitrated cases; being President had nothing to do with enforcing collective bargaining agreements. At 101 0 it used to be about who was the best administrator, and they'd blast the International to get elected. After 1988 they couldn't use that issue any more. Mike Mezo changed the whole dynamics. He did a great job, and the International had a lot of respect for him. Mike 0/szanski: Mezo and Robinson believed they could outsmart Inland. I give them credit for knowing the contract inside and out, but they weren't the wheeler-dealers they thought they were. You can't sneak something into a contract unnoticed. Inland has a battery of lawyers working 24 hours a day and making ten times more money. You can't outsmart them, but you can out-organize them by getting the troops out. From Studs Terkel's The Great Divide (1988) Studs Terkel: East Chicago: a blue-collar suburb, 30 miles south of the big city, the archetype of Steel Town, U.S.A. Most of its breadwinners worked in the mills. The journey on the train offers a bleak land- scape, as other industrial suburbs are whizzed by. Smokeless chimneys. No orange flashes in the sky. Empty parking lots. Not a Ford nor a Chevy to be seen near the deserted plants. An occasional aban- doned jalopy, evoking an image of the Thirties. A stray dog, no humans. A fleeting glimpse of the business end of the towns; enough to see boarded-up stores and empty Main Streets. Stone-cold dead. The front lawn of every other bungalow in East Chicago, it seems, has the sign: FOR SALE. There's a decal on his door: an American flag as background to "My son is a U. S. Marine." He is retired, trim, astonishingly young-looking. CliffMezo: Twenty-three years ago, this was a boom town. Money all over the place. This city produced more steel than any place in the world. In the old days, unions knew who the enemy was. Today, guys go in for what they call labor-management participa- tion. You set down and figure out how to do your fel- low worker out of a job or rat on him. Militancy is erod- ing. You have workers disciplinin' each other, rattin' on each other, and voting for Ronald Reagan. If you ask him, Do you agree with his position on This? No. You agree with his position on that? No. You gonna vote for him? Yeah. Why? Aw, he just turns me on. This never was a garden spot. You had mills and refineries spilling dirt and God knows what. You got a chemical plant down here, DuPont. All this and nox- ious vapors. So people perceive property values will go down and they're probably right. There are more and more people without jobs, on welfare. We're get- tin' a better class of garbage pickers. That guy pickin' up cans in the alley, you tell him there are three class- es: lower, middle, and upper class. What class are you? He'll say middle-class. Ask a brain surgeon, he'll say middle-class. Horse shit. Such a job has been done that everybody is middle-class. You're not born a labor person. There's a lot of father-and-son-on-down awareness, but that ain't gonna do it. These kids are gonna have to be tapped
  • 142. 140-------------------------------------------------------------on the head, see their kids go hungry a few times, and then you're gonna have some militant, hard-nosed union guys who know where it's at. It's kinda like a phoenix. It's gotta die and be reborn. Maybe it gets better each time it's reborn. I don't know. I ain't been here that long. Studs Terkel: Ike Mezo, Cliff's son. With his wife and three sons he lives in an archetypical Chicago neighborhood: bungalow, blue-collar. The mailbox reads: Mezo-Dudak: a new phenomenon in this com- munity. Ike Mezo: This is the first time in four generations that I have it worse than my father. He had steady employment. I was walkin' by South Works, U.S.Steel, in 1972 and saw the sign: HELP WANTED. You could literally walk across the street and get a job. So I got an apprenticeship as a boilermaker. My father didn't want me in the mills. He cussed me and my brother both. The main reason I stayed was the satisfaction in bein' a griever. That was the greatest experience in the world. Up until this time, you're a worker and they're the boss. They have no problem pointin' that out to you damn near every day. I would sit in there as a high school dropout and I'm up against this college-educated superintendent, and you're one-and-one and as good as him. Why did South Works close? U.S.Steel bought Marathon Oil. And they was gettin' millions of dollars every time they shut down a facility. They had until April to shut us down to get the write off for the previ- ous year. This was one of the most modern facilities around. And thousands of guys were laid off. So how's the individual gonna make it on his own? I was out of work for a year and a half. That's when my wife went to work. The kids are old enough, she likes her job. I make considerably less at my new job so it's gonna be two incomes. This new job is a real pain. I'm hopin' they lay me off in thirty days. I'm a journeyman with 14 years experience. They're treatin' me like a dog. I became a craftsman for a certain amount of dignity. They don't want a craftsman at this place, they want ani- mals. The whole country's supposed to accept less. It's steadily comin' down. It's an attack on the living standard of workers, since Reagan. And the best way is to hit the unions. Jack Parton v. Alice Puerala Voice of the Rank & File(March 1989): Rank & Filers endorsed incumbent Jack Parton for a third term. Mike Olszanski told Director Parton: "While we have had our differences, you have earned our respect. Whether standing up to scabs and police on the pick- et line, or to Inland Steel in negotiations, you've proved a tough, tireless and responsive leader." Mike Olszanski: After Fight Back fell apart and Jim lost, there was a vacuum. There was no organized opposition, and nobody knew what to do. Parton was just there de facto. When Alice Puerala ran for dis- trict director, I felt really bad because I was the chair- man of the Rank and File Caucus and by that time people had gotten so friendly with Parton that they voted to endorse him, unanimously. It turned my stomach, but I'm chairman of the caucus, so I had to go with the group. I had to tell Alice, face to face, why I had done it. God I felt low. It was the last time I saw her alive. Parton was a good negotiator and could out-talk and out-last anybody I know, but he was a little too slick and went for that labor-management cooperation stuff. During my term I had meetings with Parton and the company pertaining to Cooperative Gainsharing. Privately I told Jack, "Let's get it straight from the beginning. I don't buy any of this bullshit and am going to fight it every chance I get. It's undermining the union and the bottom line is that the company wants to cut jobs." A Japanese delegation came over to visit. Parton asked if we would meet with them. I asked if the Japanese were union people or company people. He said they were sort of "half and half." When they came, I said through the translator, "First thing I want to know is, who's company and who's union? Because we're all union here." A guy said, ''You don't understand. We don't have that dividing line. We're all the same." Clem Balanoff: I gotAlice enough nominations to get her on the ballot. I expected certain things to occur that didn't. For one thing, Sadlowski was very much against her. He escorted Parton all over town to meetings. I got on somebody who wanted to go some- where with him. My philosophy was, "Either you're with us or you aren't." The person said, "You're trying to make him into a devil." I said, "He's on the other side." Alice put up a damn good fight considering what lit- tle money we had and the forces arrayed against us. She got tremendous play when she won the Presidency of Local 65. It followed that she should have gotten tremendous play running for district direc-
  • 143. ------------------------------------------------------------141tor. She didn't though. If we'd had the organization, we would have walked with that one. But it was long gone. We had to go back and reconvince people. Ed Sadlowski: I first met Alice when she was work- ing on the north end. She had bid on a job, and they didn't give it to her. She took them to task and nailed them. A lot of guys resented her for what she did, but I thought, "Good for her." You can't be a good trade unionist and be a racist or an anti-feminist. She got more active in the union after her daughter got older. She beat John Chico to become president, then got beat by a suck-ass who quit at mid-term. The mem- bership ran him out, he was so bad. Then Alice won the next election. For awhile, she was a little suscep- tible to being wooed by the media, but the same thing happened to me for awhile. She was effective. 1010 Rank & Caucus Withers Away Mary Elgin: In 1988 the Rank and File Caucus still had four members on the executive board. William Holmes, our treasurer, had ambitions to be financial secretary, as did I. A decision was made to let him run but, if he lost, to slate me the next time. When it came time for re-slating, they wouldn't honor the commit- ment. Instead Holmes ran again. I decided to run as an independent. The day I walked out of the Caucus, most blacks walked with me. That's when Rudy Schneider and J. C. Porter ran. I lost by 59 votes. It was a three-way race against Holmes and Pena. The next time it was head-up against Pena, and I won. Mike Olszanski: After I lost, I felt we had to carry on the Rank-and-File Caucus. Unfortunately, I was not the organizer that Jim Balanoff was. Plus times were different. People were losing interest. A lot of old members had gotten soft from being in office so long. We had been winners for 12 years, and people weren't used to losing. They took it hard, and we had divisiveness within our ranks. Some people resented me because I came on pretty strong. Although I felt I was in step with the membership, I was more left-lean- ing that a lot of people in the caucus. Another problem was there was no new blood. No new people had been hired. The old players were tired and looking forward to retirement. I tried to do everything I knew but didn't know how to stimulate any more activities. Finally Rudy Schneider took over as caucus chairman and ran for president in 1991. It got down to nobody coming to caucus meetings except me and Rudy and maybe one other guy. It was a sad ending for a very important movement. So it just faded away with a whimper. After a while, Mike Mezo ran practically unopposed. There was no spirit. Union activism for me was a way to make the mill experience bearable and use some talents and feel like I was at least fighting some things that I hated about the mill and making conditions better. Sadly, people held grudges. I finally stopped going to union meetings because, even years after I had stopped running for office, people would look at me like, "What's he doing here?" I felt unwelcome. It was with extreme reluctance that I ended my union activities. Mike Mezo: The Rank and File Caucus withered away. The last hurrah was 1991 when Rudy Schneider ran. In 1994 and 1997, ours was the only active caucus. We inherited some tin horns and pork choppers and made deals with others to get elected but have rooted them out pretty much. Legacies William Kornblum: Political movements rarely deliv- er on the promise of far-reaching change without addi- tional years of exhausting competition. Every political event nevertheless helps create a blue collar culture which all local groups, even those who are initially the most feared, eventually come to share. Clem Balanoff: Eddie's campaign was a building block. Just because something didn't work at a par- ticular phase in history doesn't mean it won't work at some future time. Unions are getting a little more mil- itant. The times have forced them to change. It's not something they like. A lot of the union leaders never had the work experience of knowing what the job is all about. That's why you need the Rank-and-File. Joe Gutierrez: In retrospect, Coordinated Bargaining was the best thing in the world. I wish we had it now. Now the companies have Coordinated Bargaining among themselves. There was such hatred for the International that even if you came to the conclusion that maybe it was right, you'd look who was pushing it and say it had to be wrong. Today it would be nearly impossible to get on the ballot. We have less democracy than ever. But we view things differently and make the International work for us. We utilize their expertise. We haven't been to a conven- tion in five years. It's too costly and, for the most part a waste of time, mostly ceremonial. Nothing important is happening. You don't negotiate contracts there. Jim Robinson: We wanted a union that encouraged members to get involved. We got that. We wanted a union that would be aggressive in taking on the com-
  • 144. 142-----------------------------------------------------------------panies. We got that. We got "Right to Ratify." Our union, in my opinion, is the type of union we wanted. Curtis Strong: The union today is as centralized as ever, in some ways even more so. There are still perks the leaders can give. Parton doesn't have any opposition. He is just as much a dictator as Germano was. He may be more benevolent but he has com- plete control. Jack Parton: Sadlowski's campaign brought about a great change in union finance rules in terms of outside funding. Clearly his campaign was funded largely by people outside the labor movement. Eddie chal- lenged the rule, and it went all the way up to the Supreme Court. You can only use money from the members now. I could not get a nickel from my moth- er if she wanted to help me. Now everything is mon- itored. Candidates have to file financial reports. There is a negative side to restricting campaign con- tributions to members, but I think the positive side overrides it. Obviously, it is an advantage to be an incumbent but that is the case in everything. If you do your god-damned job, you're likely to get reelected. You need good people to discuss where the union is going. It's healthy. We still have debates, but it sends a signal to the companies that they can't divide one group against the other when there is general agree- ment on big issues. The only thing that stands in the way of corporations just taking all the goddamned money in the country is the labor movement. As it is, they have most of it now. The Republican majority in Congress would destroy unions if they could. We have set up a "Rapid Response" political action pro- gram to counteract them. Jim Robinson: Necessarily, employees have differ- ent interests than their employers, and there are going to be adversarial situations. But there is a huge range of this stuff. Some employers would rather grind their employees than make a profit; other com- panies are more enlightened. At various times at Inland, we've gone from wanting to kill each other to the attitude, "We're all in this together." It ebbs and flows. Mike Mezo: On the national level, thwarting the Rank-and-File movement had catastrophic conse- quences; we were helpless for ten years. You have to have new blood and people biting at leaders' heels. Under McBride we spent three or four years blaming ourselves for the economic conditions. Then we spent three or four years wondering what to do about it. On the one hand, stability is good. I tell some of the old-timers in Fight Back, "Look, we won. It's ours now. We have to run the damn thing." On the other hand, rank-and-file involvement is discouraged. Now the leaders of the International wonder, "Where are all our agitators, our activists?" The answer is, "They were run out in the 70s." Of course, some like myself are now on staff, but they dismantled the grassroots. When the shit hit the fan in the 80s and you needed masses of people, you couldn't threaten a national strike. We have spent the last 15 years building what we had in the Seventies. Given the complexity of the issues, most people are running for office at the local level for the right rea- sons. It took a lot of bad conditions to bring that about. If you ran a campaign like Sadlowski's today, everybody would say, 'What the hell are you talking about? Where's the bread and butter?" The mill has been cleaned up. Most of the jobs are not nearly as strenuous or as dirty and nasty. That's why people can work so much overtime now. Compared to the 1970s, you are aristocracy David Sikes: Mike Mezo's faction mellowed in its animosity toward the International. Thank goodness you don't have the bitter infighting now. Back then, the issues seemed black or white. As we've gotten older, people who were once your enemies are now your friends; later you realized that we were all work- ing for the same goal. AI Samter: Until the working class takes over a polit- ical party which works consistently for what's best for the majority of people, we're going to remain in a sad condition. Working people have not been able to advance the concept of socialism to any degree because the communication systems are so con- trolled by monopoly capitalism. From the time they're born, Americans have been told that government own- ership is something we don't do. The only people who benefit from private enterprise are the small percent- age of people who own these private enterprises. No matter how much politicians may preach that we have a classless society, it just ain't true. You can't separate bread-and-butter issues from ideology. Everybody, to a large extent, is naturally motivated by personal interest. If you are not going to look out for yourself, as the saying goes, ''there ain't nobody else gonna do it." So, particularly in your livelihood, self- interest becomes your most important motivating force. A lot of people look at it in the short term, take opportunities for personal gain, and feel they are mas- ter of their destiny.
  • 145. --------------------------------------------------------------143In the long-term, the only way we can advance our- selves is by advancing with others. While a few indi- viduals from the working class can move out of it, most workers will only advance if the whole class advances. This is the basis of trade unionism: you as an individual, no matter how well you can speak, are no match for that boss with all his money. But if you and your fellow workers get together, you have the ability to negotiate some small part of what you earn and what conditions you work under. You have some power if the company is afraid all of you are going to walk out the door. When I became active as a retiree in SOAR, Jack Parton shook my hand and asked how I was doing, even though we had been on opposite sides for years. He'll welcome you with open arms, but he's not going to give you anything. Union leaders are politicians; they can be talking friendly to each other on points of mutual interest and hate each other's guts. As for Cyprian, he eventually went to jail in connection with bingo gambling. An East Chicago priest used the building as a bingo parlor and did not file on his taxes the money he received. The priest was a front for Cyprian and a group of underworld characters. The national AFL-CIO recently removed their non- communist clause. The Steelworkers haven't done that yet, although some old-timers have been wel- comed back into the fold. I'm a world class cynic and want to see more than words of welcome. Michael Bayer: The external politics of the International today is miles ahead of what it was under McBride. The leadership has more or less come back to the John L. Lewis position of open collaboration with Leftists. Recently a district director publicly thanked our newspaper for its strike support. The International seems to be looking for a way to have an independent position based on political issues, not the traditional Democrat-Labor alliance. I don't credit that to astute leadership but rather to the dire conditions. We're at the stage now when American unions either start acting like the social democratic unions in Europe or they will die because they can't protect their membership. After years of conservative national leadership, unions have concluded they can't just elect Democrats. They have to be much more selec- tive about who gets elected and on what basis. The insurgency of the 1970s was a historic event in the American labor movement. It was a learning experience. The leaders made plenty of mistakes, and I'm sure if I were in charge, I would have made different mistakes but probably as many. The thing Fred Gaboury Mike Bayer ' you've got to keep your eye on is what changed for the better, specifically the feeling the movement instilled that workers could begin to take their destiny in their hands. The fact that it wasn't enough at that period was because of some of the inherent weak- nesses in their approaches. But it was a major shift in the consciousness of workers and the effectiveness of the rank-and-file. Mike 0/szanski: The union was so blinded by anti- communism it lost sight of its self-interest. Union money helped run out legitimate labor organizations. Instead of building a worldwide trade union movement to take on the trans-national corporations, they fought the capitalists' battles for them, putting unions out of business all over the globe. The whole Red Scare psychology split up the labor movement. The American labor movement divorced itself, to a large extent, from the world labor movement, again over this "Red" issue. The World Federation of Trade Unionists (WFTU) was the largest workers organiza- tion in the world. The AFL-CIO decided the WFTU was communist-dominated and formed the Confederation of Free Trade Unions, which had about 10% of the membership, compared to the WFTU. Roberta Wood: Mistakes were made, but we showed you could elect progressives. I don't think humans ever do anything right the first time. They find every possible way to do something wrong and when they've used all those ways up, they do the right one. It's like learning how to dance. The first time you got out and did the wrong steps, you wouldn't say it was a failure. You're not going to be a good dancer until you've done it a hundred times. Similarly, I don't think you can just have socialism the first time out. The Paris Commune dissolved in a couple of weeks or months. In the Soviet Union there were some errors that wouldn't let it exist. So it's not so much a defeat as a step along the way. We now have a progressive
  • 146. 144------------------------------------------------------------labor movement, so that's a victory. We had a lot of fun. Relationships developed and grew into life-long friendships. Our lifetimes are shorter than human history, so you only get to be in on part of it. If it takes 150 years to do something and it goes like a wave, which part are you going to get in on? Big victories are rare, but struggle is part of the human condition. That is the goal in a way. If you're lucky, you can get in on one of the up-swings. So we were kind of lucky. Looking back, I think it was way too much about internal union stuff and not nearly enough about the company, about management prof- its. That's not so good because it builds on a kind of anti-union feeling. When push came to shove, we were all on the same side in a class struggle. Ed Sadlowski: I've always maintained, "You can't feed a hog. If you give the boss a nickel, I guarantee that tomorrow he's there for another two pennies. That's the way that fucking thing works." Don't give me this, "We're in this together shit." People used to feel that smoke out of the stack meant bread on the table. I used to think that, too. You start bitchin' about the air, and people say you want to shut the mill town down. They believed U.S.Steel. That's how suc- cessful they've been. There's economic blackmail. When the EPA gets on their butt about polluting the valleys and streams and air, the head of U.S.Steel says: "We may have to leave." Bullshit. You can make steel and have clean air and still make a profit. There's really not a hell of a lot of activity going on right now, although there's been an improvement in the leadership, which is a pleasant surprise. If they hadn't gone the concession route in the 1980s, we'd be in better shape than we're in today. The unions missed the boat by not taking unionism beyond the gates and into the community. Making it more than just a bread-and-butter thing, pork-chop unionism. There's no emotion today. Where are the songs being Joe Gyurko (sunglasses) at Solidarity Day II, 1991 sung? There's an old adage: once you quit singing, the revolution's over. Right now, out of 90 million working, only one out of five is organized. The American labor movement could have been the greatest thing the world has ever seen. What hap- pened was that the pork choppers wanted to be "part of' rather than "change" the system. That catches up with you. You can't play the boss' game. It's tragic when you look back. Organized labor is in the hip pocket of the politicians. Guys think they've arrived because they've been called to a prayer breakfast with the heads of industry. What they should be pray- ing for is to elevate the workingmen's lot rather than sitting down with the bosses, who've done nothing but screw the workingmen. I sure as hell didn't go down to inaugurate the First National Bank when they laid the cornerstone. I'd seen too many labor leaders go down and lay mortar on City Hall. We've got a society that is burned out unless there's greater distribution of wealth. People are becoming aware of the conglomerates and how they're chewing us up. In the early 70s everything was booming. You could go across the street if you didn't like your job. Today workers are rightfully concerned because they have watched nearby plants go down. It's like the guy on death row next in line to the guy going to the chair. In the end, I place my faith in the working stiff. He's still the most reliable guy on the street when push comes to shove. There's a certain instinct that a work- er has, much more so than some candy-assed store owner. He understands who's screwing him, but he doesn't understand how to get unscrewed. The little Chamber of Commerce storefront man, he never understands he's gettin' screwed. He's part of Main Street, America. I firmly believe there is a kid in a shop somewhere who will emerge and rally working people around him and move the American labor movement in a more militant direction. Financial Sec. Mary Elgin & other 1010 Exec. Bd. Members, 1997
  • 147. Continued from inside front cover newspapers, flyers, magazines, and leaflets. Ozand Iowe a considerable intellectual debt to Chicago radio personality Studs Terkel, consideredthe"fatheroforal history,"and activist attorney Staughton Lynd, who imparted to scholars of my generation how important (and neglected) the story of contemporary working- class struggle was to American History. During the early 1970s both men spoke out against the warin Vietnam at IUN. AtthetimeTerkel wasthe well-known author of a 1970 inquiry into the human impact of the Great Depression entitled HardTimes andwas researching hisprovocative book Working, published in 1974. Although a distinguished historian, Lynd had been blacklisted from several college teaching positions after he visited North Vietnam. In 1970 IUN's History Department had hired him to teach a course, only to have the university rescind the offer after a state legislator raised a stinkaboutit. Subsequently, Lynd helped launch a grassroots coalitionoflaborand environmental groupscalledthe CalumetCommunityCongress (CCC), which attracted many union dissidents and environmentalists. As a member of tUN's American Federation of Teachers, I took part in CCC'sfounding convention, asdid, unbeknownst to me, Oz, Ed Sadlowski, and Jim Balanoff. Soon afterwards, I started attending Lynd's experimental Labor History Workshop, which met in a Glen Park storefront. Among the participants were Betty Balanoff (whose Ph.D dissertation blamed U.S. SteelforGary's legacy of segregation) and George Patterson (whose reminiscences about the role radicals played in the membership drives of the 1930s became a chapter in Staughton and Alice Lynd's 1973 book Rank and File: Personal Histories by Working-Class Organizers. We're honored to reprint excerpts from their writings as well as summations from the pioneering research of sociologist Philip Nyden and former steelworker James Kollros. The insights of journalist John Herling and historian Ed Zivich were also most welcome. Thanks to Donna Gonzalez for her interview with Howard Anderson, and the usual suspects(Steve,Terry, Ginger, Sparky) who have helped enhanced the quality of so many issues. Our work primarily deals with the 1970s, but Oz and I have touched on the contributions of ''founding fathers" such as 101O's Joe Gyurko and John Sargent and 1014'sJohn Mayerikand Curtis Strong. While our focus is Inland Steel, we have described rank-and-file developments at some other mills, notably Bethlehem and Gary Works, in order to provide a Region-wide perspective, and we have touched on the insurgency's legacy on recent events. Neither Mike nor Iwere joiners in the 1970s, butwe both benefitted intellectuallyfrom the perspectives of old radicals who refused to repudiatetheirbeliefs during the McCarthy era. When I told Eugene Bayer that I was a democratic socialist in the Swedish tradition, he replied, "Oh, you're one of those half-assed socialists." As for Oz, he sees nothing invalid about the Marxist slogan, "Workers of the World Unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains," and while not a Party member, figures he'd be purged anyway as a fellow traveler if there were ever another Red Scare. We dedicate this issue, therefore, to Joe Joe Norrick Betty Balanoff Norrick, an Illinois coal miner who moved to Garyin hisretirementyearsand remained faithful to his principles throughout a long eventful life. There was nothing faint-of-heart about Joe. I first ran into him at antiwar rallies, then in the 1972 George McGovern Presidential campaign (such an optimist was Joe that on election eve he still believed victory possible). Joe had a heart of gold; we all picked up a touch of social consciousness from knowing him and being exposed to his ideological premises, even if the country wasn't ready for them yet.