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Paper done several years ago on USWA Strikes in Basic Steel at Local 1010, based at Inland Steel's Indiana harbor Works
Paper done several years ago on USWA Strikes in Basic Steel at Local 1010, based at Inland Steel's Indiana harbor Works
The 1010 Rank & File in SWOC/USWA Strikes: A Social Movement Becomes a Bureaucracy by Mike Olszanski Term Paper for L580 “Strikes” Ruth Needleman Indiana University Northwest May 1, 2004 Revised 2007 Revised 2009 Revised 2012
"My definition of a left wing union...is one with a lot of rank and file democracy and control…” -Harry Bridges in Harry Bridges, Public T.V. documentary, narrated byStuds Terkel, producer/director Barry Minot, MW Productions/KQED TV Inc., 1992.
Olszanski 1 L580 Term Paper I joined the Rank & File Caucus at United Steelworkers Local 1010 around 1971. One ofthe first things I remember as a new member was the on-going discussion among Steel WorkersOrganizing Committee (SWOC) veterans John Sargent, Joe Gyurko, Nick Koleff, and their(slightly) younger counterparts Cliff “Cowboy” Mezo and Jim Balanoff about contractnegotiations at Inland Steel in the “old days” of the 1930’s and 1940’s. Bargaining took placeright in Indiana Harbor, upstairs in the old Inland office building (still standing) within sight andearshot of the mill. From time to time, so the story went, one of the union negotiators would opena window, and shout down to the strikers surrounding the building the company’s latest offer—only to have it booed down by the crowd of rank & file workers.1 SWOC members in “LittleSteel” and in particular its huge local 1010, in contrast to those in U.S. Steel, exercisedconsiderable input into and control of negotiations in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The members in avery real sense, ran the union in those early days. As researcher Edward Zivich put it in a 1972paper, “Lodge 1010 and…rank & filers were one and the same during this period.” 2 Two examples of the opposite extreme in USWA bargaining seem to me salient. The first,and most obvious, is the U.S. Steel paradigm—John L. Lewis’ secret, personal 1937 negotiationswith Myron Taylor behind the closed doors of a posh Washington, D.C. Mayflower Hotelroom. This example—with the resultant first steel contract and SWOC recognition—is wellknown. Wary of a militant rank and file, inspired by the wave of strikes in auto and otherindustries, Taylor chose to recognize SWOC and avoid a strike. The workers found out about thecontract after it was signed. A more recent example is the highly-touted 1992 USWA “victory”at Ravenswood Aluminum. These secret negotiations occurred after a lengthy strike, in which theUSWA employs a plethora of “corporate campaign” strategies, some of which greatly involvedthe rank and file. But the strike’s dénouement occurred when USWA vice-president Becker met
Olszanski 2 L580 Term Papermanagement’s Pete Nash for a closed-door one-on-one private pissing contest in which the finalagreement was clinched. Returning to the union negotiating committee, Becker placed Nash’s“final offer” before them in typical USWA style: take it or leave it. This fait accompli tactic isused consistently by USWA leaders in negotiations.3 The scenario, in which union leaders bringan agreement back for approval by the local negotiating committee, and sometimes the entiremembership, with the proviso that this is the “best we can do” has become all too familiar tothose of us who were engaged in basic steel contract negotiations after the 1950’s. Often allmembers of the negotiating committee are sworn to secrecy for the duration of negotiations, untila final settlement is reached to bring back to the members. In this situation, the rank and file areone more step removed from the actual bargaining process. Local Union participants in the early basic steel strikes with whom I have talked arenearly unanimous in their condemnation of the adoption by the USWA of more and more top-down contract negotiations in basic steel. Most, I think would agree that the union has declined,not just in numbers but in power, influence and the ability to protect its members since theUSWA “International” took bargaining to Pittsburgh and closed the door on negotiations.Removing bargaining decisions from control of the local leadership—and especially from therank & file members—had a lasting alienating impact on union members and the relationshipbetween the union’s top leaders and the members in the mill. Consolidating top downbureaucratic control, combined with purging the left and insurgent elements, ensured the declineof the steel union, and indeed the entire U.S. labor movement.
Olszanski 3 L580 Term Paper Thesis Statement I argue here that rank & file control of contract negotiations and strikes—and the lack of suchcontrol—are key factors in the rise and later decline of the Steelworkers Organizing Committee(SWOC) and its successor, the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) and in particular myown Local 1010 at Inland Steel’s Indiana Harbor Works. Intimately bound up with rank & filecontrol and union democracy generally, as I will show, is a leftist viewpoint strongly in evidencein Local 1010 as well as in other unions with democratic traditions. Within unions and withinindividuals I am convinced a left wing perspective goes hand in hand with a commitment todemocratic principles, anti-communist arguments to the contrary notwithstanding. This isdemonstrated as much by the actions as by the writings of Communist and socialist unionmembers. Judith Stepan-Norris and Maurice Zeitlin have argued effectively that unions with themost rank and file control—of negotiations as well as shop floor activities—tend to be left-ledunions like the United Electrical and Machine Workers (UE) and those with strong left factions.4The vital connection between left—primarily Communist Party and Trotskyist—leadership andunion democracy and rank and file control over bargaining is well-documented in their work, aswell as by Staughton Lynd, Edward Zivich and Philip Nyden, who have researched early Local1010 strike activity. My own research supports this conclusion, as I will show.
Olszanski 4 L580 Term Paper In order to evaluate negotiations and strikes qualitatively, as well as quantitatively,I have developed some criteria by which to compare the relative degree of control exercised bythe rank & file membership in the cases considered. Questions I will apply to negotiations inorder to gauge the degree of rank and file involvement and control include the following: • To what degree is bargaining transparent, to union members and the public? Is it open door, or closed door bargaining,? • How close and specific is communication between the top union leadership, the negotiating committee, the full membership, and the public? • Is the bargaining Committee sequestered? Are they “Pledged to Secrecy” from the membership? Do they return to the mill during breaks in negotiations to talk with members, or report to the membership at mass meetings? • Are details of on-going negotiations made available to the union members in the media., the union newspaper, leaflets? How frequent are reports, and how detailed? • How does the union Formulate contract demands? Are members polled? Are resolutions accepted from members? Are open meetings held? • Who votes and how -- on demands, to strike, to go back to work, to accept or reject an offer? • What is the size of committee relative to size of membership? • What kind of negotiating committee is used, and how is it selected (elected by members vote or picked by leaders)? • Are negotiations Industry-wide or local? Are they held near the plant, or at a distant location? Is bargaining controlled by the International Union or Local Union leadership? • What kind of pre-existing contract language is there on the right to strike and how, when and by whom a strike may be initiated? Is there a no strike clause? • What kind of strategies are used? Are there alternative in-plant strategies, boycott, corporate campaign, and how much do they involve the rank and file members? How are decisions on strategy/tactics made? Is there input by members, or complete control by leaders? Are “secret” strategies used, known only to top leadership?
Olszanski 5 L580 Term Paper • Is there a large strike committee (for picketing, and activities other than negotiations) and if so, what is its relationship with the Negotiating Committee? Is it inclusive? Who selects its members? Volunteers? The answers to these kinds of questions can I think, help to define the degree of rank and filecontrol as well as local control of contract negotiations, and by extrapolation provide an idea ofthe degree of overall democracy in the Local and International union. The USWA and indeed the CIO rose with the rising of rank & file workers who—with theirown local leaders—did their own negotiating and shut down or slowed down their workplaceswhen necessary. It declined when the rank & file and their leaders were relegated to the footsoldier ranks of an army commanded from Pittsburgh. It declined as the Union bureaucracygrew fat and out of touch with workers in the mill. It declined when those same leaders purged itsranks of its most militant and democratic leaders in the name of anti-communism.Metaphorically, the USWA, like the CIO, cut off its own strong left arm, and has beenideologically crippled ever since. In support of this argument, I will compare and contrast recentUSWA negotiations and strikes, e.g., Ravenswood Aluminum, with the early SWOC 1010 “LittleSteel” strikes and unauthorized “wildcat” strikes as well as industry-wide steel strikes of the late1940’s-early1950’s in terms of rank & file member involvement/control.
Olszanski 6 L580 Term Paper My Role as Participant Observer It would be misleading to characterize my perspective as merely scholarly and objective.In a sense, a more accurate description of my role here would be as something like a participantobserver in the sense implied by sociologists and anthropologists. I was a dedicated member ofthe left-led Rank & File Caucus in Local 1010 for over twenty years, and very involved in themilitant and democratic Rank & File movement in the USWA. I was part of the Fight BackCampaign organization (1972-1979) which supported Ed Sadlowski for USWA president in1977, and the District 31 Right to Strike Committee which sued USWA President I.W. Abel andthe Coordinated basic steel companies for negotiating and signing the 1973 no-strikeExperimental Negotiating Agreement (ENA), questioning their authority to surrender the right tostrike absent input from or knowledge of the union members. I was elected to the ExecutiveBoard in Local 1010 from 1976 through 1988, was an elected delegate to USWA conventions in1976, ‘78, ‘80, ‘82, ‘84, ‘86, ‘88 and 1990, and served as Local 1010 president in 1987-1988.I served on the 1977 1010 negotiating committee, and organized the strike and defense committeeat 1010 in 1986. That having been said, my aim here is an accurate, useful analysis of the conduct ofcontract negotiations and strikes by the SWOC and USWA at Local 1010, with the goal of betterunderstanding the connections between the degree of rank and file control of bargaining andstrikes and the growth, success and decline of my union. In addition to a thorough review ofavailable secondary and primary source materials, I can offer here a somewhat unique view frominside the union’s rank & file movement, as a participant in and close up observer of manyevents which shaped the USWA. I have also personally interviewed, as well as worked with,union leaders who helped lead Local 1010 from pre-SWOC days through the present. Having
Olszanski 7 L580 Term Paperspent many years in a movement that generated an enormous amount of heat in my union, myaim, in my post-retirement role of student of labor history, is to shed a bit of light on whathappened within and to my union, and why. Left, Rank & File Build SWOC In the wake of a powerful wave of strikes in 1934, exemplified by the left/rank & file-ledSan Francisco General Strike,5 John L. Lewis and eight AFL union presidents formed theCommittee on Industrial Organization (CIO) in November of 1935. Lewis delegated his UnitedMineworkers assistant, Philip Murray to organize the steelworkers. In June of 1936, Murray setup the Steelworkers Organizing Committee (SWOC) in Pittsburgh. Communist Party (CP)member Lee Pressman was hired as chief counsel, Communist Len DeCaux was named to headthe CIO News and 200 full-time organizers—at least 60 of whom were CP members—went intothe basic steel mill campaign.6 Clearly, Murray understood the value of leftist organizers, withtheir intimate knowledge of and experience with the rank and file and their existing networks, andproven organizing ability. Especially valuable was the left’s demonstrated experience in inter-racial organizing. That year United Auto Workers (UAW) sit-down strikes at General Motors,led by Communist Party Members including Wyndham Mortimer, Bob Travis, Henry Kraus, BudSimons, Walter Moore, Joe Devitt and Charles Killinger, as well as Socialist Workers partymembers Genora (Johnson) and Kermit Dollinger in concert with a well-organized rank & fileinspired workers throughout the country. This strike also demonstrated the ability of the left tolead, as well as their dedication to democratic, bottom-up strategies.7 As Nellie, one of theWomens Emergency Brigades members put it, "We couldnt have done it without theCommunists and Socialists”8
Olszanski 8 L580 Term Paper Lewis recognized the organizing and leadership abilities of the left. He also understoodthe communist and socialist commitment to rank and file control but was confident he couldutilize them while maintaining control from the top. He shrugged off concerns among his anti-communist union cohorts about Communist influence with the famous quip “Who gets the rabbit,the hunter, or the dog?”9 Reassuring the public of his commitment to capitalist ideals, Lewis’March 15, 1938 radio broadcast pronounced, “It is time for Americans to cooperate. It is time forcapital to recognize labor’s right to live and participate in the increased efficiency of industry…Itis time for labor to recognize the right of capital to have a reasonable rate of return upon itsinvestment.”10 Murray, for his part co-authored Organized Labor and Production in 1940 in which heemphasized the necessity of “more mature labor-management relations” which he said shouldeventually replace strikes with “labor-management collaboration for greater grossproductivity…”11 The contradiction here should be obvious. He was, at the height of a massiveclass struggle relying on the left and the rank & file to build and consolidate SWOC. At the sametime, he already looked forward to “collaborating” with the bosses. One cannot help but wonderwhether any rank & file workers read the book, and if so, what it made them think of Murray.Murray was a business unionist from the start. He wanted to, as Ed Sadlowski put it referring tothe labor movement’s “porkchoppers”, “’be part of’ rather than ‘change’ the system. Thatcatches up with you. You can’t play the boss’ game.”12 SWOC (later the USWA) was envisionedby Murray as a tightly-controlled, top-down organization, from day one. Members ofAmalgamated Lodge 1010 at Inland Steel’s Indiana Harbor Works had other ideas.
Olszanski 9 L580 Term Paper Organizing in many mills was begun by SWOC organizers, aided by existing localnetworks and a strong rank and file desire to belong to a union, and the CIO. Perhaps nowhere somuch as at Inland was self-organizing already underway. Outside organizers were not neededthere. At Lodge1010 of the old Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers, “Allmembers were organizers’” as Bill Young, put it.13 A 1962 analysis of the union movement inSteel by Berkewley Professor Llod Ulman refers to a “’Rank and File’ rebel movement within theAmalgamated to organize the industry during the National Recovery Administration (NRA)period in 1934 and 1935.” 14 The members at Inland Steel elected William Thomas SWOC Lodge1010’s first president. Young leftists John Sargent, Bill Young, William Maehoffer and a rank &file eager to settle old scores welcomed The CIO’s SWOC.15 A Communist Party influencedRank & File group, led by Sargent, Maihoffer and Young, cooperated with Trotskyites PeteCalacci, Max Luna and Manuel Trbovitch in a united front to build the new CIO union.16 Sargent describes what some have characterized as a “spontaneous movement of self-organization” at 1010: “The workers were gonna have a union, come hell or high water. No onewas gonna stop ‘em.”17 Minimizing his own and other leftist local leaders role, thecharacteristically modest Sargent is interpreted by historians Staughton Lynd, Pivens andCloward as saying workers spontaneously organized themselves at Inland. Clearly, this is amisleading over-simplification. Only a small percentage of workers were actively involved inunion activities, but a majority at least passively supported organizing efforts. Zivich paints amuch clearer, more balanced picture of the unity, solidarity and integration between Lodge 1010members and their leftist leaders during the SWOC years. The now faddish and over-used term“synergy” perhaps describes the relationship. The rank & file at 1010 and their local leaders were
Olszanski 10 L580 Term Paper—as we say in the vernacular—“tight.” The use of the (capitalized) term Rank & File, whilepossibly confusing a movement with what was later identified as a political caucus, seems to mea useful way to describe this unified group of union members and their local leaders. It is nocoincidence that the Communist Party, Trotskyists and other left union groups recognized thisconnotation when they adopted the names for their sponsored union groups e.g., NationalSteelworkers Rank & File, Rank & File Team (RAFT) and the Rank & File Caucuses at 1010,1011, 1033, 6787, 1397 and other USWA Locals.18 This question of spontaneity v. leadership—especially left leadership, is for me one ofemphasis. The workers were primed, ready. They were loosely organized in local networks, aLodge of the old Amalgamated Association, and even the company union. Smart, class-consciousleadership was essential. Organization is impossible without it. It was there, often already amongthe ranks. Each played a crucial role in the mass movement that was the CIO in the early years,especially in SWOC 1010. There was little opportunism among the unpaid 1010 SWOC leadersin the 1930’s. But unprincipled careerism would become a serious problem down the line, whenthe dues check-off and full time salaried officers and Grievance committee were initiated—just atthe time the USWA decided to purge the left. Sargent said in 1978: A young fella who becomes active in the union, who hasnt got a broader perspective than just the union, sees the union as a stepping 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...It was that way once you got the check-off. Unless the guy has a socialist viewpoint, or some kind of broader view-point of what this whole thing means, youre not gonna get good leadership. Thats an important part of it.19 One of the most democratic leaders 1010 would ever have, Sargent saw socialist ideals—which he equated with democratic ideals—as an antidote to selfish opportunism in the labormovement.
Olszanski 11 L580 Term Paper While U.S. Steel management accepted, if not embraced SWOC—no doubt viewing theunion as a moderating and controlling influence over the mass movement of rank & file workers—Bethlehem, Republic, Youngstown Sheet & Tube, National, Inland and the rest of “LittleSteel” chose class conflict. Republic’s Tom Girdler and Inland’s Block family, led by founderand CEO Leopold Block threw down the gauntlet. 1010’s Rank & File were ready. As BillYoung would put it forty years later, “after years of meeting secretly in the basement of anundertaker…the day of salvation came…when we walked out of the mill.”20 The ensuing nation-wide strike, begun May 26th, 1937 put 78,000 SWOC members on the streets. A mere four days into the strike, 1010 members, including Sargent, Young, and manyothers who brought wives and children, joined picketers at Republic Steel in South Chicago aspart of a “flying squad” to augment their picket lines on Memorial Day, 1937. Three 1010members would never return. Shot in the back by Mayor Kelley’s rioting Chicago Cops, EarlHandley, Kenneth Reed and Sam Popovich were three of the 10 steelworkers killed at theinfamous Memorial Day Massacre. Mass meetings, mass picketing, hand-billing and store-front union halls characterized theLittle Steel strike.21 As Communist SWOC organizer Gus Hall put it, “The rank and file saw it astheir strike—that it not only affected their lives but that they could affect it. It was not a top downoperation.”22 At 1010, huge and frequent mass meetings at Auditorium Hall on MichiganAvenue in Indiana Harbor were held. Here workers discussed strike issues, tactics, negotiations—every detail of the situation—with an over-flow crowd hearing the proceedings via loudspeakerin the street and parking lot.
Olszanski 12 L580 Term Paper SWOC’s top officers were already trying to wrest control over Chicago/Indiana SWOCDistrict 31 from the left and the Rank & File early on, with little effect in 1010 according toZivich: “While the SWOC District Office purge of its Communists did not affect 1010’s Leftleadership [“Wilcat Willie” Maihofer was President in January, 1938] the lodge’s militants wereunder tremendous pressure from the district office not to strike or carry out any other job actionsat this time.”23 .But it didn’t stop them, apparently. The Townsend Agreement In 1939, under orders from the National Labor Relation Board (NLRB) Inland recognizedSWOC as bargaining agent for its workers. The “Townsend Agreement” was not a full contract,but a one page “Memorandum of Agreement” between Inland, SWOC and Indiana Governor M.Clifford Townsend. “Although not a contract as such, the memorandum laid out the guidelines fora labor policy at Inland and, even more importantly, called for the recognition of SWOC as thebargaining agency.”24 Its first line reads: “SECTION 1 – The men to be returned to work withoutdiscrimination between strikers and non-strikers.” 25 This kind of amnesty clause would be astandard, and high-priority item in every strike settlement between Inland and the Steelworkersuntil 1947. Crucially for the Rank & File at 1010, it contained no agreement by the union not tostrike. SWOC 1010’s class-conscious Rank & File movement took advantage of the opportunity. As Sargent tells it, Without a contract, without an agreement with the company, without any regulations concerning the hours of work, conditions of work, or wages, a tremendous surge took place. We talk of a rank & file movement; the beginning of union organization was the best kind of rank & file movement you could think of….. without a contract we secured for ourselves agreements on working conditions that we do not have toady, and that were better by far than what we do have today in the mill. For example as a result of the enthusiasm of the people in the mill you had a series of strikes, wildcats, shut-downs, slow-downs, anything working people could think of to secure for themselves what they
Olszanski 13 L580 Term Paper decided they had to have.26 Strikes, departmental and plant-wide, continued to be effectively used by 1010 to bring arecalcitrant Inland Steel Company management into line on hours wages and working conditions.Joe Gyurko, hired at Inland in 1939, quickly signed a union card and became a “Dues Steward”He participated in and helped lead departmental strikes in the Tin Mill, and later the Open Hearthshop. He tells of how “One of the rollers comes up to me and says, “Hey, we’re workingshorthanded again. We’re gonna shut it down. We ain’t going to work short-handed. Tell the restof the crew” Walking down the line, Gyurko would tell one operator after another of the shut-down then watch as the foreman came storming up to find out what was going on. 27 MattVuxinic, a Croatian immigrant, told Zivich he took part in five strikes in his departmentbetween 1939 and 1942.28Nyden describes an ethos in which, “The men thought nothing of stopping work and lettinggondolas full of molten metal hang in mid air. In these situations, the rapidly approachingdanger that [the molten metal would solidify and] production would be interrupted …actedas a time clock forcing the company to bargain with the workers [and settle departmentalgrievances].”29 Yale scholar Will Tanzman, quoting Nyden describes this strategy as“ ‘instant strike bargaining’ negotiating with the threat of instant, small scale wildcatstrikes.”30 While written evidence is scarce, strikes were often organized and planned well inadvance. A rare glimpse, found in the Group 9 minute books dated March 22, 1941, describesthe discussion and vote to strike over a grievance: “Motion made the mill be stopped at 8:00A.M. the morning after the grievance is turned down. Seconded, carried.”31
Olszanski 14 L580 Term Paper For years, as Gyurko told it, you could be fired for striking, walk out the gate and go andget hired again the same day—Inland kept very inadequate employment records at the time.Bill Young, vice president of 1010, later vice chairman of the grievance committee, led nine“unauthorized” strikes in his department, the 28” rail mill, between 1939 and 1942.32 Direct shop floor action was the order of the day at 1010. The Rank & File’s Nick Migas,an open CP member, led much of it. There was one time when they wouldn’t settle a grievance for the charging car operators [in the Open Hearth furnace department] They had increased the tonnage on the furnaces without increasing the rate [of incentive pay]. We discussed the situation with the superintendent: nothing doing. So that night it started to slow down, and by the next morning there were two furnaces where they had to shut the heat off. By next evening there were six furnaces where they had to shut the heat off. They settled the grievance in a hurry. Nobody told anybody to strike. There was just that close relationship, working with the people, where they knew what was necessary.33 Was this “spontaneity?” Or the very tight relationship between the rank and file workersand their leftist shop floor leaders? Certainly there was a kind of intimate solidarity among them,based on trust and a strong sense of shared experience, interests and community. As Needleman points out, it was “During these years of contract limbo, Local 1010 gainedits reputation as the most militant local, ‘the red local,’ the anti-international local.”34 Notcoincidentally but consequently they were equally a Rank & File local, with the membersexercising a great deal of control. District 31 and top USWA leadership struggled to wrestcontrol over Local 1010 from the rank & file and its leaders. Local 1010, a large local dealingwith a large steel company with only a single basic steel plant, exercised more leverage thanmany of the other locals, and more independence from the International. Nyden suggests thisfactor also kept 1010’s Rank & File from aligning itself sooner with rank & filers in other locals
Olszanski 15 L580 Term Paperwho wanted autonomy.35 This lack of a national coalition, with the exception of the black Ad-HocCommittee, would prove a handicap during the later insurgencies of the 1960’s and 1970’s. How did the union negotiate? Elected union representatives, in close and constant touchwith the members, negotiated right at the plant, often in the plant. They voted, on whether, whenand how to strike, and when and how to settle. As Migas described it, ..The local leadership did its own negotiating. A contract would be read, clause by clause at the local union meeting, and then voted on, and adopted or rejected….36Sargent reiterates, …We used to bargain locally with the Inland steel Company…We let a representative of the international union sit in, but we bargained right in Indiana harbor and settled our differences right there. But soon Inland began to realize that this was not the way, because they were up against a pretty rough bunch…who had no ambitions to become political leaders and labor representatives on a national scale. They [Inland] realized that the best way to handle the situation was to work with the international leadership of this union.37 The “rough bunch” Sargent refers to here was clearly a class-conscious, left-ledRank and File, who had proved perfectly capable of bargaining effectively with Inlandwith little help (or control) from the International.
Olszanski 16 L580 Term Paper 1942 Contract, USWA December 7, 1941 brought the U.S., and its workers into World War II. In May of 1942,a convention in Cleveland changed SWOC into the USWA, and unanimously elected Murray itsfirst president. “Little Steel” contracts were signed later that year: August 5th Inland; August 12thYoungstown (YST); August 13th Bethlehem and Republic. The 1942 contract signing and its no-strike provision “began the slow, but steady decline of the local from its previous position ofstrength.”38 This, in conjunction with the CIO and Communist Party war-time no-strike pledgehad some limited success in suppressing strikes in steel for the duration of World War II.Migas: It wasn’t until the International came in, and dictated a contract with a no- strike clause, that it became a matter of what kind of leadership you had. When SWOC became the Steelworkers Union, it became a top-heavy organization.39 The top obviously had reasons beyond war-time patriotism for wanting toenforce the no-strike agreement. Being able to discipline his own members wouldmake Murray a more attractive “partner” to the steel bosses with whom he wished tocollaborate. Zivich claims that Sargent’s caucus upheld the no-strike pledge during the war: “With1010’s Communist Party radicals pushing for unhampered war production, the ban on strikes onlydisturbed one ideological faction in the local—the Trotskyites.” Zivich, citing Lynd, reminds usthat “Trbovich and others, at great risk [?] led a mid war departmental strike over a discharge to asuccessful rehiring”40 Is there an implication here that the CP faction would not supportdepartmental wildcats during the war? This argument is called into question by, among other
Olszanski 17 L580 Term Paperthings, president Sargent’s 1943 letter to the War Labor Board, threatening to strike Inland indefiance of the no-strike pledge, as well as the 1942 contract. Sargents adherence to any "partyline" during the war years seems unlikely, and the letter adds weight to his image as a militant,rank & file oriented leader.41 Many labor historians, including some with no political axe to grind, naively assume adisciplined, monolithic CP during this time period. The Sargent/Maihoffer caucus and itsmembers at 1010 are likewise presumed to be rigid adherents to the “Party line.” Labor historianJack Metzgar, lecturing a recent Labor Studies class at Indiana University Northwest describedUSWA CP members as frequently “on the phone to Moscow” to get new marching orders.Evidence, and my own experience, suggests a much more complex picture. Needleman hasargued that Communists in the Midwest were never “under the thumb” of the central CP office inNew York. A scenario similar to that of West Coast Longshore Union leader Harry Bridges, inwhich decisions were made in close consultation with CP leaders, but democratically by a vote ofthe rank & file, seems to me likely. Bruce Nelson describes a “syndacalist mood,” that yielded a“rank and file insurgency at the point of production,” in which Communists were a “major force,”whose “main role was to help shape an effective trade union program, sum up and popularize thelessons of strikes…and sharpen and focus…workers antagonism toward their principleadversaries.” 42 While Nelson and Selvin are referring to the San Francisco waterfront in 1934, Ibelieve a strong parallel can be drawn with Local 1010 in the SWOC era. The independence of1010 leaders and members is legendary. Their interaction, the record suggests, was comparableto that of the waterfront workers and their leftist leaders. Some evidence suggests that CP members like Migas sometimes did support the pledge,
Olszanski 18 L580 Term Papertrying to use a cumbersome grievance procedure to settle issues. The Group 9 minutes of June 21,1944 describe numerous grievances on overtime and other economic issues, and a speech byMigas which seems to favor restraint, Management has accused men in Btr. Shop of slowdown. Several grievances taken up on this accusation….Bro. Nick Migas: Talk on attending group and main lodge meetings and taking up grievances in the proper channels. Talk on case of the Steelworkers now before the WLB [War Labor Board]. 43“proper channels” were, however, often slow and ineffective. Hence, during this same timeperiod, stoppages and slow-downs, if not always out and out strikes, continued at Inland.And in reaction, a frustrated Plant Manager Gillies seemed to be baiting the Rank & File with hisarrogant tirades, like this one reported in the Group 9 minutes for May 3, 1944: Refractories. Got some action because men really showed what they could do, Gillis accused men of slowing down, and threatened to fire them. Gillis told griever that he had notified the 6th area commander,[National guard?] probably a bluff by friend Gillis. Gillis finally agreed to compare rates with 4 mills and if rates were not returned soon enough he agreed to send a personal representative which he has done….man suspended for 5 days for knocking foreman down. Refractory man.44Three days later, according to the minutes, Gillies is still ranting, “Sig Francis case of hookers tohave job evaluated. Gillis [Superintendent] claims he cannot make a definite date for this. Gillisfurther stated that hookers could shut the mill down any time they wanted to.”45 In seemsunlikely that Gillies was taunting the hookers because he doubted their resolve, or the localleadership’s willingness to support them. Rather, he sounds frustrated by the continuous in-plantresistance of a Rank & File willing to stop production when in their opinion the grievanceprocedure or the War Labor Board took too long to settle issues. Rank and file “spontaneity” occasionally led to attempted “hate strikes” in somedepartments, but here leftists like Migas and Gyurko worked with black leaders like Bill Young
Olszanski 19 L580 Term Paperand coke plant griever Buster Logan to get minorities promoted in spite of some “whitebacklash”46 For example, Migas settled a wildcat strike in #1 Open Hearth when the companyrefused to promote a black man to second helper on the furnace. Many of the white workers weresouthern, and tended to back managements position. At a meeting inside the plant at which thesuperintendent Gillies vacillated, Migas lectured his fellow workers on racism: “...discriminationstarts, maybe, with a Negro, but next it will go to the Mexican worker...and then it will go to theKentuckian, the hillbilly... .Then a so-called hillbilly wont be able to work in a steel mill. Andwhere will it stop?”47 The man got his job. Migas was later elected President of USWA Local1010 in 1945, having served briefly on the USWA staff until he was fired for supportinginsurgent George Patterson in a bid for Director of District 31 against Joe Germano. Sargent describes the consolidation by the International union’s top officers of their powerduring the forties, as tri-partite (company, union, government) collaboration began to overshadowand suppress Rank & File action, “The Government and the employers have learned how toadopt, co-opt, and engulf the union and make it a part of the Establishment. And in making it partof the Establishment they took the guts, the militancy, and the fight out of the people who workfor a living”.48 In any event slow-downs, departmental wildcats and other shop floor actions persisted atInland and other big Locals during the war. At U.S. Steel, the company reported there were 396work stoppages in steel production in 1943 alone, and 216 in 1945. By 1948, the companyclaimed, strikes “dropped to 22”49 As Zeiger says, “by December [of 1943] 150,000 USWAmembers had left their jobs in short term strikes.”50 Statistics for Inland are unavailable, but thereis every indication that strikes and similar job floor actions were at least as numerous there.
Olszanski 20 L580 Term Paper Workers at Inland were aware that war profiteering was making Inland and otherproducers rich. The U.S. Government built the Plant #4 complex for Inland at tax-payer expenseduring the war, to produce iron for army tanks made across Dickey Road at the Cast Armorplant. “A” and “B” Blast furnaces and a new coke plant produced profits for Inland, and wereturned over to the company at war’s end. At the same time the workers faced speed-up,inequitable wage rates and were denounced as unpatriotic if they got impatient with theponderous and plodding machinations of the War Labor Board and tried to take shop flooraction.. As the war wound down, first in Europe, then the Pacific, pent-up frustration with wageinequities and the bosses’ greed threatened to explode. Indeed, a strike wave swept through steelimmediately after the war. U.S. Steel bemoaned the “serious production loss of 29 million tons ofsteel from the end of the war to June 30, 1950, due to strikes and work stoppages.” 51 Nick Migaswas 1010 president during a big wildcat strike at Inland in 1945.52 War Ends: Strikes Continue Once World War II was over, as Zeiger puts it, "Murrays vision rested on hopes for asmooth transition from war to peace and on business-labor collaboration…" [Italics mine]53What Tanzman describes as the “wages/productivity bargain” between labor and capital was atthe core of this strategy, and it relied heavily on centralized negotiations and control from thetop.54 In response to pent-up worker frustration over wage inequities and sacrifices during thewar, 1946 brought the first industry-wide basic steel strike. 750,000 steelworkers shut down U.S.steel production for 28 days, winning an across-the-board pay increase of 181/2 cents an hour.
Olszanski 21 L580 Term PaperThe strike was coordinated by Murray and the International USWA leadership in Pittsburg, butwas carried out by the Rank & File at Inland and the other mills. It was settled between PhilMurray and John A. Stevens, vice president of U.S. Steel in Washington , D.C. For the first time,some union members at Local 1010 heard about the settlement first on the radio. While itestablished an industry-wide settlement on wages, it left many local issues, especially jobclassification and incentive issues, unresolved. 1947 negotiations throughout the industry established language to evaluate and classify alljob rates and establish standard hourly rates for each job. It also saw a new clause—Section 2-Bin the U.S. steel contract—which gave local union grievance committees a degree of protection ofexisting work practices within the departments. While never clear, the language allowed grieversto argue that a “past practice” could not be changed arbitrarily at the whim of management.Theoretically at least, it seemed to shore up local union autonomy and rank & file control. 55The Inland/USWA 1947 contract negotiated in Pittsburgh, was signed by Phil Murray and theInternationl USWA officers, as well as John Sargent and the Local 1010 negotiating committee.But it left serious issues of pay inequity unsettled. The Rank & File at Inland wasn’t ready forlabor peace. But events in the world at large were about to change the context in which 1010’sradicals resisted the international, and tried to exercise Rank and File control over bargaining,dramatically. The declaration, by Churchill and Truman, of a cold war against communism, broughtlabor’s top anti-communists to the fore. Murray initially defended the CIO’s Communists,defying the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) and anti-communist Walter Reuther at the1946 CIO convention with a militant declaration for center-left unity:
Olszanski 22 L580 Term Paper Let no one create conflict within this movement....this mighty organization, the CIO, is not going to be divided by anybody.... We have our divisions of opinion and we, I suppose, in the years to come, will be susceptable to divisions of opinion. That is mighty healthy...He was even more forceful at the USWA convention in 1946: We ask no man his national origin, his religion, his beliefs. It is enough for us that he is a steelworker and that he believes in trade unionism...Our union has not been and will not be an instrument of repression. It is a vehicle for economic and social progress.... As a democratic institution we engage in no purges, no witch hunts. We do not dictate a mans thoughts or beliefs. Most important of all we do not permit ourselves to be stampeded into courses of action which create division among our members and sow the disunity which is sought by those false prophets and hypocritical advisers from without who mean us no good.56 The Federal Taft-Hartley act of 1947, passed despite Truman’s veto, fueled the fires ofanti-communism in the U.S. labor movement. Among other provisions, it required every unionofficer to sign a “loyalty oath” swearing he was not a communist, on threat of expulsion fromunion office. Murray continued vocal support of participation by the left through the 1947 CIOconvention at Boston, declaring himself unequivocally opposed to amendment of the constitutionto provide for expulsion of the reds which Reuther was demanding. He said that history hadproven that expulsions would take control of the unions away from the membership.57In this he proved to be correct. But then the USWA and CIO boss reversed himself. At theMay, 1947 CIO executive Board meeting Murray announced to the union that he and the USWAwere on board the anti-communist. It is high time the CIO leaders stopped apologizing for Communism... throw it to hell out, and throw out its advocates along with it. When a man accepts office to render service to workers, and then delivers that service to other outside interests, that man is nothing but a damned traitor."58
Olszanski 23 L580 Term Paper The reference here seems is to be to the likes of Pressman and De Caux, but withthis radical departure from his previous public statements, Murray was also finally placinghimself firmly in the anti-communist ranks, where it would appear he had belonged allalong. The kid gloves were off. Communists, and those in the USWA who associated withthem, were traitors. Anticommunist opportunists, who now included Murray, saw in thiscold war insanity an opportunity to crush their left wing political opposition—and anyoneprincipled enough to stand with them. In the process, they could now rip the thorn fromtheir side that was the Local 1010 Rank & File. How would they do it? Migas suggested there was more to it than removing radicals fromunion office under the new Taft-Hartley law. That was the stick. The carrot encouragedopportunism, and the International was “playing politics” with grievances, and dangling full-timestaff appointments in front of cooperative local union grievers and officers, according to Migas.Many of the less principled, and those who were convinced it was un-American to support unionleaders who were red or “pink” would go along to get along. How did the International take over? …hedging here, hedging there, getting people under their influence in the local who were ambitious to become foremen or to get on the staff, spending money just before an election; that way progressive leadership was broken up in the plant, in the union. It was a gradual process….if you had a good man as grievance committeeman, and the International didn’t settle his grievances at the third and fourth steps, then the people involved thought it was the grievance man’s fault [and voted him out of office]59 Migas personally got enormous support from the members in his department when anattempt was made to remove him from union office for his CP membership in 1948. A petition,signed by 250 members in #1 Open hearth stated, “it makes no difference to us that he is a
Olszanski 24 L580 Term Papercommunist. He is a strong union man, a good fighter for us men here.” They argued it was thewill “of the rank-and-file…that Brother Migas be our Grievance committeeman.”60 With Murrayand Germano’s purge of 1010’s radicals underway it would get plenty ugly in the “red local.” “Wildcat Johnnie” Sargent “We had quite a few wildcats,” Joe Gyurko remembered. “It seemed like the Cold Strip[John Sargent’s department] was always on wildcat.”61 Many of these strikes were overincentive pay. “They had every job on a different type of incentive, and every time one of themincentives dropped, the guys at the drop of a hat were out the gate. I was always out on strike.”62These strikes usually resulted in a settlement which basically granted the workers’ demands. Theresultant agreements, written or verbal, until 1947 universally included amnesty for the strikers,in spite of the no-strike clause in the Local contract. But 1010’s Tin Mill strike changed all that. A 1947 wildcat at Inland’s Tin Mill in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement’sno-strike clause provided the International leadership an opportunity to rid the union of Sargentand the Rank & File. The issue was low incentive or “bonus” pay on a new electrolytic tin platingline. The company was once again instituting speed-up. Sargent took some heat when thecompany “in a flurry of red-baiting…” as Zivich reports, fired 80 strikers.63 According to Gyurko,Mary Hopper and Nick Migas, the International Union under Philip Murray and District DirectorJoe Germano signed an agreement without Sargent’s knowledge or consent that legitimated thefirings. Gyurko told me in 1982,
Olszanski 25 L580 Term Paper Germano sent the letter out, ‘you guys goin’ to go back. The company’s got the right to fire you. You give ‘em that right.’ They stuck and they all got fired. And at that time, the Tin Mill had the most militant union group in the whole mill…They broke the back of the union in that department. Real bad. Germano. You can blame Germano because he wouldn’t support them… But Gyurko also recognized that the Tin Mill rank & file’s insistence ongoing it alone allowed them to be isolated by Inland and Germano—and crushed.“Sargent was going to pull the whole local out, and they didn’t want him to do that, the groupdidn’t. They thought they could hold out on their own…A big mistake!”64 Mary Hopper, along with a large proportion of the women hired at Inland during WorldWar II, worked in the Tin Mill with Ann Geba. She was elected 1010 Recording Secretaryseveral times. “Look at the way they crucified him [Sargent] over that 1947 strike,” she said.“You don’t fire 80 guys, like, the way they did. They went completely around him. Then, ofcourse, people didn’t believe it. Nobody would believe that they would, that the International andthe company would sign an agreement without the local president.”65 Murray and Germano hadused the International Union’s legal ability to speak for the Local Union membership tocircumvent its elected leadership and enforce top-down discipline. It appears that Murray, Germano and the International hoped to accomplish at least twogoals with this deal: to wipe out or seriously curtail rank & file support for Sargent and his redcaucus, and to teach the members once and for all that the International ran the USWA, and whenMurray gave his personal word there would be no strikes, he wasn’t going to let an ignorant andfool-hardy membership break it. Their attempt was to prove only partially successful. The following year at the 1948 USWA Convention, 1010 delegate Nick Migas passed outleaflets critical of the international leadership’s anti-rank & file activities. Migas’ leaflet, in
Olszanski 26 L580 Term Paperaddition to criticism of Murray’s support for Truman’s new cold war foreign policy, madereference to the 1947 back-door agreement. The leaflet attacked Murray and the International,which it said “stopped or discouraged departmental stoppages, slow-downs and other actionsagainst departmental beefs; it permitted staunch union men to be fired without benefit of uniondefense for simply fighting speed-up and other beefs. Either we are a fighting union every inch ofthe way, or we go down the road to company unionism” For his trouble, Migas was dragged outof the convention hall to the street by Murray’s goons, beaten and kicked to the curb.66 Metzgar speaks of the “discipline that enabled the USW from 1946-1956 to strike 5 timesand go out and come back together, as a group.” 67 This discipline can hardly be seen as self-imposed, considering the lengths to which the international leadership was willing to go toenforce it. “Eighty fired at Inland, Murray says they’re not coming back…” must have rippedthrough the ranks of Local 1010 like a tornado, dispelling any notions radicals and rank & filersalike might have that the old rules could still be applied. Indeed, progressive leadership in theother big steel locals can hardly have ignored the message, though evidence suggests wildcatscontinued longer in some locals, while at 1010 they practically disappeared after 1947, as far as Ican determine.68 I was aware of no wildcats of any significance in my time of employment atInland, from 1963 to 1996. 1948 was a turning point in U.S. labor history. The CPUSA supported the ProgressiveParty’s Henry Wallace for President, as did Joe Gyurko and many Rank & Filers at 1010. Gyurkocampaigned for Wallace door to door. A huge Wallace rally in Gary drew thousands of unionmembers, who opposed Truman’s cold war escalation, as well as Taft-Hartley. Murray firedCommunists Len DeCaux, Fred Avila and Harry Gantt of the CIO News, and USWAWashington D.C. legislative representative Robert Lamb, purportedly over the Wallace issue.
Olszanski 27 L580 Term PaperHe reportedly shed tears over his firing of trusted chief consul Lee Pressman—but did it just thesame—for, in his mind, “putting loyalty to the CP above loyalty to the union.” 69 Pressman was quickly replaced with avowed anti-communist Arthur J Goldberg, a laborlawyer recruited to USWA service by Van Bittner in 1940. During the war, Goldberg’s job as aCaptain with the CIA predecessor Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was to funnel money tounderground resistance units in occupied Europe—but only to the anti-communist elements of theresistance.70 Goldberg, later a founder with Reuther and others of Americans for DemocraticAction (ADA) was a key proponent of the liberal “Middle Way” a social democratic theory thataimed to “democratize, humanize and stabilize market systems” by sharing power equally amongcorporations, the state and labor unions. Liberals like Goldberg detested communists more thancapitalists, and would prove to be just the man to help Murray run them out of the CIO, and theUSWA. 71 Murray had begun in earnest the purge of the CIO’s and USWA’s militants, calling themcommunists and traitors. He had likewise effectively disabused the USWA 1010 members, if notthe entire USWA membership, of any ideas that bargaining in the old style would any longer betolerated. Thus, the “wages/productivity bargain” could be implemented and expanded with littleinterference from a weakened Rank and File.72 The 1950s: Industry Wide Bargaining and Strikes An Industry- wide strike was called by Murray in October, 1949. Murray and top USWAand CIO leaders had determined that Company-paid pensions, rather than enlargement of
Olszanski 28 L580 Term Paperprograms like Social Security were the way to insure steelworker futures under a capitalist systemthey heartily endorsed. The post-war “wages/productivity bargain”, in the eyes of these businessunionists, made capitalists somewhat responsible for the welfare of their workers, while viewinggovernment-sponsored plans with some suspicion. Interestingly U.S. Steel, employing welfarecapitalism under the so-called “American Plan”—designed to keep out unions—had establishedcompany paid pensions for its employees in 1911.73 Local 1010 was out for 42 days, as onceagain the recalcitrant Inland Steel was among the last to settle. The Rank & File at 1010,where Harry Powell was now president, once again furnished the foot soldiers, but had little tosay about the high level negotiations. “At the 1950 USWA convention, the InternationalLeadership was made the ‘sole contracting party’ in all collective bargaining agreements,”74making the local union negotiating committees a mere creature of the International’s control. In 1952, President Harry Truman announced he would seize the steel mills to settledeadlocked negotiations between big steel and the USWA. Citing the effects of a steel shut-downon military production for the on-going Korean conflict, Truman insisted a strike “must not beallowed to happen.” He blamed the deadlocked squarely on steel management. Inlandmanagement’s Clarence Randall called Truman’s action “an evil deed without precedent and athreat of nationalization to all industry.”75 The companies settled with top union negotiatorsunder White House supervision, after 59 days on strike. “Wildcat Willie” Maihoffer wasreplaced as 1010 president that year by the conservative Don Lutes Senior. Maihoffer’s botched,indecisive handling of a racial incident in the Power and Steam department, where white workersdoused a black in kerosene and threatened to set him on fire, gave the Lutes caucus just what itneeded to beat the Rank & File in local union elections. Phil Murray died on November 9, leaving
Olszanski 29 L580 Term Paperthe union’s top job to the flashy business unionist David J. McDonald. In 1953 and 1954, the USWA struck steel again, for five weeks industry-wide.Don Lutes Senior was president of Local 1010 during this time. McDonald would have noproblems with militancy in local 1010’s leadership during these years but in fact put Local 1010under trusteeship during Lutes term of office over fiscal issues. Nyden ascribes to theInternational an ability to tap, and largely control local militancy during the fifties, threatening to“let local militants loose if the industry did not agree to union demands.” This also “served as acatharsis for local union militants,” channeling and releasing much of their pent up frustrationwith top-down international control.76 Pete Callacci was 1010 president in 1956, when the USWA and major steel companiesestablished coordinated bargaining. The CIO had surrendered to the AFL, and 650,000 USWAmembers struck the industry’s big twelve for four weeks, gaining 45 cents an hour, including aCOLA (Cost of Living Adjustment). Bargaining was handled by a top committee consisting ofUSWA president David J McDonald, Secretary-Treasurer I.W. Abel, Vice President Hague andGeneral Counsel Arthur J. Goldberg. The Wage Policy Committee rubber-stamped theagreement. The former Trotkyist Callacci was by this time firmly in the International’s camp.He was still president in 1959, when the longest, and last steel strike at Inland Steel, took place.Inland, and basic steel throughout the country, was shut down tight for 116 days. Once again,Local 1010 did as it was told and let negotiations proceed according to the now established highlevel bargaining model. Once again the members were presented with a fait accompli and did not
Olszanski 30 L580 Term Paperget to vote on the contract. Ironically, the key issue in the 1959 industry-wide steel strike was thepreservation of “local working conditions” or “past practice”—a clause (2-B in the USSAgreement, Article 2 Section 2 in Inland’s) which armed individual local grievance committeesfor the day-to-day struggle on the shop floor. In far too many cases this language was littleunderstood and not effectively used by many later, more conservatively schooled grievers. In thecase of Inland and Local 1010, the local working conditions language was inadequate to protectthings like crew sizes, and would become a key bargaining issue in 1965 contract talks. Moreunfortunately still, far too few rank & file workers really understood what they were striking forin 1959, since by that time the alienation of the workers from their Pittsburgh internationalleaders, now presided over by David J. MacDonld, was almost complete. Industry-wide bargaining, while it promised the positive effect of eliminating thepossibility of management “whipsawing” one local union against another, at least over wages,failed to assure uniformity in key provisions of the individual Company contracts, especially onlanguage protecting jobs. Indeed, the companies welcomed it, fearing the union might in factwhipsaw wages upward by using pattern bargaining.77 But it greatly assisted the concentration ofcontrol over bargaining in the hands of top International Union leadership, and put it effectivelybehind closed doors. This was just where people like Phil Murray, Dave MacDonald and IWAbel liked it. Local 1010’s negotiating committee, removed sometimes to Pittsburgh sometimesto Washington D.C. for coordinated bargaining was sequestered, with little or no contact with therank & file in the mill, often for weeks at a time. Trying to negotiate local issues with Inlandmanagement, while international negotiators met behind other closed doors to hammer out anindustry-wide contract, the local team was out of the loop of the higher level talks. In the final
Olszanski 31 L580 Term Paperhours, they would be called together and told that the industry contract was decided, and toquickly settle their local issue and go on home. The USWA Wage Policy Committee, whosemembers came from other industries as well as basic steel, nominally approved contracts, buttheir vote was usually to support the recommendation of the executive board. Elections for the USWA president and executive board came up in 1965, right in themiddle of basic steel negotiations. A palace revolt led by USWA executive board member I.WAbel, was supported by Sargent and new Rank & File Caucus leader and alleged former CPorganizer Jim Balanoff. Abel, who in his “fight back” political campaign blasted McDonald’s“tuxedo unionism,” would shortly emerge as another of management’s beloved “laborstatesmen.” Negotiations, suspended for the duration of the election, were concluded by Abel andhis team. The May 1 deadline passed, and Abel gave the 11 Steel Companies a three monthextension, rather than strike. A contract once again negotiated from the top-down was signed in1965 by the international officers. This Inland contract does not bear the signatures of any Local1010 officers or negotiating committee members. It remains the only USWA/Inland Contractbefore or since left unsigned by a 1010 local union president. John Sargent was president of Local 1010 in 1965, and fellow Rank & File Caucus leaderJim Balanoff was Secretary of the Grievance Committee. Balanoff reported in November 1964,on a Grievers’ meeting at which “the consensus…is that all the time needed to settle our manyburning local problems should be given the negotiating committee before any contract is agreedto. These department and plant problems have to be settled and every attempt will be made tosettle them to the satisfaction of our members.”78 Sargent, Balanoff, and the entire Local 1010
Olszanski 32 L580 Term Papernegotiating committee refused to sign. Having promised in his Local 1010 Steelworker column ofDecember, 1964 to sign no contract “until local conditions are settled to the satisfaction of theLocal Bargaining Committees”79 Sargent kept his word. Complaining of the waste and ineffectiveness of moving the local negotiating committeeto Pittsburgh, Sargent expressed frustration with the negotiating process and the resultingcontract. “IT’S OVER,” he writes in September, 1965, “After nine months of seemingly endlesstalk—much of it futile and useless.” Sargent went on to explain the reasons 1010’s committeerefused to sign. “We appealed to the International Executive board, “ he said in his front pagecolumn, “to either give us a contract similar to the Big Ten…or let us use the power of the…Local  to get…what other steelworkers have.” Sargent specifically pointed to two cruciallacks in the Inland contract:. “The Steel Industry’s provisions [contract language] on incentives,”and “The Steel Industry’s provisions [contract language] on protecting crew sizes, known as 2-B.” Sargent explained that inferior language in the Inland contract did not prohibit the Company“from cutting incentive pay on jobs changed by new equipment and processes.” And the Inlandversion of the “local working conditions” language (Article 2 Section 2) would allow them toreduce crew sizes. These two differences would give “Inland a distinct economic advantage overthe rest of the basic steel industry,” by taking “millions of dollars out of the pockets of Inlandworkers.”80 A Local 1010 resolution submitted to the 1965 District 31 Conference called for changesin negotiating procedures “so that we either strive for essentially one contract covering all thebasic steel companies or that we bargain separately with these companies…”81 Calling for a“drastic revamping and reorganization” of “our entire method of negotiation” 1010 Grievance
Olszanski 33 L580 Term PaperCommitteeman Joe Sowa called for membership ratification in 1966. Complaining that “Thepresident of the union is called in behind the politicians’ closed door, and nobody knows whathappened about the changes we asked on [the] local level.” Sowa pointed out that the WagePolicy Committee and the International executive board could and did “overrule the negotiatingteam of various Locals and approve the agreement even with the objection of the Local…”82 Bill Bennett, who defeated Sargent for 1010 president in 1967 by a vote of 5510 to 3590,called for a shorter work week with no reduction in pay and early retirement and training tooffset job loss in steel. The Basic Steel Industry Conference, composed of Local Unionpresidents of only basic steel was established that year, and given the authority to ratify thecontract or recommend a strike, which would have to be approved by membership vote. TheIndustry Conference would prove highly susceptible to arm-twisting by the USWA president.Thus, centralized control of negotiations was maintained. Local 1010’s negotiating committee in1968 was headed by Sam Evett, District 31 Director Joe Germano’s personal assistant, thusassuring International union control of local bargaining. Once more, locals negotiations startedlocally, but were then moved to Pittsburg and sequestered. The Seventies: Industry Bargaining, ENA In 1973, I.W. Abel and the Coordinated Basic Steel Companies “Embarked on anunprecedented experiment…”83 designed to insure “labor peace” and fulfill Murray’s old dreamof full “collaboration” between the union and the bosses. After meeting secretly for months,
Olszanski 34 L580 Term PaperAbel, the USWA Executive board, and ten major steel companies announced the ExperimentalNegotiating Agreement (ENA) on television and in the newspapers March 30, 1973. Designedto eliminate stockpiling by the industry in anticipation of strikes, the ENA pledged the USWA notto strike at all, no matter how the negotiations turned out. It substituted arbitration for the right tostrike. The Rank & File were furious. Typifying progressive local union leaders throughout the USWA, Local 1014 officer andblack leftist leader Curtis Strong blasted the no-strike ENA: “ENA takes away the only real clubunions have. The ENA was the same ideology they handed the blacks: ‘We’ll negotiate foryou.’”84 Local 1010 griever Mike Mezo (later elected president in 1988) likewise stood for theright to strike and the right to ratify and complained of the top-down closed-door bargainingtactics used by the USWA International: “The rank & file had been excluded from the decision-making process and mistrusted both the company and the union. …The men in suits told themthey didn’t need to vote on contracts and now don’t need to strike. It caused even morealienation.”85 Present District 7 Director Jim Robinson, who as a young griever served on the 1977Local 1010 negotiating committee, described the frustration of negotiating under ENA, carriedover from 1973 and 1974 negotiations: 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 anything [agree to anything] 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 [then 1010 president and International supporter]
Olszanski 35 L580 Term Paper Hank Lopez ‘You can take a ten cent increase on the meal ticket and Kotex for the women’s wash room’ Hank should have told them to stick it.86 Under ENA, a local could in fact strike, but only on local issues. Since all big ticketeconomic issues were industry wide, that left the local to negotiate small change items, and madethe possibility of a local strike remote. Impossible is not a word I like to use, but I will say thepossibility of taking out 18,000 steelworkers in 1977 over non-economic issues was in factextremely remote. In spite of this, in 1977 the local negotiating committee, led by DistrictDirector Jim Balanoff and 1010 President Bill Andrews took a strike authorization vote on Localissues. We had assembled a huge package of health and safety, environmental and Coke plantdemands. We asked the membership to grant the committee the right to strike Inland, if theywouldn’t settle. They did, by a paper thin 52% to 48% margin. With no economic issues on thetable, nearly half of 1010’s 18,000 members refused to authorize a strike. Along with Mike Mezo,Jim Robinson, Rudy Schneider, James Ross and others, this was my first contract negotiations.The committee of about ten was appointed by Bill Andrews, and consisted mostly ofdepartmental grievers. Each had a list of quite parochial, departmental demands he wanted to winfor his department. Most bargaining took place in Washington D.C. at the Shoreham Hotel. Wemet the company in small sub committees, while top level talks went on in secret. Coke PlantGriever James Ross and I, along with a delegation of coke plant workers from several big locals,tried for a week to get a meeting with Abel, to find out what was on the big table for coke plants.He refused to meet. We sat down outside his hotel room door one evening for an hour or so, to noavail. He sent an emissary, Lloyd McBride, to defuse the situation. No one was to find out whatwas in store for coke plant workers until a final agreement was submitted to the Basic SteelIndustry Conference of local union presidents for approval, take it or leave it. We were a longway from Indiana Harbor, and from the members in the mill.87 In spite of Abel’s
Olszanski 36 L580 Term Paperrecommendation, the Local Union Presidents voted down the industry contract on first ballot.Arm twisting started in earnest then, and it didn’t take long for Abel to bring enough dissidents inline to get approval. We went home to the members with an industry contract already settled, and a committeerecommendation to approve the local issues we’d been able to settle. There was no way, we felt,we could ask 1010 members to strike, since we had only narrowly won the strike authorizationvote of 52% to 48%. At an all day plant gate vote, the members approved the local contract 4 to 1.It was a mediocre contract. We could have done better. The 1010 Rank & File Caucus, led by then president Bill Andrews, joined with insurgentsfrom across the country to build for a convention floor fight for the right to ratify contracts inbasic steel at the 1978 Steelworkers convention in Atlantic City. We campaigned for our slate ofdelegates, pledging to fight for the issue at the convention. We elected 36 of 1010’s 37 delegates,including Mezo, his father Cliff “Cowboy” Mezo, myself and griever Jim Robinson. Jim Robinson was introduced to me by his father-in-law, 1010 Rank & File Chair andlater 1010 President Jim Balanoff in 1972 as a Students For a Democratic Society (SDS)organizer. He was reputedly pretty radical in his younger days. He had this to say about closed-door bargaining, the right to ratify contracts and the right to strike at the USWA convention in1978: I hired into the mill in 1971 and the contract came up that summer. Saturday at midnight was the contract deadline. The next day I’m sittin’ in a tavern in South Chicago, and it comes on the TV: the contract has been settled. Well, this is my contract! Why do I gotta learn that from the television, that it’s been settled? Why can’t I say , you know, what are the terms of this contract and I’ll decide whether it’s been settled or not? Or at least I’ll have my one four hundred
Olszanski 37 L580 Term Paper thousandth of a say as to whether it’s been settled And that’s always left a bad taste in my mouth, and I think it leaves a bad taste in everybody’s mouth.88 Robinson’s description of learning about the contract on TV resonates with thousands ofsteelworkers who experienced negotiations in the 1970’s similarly. His eloquent statementdescribing how top union leaders had undermined the movement by top-down centralizedcontrol of the union, and how rank & file control can revive it rings true today: You read it in the papers, you see it on television: ‘Labor’s in trouble. Labor Law reform bill got beat. Common Situs Picketing got beat. Compromise on the minimum wage.’ Well, George Meany and them are in trouble! O.K.? Because I don’t see most of them doing a very effective job of going to their membership and saying, ‘Look, this is what we gotta do , and we can’t do it ‘cause we’re just individuals. We can only do it if we speak for you and if we have your backing.’ I don’t see them doing that. And if they did that, I don’t know what kind of response they’d get, because for years they’ve been saying, ‘Look, we don’t need your backing, we don’t want your backing, we don’t want you to say nothin’. We’ll negotiate the contracts. We’ll run the union. And you just pay the dues.’ Too much they’ve been doing that. And now, you know, the chickens are starting to come home to roost. They’re losing. And they don’t really know what to do. And this is the sense in which we need a Labor Movement, O.K.? This union isn’t my union, it’s not your union., Jim Balanoff or Ed Sadlowski’s union or Lloyd McBride’s union. This union belongs to the members that work in the mill. And they’re the people that should make those decisions. Because that’s their right. That’s what the union’s there for.”89 These and similar sentiments among 1010 Rank and Filers, of whom, Robinson and MikeMezo were two, led to a serious contest for the membership’s right to ratify contracts at the 1978USWA convention in Atlantic City. Robinson, Mezo and myself were in the thick of it.Tight control of the convention by IW Abel precluded a victory there, or even a roll call vote.The issue was referred back to the Industry Conference, which years later, in the face of the break
Olszanski 38 L580 Term Paperup of coordinated bargaining and demands by the companies for concessions, saw fit to grantmembership ratification in basic steel. Mike Mezo described how the Rank & File’s failure to win democratic reforms in theUSWA, through convention fights and the ill-fated Sadlowski insurgency of 1977, weakened theunion and its ability to resist the onslaught of the concession-hungry steel industry in the 1980’s: On the national level, thwarting the Rank & File Movement had catastrophic consequences. We were helpless for ten years. Now the leaders of the International wonder ‘where are all our agitators, our activists?’ The answer is ‘They were run out in the seventies’ When the shit hit the fan in the 1980’s, 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.”90 Mezo is basically correct, though I have argued that the red purges of the 1940’s and1950’s actually marked the start of the decline of our union. Running out the “communists” thenmeant running out the most democratic, militant, progressives as well. The “new left” insurgencyin steel of the 1970’s built a pretty broad alliance, but it was too dependent on the charismaticleadership of Ed Sadlowski, and failed to build a bottom-up movement which could endure asmore than an election campaign organization. Sadlowski and District 31 Director Jim Balanoff infact opposed the idea of a permanent, ongoing Fight Back organization at the 1978 Convention inAtlantic City, arguing it would be a target for the International leadership. Refusing to takeleadership of an assemblage of USWA Rank & File groups from around the country theyexpressed concerns the International Leadership would use the old “dual unionism” chargeagainst us. Following their lead, and that of Cliff and Mike Mezo and Jim Robinson, I voted withthe 1010 rank & File delegation against forming a permanent organization. I was soon to regretthat decision. Balanoff expressed his own regrets at this decision in an interview years later.
Olszanski 39 L580 Term Paper The 1980’s: Concessions Bargaining and Job Loss In 1980, negotiations once more were coordinated industry-wide but the steelindustrialists had had enough of ENA with its 3% guaranteed wage increase and arbitration.District director Balanoff and 1010 president Andrews once again tried to assemble enough “localissues” to at least threaten a strike, but it was obvious that once again, the members would takewhat was handed down from the top. Jobs were becoming the big issue among steelworkers, aseastern mills began to be shuttered, and pressures for job combinations and eliminationsincreased. Adequate job protections were still absent from the contract, and president McBridetold me and other delegates to the USWA 1980 convention that the union had no business tellingthe owner of a steel mill when he could or could not shut it down, or how many workers he had toemploy.91 The last USWA contract under coordinated bargaining was negotiated in 1983. Thecoordinated steel companies demanded the USWA give back wages and benefits, and soughtwork rule changes to facilitate more “downsizing”—the combination and elimination of jobs.President Lloyd McBride died in the middle of negotiations, leaving new president Lyn Williamsto conclude a pact that included. “Significant concessions.”92 A “NO Concessions” drive amongbasic steel presidents, supported by Bill Andrews, failed to garner enough support to overcomeenormous pressures from the International leadership to settle. By February, the contract was
Olszanski 40 L580 Term Papersettled, with no threat of a strike. Then Chair of the grievance committee at 1010 Joe Gyurkocomplained that the Inland contract still “contains certain sections that no other steel company hasand they hurt us in fighting job eliminations.”93 Coordinated industry wide bargaining, whileminimizing rank and file control of negotiations, had also failed to protect 1010 against inferiorcontract language on work rules. Gyurko and the Rank & File urged members to help fight jobcombinations and eliminations by closely following safety rules, filing grievances when theycaught foremen working, refusing to turn in suggestions on efficiency improvements, andsupporting the local union.94 In 1986, U.S. Steel, Inland and the rest of the basic steel companies decided to dissolvecoordinated industry-wide bargaining, and take on the locals one by one, hoping to whipsaw oneagainst the other. Inland demanded more concessions, saying they wanted “parity” with the othercompanies. Local 1010, under president Bill Andrews, prepared for the worst. Two “sound off”meetings were held at the union hall, and members attending were unanimous in their resistanceto concessions on wages and work rules. I was assigned to organize a strike committee. Westarted early, urging mass participation by the members, and signed up over 2500 members out ofa total of perhaps 12,000 as strike committee volunteers. Andrews, who originally won office onthe Rank & File slate, had increasingly come under the influence of life-long friend and nowmentor, USWA vice president for human affairs Leon Lynch. His position had becomeincreasingly more cautious, conservative, and non-confrontational vis-à-vis the International, tothe chagrin of myself and some other Rank & Filers. He appointed a small negotiating committeeand started closed-door negotiations with Inland. Negotiating Committee reports were printed anddistributed at the plant gates, but they were edited by Andrews and director Parton, containingonly general information. Fearing “leaks” to the press or the members, Parton and Andrews
Olszanski 41 L580 Term Papersequestered the committee and I, as vice president chairing informational membership meetingsin Andrew’s absence, was kept out of the loop. Angry at the return to secrecy, I complainedvehemently, telling Andrews privately that I didn’t appreciate being “treated like a mushroom—kept in the dark and fed bull shit.” In fairness, Andrews was well aware of my position ontransparency, and felt I could not be relied upon to keep secrets from the membership. Afterapproval by the international executive board, the 1010 committee brought back a package whichit unanimously recommended to the members. Mass meetings were held at an East Chicago highschool auditorium, to explain the contract point by point. For the first time since 1942, 1010members ratified the entire contract. Membership participation in the bargaining process waslimited and circumscribed, but none the less important. Negotiations, though closed door, at leasthad to produce a contract which could garner sufficient rank & file support to ensure membershipratification. I am convinced, however that 1010’s membership would be loath to reject a contractpresented by the entire negotiating committee as “the best we can get.” Is there a way to return contract negotiations and the right to strike to the members?I believe so. Unable to talk to participants in the early Inland negotiations as much as I wouldlike, I turned to a Gary, Indiana trade union leader I’ve known and respected for over twentyyears. Alice Bush, staff representative for SEIU Local 208, described to me how the left-led 1199Hospital Workers Unions bargained with St. Mary’s and Methodist hospitals in Gary, Indiana inthe 1980’s. The bargaining committee was large—very large when compared to the dozen or soappointed to a typical 1010 negotiating committee, which negotiated for some 18,000 members. Itwas elected—one member from each occupation at the hospital was elected by his/her peers.Negotiations were local and they were open. Any member of the union was allowed, in factencouraged to attend sessions, which were held in an auditorium large enough to accommodate
Olszanski 42 L580 Term Paperseveral hundred workers. Often it was full. Transparency was near complete, and Unionnegotiators rarely acquiesced to management’s constant requests for a “sidebar” discussionbehind closed doors. In the rare instances when the door was closed, prompt reports to themembership kept the rank & file in the loop. The press was not directly admitted, but weregenerally out in the hall, and ready with questions any time union members or management leftthe hall. “1199 always did it that way. That’s the way I was taught,” says Bush. Like the UnitedElectrical Workers (UE) her union was left-led, and saw closed door bargaining as classcollaborationist.95 In 1987-88, during my brief part term as Local 1010 president, I represented the local inwhat might loosely be termed negotiations with Inland. Management was asking for a mid-contract re-opener, claiming an urgent need to talk to the union about its role in a multi-milliondollar revamping of Plant #4 bar and structural division. The role Inland envisioned for itsemployees was to cooperate in removing contract bars to combining operating and maintenancejobs. I met with the local officers and grievance committeemen, and we agreed to listen toInlands demands, but said we would not re-negotiate the contract. The very first thing Inlandwanted of us, when we met in East Chicago in the offices of USWA District Director Jack Parton,was a pledge to secrecy. “We want to give you all the information about our business plans, butwe don’t want it to leave this room.” The very first thing I told Inland management was, “I don’tbelieve in keeping secrets from the members. Whatever you tell us here, the instant we leavewe’re going to call mass departmental meetings with the members and tell it all to them.”Inland proceeded to lay out a proposal, and an implied threat. We called two meetings a day witheach affected department membership, to fully cover all shifts. We told them Inland wanted in
Olszanski 43 L580 Term Papereffect a contract re-opener. They wanted a separate agreement for Plant 4, with totally new workrules, allowing the combining of electrical, mechanical and production jobs. We detailedprecisely the proposal Inland had presented, completely, line by line. The members asked us, thegrievers and myself , what we thought. We told them we thought it was outrageous, but we couldnot guarantee their jobs if Inland shut down all of Plant 4, which was what they threatened shouldwe not agree. We said we would do all we could to get people severance pay, but there were noguarantees. The contract language was dubious and unreliable on this point. We told them anagreement like this would set a dangerous precedent, and that we would prefer to tell thecompany to stuff it, but that we would abide by their decision. We took a secret ballot vote andcounted it right in front of them. Out of several hundred votes, 2 or 3 said to negotiate.The members, almost unanimously, told us not to negotiate on Plant #4. We happily reported toInland and the local newspapers we would not negotiate on these issues at this time. They wouldhave to put their proposals on the table in regular contract negotiations in 1989. Mike Mezo, who was part of the original committee for these talks, supported thisdecision. A few months later, after defeating me for 1010 president, he and Director Partonopened private talks with Inland, and brought back to the members a fait accompli, a newagreement for Plant 4. The members voted to accept. It was no surprise to me, given the positiontheir new president and director Parton had taken, that they did. It’s not just short term outcomes that are affected by the kind of bargaining unionsemploy, though I’m convinced the union usually gets better contracts when negotiations are openand inclusive of the rank & file, and are only approved with their votes. Leftist 1010 leaders JohnSargent, Nick Migas, Joe Gyurko and Jim Balanoff, like Harry Bridges and unlike Germano,
Olszanski 44 L580 Term PaperMurray and IW Abel, saw their power as union leaders enhanced, rather than diminished, byhaving the rank & file at the table with them in negotiations, not locked out. In the long term, it ismy conviction that every time the union leadership meets behind closed doors, the union isdivided and weakened. Mistrust and alienation are consequences, not to mention the loss ofvaluable shop-floor input. Union leaders are easily tagged as “sell outs” when they negotiate insecret—and how do they prove otherwise? I think the trend in negotiations at USWA 1010 is butone specific example of how unions that lock their members out of control of their ownbargaining agreements alienate and eventually lose those members’ loyalty and solidarity. Theprice our union has paid is by now evident. From nearly a million and a half members in the1970’s the USWA was down to a half million ten years ago. From nearly 19,000 members, Local1010 is down to around 6,000 these days, while Inland’s steelmaking capacity has grown.Arguments continue to be made that this job loss was the inevitable result of things likeautomation and foreign competition. But I am convinced that a serious fight for a shorter workweek, strong contract language on crew size, and an early, effective organizing campaign in themini-mills, coupled with international labor solidarity aimed at bringing up living standardsamong foreign steelworkers would have significantly minimized these losses. A left-led Rank &File at 1010 in fact advocated these strategies and policies for many years. Sargent and Balanoffin particular, articulated a concern with and strategy to effectively deal with job loss due toautomation in the 1950’s and 1960’s. They raised the issue at Wage Policy Committee meetings,conventions, and in the local union newspaper The support of 1010’s Rank & File for the UAW–led Shorter Work Week campaign in the 1970’s and 1980’s was similarly an attempt to offset jobloss in steel with a rational, entirely justifiable reduction of working hours commensurate withproductivity improvement in steel.96 USWA and AFL-CIO leadership failed to respond to these
Olszanski 45 L580 Term Paperideas, or to develop alternatives of their own. Hence I think they must accept a great deal of theresponsibility for job loss and consequent membership loss in steel, as well as in the rest of theU.S. industrial and manufacturing sector. Perhaps a more open bargaining style would haveallowed some of these proposals to be incorporated into the USWA’s contract demands, andperhaps some might even have had a chance of being implemented. We shall never know. If the answers proposed by the Rank & File were/are unacceptable or unworkable, itseems to me union leadership needed to find answers of its own. Over the years, manysteelworkers have lost respect for, as well as become alienated from their Pittsburgh leadership.Indeed many 1010 members do not know the names of their past two International presidents,since there was no vote. There was no contest, owing at least in part to the highly restrictiveUSWA election procedure, which require candidates to be nominated by the votes of a largenumber of local unions, simply to get on the ballot. New Look?
Olszanski 46 L580 Term Paper Local 1010 contracts have been negotiated in the top-down manner largely withoutincident, since the 1980’s. There has been no strike at Inland (now ISPAT/Inland) since 1959.A fairly recent example of a major USWA strike is the twenty month Ravenswood, WestVirginia lock-out of 1990-1992. Some progressive supporters point to this campaign as the modelfor a new kind of bargaining. The “new thinking” they rave about refers essentially to thestrategies and tactics employed, rather than any return to local control or democracy or anyideological realignment. A newly globalized Ravenswood Aluminum clearly aimed to bust the union. Theybrought in black uniformed security guards and sealed off the plant before negotiations stalled.They “permanently” replaced locked-out union members with scabs. Local 5668 members andleaders, while displaying great unity and determination, differed markedly from those of the old1010. A homogeneous group of mostly white southerners, they had no left leadership to speak of.Already mobilized, willing to fight, and try any kind of new tactics that might help, they wereused by the International to try out myriad new innovative “corporate campaign” strategies aimedat attacking management globally. Then vice president George Becker, who had a strong personalinterest in drawing a line in the sand at Ravenswood decided in conjunction with then presidentLyn Williams to pull out all the stops, employing as much money and new tactics as necessary towin this particular strike. After decades of retreat and concessions bargaining, the USWA andindeed the entire U.S. labor movement desperately needed a victory. Like theBridgestone/Firestone campaign, many tactics and strategies were global and carried outoverseas. At one point an 8 foot puppet of Mother Jones was sawed in half and flown toSwitzerland for a demonstration. Identifying international fugitive from the FBI Marc Rich as the
Olszanski 47 L580 Term Paperman who pulled the strings behind Ravenswood, Becker personalized the attack. The idea was tomake an example of one recalcitrant company, and strike fear into the hearts of the rest. While the International union and Becker saved Local 5668 from total destruction, theydid so, I think at high cost. It is not just the $20 million the USWA spent to save 1,700 jobs(reduced to 580 by 2002).97 It is the further alienation of the members from their union. It is thelesson, once more rammed home by Becker and president Lynn Williams, that in the finalanalysis the International will do the negotiating and make the deals, while the members walk thepicket line and pay the dues. Strategies (many originally devised by maverick Ray Rogers) were largely chosen byBecker and technicians in the AFL’s Industrial Union Department, while implemented by therank & file. Negotiations were conducted by a small committee, and at times sequestered. A finalclosed door secret session between Becker and top manager Pete Nash yielded a fait acompliagreement which Becker insisted the Committee must approve and recommend to themembership. 98 At least one of the local committee members vocally rejected the agreement asinadequate, and was embittered by the experience. A membership that is told it’s not smartenough to participate in determining its own contract and work rules, figures the union is just onemore bureaucracy, that doesn’t need them any more than they need it. If union leaders really want to rebuild the labor movement, and the USWA, they needmore than new strategies, though they have proved useful, indeed. A commitment to spend anyamount of money needed when necessary to defend the members is a positive step. But membersneed to understand that the union belongs to them, and that requires real openness in negotiations,local control, membership involvement in decision-making, and I think a new respect for whatremains of the left. Perhaps the USWA needs to adopt a slogan like I adopted from the UE for my
Olszanski 48 L580 Term Paperbrief administration at Local 1010: “The members run this union!” And they need to put it intopractice at the negotiating table, as well as in the streets.
Olszanski L580 Term Paper BibliographyAbel, I.W. Collective Bargaining Labor Relations in Steel: Then and Now. New York : Columbia University Press. 1976.Archives, Calumet Regional, Gary: Indiana University Northwest Campus. USWA Local 1010 Records (CRA #115) Box 1, File Folders 1, 2, 3 & 21; Box 3, File Folders 3&4; Minute Books, Executive Board 1943-1944.Beard, Charles A. & Mary R. America in Midpassage. New York: The Macmillan Company. 1939.Bloom, Jack. Class, Race and the Civil Rights Movement. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987.Boyer, Richard O. and Morais, Herbert M.. Labors Untold Story. New York: Cameron Associates. 1955.Bush, Alice. Interview by author. February, 2004.CBS Reports: Inside the Union T.V. Documentary. Produced by Irv Drasnin. New york: CBS News. 1978.Cormier, Frank and Eaton, William J. Reuther. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1970.Fisher, Douglas A. Steel Serves the Nation, 1901-1951, The Fifty Year Story of United States Steel. New York: United States Steel Corporation. 1951Franklin, Stephan, Three Strikes. New York: The Gilford Press, 2001.Gaboury, Fred. “Little steel Strike”. The People’s Weekly World. May 13, 1997.Ginger, Ann Fagan and Christiano, David, editors. The Cold War Against Labor. Berkeley: Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, 1987.Gyurko, Joseph. Taped Interview by Mike Olszanski, May 10-13, 1983
Olszanski L580 Term PaperHarry Bridges, Public T.V. documentary, narrated by Studs Terkel, producer/director Barry Minot, MW Productions/KQED TV Inc. 1992.Herling, John. Right to Challenge. New York: Harper & Row, 1972.Hopper, Mary. Taped Interview by Mike Olszanski. 10/3/83Juravich, Tom & Bronfenbrenner, Kate. Ravenswood: The Steelworkers’ Victory and the Revival of American Labor. Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, 1999.Keeran, Roger. The Communist Party and the Auto Workers Union. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980.Keeran, Roger. “Flint 1936/1998: Same War, Different Battle.” People’s Weekly World, Saturday, August 15, 1998Kraus, Henry. The Many and the Few: A Chronicle of the Dynamic Auto Workers. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1985.Lane, James B. and Olszanski, Mike, eds. “Steelworkers Fight Back, Inland’s Local Union 1010 and the Sadlowski/Balanoff Campaigns” Steel Shavings. Gary, IN: Indiana University Northwest. Volume 30 (2000)Lipset, Seymour Martin, et al. Union Democracy, New York: Anchor Books, 1962Local 1010 Steelworker, various issues, 1964-1989Lynd, Alice and Staughton, eds. Rank & File. Boston: Beacon Press, 1973Lynd, Staughton, ed. “Personal histories of the Early CIO.” Radical America, Volume 3, May-June, 1971, pp. 49-76.Magnum, Garth L. and McNabb, R. Scott. The Rise, Fall and Replacement of Industrywide Bargaining in the Basic Steel Industry. New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1997.
Olszanski L580 Term PaperMetzgar, Jack. Striking Steel. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000.Morris, Jack H., Inland Steel Industries. Inland Steel at 100, Beginning a Second century of Progress. Chicago: Inland Steel Industries. 1993.Needleman, Ruth. Class, L490/L580 Spring, 2004.Needleman, Ruth. Black Freedom Fighters in Steel. New York: Cornell University Press, 2003.Nyden, Philip W. Steelworkers Rank & File. South Hadley, MA: Bergin & Garvey Publishers. 1984.Olszanski, Mike. Black + White =Red, Mid-Term Paper for L580. March, 2003.Piven, Frances Fox and Cloward, Richard A. Poor Peoples Movements, Why They Succeed, How They Fail. New York: Random House, 1979.Preis, Art. Labors Giant Step. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1972.Selvin, David F. A Terrible Anger: The 1934 Waterfront and General Strikes in San Fransisco. Detroit:Wayne State University Press, 1996.Shostak, Arthur B. Robust Unionism: Innovations in the Labor Movement. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1991.Sloan, Alfred P. Jr. My Years With General Motors. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1963.Stebenne, David L. Arthur J. Goldberg, New Deal Liberal. Oxford: Oxford University Press,1996Stepan-Norris, Judith and Zeitlin, Maurice. Left Out: Reds and America’s Industrial Unions. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003Shields, Art. On the Battle Lines, 1919-1939. New York: International Publishers, 1986
Olszanski L580 Term PaperSweeney, Vincent D. The United Steelworkers of America, Twenty Years Later: 1936-1956. Pittsburgh: United Steelworkersof America (published by the Union) 1956Tanzman, Will, “A Working Class Version of the New Left: The Rank and File Movement in the United Steelworkers and the Ed Sadlowski Campaign,” Senior essay, Draft of manuscript, Yale University, April 2004, p 13Ulman, Lloyd. The Government of the nSteel Workers’ Union. New York: John Wiley & Sons. 1962.United Steelworkers of America, Department of Education. Then & Now, The Road Between. Pittsburg: USWA, 1986.Zeiger, Robert H. The CIO, 1935-1955. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 1995.Zivich, Edward Andrew. Fighting Union: The CIO at Inland Steel 1936-1942. Masters Thesis, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. July 1972 (CRA #115 Box 1, File Folders 1)
1 A similar description of early negotiations at Inland Steel appears in Philip Nyden’s,Steelworkers Rank & File,2 Edward Zivich, Fighting Union: The CIO at Inland Steel 1936-1942. Masters Thesis, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. July 1972(CRA #115 Box 1, File Folder 1) page 33 For a complete description of the Ravenswood lock-out, including the corporatecampaign, see Tom Juravich & Kate Bronfenbrenner, Ravenswood: TheSteelworkers’Victory and the Revival of American Labor. Ithaca & London:Cornell University Press, 1999. The authors researched the lock-out on a grant fromtheUSWA4 See Judith Stepan-Norris and Maurice Zeitlin Left Out: Reds and America’s Industrial Unions.New York: Cambridge University Press, 20035 For a discussion of the leadership of the Communist Party and leftist Harry bridges in the 1934San Francisco strikes, see David F. Selvin, A Terrible anger: The 1934 Waterfront and GeneralStrikes in San Francisco, Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1996. See also Harry Bridges,Public T.V. documentary, narrated by Studs Terkel, producer/director Barry Minot, MWProductions/KQED TV Inc. 1992. Just as at Local 1010 and other steelworker locals, CP memberswere involved in all aspects of the planning, leadership and activities of these strikes, which weredemocratically initiated and controlled.6 See Stepan-Norris and Zeitlin , p 42; also Robert H. Zeiger, The CIO, 1935-1955, Chapel Hill:University of North Carolina Press. 1995. pp. 28-29, 387 See Roger Keeran The Communist Party and the Auto Workers Union, Bloomington: IndianaUniversity Press, 1980, pp. 148-185. and “Flint 1936/1998: Same War, Different Battle.” People’sWeekly World, Saturday, August 15, 19988 Dr. Ruth Needleman, lecture to Labor Studies L390 class, Indiana University Northwest,February 11, 1997. See also, New Day Films, With Babies and Banners, 19--.9 For leads to the source of this quip, see Zeiger, page 83, footnote 54. Also, Robinson (p 83)quotes Meany as attributing the quip to Lewis in a discussion with Dubinsky, who opposed hiringCommunist organizers; also see Judith Stepan-Norris and Maurice Zeitlin p 41.10 See Charles A. & Mary R Beard, America in Midpassage, New York:The Macmillan Company. 1939. pp. 531-53211 See Murray quoted in I.W. Abel, Collective Bargaining Labor Relations in Steel: Then andNow.New York : Columbia University Press. 1976. p 5512 Edward Sadlowski, quoted in James B. Lane and Mike Olszanski, eds. “Steelworkers FightBack, Inland’s Local Union 1010 and the Sadlowski/Balanoff Campaigns,”Steel Shavings., Gary, IN: Indiana University Northwest, Volume 30 2000, page 144.13 Ruth Needleman, Black Freedom Fighters in Steel. New York: Cornell University Press, 2003. p42
14 Lloyd Ulman, The Government of the Steel Workers’ Union, New York: John Wiley and Sons,1962. p 415 See Needleman, pp 42-43 also Zivich op cit16 See Zivich,op cit., p 1017 (CBS reports: Inside the Union)18 Ulman, op cit., pp 4, 37, 173, uses the capitalized “Rank and File movement” to refer tooppositional groups of steelworkers from the Amalgamated days up through the Dues protest of the1950’s and beyond.19 John Sargent, taped interview with Mike Olszanski, August 13, 1978.20 See “ CBS Report: Inside the Union”21 United Steelworkers of America, Department of Education, Then & Now, The Road Between,Pittsburg: USWA, 1986, p 62.22 Fred Gaboury, “Little steel Strike” The People’s Weekly World, May 13, 1997. p 423 See Zivich24 See History of Local 1010 USWA at: http://www.uswa1010.org/history/1010history.htm25 See Agreement in CRA Box 1,26 Alice and Staughton Lynd, eds. Rank & File. Boston: Beacon Press, 1973, p 10727 Joe Gyurko, Taped Interview by Mike Olszanski, May 10-13, 1983 transcript p 1628 Zivich, op cit., p 3729 Philip W. Nyden, Steelworkers Rank & File. South Hadley, MA: Bergin & Garvey Publishers. 1984 p 2430 Will Tanzman, “A Working Class Version of the New Left: The Rank and File Movement in theUnited Steelworkers and the Ed sadlowski Campaign,” Senior essay, Draft of manuscript, YaleUniversity, April 2004, p 1331 Minute Book Group 9 (1940-1944) CRA 1010 Box 1 Folder 532 See Needleman, p 45; also Zivich, p 37
33 Nick Migas, quoted in Alice and Styaughton Lynd, Rank and File, p 16834 See Needleman, p 4535 Nyden, p 3036 Lynd, p 17037 Lynd,38 Zivich, p 339 Lynd,. p40 Zivich,., p 48 from Lynd., p. 7641 Calumet Regional Archives (CRA) Box 1, File Folder 24, letter to War Labor Board, signed JackSargent, President, Local 1010 USWA, circa 1943.42 See David F. Selvin, A Terrible anger: The 1934 Waterfront and General Strikls in SanFrancisco pp. 63-64, 243-24443 Group 9 minutes page 90, 6/21/44 (CRA) Box 144 Ibid45 Ibid, May 6, 194446 Needleman, pp. 47-4947 Lynd, p 16948 Sargent, quoted in Lynd, p 10949 Douglas A. Fisher, Steel Serves the Nation, 1901-1951, The Fifty YearStory of United States Steel, New York: United States Steel Corporation, 1951 p 8850 Zeiger, p 15251 Fisher, p 2852 James Kollros, quoted in James B. Lane and Mike Olszanski, eds. “Steelworkers Fight Back,Inland’s Local Union 1010 and the Sadlowski/Balanoff Campaigns,”Steel Shavings., Gary, IN: Indiana University Northwest, Volume 30 2000, page 14.53 Zeiger, page 21354 Tanzman, p 255 Nyden, p 35
56 Richard O. Boyer & Herbert M. Morais, Labors Untold Story, New York: Cameron Associates,1955, page 356.57 Boyer, page 35758 Art Preis, Labors Giant Step, New York: Pathfinder Press, 1972, page 33759 Lynd, p 17060 Needleman, lectures and Black freedom Fighters in Steel, pp 56-58.61 Gyurko, 12/12/82 p 2462 Gyurko, p 2563 Zivich, p 4964 Gyurko, 12/12/82 p 2565 Mary Hopper, Taped interview by author, 10/3/8366 Lynd, p 17267 Jack Metzgar, Striking Steel. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000 pp. 27-3068 See discussions of U.S. steel Gary local 1014 wildcats in Needleman, Black Freedom Fighter inSteel and the Youngstown, Ohio area in Lynd, Rank & File, also Bruno, Steelworker Ally69 See Zeiger, Also in 1948 General Motors chief Alfred P. Sloan jubilantly reported, the UAWunder Reuther closed the door on bargaining for a new GM pact. “The privacy of the 1948negotiations” was, as Sloan put it “one circumstance favoring us [management] in the 1948negotiations…our collective bargaining had come to resemble a public political forum.” Closeddoor negotiations was for GM management, a huge relief. See Alfred P. Sloan Jr., My Years WithGeneral Motors, New York: Doubleday & Company, 1963. p 398. It is hardly coincidental that this“closed door” bargaining was first adopted by Reuther in 1948. He had just finished his ownpersonal purge of the UAW ‘s “communists” and had consolidated his autocratic control of theunion. Sociologist Jack Bloom argues that “A public, mass movement could not be dealt with inthis way [by the leaders, behind closed doors]. Once matters could no longer be settled quietly andamicably by influence, the appearance of concessions or agreement with a leader was no longersufficient, because that agreement would have to be brought back to the ‘mass.” See Jack Bloom,Class, Race and the Civil Rights Movement. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987. p 15070 David L. Stebenne, Arthur J. Goldberg, New Deal Liberal, Oxford: Oxford University Press,1996, p39. “American aid was having the effect of boosting social democratic and socialist unionistover communist ones in their struggle for the allegiance of the Western European working class, aconsequence that seems to have satisfied Goldberg completely.”71 Steben, pp. 42-43, 53-54,65, 71, 75-76. The aim of Murray and Goldberg was to secure for laborleadership a seat at the decision-making table alongside the capitalists and government through a“social contract” which would become the wages/productivity bargain.
72 Mainstream journalist Nicholas Von Hoffman, in his balanced portrait of anti-communistcrusader Roy Cohn writes: "A number of trade unions lived through years of turmoil as drives weremounted to rid them of red leadership. Where the Communist factions were too deeply embedded tobe pried out, the union was destroyed to be replaced by a suitable non-Communist organization.For these victories there were costs to be paid. From that time on, American trade unionism lost itsdynamism, as it lapsed into the somnambulant listlessness by which it is characterized to this day."See von Hoffman, Citizen Cohn, New York: Doubleday, 1988, page 137.73 Fisher, pp. 88-8974 Nyden, p 3675 Jack H. Morris, Inland Steel Industries, Inland Steel at 100, Beginning aSecondCentury of Progress, Chicago: Inland Steel Industries, 1993, p 5176 Nyden, p 3977 Garth Magnum and R. Scott McNabb, The Rise, Fall and Replacement of IndustrywideBargaining in the Basic Steel Industry, New York: M.E. Shrpe, 1997, p 9378 James Balanoff, “Report of the Grievance Committee” column, Local 1010 Steelworker,November, 1964.79 John Sargent “It Seems to Me” column on front page of Local 1010 Steelworker, December, 1964.80 John Sargent “It Seems to Me” column on front page of Local 1010 Steelworker, September,196581 “Resolution,” Local 1010 steelworker, November, 1965.82 Joe Sowa, Grievance Committeeman 100” Plate Mill, “Letters, Our Negotiations” Local 1010Steelworker, August, 1966, p 283 I.W. Abel, quoted in James B. Lane and Mike Olszanski, eds. “Steelworkers Fight Back,Inland’s Local Union 1010 and the Sadlowski/Balanoff Campaigns,”Steel Shavings., Gary, IN: Indiana University Northwest, Volume 30 200084 Curtis Strong, quoted in Ibid p 3685 Mike Mezo quoted in Ibid, p 3686 Jim Robinson quoted in Ibid p 10087 Documentation of the conduct of these negotiations is available from numerous sources,including several at the CRA, but most of what happened in 1977 is still indelibly etched in my ownmemory.88 Robinson, “Inside the Union,” 197889 Ibid
90 Mike Mezo, quoted in Lane, p 14291 See the 1980 USWA Convention Proceedings for numerous discussions of jobs betweenMcBride, myself and other delegates.92 Robinson, quoted in Lane, p 13293 Joe Gyurko, Chairman Grievance Committee, “Fight for Every Job” Local 1010 Steelworker,June 28, 1983, p 394 Ibid95 Alice Bush, taped interview by Mike Olszanski February, 200496 See Sargent and Balanoff in the Local 1010 Steelworker, various issues, also USWA conventionproceedings, also Mike Olszanski “Time to fight for Jobs” The Voice of the Rank & File,December, 198997 Stephan Franklin, Three Strikes. New York: The Gilford Press, 2001, pp. 235-236. See also,Century Aluminum, Inc., “USWA and Century Extend Ravenswood Labor Agreement,” in NEWS,March 11, 2002 www.centuryca.com/nm/publish/news_13.html98 See Ravenswood: The Steelworkers’Victory and the Revival of American Labor. Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, 1999.