Steelworkers Fight Back pdf


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Steel Shavings Volume 30,2000 James B. Lane and Mike Olszanski, Co-Editors

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Steelworkers Fight Back pdf

  1. 1. STEELWORKERS FIGHT BACK Inlands Local Union 1010 and the Sadlowski/Balanoff CampaignssTEELsHA Ed Sadlowski Jim BalanoffvI Rank and File InsurgencyN in the Calumet Region during the 1970sGs James B. Lane and Mike Olszanski, co-editors Indiana University Northwest, Volume 30, 2000
  2. 2. Steel City, Stone City 40 years later. In 1981 , I had devoted a Steel by Robert Buzecky Shavings issue to Work Experiences(volume 7) which included articles about numerousBuzecky, Miletich, Debryn, Rodriguez, Kowalak, insurgent steelworkers, including Cliff "Cowboythousands of Somebodies Mezo, a charismatic union officer at Inland Steel.from all over the planet. Names In 1990, inspired by Richard M. Dorsons bookmake them different, blue shirts and steel Land of the Millrats: Urban Folklore inmake them family. Indianas Calumet Region, I edited an issue entitled Steelworker Tales(volume 19), whichSteel threads suspend contained lengthy interviews with a number ofgiant sea hooks from overhead cranes. rank-and-file activists. During the early 1990s ISteel coils sharp as razors reach out began researching the District 31 Womepsto slice the unwary. Caucus, whose leaders supported progressivesRumbling railroad cars and dump trucks Ed Sadlowski and Jim Balanoff in their campaignscarelessness and exhaustion for district director. Then I turned my attention tostrike others down. the crucial role steelworker unionists played in the Bailly Alliance, a grassroots antinuclearThe burial grounds not far from the mills coalition. One of its leaders was Mike Olszanski,now hold the steel men. who was chairman of Local1 01 Os EnvironmentalTheir dates are carved in stone. Committee and later its president. In the mid-Between the dates is blank space - 1990s Mike (or "Oz," his nickname at Inland, astheir lives Ive come to call him), was a brilliant student in two of my American History courses. When hewhere they labored told me he was looking to use his talents as aat handwork, double shifts, sweated through historian upon his retirement from the mill, ourtheir blue shirts, inhaled coal-dust air, smelled collaboration on this project commenced.the stench of burning coal,and endured monster machines We decided to examine 1970s steelworkerthat hammered pounded rendered hauled iron insurgency from the bottom up, starting withand steel. individual activists and then at the local, districtThat is not chiseled in the stones. and nationallevel(lnternationallevel really, since the USWA included Canada). It was a natural Editors Note choice to concentrate on Inlands local union 1010, nicknamed the "Red" Local, which had a By James B. Lane long history of rank and-file activism. Oz and I shared the interviewing duties, my concentration In 1986 my wife Toni and I went to an Oral being some of his old political rivals while hisHistory Association conference held aboard the most memorable interviews were with EddieQueen Mary, a luxury liner permanently docked Sadlowski and Clem Balanoff. Poor health hasin Long Beach, California. One session featured slowed down Jim Balanoff, but we recorded hisa tour of the Los Angeles-area waterfront succinct reactions to certain queries during aconducted by veteran longshoremen, whose visit to his home on Elm Street in East Chicago,rich vein of anecdotes evoked organized labors where his wife Betty added her insights andmilitant depression-era beginnings. Inspired by contributed a rich vein of anecdotes. We havetheir passion, I vowed some day to put together supplemented the highlights of our three dozenan oral history of Calumet Region steelworkers or so interviews with findings by labor historianswhich would carry their story forward from the as well as primary materials gleaned from minuteunions "heroic" 1930s origins and focus on the books, convention proceedings, newsletters,lesser-known activities of rank-and-file activists Continued on inside back cover
  3. 3. 1 john Sargent: A young fella who hasnt got a broader Johnson, literally digging the hole for the basement withperspective than just the union, sees the union as a step- a shovel. One of my earliest memories is of him throw-ping stone to security for himself, either to get a job in the ing the dirt out of the hole and me throwing it back in. Heunion or to use the union to get a job with the company, put a roof on the basement, and we moved in. Theas a foreman for instance. Unless the guy has a socialist place was right next to the South Shore tracks in aviewpoint, or some kind of broader viewpoint, youre not Polish neighborhood.gonna get good leadership. The other side of the coin isthat some become purists, and like any religion, you cant The plan was wed save our money and go upstairs,dissent any more. I was fortunate to be caught up in a but every time he saved some money, something hap-great movement, and that doesnt happen very often in pened, like my older sister got polio. I grew up in aones lifetime. Workers were gonna have a union, come basement with a flat roof on the top and tar paper. It washell or high water. Nothing was gonna stop them. actually pretty deep and came out of the ground a littleHistorys important, but if anybody tells you you gotta bit. It was small, but we were happy there. One timebelieve a guy like me because hes been through this stuff, somebody tried to sell my dad a deal on building thedont listen to him. Its not 1936 now. Use your own ini- upstairs. He signed papers but backed out at the lasttiative. The old guys did what they had to do. minute when advised it was a bad deal. Introduction: Hiring In at Inland As a kid, I felt a little different. We were never hungry, but we were poor. My dad spoke with an accent. Most Mike 0/szanski: My dad grew up dirt poor in a small of my friends parents were second-generation. In ret-town in Poland and worked for the church as a grave rospect, I gained a lot from my father being first-genera-digger. He left home because there was nothing to eat. tion but at the time wanted to be "Joe Average." I start-He went to Germany, became a carpenters apprentice, ed off in kindergarten with the nuns at St. Casmirs. Isaw World War I about to start, and got the hell out of was beaten often but never into submission. Perhapsthere. He was lucky enough to get on a boat in steerage that inspired my first radical ideas.and come to America. My dad worked in a small shop called Standard He arrived at Ellis Island around 1917 and got arrest- Railway, which made railroad cars. It was on Columbiaed his second day in the country. Having no money, he Avenue, walking distance because dad didnt drive.started hanging out with hobos, who said, "You can eat During World War II, when my dad hired in, they madewith us, but tomorrow you have to bring something." He gun shields for planes and tanks. My dad never gotstole a quart of milk off a door step and got caught. He much above laborer. Overtime money was put in thewent before a German-born judge. Because he was bank as security against strikes and layoffs. There wasable to speak German, he got off. Later on, while I was a lot of them in the 1950s so he never quite got ahead.learning, "Thou shalt not steal," my dad told me, "When He was always getting ready for a or your family is hungry, it is not a sin to steal." I was inquisitive and got into everything. I wanted to From New York my dad went to Chicago, where his know how things worked. I built an amplifier for a high fiolder brother was. How he got to Hammond, Im not system. It didnt work the first time, but I kept at it. Oncesure, probably looking for work. He did have some dis- I damn near burned down the house. My dad was tol-tant cousins in the Region. He did all kinds of jobs: erant; hed say, "Let the kid alone." He was proud of allbakers apprentice at Wonder Bread, tailors apprentice. my experiments. When I wired up a light and got it toHe married a woman who got TB, out of poverty basi- work at the age of 12, after blowing a bunch of fuses, hecally. The cure was bed rest, but she couldnt get that or told his friends how ingenious I was. He only wentproper medical care and died very young. With no job through sixth grade but had figured out a lot of things.or income, he put his baby girl with relatives and joinedthe CCC. He married my mother a couple years before We got our first TV when I was about ten and becameI was born. She was about 20 years younger, probably glued to it. Before that, it was the radio. My dad usedin her late 20s. to watch the news on TV and curse out the "God damn capitalists." He was an FOR Democrat but with an anti- I was born in 1945 in East Chicago, at St. Catherines. capitalist twist. I never knew exactly where that cameMy family lived at 813 Hoffman Street in north Hammond from because he was scared of the communists. It was,-natives say Nord Hammond -in an ethnic neighbor- "Fuckin Republicans" and "God damn capitalists." Oncehood similar to Chicagos Southeast side. By the time I I asked, "How do you decide who to vote for?" He said,was three, my dad was building a place at 4539 "I vote for the Democrats." When I asked him about the
  4. 4. 2primaries, he said, " I always vote for someone with a But they had shops, and they had just put in a collegePolish name." He was very much into the Polish prep program. Since I didnt know what I wanted to do,National Alliance. He hated fascism but not communism I figured Id cover all the bases, learn electronics andlike those who left after the war. I always knew I was a also get myself ready to go to college. At first I mademember of the working class. Most people are raised to pretty good grades; but after I became a party animal,think this is a classless society, which is bullshit. When my grades went to hell. I almost didnt make it.youre working class, youre on one side of that greatdivide. I wanted to play sports in order to be one of the guys. I was skinny and never very athletic but stuck with foot- My father talked a lot to me, like I was his confidant. ball for four years and got my letter. I hardly played butknew his whole life story before I was 12. Half the time, was determined not to be a quitter. Being on the team,I didnt know what he was taking about, but I later fig- I got to hang out with the jocks. We went to Kellys andured it out and really valued it. He told me that soon Serenades, two adjacent drive-ins on Indianapolisafter he came to America, he married a woman who Boulevard which attracted dragsters from all over theturned out to be a hooker. When he found that out, he Region. I never had a fast car but hung out with guysgot a quick divorce. "She was no fuckin good," hed who did. Wed go to Kellys with our quart of beer andsay. He could not get an annulment since he didnt have maybe get one order of fries for the six kids in the car sohis baptismal papers from Poland. Up until the year he they wouldnt kick us out. Many school nights, wed sitdied, the Catholic Church would not let him get married there chug-a-lugging beer. We could always find some-in the church nor receive the sacraments. These old body to buy it for us. Of course, when my dad wasntPolish priests wouldnt bend the rules. For a long time looking, Id take some of his.he held a grudge. When he was literally on his deathbed, a young priest cut the red tape somehow and my Dick Biondi on WLS was the closest thing we had toparents got married. Wolfman Jack. Hed tell you where the dances were and be live at Maduras Danceland, across from Lever To me the Polish stuff seemed old-fashioned. They Brothers. Sunday nights wed go to Midway Ballroom intried to teach us Polish in grade school as a second lan- Cedar Lake. One time I saw Jerry Lee Lewis there.guage. My dad was thrilled, but not I. Most of the nuns They had good deejays. The cops would take you awayspoke Polish and made us learn our prayers, the "Our if you got too wild. Effie and Steve were the bestFather" and "Hail Mary," in Polish. My dad would take dancers in the Region. At some point theyd do "theme to the Polish National Alliance Christmas party, bitch," a dirty dance. Everybody would clear the floor.stand me on a table, and make me say my prayers in Half-way through the song troopers would kick them out;Polish. It was embarrassing, but I couldnt break his theyd be back the next week.heart. There were four or five guys I ran with in a fairly tight My dad was joyous, very happy-go-lucky. He always circle. We had pretty wild adventures. Sometimes Imanaged to have a good time. Hed do all the polkas wonder how we survived. If we werent going to awith other Polish ladies while my mother sat and dance, we might cruise 119th Street in Whiting, whistlingwatched. Hed go around and around the floor until I at good-looking high school girls and trying to pick themthought hed drop. My mother worked at St. Catherines up. It was like a ritual, all summer long. Theyd be inas a nurses aid and in the kitchen. My father was old- shorts, and wed try to get them in our 1953 Cadillac.fashioned and didnt want her to work, but we needed Once we actually got two of them in the car. We chasedthe money. My younger sister stayed with mom until a lot of girls but almost never caught them.she died, never marrying, and still wont move awayfrom the old place. I had a lot of dates but was a teenager right before the sexual revolution and drugs got to be widespread. Only In eighth grade, the nuns wanted us all to go to Bishop one or two kids in our school did reefer, and we thoughtNoll and be priests. "Let me out of here," was my atti- that was scary. One kid we called "Beatnik" because hetude. I had come to an awakening that I was not a wore sunglasses, even at night. Hed come into Kellysdevout Catholic. My parents, had they the money, with this beautiful 1957 Ford. One night he had cut thewould have loved for me to go to Bishop Noll. They had top out of his car with a torch. It was really jagged allactually managed to send my older sister, but it was get- around the top edges. He was stoned. Then it rainedting expensive and he was about to retire. I told them I and he had to stay under Kellys awning.wanted to go to Hammond Tech, which at the time hada poor reputation of servicing kids without any potential. After graduation in 1963, most all my friends went into
  5. 5. 3the mill. We had been on that track. Steelworkers could Mike 0/szanskimake big bucks with no experience. I planned to work acouple years, make a bunch of money, buy a car andstart college. I had no intention of spending my lifethere. I wanted to go to college; my mother liked thatidea but my dad thought college was for rich kids andthat learning a craft was more practical. When I was anelectrician at Inland, he bragged on me. My father told me to work in a union shop: otherwise,theyll work you to death and can fire you at any time."Of course, I had to test that for myself, and sure enoughhe was right. I worked in a nonunion shop for about amonth, and the bosss son wanted my job so I was letgo. There was no security. "I told you about that," mydad said. He always went to union meetings. It waslike a regular duty. He never got involved in union poli-tics to my knowledge but instilled in me the idea that youwent to union meetings. He always talked union. Laborhistory filtered in to me by osmosis from my dad. He I went to college at night, but the shift work starteddied at age 72, of smoking too much basically and from interfering, so I tried to get a job which allowed me to goliving a hard life. to school. I ended up working shift work for 30 years. Meantime, Barb and I got married, right after my 20th My first job after high school was at Shoppers World birthday. We were young and foolish and in love and for minimum wage, a dollar an hour. When I graduated started having babies. She was 16 and had to quitin the spring, Inland wasnt hiring, but by September school. I was still living at home. When I first mentionedthey were losing college kids. I went to their employ- her to my dad, he had asked, "Is she Polish?" I said, "No,ment office, and it was like the military. They treated you dad, shes German." Then he said, "Well, is shelike dirt. It was, "Were not hiring today; come back next Catholic?" Pulling his leg, I said, "Shes Jewish."week." They wouldnt even give me a form. The follow- Actually, Barbs parents were Protestants. He swal-ing week they said, "Well, we aint hiring now either. lowed hard, rubbed his head, and said, "Well, do youHere, fill this out and well contact you." In other words, love her?" Thats the kind of guy he was."Dont call us, well call you." Somebody told me I hadto go back every day to show them I really wanted a job. In the fall of 1965 a letter commanded me to take aThats what I did. Plus I put down that I knew Mr. preinduction physical. I went up to Chicago with aRichards next door, who was a foreman. After two or bunch of guys from Hammond. After we got off the bus,three times, the guy said, "Oh, all right." a sergeant lined us up and ordered us to be silent. Im thinking, "This isnt boot camp. Im not in yet." A guy next I was green as grass. I knew nothing. I finally got an to me was laughing until the sergeant got into his face interview with a guy who wasnt so gruff. He asked me and said, "Son, I can have you in Vietnam in six week." where I wanted to work. I said, "To be honest, I dont Suddenly it dawned on us that he probably could. Barbknow one department from the other." He smiled at me and I had kids before they started taking married guys,and said, "Ill tell you what. Im going to put you in the but at any time they could put me in a foreign countryblast furnace. I guarantee, in six months youll be sign- and tell me to shoot at somebody I dont even know. Iing up for college." The first day at the blast furnace they learned Democrats could screw you as bad ashanded me metatarsals, a hard hat, safety glasses, Republicans. Maybe worse. Johnson did a lot forgloves, a broom, and said, "Sweep." It was all dirt. minorities and the working class, but I hated him"What are we sweeping?" "Never mind, just sweep." because of Vietnam.Around 11 oclock a guy said, "Have lunch, then gosweep some more." Next day they put me near these In 1966 I had been out of the mill for a year. I hadhuge cylindrical stoves. I started sweeping and came flown the coop. Now I was coming back with my tailupon a big sign which said: DANGER! CARBON between my legs. Rob was a year old and Barb preg-MONOXIDE. COLORLESS. ODORLESS. DEADLY. I nant, so I was facing two kids to support. I was a littlethought, "Oh, this is nice. Im not gonna see it. Im not depressed but made the best of it. Inland had just start-gonna smell it. Its gonna get me." ed up an apprenticeship program at night so I couldnt
  6. 6. 4continue with college like I wanted. Inland had a con- change. You never knew if you were coming or going,tract program with Purdue Calumet, and they taught especially on midnights. It helped break up my mar-electrical engineering technology courses that werent riage. The final nail was the union. Between being amuch different from regular college courses. grouch on midnights and being active in the union, it was too much. Somehow we made it last 15 years and got It took three years to become a standard electrician. It the kids almost raised. At one point I was a real chau-was a working apprenticeship, answering calls and fix- vinist. It took exposure to social movements to realizeing things. You had the shit jobs to begin with, natural- what an asshole I was and embrace the womens move-ly, that required little skill. I was in Number Three Cold ment.Strip, a rolling mill where we pickled coils of strippedsteel after they had been hot-rolled in the hot strip. We I was getting more political. I gradually decided that Iput them in a tank of acid to remove rust, then through had to do something. I had no idea what; I had no con-big rollers which mashed the steel down and got the nections except for one friend who was a dissident in thegauge down. From there the steel got put through a Democratic party. In 1968 he wanted me to run fortemper mill. Mills are run by big, sophisticated electric county commissioner. I said, "What are you, crazy?" Hemotors. We had every type of electronic control imagi- said, "No, theres this guy named Olszewski and hisnable in Number Three Cold Strip. For a motor inspec- names just two letters different from yours. And his firsttor the work was dirty, hot, and nasty. Youd strap on a name is Stanley and yours is S. Michael. You couldbunch of tools when a craneman would have a problem draw votes off this sonovabitch." Since he was withand go trouble shooting. Sometimes problems would Democratic boss John Krupa, whom I hated, I agreed. Ialmost reach out and bite you; other times they were didnt know what I was getting into. My name went onharder to find. Once you found the problem, then you the ballot, and shit hit the fan. Krupas people went tomight have to go down and get some parts. It was all my father and tried to intimidate him. Olszewski won inbull work. spite of me. But that gave me a taste for politics. I ran for state representative and for the Hammond city coun- Our mill was divided into three areas; each had three cil but wasnt going anywhere as an independentor four electricians per shift. A technician was the brains Democrat. So I started going to union meetings and fig-of the outfit and an expert at delegating. Hed carry a ured how that worked.flashlight and maybe a screwdriver and say, "Dontmake me pull out this screwdriver." Under him was an The union had not been on my mind when I first hiredoperator, whod carry a small pouch with little tools in it in. Hardly anybody went to meetings. It had droppedbut didnt do heavy work or go on cranes. Then there out of favor. I saw right away, however, that it could helpwas a motor inspector and finally the vocational motor you out. One time I worked a Sunday and wasnt paidinspector, who was below whale shit and carried the time and a half. Another guy and I went to our griever,heavy duty tools. The most embarrassing thing was a black guy named Alexander Bailey. It was quite anwhen an apprentice couldnt find the problem. The tech- experience. Bailey had fixed up a shanty in the pig millnician would call you stupid and tell you to try harder. like an office. He did his business behind a table thatThey wanted you to learn the hard way, which was in looked like a desk. The guy weighed around 300some respects good but dangerous. Gradually you got pounds and looked to be damn near seven feet tall. Heto be the older guy. towered over us as he squeezed the hell out of our hands. We explained our problem, and he said, "That After a couple of years, it became clear I was going to sonovabitch is always cheating people. Dont worry, Illbe in the mill for a while. Every once in awhile Id put out take care of it." Afterwards, the boss called us into thea resume. A couple guys got hired at Illinois Bell, and I office and said, "So you went and saw Bailey, did you?"thought, "Maybe thats my ticket out of here." I applied He pretended it was an oversight, but the next pay-and had a bunch of tests. I did so well they said, "We check, it was taken care of.dont even want you to be an installer. We want you togive presentations." Unfortunately, they offered me In union meetings Bailey would stand in the back,about half of what I was making at the mill. There was against the wall where he could view everybody. Afterno way I could do it. The mills golden handcuffs had others were pretty much wore out, hed take one stepme. forward and in his booming voice say, "Bullshit!" His tim- ing was perfect. Having everybodys attention, hed give I hated the shift work. Wed swing shift every week, his position. He became chairman of the grievancethe worst possible way, backwards. Sometimes theyd committee, then went on staff. We had a parting of theswitch you every four days. Your days off would ways, but he never failed to impress me.
  7. 7. -------~- -- - - - - -- - -- -- 5 Part One: Roots of Insurgency tions, like the craft unions of the old AFL. At best they are concerned with material benefits for their members, not with the welfare of working people everywhere. At Philip Roth (uom I Married a Communist, 1998): [From worst they have become a new kind of company union,the South Shore train] I saw block after block of soot-cov- financially and politically independent of the rank andered bungalows, the steelworkers houses, with gazebos file. Some union members say that they have two ene-and birdbaths in the backyards, and beyond the houses mies, the company and the union leadership.the streets lined with low, ignominious-looking storeswhere their families shopped, and so strong was the After World War II the labor movement fell silent. Butimpact on me of the sight of a steelworkers everyday working people are stirring again, beginning to questionworld, its crudity, its austerity, the obdurate world of peo- foremen and corporate executives and union officialsple who were always strapped, in debt, paying things off, who have lost touch with their members. The groupsit inspired the thought: For the hardest work the barest which took part in the cultural revolution of the 1960s areminimum, for breaking their backs the humblest rewards. moving into the workplace. Blacks have become a majority in many steel mills, veterans are returning from Trade Union Democracy Vietnam, women have gone out to work in larger num- bers than at any time since World War II. A new rest- Curtis Strong: The democracy movement was a phase lessness is evident in wildcat strikes, in rank-and-fileof the 1970s. rejection of contracts, in demands for humanizing work and a safe, hazard-free work situation. AI Samter: Rank-and-File is a generic term adopted byprogressive opposition groups, a favorite name for cau- Origins of Inland Steelcuses formed to protest the union leadership. In the1970s many progressive unionists throughout the coun- Edward Zivich: The depression of 1893 destroyed thetry independently formed rank-and-file groups. Chicago Steel Co. Its chief creditor, Block-Pollack Iron Co., bought it up and incorporated the new Inland Steel Philip Nyden: While the ultimate cause of rank-and-file Co., which became a highly prosperous rolling mill. Bymilitancy was the reaction against company policies, 1897 corporate expansion seemed absolutely neces-militancy often surfaced in opposition to autocratic or sary. Inland worked out an agreement with the Chicago-corrupt union practices which dulled the ability of the based Lake Michigan Land Co., which held title to overunion to protect members workplace rights. a thousand acres of marshy land destined to become Indiana Harbor. The Blocks got 50 acres of prime lake- Mary Hopper(1978): The way they run that front land and assurances of railroad ties with Chicago.International union, its a little private organization all Inland agreed to construct a $900,000 open-hearth planttheir own. We cant tell them anything. They are very on the Harbor site. The promoters would get an indus-cocky about it. They say,. "We dont have to listen to the trial "boom town," Inland its expansion. The Blocks soldmembership; were going tp run it our way." their interest in various East Chicago forge enterprises to finance the building of the Harbor works, which in July Seymour Martin Upset, Martin Trow and James 1902, poured its first ingots.Coleman (Union Democracy, 1976): Democracy isstrengthened when members are not only related to the Ed Sadlowski: The Blocks were chiselers, despite thelarger organization but are also affiliated with or loyal to myth that they were paternalistic.subgroups within the organization. Edward Zivich: By the 1930s the works had expanded Alice and Staughton Lynd (Rank and File, 1973): to include four blast furnaces and 31 open-hearths.What do working people mean when they say "rank and Despite some outside influence, the Block family ran thefile." In a general way, it refers to workers on the job, not company personally and held a reputation for paternal-paid union leadership. Rank-and-file activity usually ism. The corporation influenced East Chicago commu-means people on the job taking whatever action they nity affairs and politics. Republicans favored by thethink is necessary, doing something for themselves company held power. Republican Andrew Rooney wasrather than waiting for someone else to do it for them. elected mayor in 1936, despite the Democratic landslideRank-and-file activity may be directed against an intol- that swept neighboring cities. Inland weathered theerable employer or an unresponsive union bureaucracy. early years of the Great Depression and was operating near capacity as the CIO drive approached, turning out Too many unions have become bureaucratic corpora- 60,000 tons of steel per week.
  8. 8. - - --- - - - - -- - - - - ------- 6 1010: The "Red" Local Two Left groups held the most influence - Pete Caracci, Max Luna, Manuel Trbovich and other Socialist Edward Zivich: Between 1936 and 1942 relations at Workers Party Trotskyites on the one hand, and John the mill were conducted without a signed labor agree- Sargent, Nick Migas, Bill Maihoffer and fellow ment. Local 1010 enjoyed a period of success Communists on the other. Migas father had been a unequaled in its subsequent history. Through a variety member of the IWW and Big Bill Haywood influenced his of militant "on-the-job" actions, particularly as military views on class and race. Sargent had been a leader of orders increased the need for uninterrupted production, the Young Communist League. A militant local union, the union secured unprecedented improvements in largely defiant of bureaucratic district leadership, would wages and working conditions. It obtained the loyalty of prove to be the Lefts legacy at the Harbor. During 1936- the overwhelming majority of Harbor steelworkers and 37 radical factions stood united and formed the nucleus the active participation of the rank-and-file in the daily of the two or three hundred men in a work force of over conduct of union affairs. 12,000. 1010 began to pick up thousands of new mem- bers in the winter of 1936-1937. By spring the drive had James Kol/ros: The fact that Inland had only one main recruited a majority of Inlands workmen.steel plant gave the local union much more leverage Mass Meeting at Indiana Harborover "its" steel company than locals of other steel pro-ducers. The local union was always inclined to negoti-ate on its own and to disregard directions from SWOCstop leaders. Cliff Mezo: Many organizers were radicals who got thejob done. Roberta Wood: Communists played a major role. Edward Zivich: There had been a union at Inlandsince 1902, the Amalgamated Association, but itremained underground and small until it became part ofthe new CIO. SWOC obtained several thousand dollarsfrom the CIO for organizing expenses and borrowed dis-trict staff from John L. Lewis United Mine Workers.SWOC charged no initiation fee and only a dollar per Philip Nyden: The use of strikes, lasting a few hoursmonth dues. Despite its general "top-down" structure, and involving a few workers in a work setting, was effec-SWOC at the Harbor works was built primarily by young, tive in pressuring company officials to expedite settle-Left, rank-and-filers, like the remarkable Socialist Party ment of grievances. When supervisors refused to dealmember Bill Young. with pressing issues, the men thought nothing of stop- ping work and letting gondolas full of molten steel hang Bill Gai/es: Bill Young was a hell of a guy. If somebody in midair. The approaching danger that productioncome to him with a grievance, hed pick up the phone would be interrupted acted as a time clock forcing theand call the foreman. Hed say, "God dammit, if you company to bargain. More often than not, the supervi-dont put this man back to work, Ill do this and Ill do sors settled before much production time was lost.that." He could tell people off. He kicked tail. Edward Zivich: In May and June of 1937 one of the Mike 0/szanski: 1010 had a long tradition of militancy. bloodiest industrial conflicts in American labor historyLocal leaders negotiated their own contracts before the took place. In March U. S. Steel had signed a collectiveInternational had solid control. Bill Young, whose father bargaining contract. When Youngstown, Bethlehem,was beaten during the 1919 Steel Strike, recalled being Republic and Inland refused to sign similar agreements,clubbed on the head at the Memorial Day Massacre, SWOC called a nationwide strike against the compa-where ten union men, including three from Local 1010, nies. Violence by company thugs, police and militiawere gunned down by "Chicagos Finest." "They beat wrecked most of the urban centers of the "Little Steel"me pretty good, but I was on the picket line the next strike. East Chicago suffered no major trouble due tomorning." When asked why he joined the union, Bill several factors. The governor, a New Deal Democrat,Young replied, "You had no rights the boss was bound played a key conciliatory role, restraining city officialsto respect." more inclined to use the militia. The union maintained
  9. 9. 7 Memorial Day Massacre taverns closed. SWOC held a dance to bolster its mem- bers for the anticipated picket-line defense of the next morning. At midnight, strike director Jack Rusak received word of a compromise and announced the agreement to the astonished crowd . The dance sud- denly became a victory party, as thousands sang Solidarity Forever! The crisis had passed, despite incredible tensions. Behind the scenes, Governor Townsend had been working hard for a settlement. In the end Inland and SWOC signed an agreement not with each other but with the Governor. Inlands labor policy was now in writ- ing, and the State of Indiana assumed responsibility for settling disputes unresolved by the plants grievance procedure. While the union was unrecognized in the other three Little Steel companies, Inlands strikers had obtained a binding written settlement. Lodge 1010 was at Inland to stay. Renewed depression dampened union activities and temporarily prevented Lodge 101 0 from following up on its victory. Orders for steel dropped, followed naturally by a large number of layoffs. Dues money dipped and the union reduced its staff. There was great pressuregood discipline and enjoyed the support of most Inland from the district not to strike or carry out any other job-employees. Community pressure kept down police vio- actions despite anti-CJO abuse by supervisors. Inlence, and township relief kept many workers from feel- January 1938, Local 101 0 elected a slate of militant offi-ing the full pinch of the strike. cers, led by William Maihoffer. As outlined in the Townsend agreement, grievances moved from the shop Lodge 1010s three strike deaths occurred away from floor to Superintendent Fred Gillies office by severalthe Harbor. On Sunday May 30 fifty cars full of Lodge intermediary steps. Most were handled verbally on the101 0 members, families and supporters demonstrated shop floor; they covered the spectrum - discipline, dis-their solidarity with the workers on strike against charge, safety, wage rates, anti-union and racial dis-Republic Steels plant in South Chicago. That day 1010 crimination, sanitation. The union was able to establishmembers Alfred Causey, Kenneth Reed and Sam a seniority basis for rehiring laid-off workers through itsPopovich were gunned down with other steel union mar- monthly meetings with Gillies.tyrs in the infamous Memorial Day Massacre. The May31 parade scheduled previously for the Harbor thus 1939 brought financial recovery. Defense ordersbecame a commemorative demonstration for the dead played an especially important role in reviving Inlandsand wounded. Bandages from the previous days sagging sales. Lodge 1010 was signing up new mem-assault were in evidence in the crowd. That evening bers, 1,500 in a single three-week period, and employ-plant police brutally clubbed four SWOC pickets as they ing a dues picket line famous among CIO officials in theattempted to prevent an unannounced freight train from Midwest. For two or three days each month membersentering the mill. This proved to be the only violence would mass picket the mill gates, demanding to seethat occurred during the walkout. paid-up union books from each worker. Nonunion work- ers had to climb the high company fences to get to work. When Inland announced it would reopen if provided Once in the plant, they faced the silent treatment andpolice protection, Mayor Rooney petitioned for sheriffs other persuasive digs from unionized coworkers. 1010deputies and militia to protect people returning to work. staged a Labor Day parade and picnic in Wicker ParkSWOC vowed to maintain its picket line by any means involving an estimated 60,000 people. By the end ofnecessary. Yet Governor Clifford Townsend refused to 1939 union grievance handling changed drastically. Toanswer the Mayors pleas for deputies and militia. The cut through red tape and counteract Inlands stalling,corporation finally set the reopening for eight a.m. July 1010 engaged in numerous strikes, sit-ins, and slow-1. Worried about civil disorder, the Mayor ordered the downs. Croatian steelworker Matt Vuxinic recalled five
  10. 10. 8departmental walkouts between 1939 and 1942. The posals, due to Nick Migas, John Sargent and the Rankunion took advantage of a unique pre-war situation that and File Caucus. When the question came up of "30 formade uninterrupted production (and profits) Inlands 40," meaning a 30-hour week for 40 hours pay, onlygoal. Local 1010 made it part of their demands. African-American Bill Young was a leading figure in Germano verses Patterson, Round Onenine stoppages in the Structural Department. In April of1940 the Structural Department struck for weekly pay- James Kollros: At the 1942 convention Joe Germanochecks called for by state law and won. In May 1941, was re-elected to the post of district director by the dis-steward Louis Abrams led a work stoppage in the cold trict delegates. In the end he ran unopposed, but thatstrip mill over an unsettled grievance. In June 1941 fact masked an intense political struggle behind theInland obtained a restraining order against 101Os dues scenes. Germanos opponents nominated Georgepicket lines. SWOC members were arrested for violat- Patterson to oppose him. Patterson agreed to run ating the order in August while organizing the Blast first despite threats and appeals to withdraw. In the endFurnace. The CIO shut down the blast furnaces, threat- Patterson realized that the meeting was being "stuffed"ening Inland with the costly job of rebuilding them, and and that he could not win. At the last minute he declinedInlands action against the dues picket lines stopped. A to run.November 1941, walkout in Structural failed to gain pay-checks for the day before Thanksgiving but won such David McDonald(Union Man,1969): All the resultschecks for Christmas Eve. A February 1942, Structural were in but District 31 . I dispatched Howard Hague tostrike won equal pay for women. find out the cause of the delay. He hurried back to tell us our candidate, Joseph Germano, was in trouble. He While these job actions had local union approval, they was being challenged by a man who had consistentlywere primarily movements from below. The walkouts followed a Marxist line and whom we believed to be areceived the total condemnation of the International. Communist. He had been in the Memorial DayThe stoppages were generally successful in regaining Massacre and was looked on as a hero by many mem-jobs for discharged or disciplined workers, removing hazards, disciplining abusive foreman, gettingwages raised, and the like. By 1942 Lodge 1010 mem- One of Germanos friends was presiding and trying tobers enjoyed the best wages and working conditions of delay a vote as long a possible while Germanos hench-any steelworkers in the world. men beat the auditorium for votes. I told Hague to round up members of our auditing staff who could circulate Philip Nyden: 101 0 was organized by "insiders" who unnoticed among the Chicago delegates. Then I offeredformulated bylaws which encouraged rank-and-file chairman John Doherty a hand. He didnt need it. Heinvolvement. Union offices, such as assistant grievers, was pretending to be confused about the vote tally andsafety stewards, and committee heads, were elective, in doing a magnificent job of stalling. I watched Haguescontrast with most USWA locals. The democratic recruits drift into the room and counted them. When wemechanisms stimulated grassroots involvement. As one had enough to swing the election, I nodded to Doherty,insurgent put it, "The lining up starts a lot lower on the and he called for a vote.totem pole than it does in most locals." A Dubious Contractual Breakthrough Cliff Mezo: In the old days, organizers had to sell theirproduct. John Sargent(Rank and File, 1973): Inland Steel Company said theyd rather shut their place down forev- Mike Mezo: Local 1010 has a history of militancy. The er than recognize the Steelworkers Union. The workersearly organizers left a legacy and a model for dealing developed the most militant and the most inspiring typewith a brutally militant company that made you earn of rank-and-file organization that you can have. Whenevery damn thing you got. Inland fought the union until the company realized what was happening, theythe end and still had an arsenal of weapons during the became smart and understood that they had to recog-1950s. If it hadnt been for World War II, wed probably nize the International leadership and take the affairs outstill be fighting for recognition. The local never got com- of the hands of the ordinary elected officials on a localfortable because they knew the company would stab in the back if you let down your guard. Local 1010 Steel Worker (Aug. 28, 1980): John AI Samter: Local 1010 led the area in progressive pro- Sargent gave his time and energy in the days when
  11. 11. 9Local 1010 Pres. John Sargent witnesses signing of 1942 contract by J. Doherty, J. H. Walsh, Fred Gillies, P. Murray and J. Germanonobody was paid for organizing and many got fired. He Edward Zivich: The War Labor Board provided Philipwas Picket Captain in the 1937 strike and in 1942 was Murray and national SWOC with ultimate victory in theelected President of the Local, then reelected in 1943 longstanding feud with Little Steel companies; but theand 1944. In 1944, he resigned to join the navy for 3 contract, coupled with Americas involvement in Worldyears. When he returned in 1946, he was again elected War II, ended Inland SWOCs militant strike years. Thepresident and held office almost continuously for 20 International obtained institutionalized collective bar-years. gaining. An era had ended. On August 5, 1942, Inland became the first of the Little Steel group to sign a union James Kollros: In 1944 John Sargent beat James contract. The agreement granted a retroactive wageJohnson for the presidency by a vote of 1,658 to 1, 168. increase but drastically modified 101Os grievance han-Harry Powell beat Joe Jeneske for vice-president and dling. Local 1010 could not strike to settle grievances;replaced Nick Migas, who had gone onto the district staff some would be tied up for months or years. A strike onin 1943. A couple months later Sargent resigned and grievances could now bring jail sentences and firings.enlisted in the Navy. Powell took over as president for Direct-action labor tactics were now costly and illegal.the rest of the term. Mike 0/szanski: President Sargents 1943 letter to the War Department, threatening to strike Inland in defiance of the CIO (and CP) supported wartime no-strike pledge, brings into question Sargents adherence to any "party line" during the war years but adds weight to his image as a militant rank and file oriented leader. Edward Zivich: With 101Os CP radicals pushing for unhampered war production, the ban on strikes only dis- turbed one ideological faction, the Trotskyites. Trbovich and others, at great risk, led a departmental strike over a discharge to a successful rehiring. But the strike tac- tic was clearly dying. A plant-wide stoppage after the war, again on a discharge case, was pinned on "Wildcat Johnny" Sargent and the CP faction . Bill Young (sitting) and Manuel Trbovich
  12. 12. 10 Germano verses Patterson, Round Two Ruth Needleman: Leftists made civil rights an integral part of the Locals culture. William Maihoffer, John James Kollros: Germano conducted a dirty campaign. Sargent, and Nick Migas, each of whom served as pres-Pattersons supporters were threatened. The Local ident, spoke out strongly against discrimination. In 1938101 0 nominating meeting was stopped by the chairman Bill Young became 101Os first vice president. Duringbefore its business was finished. Subsequently, the World War II he served as chairman of the grievanceInternational tellers ruled that the nomination for committee. His position and credibility, however,Patterson was invalid. Nick Migas, Local 101Os seemed to be linked to his identification with "real unionstaffman, was excluded from staff meetings. Except for issues" acceptable to the white majority. Still his leader-Migas and Mayerik, the staff supported Germano and ship position demonstrated that blacks could be electeddid not hesitate to use their influence for him. In fact, to top office.many Patterson supporters expected Germano to winand campaigned only in the hope of raising issues. The James Alexander: Alexander Bailey and Bill Youngmost disruptive problem for Patterson was that he was were strong black leaders at Inland, but it didnt seemdrafted in the middle of the campaign. He had to report that their intentions were to get doors open for others.for service some six weeks before the vote. It was insin- Each seemed to be saying, "Youve got me."uated that the Germano forces may have been respon-sible for Pattersons induction. Bill Gailes: Bailey was a good union man but con- cerned mostly about his own department. A real leader AI Samter: Just before the election, Germano used his is concerned about the whole ball of wax.contacts on the Draft Board and got Patterson drafted.Otherwise, he surely would have won. He was Ruth Needleman: After the war, more blacks spokePresident of Local 65 and had support from all the Left- out at meetings, and more positions were set aside forled locals, including 1010 and 1011, in addition to 1014. minorities. Glover Gary, chairman of the East ChicagoJohn Mayerik got fired from his staff job for supporting NAACP, complained about the companys barring blacksPatterson against Germano. He got rehired at U.S. from certain departments and about the unions failure toSteel and about six months later got elected President challenge employer practices. Clarence Royster, AIof 1014 again. The charismatic Mayerik, an original McClain, Eugene Blue, Eugene Jacque and Williamorganizer at Gary Works, had gathered around him Gailes gained visibility. I~ time African Americans usedmany leaders of the Eastern European groups, includ- the political rivalry between caucuses to secure whiteing Russians, Poles, Czechs, Lithuanians, plus leading support. Initially, caucuses began to set aside positionsblack activists. Later Mayerik ran against Germano, the for blacks but then slated them to run against each otherlast guy to make the ballot before Sadlowski. so fighting developed between groups of black activists. The vital factor in moving beyond tokenism was inde- From Tokenism to Anti-Discrimination at 1010 pendent organization, an insight eventually acted upon by Bill Gailes. Betty Balanoff: Local1010 stayed militant longer thanmost locals. It stuck out like a sore thumb in that Bill Gailes: In Fairfield, Alabama, I had worked forrespect. Inland was very involved in civil rights, in get- Tennessee Coal and Iron. Their company union had ating city Fair Practices laws passed, for instance. sadistic initiation ceremony, like the Klan. When they assigned me to the sheet mill, I thought Id be making Morris Janowitz(The Community Process in an sheets. I had black and white shoes on, thats how littleUrban Setting, 1967): Trade union democracy is not I knew about what I was getting into. I quit the mill fivemerely the formal elections but the system of coalition times. I had the wanderlust. I wanted to finish college.between ethnic groups. The emergence of blacks rep- I went to U. S. Steel once. After I came back to Inland,resents the latest stage of leadership succession. they put "No more hire" on my record. That would be my last chance. I never missed a day after that. It was time Mike Olszanski: Nick Migas, an open member of the to settle down.CP and an ally of John Sargent, led a wildcat strike innumber one Open Hearth when the company refused to After the war, they hired D.P.s before theyd hirepromote a black man to second helper on the furnace. blacks with honorable discharges. I saw one guy tear upHe recalled telling his fellow workers, "Discrimination his discharge papers and throw them on the ground.starts, maybe, with a Negro, but next it will go to the That was the position they put us in. When they movedMexican worker and then maybe to the so-called hillbil- the first black man up to heater, all the whites And where will it stop?; The man got the job. When they put a black women in the tin mill, the whites
  13. 13. 11there walked out. Don Lutes stuck with her. He said, "If try to change Roysters mind. They told me," anyou want to quit, fine." unmoved Royster recalled, "that my attitude was too harsh and white people might rebel against finding three Ruth Needleman: On April 25, 1946, Local 101 0 sent white men guilty of discrimination. If I persisted in goinga resolution to union president Philip Murray protesting for three, I might lose all three as well as commit politi-the segregation of colored delegates attending the con- cal suicide."stitutional convention" and urging "that those who madethe arrangements be condemned." On October 2, 1947, The incident seemed to mark a turning point in blackLocal 1010 sent a communication to the International activism in Local 1010. Bill Gailes convinced his all-criticizing "the small number of Negro representatives on black sheet mill crew to attend the union meeting atstaff." In January 1949, at a union meeting a worker which the vote would be taken on the trial boards rec-observed that Local 101Os basketball team still played ommendation. The presence of so many Africanonly in Whiting, a Jim Crow town, and, as a result, had Americans must have been intimidating. Only five peo-no black players. ple voted against the recommendation of the trial board to bring all three up on charges. The strategy won over In September 1950, Local 1010 debated whether to Don Lutes, who had spent the previous evening repair-provide support for a Mexican youth organization. ing his relations with the white workers in the Power andPresident Bill Maihoffer urged the Local to allocate $500 Steam help organize Mexican workers recently recruited intothe mill. This motion drew substantial opposition. At the It took the International more than a year to considernext meeting Recording Secretary Mary Kelley (later an appeal and in the end ordered pu nishment for onlyMary Gyurko) suggested that an organization open to all the ringleader. He was denied participation in unionyoung people would not be discriminatory. In fact, the affairs for two years and prohibited from holding officeLocal bought tickets for events and organizations that for five years. The Power and Steam Departmentexcluded blacks. Maihoffer pointed to another request remained white, although a few months later Bill Youngfrom a group of lady bowlers. He asked if the union thanked the Grievance Committee for advancing "theshould drop the request "because the women who wish first Negro ever to hold a machinists job in the mill." Theto bowl are all white women." After a voice vote, hand company took no disciplinary action against any of thevote and division of the floor, the presidents motion was three.defeated. As late as 1952 a resolution asked Inland to"allow the Negroes to have their own bowling team." Experiences of Mexican-Americans Local 1010 helped integrate East Chicago theaters, Mike 0/szanski: Some Mexicans were brought in byrestaurants, and bars long before apprenticeship pro- Inland as scabs in 1919. Many were housed in a com-grams or craft jobs were open to black workers. In pany-owned flea bag hotel in the shadow of the millJanuary 1952, when Jesse Godwin transferred into the known as the Baltimore. Many helped build the union.Power and Steam Department, workers threw three gal-lons of torch oil on him while he was smoking a ciga- Cliff Mezo {The Great Divide, 1988): There were tworette. The grievance officer brought Godwin to talk with halves to East Chicago. One is the Irish and Polish officers, but there was disagreement over whether to Closer to the mills is where you had all the hotels andcharge all three white workers, or just one, as the com- where they recruited Mexicans and Puerto Ricans andpany wanted. Union elections being a few months off, blacks from the South. They imported the Mexicans withpolitics prevailed. Maihoffer feared a white backlash one thought: to weaken the union. Actually they becamewhile grievance committee chairman Don Lutes saw an our staunchest union people.opportunity to establish his anti-discrimination creden-tials. Eugene Blue, chair of the Anti-Discrimination Ed Sadlowski: My dad started in 1936 or so in theCommittee, was outraged but backed off when Maihoffer labor yard. Some Mexican guys had been there 15 orwarned him not to aggravate racial tensions. 20 years. Some had come during the 1919 strike. My dad had been trying to get into the open hearth, which When Clarence Royster insisted that all three men be paid much better, and this Irish foreman kept giving himcharged, Maihoffer accused him of being obstinate and the run-around. Finally, when the 1937 strike started,urged him to sign the majority report. Bill Gailes stood the foreman promised to get him transferred if he didntbehind Royster. Bill Young and Buster Logan, the two walk out. My dad said, "No, mac, Im going out." TheyAfrican-American old-timers, were cornered by white were sitting by the shanty, and the foreman asked afinancial secretary Tom Conway, who persuaded them to Mexican, "How about you?" The Mexican said, "Mac,
  14. 14. 12you fooled us in 1919, but youre not going to fool us Hispanics werent being slated by union caucuses untilagain." we allied with one slate, and it made other caucuses realize theyd have to slate Hispanics, too. In 1956 the Nick Migas(Rank and File, 1973): We had a lot of leader of the Union Builder Caucus, Don Lutes, Sr., tookMexican workers in my department. They were con- a foremens job, so I was asked to run for recording sec-stantly kept on small, menial jobs - scrap yard, labor retary. Later on we merged with the Rank and Filegang, furnaces - dirty, menial, hard work. And no Caucus for the convention delegates election. When Ichance of promotion. Thats why the union swept like a won; I was amazed. I was the 29th out of 30.wildfire through the mills. AI Samter and Civil Rights Committees James Kollros: In the summer of 1943 the companyfired several Mexicans at the urging of the FBI. The AI Samter: After the war I had worked for a smallunion managed to put a stop to that. In 1944 the local record store in New York and then got laid off. The bigasked the national office to print copies of the contract in chain stores started reducing prices on phonographSpanish so that Latino workers could read it. The local records, which forced mom-and-pop stores to cut back.also bought 100 fund-raising books from the Sleepy I was finally hired as an organizer for the union, but thenLagoon Defense Committee (defending several the union itself suffered because of the cutback in theMexican youths in Los Angeles). In the summer of 1945 retail business. I was off and on the unemployment rollstwo union leaders investigated how the company and finally decided to make use of my G.l. Bill of Rightsrecruited Mexican workers in South Texas. They dis- and get into an apprentice program.covered that Inland paid for their transportation inadvance and housed them in company housing in Everybody was going to the big industries, so in AprilIndiana Harbor, thus creating a compliant group of work- of 1949, I came to Northwest Indiana and applied for aners. apprenticeship. They didnt have any such programs open but were hiring for the summer. They sent me out Roberto Flores: My father was a veteran of World War to the coal chemical plant, as a pump operator. At thatI. After his discharge, he heard about Hispanics getting time there was a lot of movement among employeesjobs in steel mills in the Chicago area. He came to the nationwide. If you stayed in one place, you could moveRegion in 1924, the year before I was born and worked on up. The summer job turned into a permanent job. Iat Inland. I started working there in high school, while stayed 37 years. I never did get into the apprenticeshipattending East Chicago Washington, before I went off to program. My job, especially after they built a new coalWorld War II. Inland executives recruited about a hun- chemical plant in 1955, paid more than I would have got-dred of us at an assembly to work from 4:30 to 8:30. ten in any of the craft jobs. My department took light oilsThose under 18 had to wear a red badge, which meant which come off the coke-making process and separatedyou couldnt handle mobile equipment. It was hard work and distilled them into the industrial oils benzene,in the open hearth. If we stayed until11 :30, they paid us toluene, and xylene.for eight hours. Many times we stayed. It was difficultto get up for school, but a lot of families needed the I became a shop steward and got acquainted withmoney. On weekends we worked eight hours. Curtis Strong, who was running for grievance commit- teeman to replace a man retiring in the middle of his I played on the Midwest Mexican All-Stars. My uncle term. I wrote some of his material. After he was elect-was manager. One day at Block Stadium we played ed, I became a shop steward. One of my jobs was toagainst Satchel Paige. I was the first Hispanic to pitch sign up new members. The agreement in force at thatfor Inland in the Industrial League. Many of us who time had a "maintenance of membership" clause. If youplayed baseball did well in union politics. Once youve signed the people up, they remained union membersplayed sports, you want to keep competing. I was work- until the termination of the agreement, at which timeing in the 44-inch mill. We were only working four days they had the option of withdrawing from the union.a week, so I transferred to the open hearth, where they There were still some old-timers who were not unionwere working six days, plus overtime. I became a safe- members, but I kept signing them up until our depart-ty rep and steward. I was aggressive in pushing for bet- ment was 100% union. Because of all the new peopleter conditions. I bid on the clerical sequence and coming in, I was pretty busy.became a weigh master. After the strike of 1959, somuch steel was stockpiled, they didnt call everybody Shop stewards went to Political Action Committeeback. After a seven month layoff I ended up in the met- meetings once a month, and during election campaignsallurgical section. we got dollar donations from union members. On elec-
  15. 15. 13tion day we went out on our off-hours and took people to man; but after he kicked out the communists it was allthe polls. A few of us would be paid to take time off from downhill.our jobs. We were an effective force. Partly as a resultof our efforts, we elected a member of the Local 1014 Jesse Reese: The Communists built the union, butexecutive board to the Gary City Council. John L. Lewis and Philip Murray fired every Communist organizer, and the unions been going back, back, back, Within the John Mayerik caucus at 1014, black leaders ever since.such as Jacob "Jake" Blake, Curtis Strong, Pat Riley,and John Howard were beginning to form their own Edward Zivich: Made bold by the Taft-Hartley Act andcoalitions in order to push for more representation. John the Cold War, the company fired over 80 workers in aHoward went on the slate as vice-president as a result flurry of red-baiting. In 1950 1010 lost its monthly griev-of this pressure. Blake persuaded Mayerik to form the ance meeting with management. Contract bargaining1014 Civil Rights Committee. He then appointed Blake moved to Pittsburgh with little direct input on local con-as chairman, and added me and several others. The ditions. A local that once had unbelievable membershipcommittee elected me secretary. Jake Blake was a participation became the concern of the few. Conditionsgreat actor. He was a trustee on 1014s executive board in the mill deteriorated. Grievances remained unsettled.and an assistant grievance committeeman. He could As John Sargent concluded, in making the Internationalcharm an audience. His whole family was very religious. part of the establishment, they took the guts and theThere was pressure on him to get into the religious field fight out of the union.and eventually he became a minister in East Chicago. Philip Nyden: McCarthyism had a dampening effect on At one point we decided to have a joint civil rights the formation of political opposition groups. Many dissi-committee meeting at Local 1014s headquarters. At dents were prohibited from holding union office .that time Fred Stern was working at Youngstown. He Conservative union leaders used anticommunism as awas an officer in his civil rights committee. Jim Balanoff license to squelch dissent. The top union leadership fur-was part of that civil rights group. At that point the ther consolidated its control as a result of dues "checkInternational decided they better recognize us, so they off" systems and by using its right to take control of asent somebody in from the International. It was one of local union in the event of "questionable" practices.the things that pushed them into having a civil rights divi- They consolidated their control over bargaining, conven-sion. tions, finances, staff, committees, and district leader- ship. At the 1950 Convention, the International leader- Red Scare ship was made the sole "contracting party" for all collec- tive agreements and took from District Directors their James Kollros: Many of the leaders in 1010 had a left- discretion in interpreting contract language.wing analysis of class struggle. They believed the realstrength of the union depended on mass support. They Mike 0/szanski: When the Left was run out, it left aencouraged rank and file involvement in organizing. vacuum, and pulled the teeth out of the union. Left lead-The fine union built up in the early years eventually suc- ers were no longer in positions to remind others that thecumbed to bureaucratic leadership. The main reason adversarial relationship was basic and fundamental towas because the top leadership of the country and the capitalism. Still, 1010 remained a rebel local and did notdistrict replaced the left-wing, democratic leadership. tow the line. The Taft-Hartley Acts anti-communist affi-The process of this replacement lasted well into the davit requirement put increased pressure on non-com-1950s and was not the result of one magic moment. munist union leaders, who by signing would not onlyPart of the process involved being in a national union throw their more militant brothers and sisters to the reac-and in a world war against fascism, where local groups tionary wolves, but also demonstrate their total disre-had to sacrifice special benefits for the common good. gard for Constitutional rights of free speech and associ-The divisions of the Cold War years further undercut the ation. Many capitulated. To those brave trade unionistsleft. who refused, the USWA constitution branded them as "devoid of principle and destitute of honor." AI Samter: Open communists played a leading role inthe formation of the CIO. Used because of their dedica- I dont think union leaders were on the take, but theytion and ability to organize, they were thrown out when didnt need to be. If they "do the damn deed," whats theit was felt they were no longer needed. difference if they got paid for it directly. It was probably more insidious that they did it because thought it was the Mike 0/szanski: Phil Murray was probably a virtuous right thing. Being anti-communists, they felt they had to
  16. 16. 14 Striking tor Pensions, Steelworkers demonstrate at Plant 2 Southdefend the company to the workers paying their mittee. Germanos people appealed to the Internationalsalaries. They were class-collaborators. Executive Board, and it decided that Local 101 0 must remove Migas or face administratorship. Migas quit his John Brophy(C/0 leader quoted in Labors Untold job and moved to a farm in Wisconsin before the finalStory, 1955): The real objective of redbaiting is to kill verdict was issued.the CIO, to destroy collective bargaining, to destroy theunity of the organized and unorganized workers, that the Mike 0/szanski: An especially poignant example ofCIO is building throughout the nation. guilt by association was the case of Stanley Rygas. In 1953 he was removed from office as assistant griever by Mike 0/szanski: John Sargent, Joe Gyurko, and Nick President Don Lutes for allegedly rubber-stamping hisMigas, who negotiated the workers first contracts, got name to Communist literature and mailing it to otherbeaten up on the picket lines, and collected dues at the members. While he "emphatically denied this forgeryplant gates, were hounded by the FBI, dragged before and subsequent charges of violating the USWAs anti-HUAC, and redbaited in union elections. Gyurko had Communist clause, the Internationals secretary-treasur-started at Inland in 1939 and paid his first union dues er upheld Lutes motion to terminate his union member-before his probationary period ended. During the war he ship subject to appeal in Pittsburgh. He subsequentlypacked tin-plate in crates destined for our ally the Soviet kept his membership but never again ran for unionUnion and admonished coworkers who, in his words, office. When Sargents eligibility to run for office was"nailed the crates just any old way cause it was for the challenged in 1954 and when he was called beforeRussians." FBI agents sat in a car in front of his house HUAC in 1958, his association with Rygas was in turnday and night, watching his every move. Migas was used as evidence against him.beaten by USWA goons for exercising his right of freespeech at the 1948 convention, where as a duly elected Betty Balanoff: The union had a rule that no commu-delegate, he challenged President Philip Murray over nist could hold office. They tried to get rid of bothhis Cold War positions. Stanley Rygas and my husband Jim, but they said they werent communists and challenged them to prove they James Kollros: Nick Migas was a former griever, a for- were and the union backed off. Otherwise, Jim wouldmer staff man and president of Local1 01 0 during the big never have got past griever.wildcat strike in 1945. At the 1948 convention a leafletwas put on the delegates seats over the lunch break, AI Samter: When they used the communists as whip-signed openly by Migas. Its two linked themes were that ping boys, they also threw out all those who opposed thethe steel workers needed a large raise and that Philip administration. Union leaders redbaited as bad asMurray and the union leaders were sellouts for not win- HUAC and Joe McCarthy. If you werent virulently anti-ning such a raise. Ostensibly, the leaflet was issued as communist and opposed the administration, you musta way to force Murray to call on Migas to speak. Migas be a communist. The participation of the left-wing waswas recognized and made a speech, but the pro-Murray drastically reduced. In its hearings in Gary HUAC trieddelegates drowned him out. After the speech, Migas to put me in a category, and I refused to say, "Yes, I waswas escorted outside by Murrays personal bodyguard, an active member of the Communist Party." I wouldntwhere a gang of thugs beat him up. give HUAC any names. As far as I was concerned, I did- nt know who was and who wasnt. After Migas was elected griever in June of 1948,Germano induced 15 workers to bring charges that he Roberta Wood: My fath.e r worked at Bethlehem Steelshould be removed because of his membership in the in Sparrows Point. He was fired during the McCarthyCommunist Party. The local trial committee refused to era. He and some others refused to testify beforeremove him. The local voted to support the trial com- HUAC, to name names. They hadnt done anything
  17. 17. 15 Director Germano listens while President McDonald Speakswrong at work. They had a rule that anybody who hadworked in the Henry Wallace campaign couldnt be anofficer in the Steelworkers Union. It was part of the cam-paign to purge Communists and progressives. TheInternational told the local, dont touch these cases. Sothey wouldnt file a grievance. People collected petitionsfor them, which was pretty brave in those days.Because of McCarthyism, my parents had the habit ofnot discussing their CP affiliation. People still havethese habits, even when theres no rational basis anymore. Its like some secret, shameful thing. Its reallyhurt not only the Party but the labor movement. A lot of "Red Diaper Babies" feel like their life wasscarred by growing up in a Communist family, especial-ly during the fifties. That was such a terrible time forworking-class people. It was so stifling. There was thisTV ideal that nobody lived up to. Everyone felt deficient.To me I think I was better off in an activist householdwhere it was O.K. to be different. But a lot of people feltbitter and at a certain point left. Then naturally theycame up with a rationale for leaving. Other people Iworked with in the mill, when I met them years later, were numbered. After his death, however, McDonaldwould remark, "Oh, yeah when I was in the Party ... " And won the boards agreement that he take over the presi-they were never in the Party, at least as I saw it. We dency, which now embraced powers heretofore residentwere afraid to ever ask them to join, yet they felt like they in the secretary-treasurer. McDonald had indeed inher-were in it all along. These kind of experiences have ited it all.given me, in my "old age," a broader idea of the Partysrole in the working class struggle. Staughton Lynd (The Guardian, Feb. 1973): McDonald never enjoyed the genuine affection which From Murray to McDonald Murray commanded. He was immensely vain and soon earned the phrase tuxedo leadership" for his high living, John Herling (In Right to Challenge): The last days his hobnobbing with celebrities, and his disdain for work-of Philip Murray were days of disappointment. He died ing people.suddenly on November 9, 1952, five days after Adlai E.Stevenson had been defeated for the national presiden- H. W Benson (Union Democracy Review, 1973}: Incy. The Stevenson campaign had represented not only 1955 President McDonald ran a handpicked candidatea deep political commitment for Murray but also a large- for vice president to fill a vacancy created by the deathscale investment of money, energy, and union manpow- of an incumbent. His man won, but only after stubborner. He was also weighed down by a more intimate bur- resistance from within the official family. Joe Molonyden: the necessity of dealing surgically with an unpleas- broke ranks to run against McDonalds choice. Whenant personal problem, the removal of Secretary- Molony supporters tried to campaign in Germano territo-Treasurer David J. McDonald. For many years Murray ry, thugs invaded their rally and four Molony backershad regarded him almost as a son, whose career in the ended in the hospital after a beating. In that campaign,union he had launched and advanced but was now Germano showed how effectively his organization coulddetermined to halt. perform. Molony did well almost everywhere but in Germanos district was swamped 50 to 1. During Murrays serious 1951 illness, McDonald hadtaken over the reins and instructed his public relations Dues Protest Movementmen to revise the Murray obituary. But Murray recov-ered and learned of McDonalds meticulous prepara- Philip Nyden: Between 1948 and 1956 thetions. He exploded to a visitor, "See what the dirty little International leaderships domination of Constitutionalson of a bitch has done to me. Hes got me buried." For Conventions allowed it to win dues increases threeweeks this was his constant refrain. On the eve of the times despite considerable opposition. This helped1952 convention, Murray made it clear McDonalds days build up a substantial treasury, much of which could be
  18. 18. 16used at the leaderships discretion. When a rank-and- the challenge. According to reporter John Herling,file reform organization did emerge, it was weak but did Rarick was offered $250,000 to withdraw. He refused.represent a changing consciousness among dissidents.The Dues Protest Committee, formed as a protest to a AI Samter: Rarick traveled around the country in hisdues increase at the 1956 convention, pursued issues own recreational vehicle. He came to 1014 and parkedrelated to democracy, accountability, honesty in elec- in this little lot behind the union hall. While he wastions, protection of local autonomy, and better shopfloor speaking to us, Norman Harris, a staff representative forunion representation. Initial recruitment centered Joe Germano, came over with a bunch of goons fromaround a petition and local resolution campaign calling Chicago. A few of them came upstairs and started afor a special dues rollback convention. ruckus while Rarick was trying to speak. Meanwhile, Harris and a couple of other guys set fire to Raricks RV. Betty Balanoff: Goons threw Curtis Strong out of a All of a sudden somebody comes up the stairs yelling,third-floor window after he protested the dues increase. "Hey, theres a RV on fire in the parking lot." Curtis Strong: Steelworkers didnt go as far as the Ed Sadlowski: I hadnt been working long but gotTeamsters or Mineworkers, but the leadership was not active in the Rarick campaign. Thats when I met Curtisadverse to certain persuasive measures. There were Strong. Stealing elections was so common, guys wouldtimes when I felt in danger, but I was young and crazy sit around drinking and brag about it.and not intimidated. At the 1956 convention these guyshad gotten into my hotel room and jumped me while I John Herling: McDonald defeated Rarick 404,172 towas putting my pajamas. One held me, and another hit 223,516. Detailed charges of vote rigging were made byme so hard he broke my jaw and knocked me out. If I Rarick backers. Although Rarick claimed to have wonhad not been unconscious, the doctor said, the fall prob- Local 1014 in Gary by 9,000 to 3,000, he said the countably would have killed me. I landed right next to an iron had been turned around through fraud. Raricks chargefence; in fact, my pajama top got caught on a spike. was labeled fantastic" and "sour grapes." Staughton Lynd: When McDonald proposed an H. W Benson: Raricks followers claimed that votesincrease in his own salary from $40,000 to $50,000 and were stolen wholesale and demanded a local by localan increase from $3 to $5 in monthly membership dues, breakdown instead of an overall count. In those days,rebellion broke out on the floor. The leader was Donald there were no federal controls over union elections.Rarick, then a politically conservative grievance com- McDonald simply turned down their demand, and thatmitteeman from McKeesport. McDonald gavelled the was that.dues increase amid a storm of booing and calls for aroll-call vote. Rarick and others used the long train ride Staughton Lynd: Despite widespread fraud, Rarickhome from Los Angeles to good advantage. On Oct. 19, received 36% of the vote, an astonishing showing for a1956 the Dues Protest Committee (DPC) was organized grievance committeeman unknown six months a meeting of some 50 representatives of Pittsburgh-area locals. John Herling: At the 1958 convention the International John Herling: Confronting the Dues Protest movementwas the problem of communication. Internal channelswere under the strict control of the International office.Anybody bucking the leadership would have to piecetogether the necessary lists over a period of manyweeks. The process of instructing local supporters topetition for a special convention was slow and discour-aging work. There was no experience to fall back on.Out of about 700 locals needed, no more than a hun-dred petitioned for a special convention, but amongthem was the largest, Local 1014 of Gary. Staughton Lynd: After the petition drive failed, theDPC then decided to try the electoral route. Rarick puthimself forward as a candidate for president. The I. W Abel, in Gary for a school dedication ceremony, hosts dis- trict leaders, including African-American John Howard and bow-McDonald administration tried desperately to head off tied Orval Kincaid, April 19, 1959