EAST CHICAGO, Ind. – Local 1010 of the United Steelworkers union (USW) is proud of its militant history. It is also proud of its newly renovated union hall. Hundreds of 1010 members and other USW members from the surrounding area attended a spirited and festive rededication meeting this past Friday.
The ceremony featured the unveiling of a large and stunning black granite slab on the beautifully redecorated auditorium wall. It is etched with a scene from the Memorial Day Massacre of 1937 at Republic Steel in South Chicago and features the names of the ten union supporters who were gunned down by Chicago police as they peacefully marched to the plant gate to picket. The rededication renamed the 1010 union hall “Memorial Hall,” in their honor. Four of those killed were members of local 1010.
Local 1010’s president, Tom Hargrove, set a tone of pride in labor militancy and partisanship for the meeting in his welcome. “We started our meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance. How many corporations do that? Not many, if at all. The corporations are global now and their only allegiance is to money.” Hargrove also recalled a long history of progressive action by the local, like fighting Jim Crow segregation in East Chicago in the 1940’s when the city was pushing for even greater racial discrimination against African Americans.
Featured speaker, Leo Gerard, international president of the USW, used the opportunity to blast the big banks and financial institutions for plundering the world and ruining the economy. He called for an all out labor-led fight for jobs and rebuilding the manufacturing sector of the US economy. Gerard hailed the fighting spirit of the Memorial Day ten and Local 1010 as needed for the fight today. (see video below)
Ed Sadlowski, former district director of the Chicago and Gary region of the USW, spoke of the many challenges facing the labor movement today. And to thunderous applause he warned that as we make the fight for health care reform, labor rights and other labor programs, the right-wing, anti-labor crowd will start to call it all socialistic. “Well I hope it is,” Sadlowski said, “there is nothing wrong with democratic socialism. That’s the direction we really have to go in.”
Photo: Scott Marshall