Steve Cooper, a longtime trade union, civil rights activist and member of the Los Angeles Metro Club of the Communist Party died recently in Los Angeles. He was 77 years old.
During the course of his life, Steve was involved in many struggles. In the 1970’s, he worked as a volunteer for the United Farm Workers grape boycott.
As a student at Los Angeles Trade Tech college, he led the campaign to rid the school cafeteria of non-union grapes.
He also worked on campus to fire the campus President Fred Brinkman when it was discovered that he bugged meetings of the Black Student Union.
In 1974, Steve became involved in Chile Democratico and the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles. He served on the church’s Fellowship for Social Justice and organized a campaign called “Not One More Cent for Terror in Chile.”
Steve was also very active in the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.
In 1978 Steve was part of the conclusion of a successful campaign to place Paul Robeson’s star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Soon after, a campaign was launched to commemorate Paul Robeson with a postage stamp, which Steve joined with enthusiasm. This too was successful. The U.S. Postal Service issued a 37 cent stamp and renamed the post office in the Highland Park section of Los Angeles, the Paul Robeson station.
Steve was also a baker and member of the bakers union. He worked at several area Jewish bakeries as a pastry chef, using skills learned at Trade Tech.
He was forced to retire from baking due to a back injury that would be with him the rest of his life. He could no longer lift the 100-pound bags of sugar that bakers are required to handle.
Steve then began working as a house painter, and later as a union representative for AFSCME Local 1108. After that he worked for the CWA organizing psychiatric technicians in state hospitals. Through it all, Steve suffered from chronic stomach problems and was in constant pain.
Steve was a reporter for the People’s World in Los Angeles. His stories were among the best. And he was a member of Trade Unionists for Action and Democracy.
Steve Cooper was someone that always looked out for others and did the best he could at whatever he was doing. His death was unexpected and a tremendous loss for all of us.
Rest in peace, comrade Steve.