Brother Rex Waldron, known to all as “Auggie,” died on Dec. 5, from stress-related conditions. He was 49.

A lifelong resident of Lorrain, Ohio, Auggie was a much loved and respected leader of the United Steelworkers of America (USWA). Auggie was a leader of the National Steelworkers Rank & File Committee during the 1970s, holding numerous positions with USWA Local 1104. Through the years he was chair of Local 1104’s Political Action Committee, Benefits Committee, assistant griever, delegate to the Lorain County AFL-CIO Federation and delegate to numerous USWA International Conventions.

Auggie was widely known and respected as a fighter, a man of the people. As a young worker, Auggie became active in the budding rank-and-file upsurge in the steelworkers union. Auggie was elected chair of the newly formed Local 1104 Rank & File Committee, which fought to make the union more of a fighting union, more democratic, with stronger representation of minorities and women in the leadership. He also served on the governing board of the National Steelworkers Rank & File Committee, the national coordinating body for that reform movement.

In retaliation for his role in that movement, US Steel discharged Auggie after he had participated in a federal lawsuit in which the company was the defendant. After a struggle of nearly two years, Auggie won his job back with full backpay. His fight became an inspiration to Lorain steelworkers, with blown-up pictures of him, holding his backpay check posted throughout the mill. A huge celebration party was held when Auggie returned to work!

Many of the reforms that Auggie spent his life fighting for are recognized now as part of the union structure and program. They include more African American, Latino and other minorities in leadership, the increased role of women steelworkers, and the fighting character of the USWA. The right of the membership to ratify contracts, the strengthened program of solidarity with other unions, the push to organize the unorganized are also part of the reforms he helped bring about.

In the 1980s, Auggie helped initiate and mobilize for the massive Solidarity Day demonstrations that helped put the American labor movement on a new, more militant path. In 1986, Auggie was a leader of the 6-month long lockout struggle against USX. Lorain was recognized as one of the bulwarks of the union fight during that struggle.

As leader of USWA 1104’s Political Action Committee Auggie was known throughout the community and was universally respected for building community-labor solidarity.

Auggie worked 29 1/2 years in the mill at the time of his death. He was deeply affected by the growing hardships steelworkers were facing.

Brother Auggie Waldron will be sorely missed by all who knew him. His loss is a blow to all who stand for social justice and the rights of working people. He is survived by his wife, Mary, and son. A memorial will be held at the USWA Local 1104 hall, date to be announce. Condolences and donations can be sent to: Mary Waldron, c/o USWA Local 1104, 2501 Broadway, Lorain, Ohio 44052.