Remembering the Memorial Day Massacre

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David in Atlanta
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May 27 2008 18:44
Remembering the Memorial Day Massacre

Industrial workers faced long hours, low wages, and unsafe conditions in 1936 as the Steelworkers Organizing Committee reached out to Chicago's steelworkers. After a year of organizing, U.S. Steel agreed to recognize the union in 1937, but other, smaller steelmakers refused, and on May 26, the workers struck. On May 30, the union held a picnic in front of Republic Steel, at 117th and Avenue O, to support the strike. After a round of speeches, the strikers marched toward the steel mill. As they crossed the field, they were met by a line of Chicago policemen. When the day was over, 10 strikers were dead, and dozens more had been beaten by the police.

Known as the Memorial Day Massacre, the event became part of the history of the modern American labor movement, and is honored each year at the Steelworkers Local 1033 union hall, across the street from killings. This year, the monument to the event was rededicated in a ceremony attended by 10th Ward Ald. John Pope, Steelworker's International Union President Leo Gerard, and Ed Blazak, the Republic Steel worker who designed and created the monument. "So many people here in the community worked so hard on this sculpture," Pope said. "And it's so important that we honor the men and women that made this community what it is."

A great page of newsreel photos can be seen here and here