Steelworkers union marks 75th anniversary
A union that resists rust as readily as the stainless steel that it produces is celebrating 75 years of dedication to workers Friday.
The United Steelworkers Local 1196, located near the ATI-Allegheny Ludlum steel mill where most of its members work, is hosting a dinner for about 100 people at the Riverside Landing banquet hall in Oakmont to commemorate its anniversary.
Since joining the Steel Workers Organizing Committee in 1937, the predecessor of the USW, Local 1196 has fought for workers' rights.
A strike on March 25, 1937 at what was then known as Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corp.'s Brackenridge Works in Harrison led to the establishment of Local 1196. In 1942, the union became one of the founding members of the United Steelworkers of America.
Local president Fran Arabia credits the hard-working immigrants of the 1930s with leading the nation in workers' rights.
“That's the backbone of everything,” he said. “That work ethic of those men.”
Arabia also said that the 1919 death of Fannie Sellins, an organizer for mine workers, helped galvanize the Valley's unions.
The dinner's guest speaker, Rich Gazarik, is the author of “Black Valley, The Life and Death of Fannie Sellins.”
In addition to forming earlier than the national steelworkers union, Local 1196 was at the forefront of a federal law mandating companies to reserve jobs for veterans drafted in World War II.
Another milestone for Allegheny Ludlum and the union was allowing women steelworkers.
Lee Ann Jendrejeski was one of the first women to enter the work force at the mill in 1976.
“As a whole, we were generally well accepted,” she said.
Jendrejeski is now retired and still holds respect for the union.
“It was actually a privilege for me to be a part of the union,” she said. “It treated me very well.”
Arabia agrees that being a part of 75 years of history is a point of pride for many union members.
“To be honest, it's very humbling,” he said. “For 75 years, nothing was given. Everything was fought for and struggled for.
“There have obviously been losses and gains, but today we have to thank everybody that's fought the fight.”
At the dinner, the union will honor its oldest living member, 96-year-old Carl Josephs, who started working at the mill in 1937.
Arabia said that while changes in the economy and technology have drastically altered the steel trade, much remains the same.
“Seventy-five years ago they had nothing, and they had to fight for what we have today,” Arabia said. “Today we have what they fought for and the struggle is to maintain that.”
He said that the goals — providing a paycheck for families and safety for workers — are still the same.
Kate Wilcox is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Just wait until Ben comes back
- Bell’s last-second TD lifts Steelers over Chargers
- Steelers defense displays resiliency in victory over Chargers
- Steelers notebook: Receiver Bryant inactive for game vs. Chargers
- Home invader shot, killed in Mt. Washington
- 1 killed, 2 injured in Fayette County crash
- Penguins’ Morehouse says city has amenities needed for world-class hockey events
- Penguins notebook: Left wing rotation puts Perron with Malkin
- Looking toward home opener, Penguins work to end scoring drought
- Pa. Supreme Court ‘disturbed by content’ of emails attributed to justice
- Pitt running out of options to slow down Georgia Tech offense