ShareThis Page
News

Monument dedicated to millworkers killed on duty

| Sunday, Sept. 2, 2001

BRACKENRIDGE: Myrtle Johnston, 80, of Harrison, remembers the day her father, Charles Love Smith, was killed when a cable snapped and crushed him in a mill accident at Allegheny Ludlum.

'He was rushed to the hospital and died 45 minutes later in surgery,' Johnston said. She was only 22 years old when the accident happened in 1943.

Johnston was among a Saturday crowd of almost 200 to remember loved ones at the company's union, Local 1196. The Brackenridge and Natrona plant workers came together to unveil a monument.

Forty-three names - of 42 men and 1 woman - are enshrined on the monument, which will sit in front of union headquarters along Brackenridge Avenue.

'This has been a long time coming,' union President Randy Haas said.

'Tragedy killed them. The shock was severe.'

Now safety is the number one priority for the company and union.

'We don't want to have to add any other names to the wall,' Haas said 'I know first hand your pain and sorrow as I had to bury my 17-year-old son after a tragic car accident in November,' he said.

Allegheny Ludlum safety director Jeff Dierdorff said the company is committed to making the plants safer for all employees.

Denise Galliot Zellefrow is the granddaughter of Emile Gaillot and niece of Harry Gaillot. Both were killed in separate mill accidents many years ago.

'My grandfather was killed in 1941 at age 66 after a beam fell across his chest,' the teary-eyed woman said. 'My uncle, Harry Gaillot, was killed in 1935 after he fell and was crushed because there were no rails to support him. He was only 25.'

Zellefrow said it has been the union that has worked to protect workers over the years.

The latest Ludlum fatality occurred in October when Kirk W. Steinhagen, 49, of Winfield, was killed in the Natrona melt-shop after falling more than 20 feet.

Andrew 'Lefty' Palm, state director of the United Steelworkers of America since 1982, agreed the company and union would work more closely together.

'We've had a lot of fights with Allegheny Ludlum,' Palm said. 'But we've locked arms on this one (safety).'

Tim Browne, general manager of primary operations for Ludlum, said the company will 'challenge the notion that some accidents are inevitable.'

State Sen. Jane Orie, R-McCandless, and State Rep. Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, have pledged to support legislation enforcing stricter safety standards.

William George, president of the state AFL-CIO, said the legacy of the dead will be for the workers to fight back.

'Today we remember the dead,' George said. 'Tomorrow we fight like (heck) for the living.'

Leslie Suhr can be reached at lsuhr@tribweb.com

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.

click me