Archive ID: 2021-004-1

Republic Steel workers picketing, 1937

Date Created: 1937

Donor: Chris (Christine) J. Walley

Media Type: Photograph

Language: English

Description:

Republic Steel workers picketing, South Chicago. Picket sign with “Republic Steel on Strike.”

Backstory:

This photo depicts Republic steelworkers picketing just before what became known as the Memorial Day Massacre of 1937. After the economically devastating years of the Great Depression, the Wagner Act of 1935 gave workers the right to organize unions. Steelworkers began joining the CIO’s Steelworkers Organizing Committee (the precursor to the United Steelworkers of America) in droves. Although US Steel agreed to recognize the union, the “Little Steel” companies, including Republic Steel, refused. Workers at Republic went out on strike to try to gain recognition for the union. At a rally called by strikers on Memorial Day, Chicago city police, under the influence of Republic Steel, shot ten strikers and supporters and wounded nearly a hundred more. This photograph was donated by Chris Walley, originally from the East Side. Although not a family image, her grandfather, Bill Walley, was present at the Memorial Day rally as a sympathy striker from Valley Mould iron foundry, and he was in the back of the crowd when the shooting began. In the days leading us to the strike, her grandfather used to take her father Chuck as a six-year-old to Sam’s Place, the former tavern that workers used as a strike hall.

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Filters:

Historic Events   Local 1033 (Republic)   Memorial Day Massacre   Mills   Republic   Steel Industry   Strikes   Unions   1920-1939 (Depression Era)   East Side   Other/Unknown   Photograph