Archive ID: MC-3.4-16

Interview with Frank Lumpkin during Save Our Jobs Committee March

Date Created: 1989-03-28

Donor: Bea Lumpkin

Media Type: Film/Video

Language: English


Frank Lumpkin helped form the Save Our Jobs Committee (SOJ) in 1980 to protest illegalities during the shutdown of Wisconsin Steel. Wisconsin was the first of many steel mills to close in the Calumet region. Workers lost backpay, pensions, and other benefits legally owed to them. The independent union that formally represented Wisconsin Steel workers was mired in controversy and failed to help their members. Lumpkin, who had worked at Wisconsin Steel for 30 years, stepped into the vacuum with the Save Our Jobs Committee and fought for the rights of former workers. After 17 years of struggle alongside labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan, SOJ successfully won two class action lawsuits relating to the closure. In addition to organizing picketing and protests, the Save Our Jobs Committee’s dinners and gatherings also proved to be a social lifeline for the unemployed who suffered from high rates of ill health, suicides, alcoholism, depression, and divorce. Lumpkin himself was born in Georgia in 1916. The son of sharecroppers, he was a boxer and merchant marine before coming to Chicago to work in the steel mills in 1949. His life story is told in a book “Always Bring a Crowd!,” authored by his wife, fellow activist and teacher, Bea Lumpkin. Frank and Bea were regular visitors at the Museum, and Bea donated many materials relating to the Save Our Jobs Committee.

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Deindustrialization   Mills   Save Our Jobs Committee   Steel Industry   Wisconsin   Worker Activism   1980 - Present (Deindustrialization)   South Deering   Other/Unknown   Film/Video