Archive ID: 2020-005-009

Steelworkers picketing at South Works

Date Created: 1979-11

Donor: Roberta Wood

Media Type: Photograph

Language: English


This photo of young female steelworkers picketing at South Works was donated by Roberta Wood, an instrument mechanic who worked at South Works from 1974 to 1981. Woods, along with other women from Southeast Chicago and Northwest Indiana, helped found the District 31 Women’s Caucus and was an Executive Board member for Local 65. Roberta noted that “Most of the women [steelworkers] came because there were men relatives who connected them, and told them about the jobs. There were not very many who just came in cold…” During the 1970s, there were still a handful of tough older women steelworkers who began working in the mills during the World War II era who jousted verbally with the men. Most of the incoming female steelworkers, however, were young women in their 20s. She recalled “the older men, and the foremen, taking advantage of their position and chasing after the young women, and making them uncomfortable. I remember one woman said that the foreman kept leaving notes in her shoes. She knew him from the neighborhood, but now he had a certain power over her.” Roberta also suggested how the women banded together to deal with things like childcare: “The babysitting was a problem. I can remember working out deals, where I would bring my kids to work in their footie pajamas, and pass them off to somebody else. You know, like we’d share our kids, and then when the shift changed, somebody else would take the kids home.”

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Community Organizing/Activism   Local 65 (South Works)   Mills   South Works   Steel Industry   Unions   Women’s Experiences   1950-1979   South Chicago   African-American   Photograph   2020-005   Activism   African American   Buildings   Carnegie-Illinois Steel   Coats   Community organizing   Hats   Labor   Local 65   Mills   Photograph   Photographs   Picket signs   Picketing   Protests   South Chicago   South Works   Steel   Steel industry   Steelworkers   U.S. Steel   Unions   Women   Workers  

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