Stewart Acuff

May 20

Honoring the Fallen & Picking Up the Struggle

This past Saturday was a perfect spring-summer day in Chicago. The sun was bright. The air and sky were clear. There was a cool breeze off the lake.

I joined with labor activists from across Chicago in a Steelworkers rally to commemorate the 1937 Republic Steel Memorial Day Massacre.

The issues in the strike are the two issues that have been most common in our centuries long struggle for workers rights and social and economic justice.

The 10 men who were killed by the Chicago Police Department while peacefully demonstrating that day were striking for the right to have a union and for the 8 hour work day.


Hundreds of activists from the Steelworkers, other unions and high school students gathered at George Washington High School on Saturday, May 18th to commemorate the fallen of the Republic Steel Strike 76 years ago and to re-commit ourselves to the struggles they were fighting for.

District Director Jim Robinson spoke, Steelworkers legend Ed Sadlowski spoke. A bagpipe and drum corps played. My friend and Steelworker retiree leader Scott Marshall organized the commemoration.

These issues of the eight hour day and the right to organize a union and bargain collectively are still unresolved. We know the right to organize has been destroyed in the private sector and is under intense assault in the public sector. Radical right-wing Republicans have introduced legislation to “substitute” overtime pay, and replace it with compensatory time off – thus negating the eight hour day and the 40 hour week.

The fallen members of the American labor movement are being dishonored daily by a radical right-wing Republican Party. The very tightly disciplined Republican majority in the House of Representatives and filibuster crazy Senate minority remain committed to rolling back the workers’ victories in the bloodiest labor history in the western world.

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