Memorial Day Massacre
On Memorial Day, 1937 an incident took place in an open stretch of prairie
near the Republic Steel plant that ranks as one of the bloodiest confrontations
in American labor history. In 1937 steel union organizers declared
war on Little Steel, which included Republic, Bethlehem, Inland, and Youngstown
sheet and tube. Republic hired off duty Chicago policemen as security
for the plant. On the morning of May 30, Republic strikers held a
rally in a hall near the plant. Later 300 of them marched toward
the main entrance of the mill. As the strikers approached the front
gate they were intercepted by a line of police and were greeted by gunshots.
Ten of the strikers were killed, shot in the back or side, and many more
were injured. 125 men, women, and sustained some sort of injury.
The dead were all participants in or sympathizers with the Little Steel
strike, called by the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC), a group
affiliated with the CIO. 35 of the injured were members of the Chicago
Police Department, who were acting as plant security for Republic Steel.
A plaque at the foot of a flag pole in a parking lot of a nearby union
hall lists the names of the victims of this incident.
Click on the links at the left to tour industrial sites
Chicago's East Side.