Sunday, April 19, 2009

Steelworkers Local 2154 members protest racism in their workplace…

Audio from Sunday night’s program is now available...

The employees of Commercial Forged Products on Chicago Southwest side have long endured racial intimidation and harassment at their workplace. A few years ago, former plant manager John Tobias held up a hangmen’s noose in front of a black employee and stated… “This is what I used to do when I lived in Mississippi.” During contract negotiations last fall, the new plant manager Steve Schreiner told the bargaining committee that he planned to eliminate Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday and disband the company’s Civil Rights Committee. Steelworkers Local 2154 represents workers at 12 facilities around the Chicago area. Yet over 65% of the grievances handled by the union in the past three years have come from Commercial Forged Products, and the vast majority of those have been related to harassment of pro-union Black and Latino employees.

The workers at Commercial Forged Products have had enough and held a rally outside their plant on Friday. You can hear more about the rally by listening to tonight’s episode of Labor Express Radio.

To see pictures from the rally, go here…

To support the workers at Commercial Forged Products, contact the company and express your concerns over harassment of Black and Latino pro-union employees…


  1. If only you would report the truth. Did you ask anyone from the Company, a fine employer in the Chicago area for many years, for their side of the story? If so, where did you "report" it?

  2. Thank you for your comment Anonymous, but let me explain a few things. Labor Express and Pilsenprole are "advocacy journalism". It is not our mission or role to provide "both sides" of the story when it comes to labor / management disputes. Our job is to provide rank-and-file workers a voice. Management, CEOs, and corporate America in general have plenty of outlets for their voice to be heard - just read the Tribune, the Sun-Times, watch FOX News or CNN. Every once in a great while you might get a few minutes of labor's perspective on Public Radio or MSNBC. Our role is to level that playing field just a tiny, tiny bit. And as a purely volunteer effort, there is no way we could produce a program that provides every angle on every story. It is a miracle that we are able to produce a new program every week given the time commitment and volunteer hours involved. If you want to raise money to make this a paid full time job so I can invest the time required for more nuanced coverage, let me know and I will think about. But until than, Labor Express is still "news for working people, by working people" and we know what side we are on.

  3. I certainly understand your perspective. Nowadays, however, "corporate america" does not really include small employers that are doing their absolute best to try to keep people employed in this awful economy. Especially in the steel industry, of all places. You certainly would not hear this company have a voice on any of the outlets you mention, such as CNN, Fox News, or even the local newspapers, who could care less about companies with less than 100 employees. How many of the folks who claim "discrimination" have actually filed charges? That might be interesting. Thank you for the forum

  4. Thank you again Anonymous for your comments. It is always good to get feedback regardless of your view. And thank you for your statement of support for making this space for dialogue possible. In that spirit, I am going to request that some of the members of Local 2154 respond directly to your questions here.