June 28, 2016,
This year the Pennsylvania Labor History Society has an exciting annual labor history commemoration scheduled in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on September 16 and 17. The Society joins the Steelworkers’ Archives to remember the history of workers at Bethlehem Steel and Lehigh Valley generally. This year’s theme, Bethlehem Steel and the Lehigh Valley Workers’ Memorial: 25th Anniversary, honors steelworkers’ struggles and explores their culture of families and neighborhood churches—the solid reasons they fought on and off the job to improve their working and living conditions.
On Friday, September 16, the Pennsylvania Labor History Society will conduct its fall business meeting from 4:00-5:30 p.m. at Saucon Valley Acres. The awards banquet buffet from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at Saucon Valley Acres will feature music, entertainment, and the presentation of three PLHS labor history awards. The William Sylvis Labor Organizing Award will be given in recognition of the organizing work accomplished in Lehigh Valley to Dennis Hower, Brian Taylor, and Daniella DeLeon of Teamsters Local 773. The Mother Jones Labor Leadership Award will be given to George Bonser of SPFPA Local 522, Sands Casino Bethlehem Security Guards in recognition of organizing the Casino security guards. The John Brennan Labor Education Award will be given to Lester Clore of USWA Local 2599 and the Steelworkers’ Archives for his work speaking to schools, tour groups, and community-based organizations on the history of steelworkers and the role of unions at Bethlehem Steel.
The commemoration continues on Saturday, September 17, at St. John’s Windish Lutheran Church. From 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon, we have four speakers: Ron Ennis of the Postal Workers union on the 1910 strike wave in Lehigh Valley, Carol Henn on growing up in a steelworker’s family on Bethlehem’s South Side, Frank Behum of the United Steelworkers union on work and life on Bethlehem’s South Side, and Jill Schennum of the Steelworkers’ Archives on the decline of Bethlehem Steel. From 12 noon to 2:45 p.m., people will sample a steelworkers’ “overtime lunch,” tour the church, and then enjoy the Steelworkers’ Archives “Steeples and Steel” bus tour. From 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. we will have a docent-led tour of the recently opened National Museum of Industrial History.
Join us on September 16 and 17.
Charlie Lumpkins, President, Pennsylvania Labor History Society