USW Union Rhetoric Looks Back to 1959 For Help

Written by Sandy Williams

The USW union is reaching back into the annuals of steel strife to remind their members of the fight that was waged in order to receive some of the things that USS and ArcelorMittal want to change. Empty rhetoric or a sign of problems to come? A recent USW update referenced the song Gary, Indiana 1959 by Dave Alvin.   We have reprinted the lyrics below of this classic labor song.

Gary, Indiana 1959
      Lyrics by Dave Alvin

I’m old, weak and grey and I’m running out of time
Yeah, but you should have seen me, brother, when I was young and in my prime
Back in Gary, Indiana in 1959

I was a steel working man with two kids and loving wife
And the Union was strong, smokestacks burning day and night
Back in Gary, Indiana in 1959

But then the accountants and lawyers and bosses at U.S. Steel

Sent down the word that we had to take their rotten deal
But from Birmingham to Pueblo, Oakland to Allentown
The workers got together and we shut the Big Boys down
The President and Supreme Court tried to force us off the line
Back in Gary, Indiana in 1959

Now the years have disappeared in the blink of an eye
And I feel like a stranger in world that isn’t mine
My dear wife died, my kids all moved away
Cause there’s nothing round here to make them want to stay
Cause the factories are in ruins, decent jobs are hard to find
And you can’t get ahead no matter how hard you try
Cause the Big Boys make the rules, tough luck for everyone else
And out on the streets, brother, it’s every man for himself
But I still remember when we marched side by side
Back in Gary, Indiana in 1959

Don’t bury my body, brother, when it’s my time to die
Just throw me in that smelter and let my ashes fly
Back home to Gary, Indiana in 1959

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