BLACK MONDAY Unhappy anniversary
Sadness and bitterness were still evident whenformer Sheet & amp; Tubeworkers gathered.
By DON SHILLING
VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR
CAMPBELL -- Unlike most anniversaries, no one came to celebrate this one.
About 40 people met at a former union hall in Campbell Thursday to mark the 25th anniversary of Black Monday, the day Youngstown Sheet & amp; Tube began closing its Campbell Works.
Many were a bit sad or even bitter at that day in 1977, the first in a series of cutbacks that left thousands of area steel workers jobless.
"It's not a happy anniversary," said Sam Shapiro, 73, of Youngstown, who worked in the seamless mill at the Campbell Works.
Placing the blame
Bill Sferra, who was president of United Steelworkers of America Local 1418 at the mill, helped organize the event at his old union hall, which now is Faith Temple Baptist Church.
"We're not here to celebrate, but to remember," he said.
Sferra's message was that it was lack of corporate commitment and failure to invest in the mills that led to the shutdowns, not a lack of effort by the workers.
One of the speakers, Campbell Mayor Jack Dill, pointed to one of the retirees who is worried about paying for medicine.
"There is still that bitterness, still that fight," he said.
Dill also talked about the effects of the steel mill shutdowns on the city, but he seemed to be speaking for much of the Mahoning Valley as well.
"We've never really recovered from Black Monday," he said.
Today, just one-third of Campbell residents are working, he said. The rest are either unemployed or retired.
Donald Massaro, 71, a lifelong Struthers resident who attended, said he has watched the population of that city fall as younger people move away. It's sad to see widows on his block left to care for houses by themselves, he said.
All four of his children moved to Georgia to find work.
Massaro said he came to the meeting hoping to hear news on what concerns many retired steel workers most -- the high cost of prescriptions and medical insurance.
He said he was disappointed that all he heard was the same message he's heard at other meetings -- vote for politicians who care about working people and organize to try to make change.
Many of the former steel workers lost health-care insurance in March when LTV Steel, which took over the former Sheet & amp; Tube mills, received court approval to cancel coverage as part of bankruptcy procedures.
Mike Skaleris, 74, of Campbell is one of those concerned about health care, but he was still smiling after the meeting.
He was one of the workers who received orders to turn off the gas and oxygen at the first furnace that went down Sept. 19, 1977.
"It's a mess, but what are you going to do?" Skaleris asked. "You do your best."