Steelworkers retirees banquet to honor Oliver Montgomery
The annual Steelworkers Retirees banquet will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday at St. Mark’s Center, 3560 Logan Way in Liberty. DeWitt Walton, USWA director of APRI AFL-CIO, will be the speaker.
Tickets are $25 and may be purchased by calling 330-770-1183.
The event will honor the late Oliver R. Montgomery, a local African-American pioneer active in civil rights, labor rights and human rights from 1950 until his death in June 2015.
Montgomery joined United Steel Workers of America Local 2163 in 1948 at Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. as a teenager working his way through college. He rose through the ranks, serving as shop steward, grievance chairman, job evaluation chairman, education chairman, workers’ compensation chairman, secretary to the Civil Rights Committee, graduate union counselor, local union officer and central labor body officer.
Mr. Montgomery was the founder of the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Credit Union, serving as its vice president until he was asked to join the International Union’s research department in 1969 as a research associate and financial analyst, where he served for 24 years. He was named to head Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees in 1993 by International President George Becker, and in 1999 he retired as the International Director of SOAR USWA. The Youngstown chapter of SOAR was named the Oliver R. Montgomery Chapter in 1995.
As a labor activist in the 1960s, he served as president of the Youngstown Chapter of the Negro American Labor Council and became national vice president and national secretary of NALC. As president of the Youngstown NALC he led the fight to integrate the Youngstown District 26 USWA staff. He was a board member and vice president of Allegheny County Labor Council AFL-CIO for more than 40 years and was a member of the community service committee, chairman of the Civil Rights Committee and the Committee On Publication Ethics (C.O.P.E.).
Montgomery was an organizer of the Grape and Lettuce Boycott for Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union. During the march on Washington D.C. on Aug. 28, 1963, he was a local union officer and president of the Youngstown-Ohio Chapter of NALC and helped organize five bus loads to Washington. In 1972 he assisted in founding the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) and served until 2009 as an executive council member and first president and founder of the Pittsburgh Chapter-CBTU.
A lifetime member of NAACP, he served as president of the Penn Hills branch for more than 10 years, earned the Who’s Who in Black America 1970-1972 award and numerous other awards. He also served on the seniors advisory committee of the Democratic National Committee and was chairman of the social security committee of the advisory committee. He was a member of the general policy board of the National Council of Senior Citizens and the Pennsylvania State Council Board, vice president of the board of directors of 12 senior housing apartment buildings around the nation sponsored by the National Council of Senior Citizens and USWA, and member of AARP and the national committee to preserve Social Security and Medicare.
Montgomery received the Trailblazer Award from the Donald Lockett VFW Post 6488 on Jan. 21, 2014, at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.