Former steelworkers share memories of the job at labor museum event today


It’s been slightly more than 40 years since the job Phill Datko loved was suddenly over, and even though he still laments the loss, he remains grateful for what it provided.

“It got me through life; it was the best thing that ever happened to me,” the 68-year-old retired Cornersburg man said as he remembered having worked for Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co.’s Campbell Works before he and thousands of other steelworkers received the shocking news that most steel operations – and the way of life many of them knew best – would cease.

On Sept. 19, 1977, the day infamously known as Black Monday, about 5,000 workers instantly lost their jobs in YS&T’s blooming mill and open-hearth furnace as well as its hot- and cold-rolled strip mills. The date also is widely recognized as the beginning of the demise of the major steel mills in the Mahoning Valley.

Datko shared some recollections of his life in the mills during a two-hour reunion for the region’s former steelworkers today at the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry & Labor, 151 W. Wood St., downtown.

The program also was part of the inaugural Steel Heritage Week.

Read what he and others had to say in Sunday's Vindicator or on

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