Union hall for Campbell Works employees torn down
By GRAIG GRAZIOSI
One of Campbell’s last vestiges of its steel producing past disappeared Thursday afternoon.
Construction vehicles demolished the building that once was home to the United Steelworkers of America Local 1418, clearing the site for the city’s new salt dome.
The members of the USWA Local 1418 were the workers who produced steel in Youngstown Sheet and Tube’s Campbell Works plant. The plant closure in 1977 was the beginning of the end for the steel industry in the Mahoning County.
Located at the corner of Tenney Avenue and Roosevelt Drive next to city hall, the Local 1418’s union hall was built in 1964 and, at the time of its construction, served nearly 4,000 workers.
Mike Carney, president of the Local 1418 between 1973 and 1976, spent 27 years working at the mill and was a member of the union when the hall was first built.
“Before we had the building, the Local 1418 used to meet above a bank on Wilson Avenue,” Carney said. “Then we built the hall in 1964 from the dues we’d saved up. At that time we had about 3,600 members.”
Carney said the hall mostly served as a meeting place where union members could ask questions and conduct day-to-day business. Grievance hearings were also held in the hall.
Local 1418 was part of a larger USWA district that included mill workers from Youngstown, Warren, Salem, Alliance, Girard and stretched all the way north to Ashtabula.
Carney said between 1965 and 1970 the district represented 60,000 workers.
Though he laments the decline of the unions since the 1970s, Carney holds out hope that there will one day be a resurgence in labor organizing.
“It was a wonderful time. Work was plentiful, wages were good, we had vacations, good benefits,” Carney said. “But lots of good things come to an end. It’s gone now. I just pray everyone gets through it.”
As workers left Campbell in the years following Black Monday, the union hall eventually was sold to a group hoping to set up a church.
Though the church operated for a time in the building, it eventually left, and the building sat abandoned for years.
Mayor Nick Phillips said the city took possession of the building more than a year ago and initially had hoped to utilize the space to serve the needs of the community.
“Originally Mason Carratt was interested in using the building for a program he wanted to establish for homeless veterans,” Phillips said. “When that didn’t work out, I thought maybe we could use the building as a community center for kids, but then we got inside and realized what it would cost to repair the building.”
Thieves had broken into the building and ripped out the copper pipes and wiring inside the hall.
Phillips estimated the cost of repairs would be close to $500,000.
Today, the building is all but leveled. Eventually the land will be cleared and a salt dome for the road department will be built in its place.
Though the building is gone, for some of those who are left that remember working at the mills and calling the hall their own, the fond memories of those times won’t be soon forgotten.
“Those were the glory days,” Carney said. “We all miss them.”