In the Midwest, we’ve been blessed with many inspiring working class heroes, but few have led the remarkable life that Frank Lumpkin did. On March 1, 2010, Frank passed away at the age of 93 and we lost a courageous fighter for workers rights. Though Frank called Chicago home for many years, his connection to Wisconsin is profound and long-lasting. His fight against Wisconsin Steel lasted nearly seventeen years and culminated in a victory for the 3000 workers.
Lumpkin finally landed a job at Wisconsin Steel, owned by International Harvester, and worked there for 30 years as a chipper, scarfer and millwright. In March 1980, over 3,000 workers arrived at work to find the gates padlocked. International Harvester, through sham moves, had “sold” the company to Envirodyne to avoid paying pensions. In addition, the bank that handled the payroll had stolen the workers’ final pay by not honoring the checks. Rather than go home quietly, the Save Our Jobs Committee was born and the workers fought. Lumpkin led them against an array of powerful forces and corrupt politicians backed by the mob. They marched and protested from city hall, to the state legislature and Congress. From the start, Lumpkin never, ever considered the possibility of giving up. For 17 years the workers fought refusing nothing less than victory, which finally came in, winning $17 million in stolen pension money that was distributed to the workers. For that he became known as the “Saint of Chicago.”
Today, we remember all the sacrifices and struggles Frank Lumpkin endured for workers around the world.
Read more about Frank Lumpkin over at People’s World by clicking here.