Steel Mill Blues

In front of the U.S. Steel South Works in South Chicago, Studs Terkel talks to Alice Peurala about the troubles steel mill workers are facing and the negative impact of Reagan's presidency on working people. Terkel likens the current situation at the mill to the situation during the Great Depression. Peurala stresses solidarity for the workers and predicts disaster for the country if workers are further and further disadvantaged by Reagan's policies.

0:00Copy video clip URL Color bars, slate.

1:08Copy video clip URL Open on long shot of Terkel and Peurala in front of the U.S. Steel Southworks. Terkel introduces the issue. “Alice Peurala is a steelworker, has been that for 28 years, her father before her. She’s active in the steelworker’s union, president of local 65. We’re standing here in South Chicago in front of the U.S. Steel Southworks, and it seems so quiet for a work day.” Peurala explains that 2,000 workers have been laid off. Terkel: “This brings back memories of another time, doesn’t it?” “I think we’re headed for another time when you look at what Reagan’s been doing to poor people and working people… This man ran for office and fooled a lot of people. I think he probably fooled some workers into thinking he was going to do something for them.”

2:13Copy video clip URL Peurala: “‘Solidarity Forever’ is the anthem of the American labor movement and what we’re talking about is unity… Because if we’re not together, the Reagan onslaught… is planning to wipe us out.”

2:40Copy video clip URL Terkel: “Behind us are what appear to be empty mills.” Peurala responds with the numbers of workers laid off since 1953 – over 3/4 of the workforce – although production is up.

3:41Copy video clip URL Studs: “You know something? As we passed by, coming here to the steelworks, there was a sign out there. The sign is a stunt. It says ‘No job applications accepted.’ The last time I saw that was in the ’30s, in the depths of the old Depression.” Peurala agrees with Studs that the situation is approaching that of a depression, claiming unemployment records in black neighborhoods has reached 50%, and that workers will soon get desperate if they cannot find work. “People are going to take what they need to feed their families… The riots in England, the riots in Miami, are going to be small scale to what we’re going to see in this country if we continue along the Reagan politics.”

5:18Copy video clip URL Studs asks a group of steel workers: “What does Ronald Reagan mean to you?” “I think Ronald Reagan is total destruction to the working class people around here.”



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