When Ed Sadlowski retired a while back, his friends tried to throw him a surprise party. They failed as far as the honoree was concerned—people on the street in South Chicago just kept telling him they’d see him Saturday night. But many of Sadlowski’s out-of-town friends and supporters were amazed to find it has been so long since his insurgent campaign for the presidency of the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) and wondered if an era has passed: His? Theirs? The labor movement’s?
At age fifty-six retirement came early for Sadlowski himself, even though it was thirty-seven years since Oil Can Eddie first reported for work at the U.S. Steel South Works. Where the event falls within the life cycle of the Amer...
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