University of Pittsburgh | About Labor Legacy | Archives Home | Contact Us  
Home Databank Document Sets Labor Through the Years People, Places, Commemorations Special Features Union Profiles Site Map     

Labor and Liberty at Jones & Laughlin: A Depression-Era Vignette (1933)

W. J. Pattison, a supervisor at Jones & Laughlin's Pittsburgh Works, wrote this "memo for the files,"which describes a restless and rebellious steelworker in Depression-era Pittsburgh.

We reproduce the original document (or pages thereof) and a complete transcription.


Transcription of Document



"Albert Louis # 11941, 1-26-33"

"Albert Louis lost a lot of time in the last few months due to the fact that pipe shop could not get hold of him. He made trips to Youngstown, Connellsville & Uniontown without letting the pipe shop know that he had gone away. It was hard for the pipe shop and the welfare dept to get him when he was working on Soho Blast Furnace to come to work. He lived near #18 mill & was instructed to call every day from #18 mill to find out if he was to work. This he did not do regularly. He went to see Mr. Collier at the city office to get additional relief."

"Mr. Pattison and Mr. Hogsed went to see Mr. Kalback at the P.M. Co. & told him that Louis would get at least 8 turns or $32.00 per month & to give him credit for at least $20.00 of food which amounted to his pay less $10.00, Rent in Company House & insurance. Mr. Kalback said (p. 2 ->) that Louis owed the P. M. Co. over $300.00 but would give Louis credit for his wages which he could spend for food, etc.

Louis told Pattison & Hogsed he could get along on 8 turns & was informed that we would try to give him more than 8 turns. In the meantime Louis received coal, food, shoes and clothing from the Welfare Dept."

"On the 18 th Mr. Hogsed told Louis that he was to work January 20 th , 21 st , and 22 nd . Louis said he would not work for nothing as the P.M. Co took all his money. He said he wanted relief & would not work.

Mr. Griffith gave him food on January 20 th . Louis came to Mr. Morris & Mr. Pattison on January 20 th & asked to be allowed to quit as he said he could get along better by getting relief from the city & he could not get city relief as long as he worked for J & L."

"Mr. Morris tried to talk him out of quitting, pointing out he had made an average of $41.00 per month in 1932, had received clothing, Coal& food from the welfare, & could have made more if he had not gone away & could have been reached. Louis said that the relief J & L was giving did not cost J&L anything & came from the city. Mr. Morris told him he was all wrong. Louis said he wanted to quit.

Mr. Morris said he would see what he could do to grant his wish. In the meantime Mr. Morris talked to Mr. P.P. Walsh."

"On the night of Jan. 24 th Louis and a negro communist* (see note at bottom) came in to see Mr. Griffith & in violent terms demanded that Louis be allowed to quit. On January 25 th Louis came to Mr. Morris & again demanded he be allowed to quit. Mr. Morris talked to Louis, pointing out that he could never work for J&L (4->) again, that if he quit, he would stay out, that he would have to move from the Company house and that he would lose the benefits of insurance, sick benefits, disability, & his 12 years service, & pension rights. Mr. Pattison told him he was making a mistake, that it would [be] hard for him to get a job, & his family would have no protection. Mr. Morris called attention to the fact that he was a friend of Mr. P. P. Walsh & that Louis was married to a niece of Mr. Walsh's & he wanted Louis to do the right thing.

Mr. Louis said Walsh never did anything for him & to Hell with him.

Louis said he wanted to quit. Mr. Morris then made out the discharge slip & told Louis to see Griffith so that Louis could get relief from the city. (5 à ) Messrs. Morris & Pattison & Hogshed tried to help Louis by giving him work & relief such as coal, clothing & food, by arranging credit at P. M. Co., by trying to show him he was making a bad mistake in quitting, by holding up his quitting for a week, & by trying to advise & counsel him.

However, due to his association with a negro communist & his adherence to communism, he preferred (sic) to accept relief rather than work. This led him to work poorly when called out to work, & to finally decide not to work at all, quit J & L & get relief from the city."

W. Pattison 1-26-33

*Could the "negro communist" be Benjamin Careathers?