In the Name of the People: The Incident on Memorial Day
Part I of The Last Great Strike discusses the Open Shop Era, which preceded and laid the groundwork for the Little Steel Strike. Part II, which includes Chapters 6 through 10, discusses the Strike itself. In Chapter 7, Professor White examines the Memorial Day Massacre, an event that occurred during the Strike's first few days:
Memorial Day, May 30, 1937, was the third day of the Little Steel Strike. That afternoon, a large crowd of unionists and their supporters, perhaps 2500 strong, decided to walk to Republic Steel's South Chicago Works, the larger of Republic's two factories in the Calumet region. The atmosphere was festive and picnic-like. There were a large number of women and children in the group. In the lead were two Republic strikers, John Lotito and a Mexican national and longtime resident of the United States, Max Guzman, who were both carrying American flags.
But Republic had long been anticipating a strike, and fortifying the factory. There were loyal employees stationed there around the clock. There was a stockpile of munitions, including poison gas. And, that Memorial Day, there were approximately 250 city police and twenty to thirty private police forming a defensive perimeter around the plant. They were armed with revolvers, nightsticks, blackjacks, and hatchet handles.
When the marchers reached that perimeter, a deadly confrontation—known today as the "Memorial Day Massacre"—ensued.