Ravenswood: The Steelworkers’ Victory and the Revival of American Labor

TitleRavenswood: The Steelworkers’ Victory and the Revival of American Labor
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsBronfenbrenner, K., and Juravich, T.
PublisherCornell University Press/ILR Press
CityIthaca, NY
Keywordslockout, Ravenswood Aluminum Company, steel industry, unions, United Steelworkers of America, worker rights

[Excerpt] When the Ravenswood Aluminum Company locked out seventeen hundred workers on October 31, 1990, it hardly looked like a big opportunity for labor. In what had become standard operating procedure for employers during the 1980s, management broke off bargaining with the United Steelworkers of America, and then brought hundreds of replacement workers into a heavily fortified plant surrounded by barbed wire and security cameras. Injunctions prevented union members from doing little more than symbolic picketing, and the wheels of justice, as they had done for more than a decade, creaked ever so slowly. All the pieces were in place for another long, drawn-out defeat for labor.

This book chronicles the twenty-month battle between the Steelworkers and the Ravenswood Aluminum Company (RAC). It is the story of an international union already reeling from heavy losses in the steel industry and desperately needing some solid ground. It is the story of a tough and determined union membership, most of whom had spent their entire working lives at the local aluminum plant.