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Fri., Sep. 4
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

United Steelworkers remembers those who have died while on duty


MASSENA - Unions from all over the world took a moment Saturday to remember their fallen members on what was being billed as an International Memorial Day.

“Today is the international day of remembrance for those who have lost their lives while on the job,” said United Steel Workers 420-A President Chris W. Baldwin.

Mr. Baldwin was unable to attend the ceremony due to a prior commitment, but he said he would be there in spirit, noting his great grandfather, Frank Cree, is among those who lost their lives while working at Alcoa’s Massena plant.

Speaking at the service, which was held at the labor monument in downtown Massena was Aluminum, Brick and Glass International Union President Emeritus Ernest J. LaBaff.

“Today is a day organized labor has picked to recognize all those who lost their lives at their work station,” Mr. LaBaff said. “God bless those who lost their lives or were injured at work. Sometimes it’s worse to be injured than it is to die.”

Mr. LaBaff continued, “America was made by workers who went to work every day.”

To date, Mr. Baldwin said he is aware of 19 people who lost their lives at the plant, although he does think there could be some more.

“Between 1902 and 1938, I would guess, but I don’t know he said, explaining that records prior to 1938 do not exist.

“There are no plant records of those killed between 1902, when the plant opened, and 1938 when records were kept,” he said. “The union has taken on the task of searching years of old Massena newspaper articles on mirco-film to find those employees who may not be known.”

Should additional names be uncovered they will be places on a traveling monument that currently bears 16 names and is housed at their union hall.

The monument currently has 16 names engraved on it, Chester Jones, 3/21/38, George Gratton, 2/15/40, Frank Cree, 9/8/42, Thomas Parr, 3/11/43, Dan Tarbell, 4/13/43, Earl Brady, 6/25/45, Kenneth Maginn, 3/22/48, Alex Swatis, 2/6/52, Horace Snyder, 2/20/53, George Searles, 10/14/55, Maynard Bishop, 8/21/60, Bernard Castle, 7/3/65, Halbert Mulvana, 6/22/74, Donald Burnell, 10/8/75, Francis Blair, 7/13/76 and John Rumble, 1/21/83.

Mr. Baldwin said Mr. Rumbles death marks the last such fatality in Massena.

Since the time the plaque was engraved, Mr. Baldwin said they have uncovered three more deaths at the plant, William Barry, 6/17/48, George Munson, 12/2/31 and either Laszlo Kocza or Grigor Cosczan, 7/19/31.

Mr. Baldwin said in regards to the incident on July 19, 1931, his resource has uncovered conflicting reports.

This one needs to be investigated further for the correct name,” he said.

While the black marble monument is currently housed in a hinged wooden case, Mr. Baldwin said it is his hopes to one day give it a permanent outdoor home,somewhere in Massena.

“It is Local 420-A United Steelworkers’ desire to have a permanent outdoor monument erected with the names of all employees who lost their lives,” he said. “The memorial is the least we can do to honor our fallen brothers and sisters.”

Mr. Baldwin also said if anyone knows of anyone who lost their life at the plant that has not been recorded to let him know. He may be reached at the union hall at 764-0531.

Those interested in contributing to the memorial may do so by mailing donations to Local 420-A USW; 24 Woodlawn Ave.; Massena NY 13662.

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