The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

The Labor Movement Has Lost a Giant

Steelworker Ed Sadlowski set the benchmark for defending the working class.


Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement today in response to the death of steelworker and labor leader Ed Sadlowski:

Ed Sadlowski fought for the working class. As a rank-and-file activist and working class labor leader, he led from a place of profound respect and love for his fellow workers. And the working class loved him back. While some labor 'leaders' were trying to curry favor with the corporate bosses who were outsourcing good union jobs, Ed was mounting a battle from the trenches for union democracy and the dignity of every union family in his orbit.

And his orbit was vast. In the 1970s, he led one of the most potent movements for labor democracy in the nation's history. That titanic battle garnered huge popular support among workers, and has inspired every progressive labor movement in the last 45 years. That movement has been long in coming to fruition, but it has never died - because the children and the grandchildren of the workers who were inspired by Oil Can Eddie have kept that movement alive.

Ed said what few in power had the decency to admit: that ordinary workers have intelligence and creativity and grace, and deserve the rights and working conditions that allow us to live with dignity and possibility. I was honored to learn from him, and honored to call him a friend.

Our entire union sends our deepest condolences to his family - particularly our union sister and Ed's daughter Sue Garza, who Eddie raised as a chip off the old block - and who, like her father, has the back of working people everywhere.

An affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), CTU is the third largest teachers local in the country and the largest local union in Illinois.