Gov. JB Pritzker, Rage guitarist Tom Morello, among those expected to attend Marseilles labor commemoration

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Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, Treasurer Mike Frerichs and Comptroller Susana Mendoza will join rock musician Tom Morello (formerly with Rage Against the Machine) in Marseilles to commemorate a memorial for an unemployed Croatian immigrant gunned down on July 19, 1932.

They are scheduled to appear at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 28, to commemorate Steve Sutton.

An Illinois State Historical Society roadside marker will be unveiled. Morello, who has roots in Marseilles, will play a set of music. Other officials expected to attend are state Rep. Lance Yednock (D-Ottawa) and Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea.

In 1932 federal dollars supported renovating the Marseilles Illinois Riverdam. A New Orleans contractor won the bid and imported out-of-state workers. On July 18, local unemployed workers from Will, Grundy and LaSalle counties demonstrated, seeking work on the project and local wage standards paid. On July 19 more than 300 workers marched. As they neared the dam site, the out-of-state workers were hiding in rail cars and unleashed a fusillade of bullets. 

Sutton, a Croatian immigrant and Joliet Iron Worker and Laborer was killed and 21 others injured. The Illinois State Police and local law enforcement arrived, arresting 175 out-of-state workers for their own safety.   Negotiations eventually led to local hiring and the establishment of Laborers International Union of North America Local 393 in Marseilles to provide the needed local workforce.

Morello, who has Marseilles ties, penned an essay in the New York Times about the 1932 protest. Morello wrote the 2008 song “Night Falls” about “Big Steve” Sutton, as he’s referred to in a July 19, 1932, article of the Ottawa Republican-Times.

Sponsoring organizations include the Illinois State Historical Society, ULLICO, Inc., the Illinois Labor History Society, the Mother Jones Museum, and Laborers International Union of North America, Midwest Region, Great Plains Laborers District Council and Local 393.

The AFL-CIO sponsors Workers’ Memorial Day on April 28 to commemorate all who have lost their lives to on-the-job accidents and exposures.

The event is at the Illinois Valley Cellular parking lot, 200 Riverfront Dr. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Mike Matejka, vice president, Illinois Labor History Society or Kevin Dale, business manager, Laborers Local 393, Marseilles, at 815-795-2829.

via Shaw Local

April 21, 2022 at 04:47PM

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