Monday, September 4, 2017




"Strong for labor; strong for a prosperous Middle Class!"

That sums up the life's work of Daniel F. Sciury most of it as president of Stark County-based local AFL-CIO branch.

Dan's father William immigrated to America from Italy in 1910, got a job at Timken in 1917 and immediately began organizing Timken workers (under the banner of the Amalgamated Iron Workers union) to achieve economic justice for himself and his fellow laborers.

Many if not most of the employees at Timken in those days were immigrants and William bristled at what he saw as their being exploited because of their immigrant status.

While William only had a 5th grade education, he did speak about five different languages and consequently was ideally situated to communicate effective with the range of immigrant nationalities that worked along side him at Timken.

By his effort, some 800 Timken workers became Amalgamated Iron workers out of approximately 2,500 total employees.

William lost his job seven different times at Timken because of his union organizing activities.  A consequence of his losing/regaining his job was that he lost his seniority with each firing/rehiring sequence.  When he got his 25 years of service watch, he actually had 39 years of service.  He ended up working 44 years for Timken but died about six months before he could have retired.

Dan says his father was referred to as "the chief steward" in the Timken plant he worked in.

When Dan began his own union career, he was told "just be half the man you father was" which he says made him an one proud son.

The United Steel Workers (USW) union, Sciury says, did not come into existence until 1938 which was three years after federal legislation known as the Wagner Act made unions legal in 1935.

With the passage of the Wagner Act and the action of the the USW, Timken became a "closed shop" in the mid-1930s building, of course, on the 800 union members William Sciury had developed.

In those days, "closed shops' had to be negotiated by contract and that status would have occurred at Timken in the early 1940s.

There apparently there never a thought from his perspective that Dan, born in 1938, would do anything other than that he would extend the union organizing work of this father and extend it he has.

At age 6 or so, Dan and his brother was taken by their father the Timken plant with him to work on union activities both before and after school.  And that was the end of it.  There was a night shift and come 10:00 p.m. or so Dan and his brother were at the plant helping their dad with union organizing activities.

Dan recalls witnessing strikes which included some violence in the early 1940s as he and his brother would do things like taking donuts and the like to striking workers at the Timken plant.

To the Sciury family "unionism" and the power of collective bargaining was not just a philosophy of life but rather more like a "second" religion.

Dan said he fully shares his father's commitment to the union cause.

One surprising thing to me is that Dan never worked at Timken.  He says that Timken seemed to never hire the sons/daughters of union activists like his father.  He cited a story about his brother who somewhere in 1959 for 33 straight days presented himself at Timken for hiring but never could land a job there even though Timken hired some 800 people during those 33 days.

This year is a celebration of 100 years of the Sciury family and indeed of Stark County's working class of the legacy generated by Papa and carried on in a consummately dedicated fashion by the family and son Daniel in particular.

Father (meaning a family title, not a pastoral title) Scuiry's picture graces the walls of of Local 1123, United Steel Workers's union hall built in 1940 and which stands at 1234 Harrison Ave, SW, Canton. Public records indicate that the Sciury family lived at 1428 Harrison in 1940.

Dan says his father was the primary fundraiser in gathering the financing to build the hall with.

Featured in the photo is then-Local 1123 president I.W. Abel who was born in Magnolia.   As noted, Abel went on to become USW president from 1965-1977.

Here is what Dan Sciury has had to say about I.W. Abel:

“One of the greatest there ever was. He was very effective. A lot of changes came under his administration. He was sort of a world leader.”

One might expect that should Dan sustain a cut, the flow of blood would not be a gushing of platelets, red cells, white cells and plasma one normally encounters; but no! in the case of the Hall of Fame AFL-CIO president, matter spelling out "u-n-i-o-n t-h-r-o-u-g-h a-n-d t-h-r-o-u-g-h" would likely spill out.

Dan is nearing 80 and is showing no signs of slowing down despite having had a major health problem within the last several years.

He cut his union organizing teeth as an employee of The Weber Dental Mfg. Co. over the period 1959 through 1975.  Dan became a union steward in the first year at Weber.  In 1960 he was elected vice president of the union and then president in 1962 (Local 5260 of the United Steelworker of America).

In 1975, Dan became USW Community Services Liaison in which position he served as co-ordinating person between the unions and The United Way of Stark County.

It would have been during this stint as liaison that I first met Dan Sciury.

At that time I was an attorney for the Stark County Legal Aid Society (1974 through 1979).

The Sciury family has been through the tough times of union organizing (e.g."the Little Steel" strike of 1937), the heyday of organized labor (1960s/70s; maybe a little bit into the 1980s in some parts of America) and now the "lean times" of unionism as there is seemingly and all out assault on labor union existence as "closed" shop entities across America with the expansion of "Right to Work" legislation becoming the law in many U.S. states.

For the moment, Sciury says Right to Work legislation appears to be going nowhere in Ohio.  But that could change depending upon whom is elected governor in 2018.

Well over half of American states have embraced "Right-to-Work."

Ohio's labor movement has beaten back two major attempts to suppress worker rights.

One to end the "closed shop" (all workers MUST belong/pay dues to the union).

Another was the 2011 war against public employee unions in an endeavor to curtail their collective bargaining rights.

And Dan Scuiry was smack-dab-in-the-middle of both fights.

From 1950 through 1970, nationwide, was the heydey era of the American union movement.

The downward trend continues if much less precipitously.

Asked if unions continue to be  under attack these days, Sciury said he does.  He pointed out that the president of the United States (Trump) has said he favors  Right to Work.

A point of lament for Sciury is his belief that 80% of union members and non-union blue collar types are part of what has become known as "core" Trump support.

Core in the sense that no matter what the president says or does, they stick with him.  The core constitutes about 35% of voters.

Sciury attributes that support to blue collar types not connecting the dots on Trump and his saying one thing but doing another with doing the other being detrimental to working/middle class employees who are in a desperate fight to maintain if not expand what Sciury labels "family sustaining" incomes.

Trump tapped into the anti NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) sentiment of union workers and Clinton was a "Johnny Come Lately" convert.

Dan's fellow unionist (Local 94, Plumbers & Pipefitters) during the 2016 election cycle traversed Stark County's local governments seeking resolutions condemning TPP>

Sciury believes that Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election because Trump bested her on appealing to union members on primarily union issues.  He said that only Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side spoke convincingly to union members.

Scuiry says that from his vantage point as head of the Hall of Fame AFL/CIO (which includes Stark, Tuscarawas and Columbiana counties) he sees organized labor holding its own with the onset of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project and oil and gas industry natural gas/oil fracking.

Concerning to Sciury is that manufacturing employment in the nation and local area is trending down with the added local factor of Timken splitting up into two entities which he does not think was a good thing for Timken by extension organized labor.  He says that the union is currently negotiating with Timken on new contracts.

He says that successfully negotiating new contracts is going to be a tough, tough undertaking.

In general, a major issue in all contract negotiations these days is health care in that "in effect" by requiring workers to pay more and more of the health care premiums (upping co-pays and the like) seem bent on taking health care away from unionized workers.

Daniel F. Sciury has been a bulldog for the working class of Stark County over his lifetime.

And not all of these fights have been in employer negotiations.

He has made waves within the Stark County Democratic Party over the leadership's tendency to take union support for granted.  One famous episode involved then-chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr (now Massillon clerk of courts), to wit:

Maier had taken away a Stark County Board of Elections seat thought to be a "reserved for unions" seat from long term ironworker William V. Sherer, Sr.

Can't exactly remember the context, but Sciury a number of years got into a spat over union interests with then-Stark County Educational Services superintendent Larry Morgan and threatened to withhold union support for school financial issue(s).

I have never been a union member.

However, I see unions as the major factor holding the strength of America—the Middle Class—together.

In being the leader of Stark County unionism for decades now, the Stark County public (union/non-union working/middle class folks) should be grateful for the dedication of the Sciury family in fighting for economic justice for the everyday folks of Stark County.

One hundred years is an awesome legacy for the William Sciury family and something that the family's 2017 torch bearer is awfully proud of.

Stark County has special reason to be Celebrating Labor Day 2017 and that reason is the work of William and Dan Sciury for fair and equitable wages work for the county's working/middle class workers.

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