For the last four months I have been interning at the Steelworkers Archives, and have learned how fragile the existence of non profits can be. I started out working with Blake Hatton, but two weeks into my internship budget cuts ended his time with the Steelworkers Archives. One month later, the Executive Directors hours, Chris Schreck, hours were cut in half, leaving a void, although Chris still gave extra hours to the Archives. This is how non-profits sometimes have to function, despite the fact that there is so much work to do.The shame of it is that the city of Pueblo, and all of southern Colorado needs what the Steelworkers Archives have to offer. Rarely is a city or region so closely related to one company so much.
Pueblo was here before the steel mill, but from 1872 when General Palmer first started building his railroad and all the vertical companies that circulated around it Pueblo has grown along with it. At its height the mill employed 10,000 funding the economy, not only in Pueblo, but other cities that had mines that were directly linked to the mill.The diversity of cultures that still exist in Pueblo was created as the mill drew workers from all over the world, the Italians, Slovenians, Belgium s, Greeks and, Hispanics that were native to southern Colorado and New Mexico. Each coming here and establishing neighborhoods and lives here. Those neighborhoods started their own unique bakeries grocery stores, barber shops and any other businesses that help build a community. When you go over old oral histories you realize that there was great pride in the people that worked for CF&I. Those oral histories show that it was both management and labor that shared that pride. Even the longest strike of 1959, which lasted 113 days, there was little tension between labor and management. The strike was called nationally, and although they honored it, it wasn’t due to friction here. In the 1980s when the Steel Industry nation wide was starting to fall apart there were mass layoffs, and CF&I was no exception. By the 1990’s when Oregon Steel had taken over after the bankruptcy the employees that were left noticed that the plant was not being maintained. Most employees from that time grew bitter towards Oregon Steel, and longed for the old days of CF&I.