Bike Tour of the Great Steel Strike of 1919
Saturday, September 21 ONLY!
The Eugene V. Debs Local Initiative is partnering with Buffalo Bike Tours on a bicycle tour of Lackawanna sites of the Great Steel Strike of 1919 on Saturday, September 21—the 100 year anniversary of the calling of the strike.
“The Great Steel Strike of 1919, the largest labor walk-out in U.S. history, is a profound local and national flashpoint for the American labor movement,” says Chris Hawley of the Eugene V. Debs Local Initiative. “This bike march will visit all the hotspots of the great strike, starting with the Lackawanna Steel Company plant itself and ending where labor martyr Casimer Mazurek, decorated World War veteran and steel worker killed by company police, is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery.”
The tour will depart from Buffalo Bike Tours’ Canalside Kiosk at 4 pm. The estimated three hour tour will conclude with an optional dinner at Curly’s, 647 Ridge Road. In lieu of dinner, cyclists will have the option to bike back to Canalside via Ridge Road or South Park Avenue on their own.
“Much company violence was used in the Lackawanna strike,” wrote William Z. Foster, national strike organizer, in his The Great Steel Strike and Its Lessons in 1920. “The New York State Constabulary and the company guards, of a cut with their odious Pennsylvania brethren, slugged, shot, and jailed men and women in real Steel Trust style. Many strikers were injured, and two killed outright. One of these, Joseph [Casimer] Mazurek, a native-born American, was freshly back from the fighting in France. Lackawanna was just a little bit of an industrial hell.”
The Great Steel Strike of 1919 did not succeed. It failed to secure its demands for an eight hour workday, six day work week, and the union’s recognition by the steel barons. The strike was, however, a stand for dignity and humanity that set the stage for the Steel Workers Organizing Committee’s successful 1941 strike that won the union’s recognition by Bethlehem Steel, and ultimately the elevation of steelworkers’ wages and working conditions that followed.
The $15 suggested donation will go toward Buffalo Bike Tours’ efforts to expand its fleet of GObike Buffalo-assembled tour bikes, with an emphasis on securing women’s and kids’ bikes. Each bike tour participant will receive a free Remember Casimer Mazurek pin.
“Buffalo Bike Tours is committed to telling Buffalo’s story - especially its non-mainstream narratives,” said Marc Moscato of Buffalo Bike Tours. “We hope that this centennial ride commemorating the Lackawanna strike and Mazurek’s sacrifice will grow awareness of the labor movement’s contributions to building Buffalo and America.”
The Eugene V. Debs Local Initiative, started by urbanist Chris Hawley in 2018, is a project to document and honor Buffalo’s radical labor movement history. Buffalo Bike Tours was founded by Marc Moscato the same year, with no money or investors, just a passion for two things: bikes and Buffalo!