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The Steel Workers Lament
originally published December 1975 by a member of Local 1064

I’ve worked at the steel plant all of my life
Since the time I was just a lad
The hours were long but my back was strong
And I gave them all I had
I’ve shoveled their snow at ten below
From tracks piled high and white,
While the city dozed I worked and froze
There many a winter night
I’ve shoveled their coal to a boiler old
And just as hot as the gates of hell,
Just useless trash most stone and ash
That the coal mines couldn’t sell

I’ve loaded their rails and packed their nails
And bundled their rods and bars
And I’ve gasped and choked in the poison smoke
From the fumes of their hot coke cars
I’ve swung a sledge on the crumbling edge
Of a furnace wide and tall,
With my vision blurred from the dust it stirred
And a man just dare not fall
I’ve shoveled their ore from the stinking floor
Of ships from beyond the seas
And my stomach turned with the gas that churned
From shoveling manganese ore

I've burned my feet in the hellish heat
Of a slag-pit’s fiery glow
And I’ve froze my ears at the scrap yard shears
On a night that was ten below
I’ve swabbed their sewers where a man endures
A stench that’s beyond compare
In air so foul that the rodents who prowl
Have all abandoned there
Now my nerves are frayed and my hair has grayed
And slowed are my work worn hands
And my back is bent from the youth I’ve spent
At Sydney Steel’s demand

For a man that toils in a steel mill spoils
His chance for a ripe old age
For the hazards to health are early felt
And he’s old at middle age
Now these are but few of the jobs I do
That briefly I’ve made mention
And I feel in my heart that I’ve played my part
And I’ve earned an early pension


 

Website designed by Carole Lee Boutilier
Pictures compliments of Ray Martheleur
Last updated February 1, 2006