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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Sunday June 16th 2024

Thoughts From Smith Foundry

Smith Foundry 1855 East 28th St for over 80 years surviving to be the last manufacturer of metal in the Neighborhood. Smith employs 74 workers doing “green sand casting.” Check their website which includes artistic and industrial awards;

by Peter Molenaar

Folks driving 28th Street en route to Hiawatha Avenue and perhaps to Lake Street shopping are asked to glance right just east of Cedar Avenue. The rather unattractive dirty brown building seen there is home to Smith Foundry. Molten iron is sand cast within. This writer has survived 31 years of employment with Smith.

Actually, I am part of the aging remnant workforce which is credited with having saved the company. Such was the result of labor heroism coupled to the sad fact of our acquiescence to a one year take-away contract. For this we recently were rewarded with an all-you-can-eat in-plant pizza feed at which the office manager declared in her address: “You are the best.” Yes, I stuffed myself. But now a better contract has come due.

At present, more than half the laid-off guys have been rehired. This appears to bode well for business and employment in general inasmuch as foundries are bedrock to the “real” economy. Or, we might forecast a “blip” within the sea of uncertainty. In any case, foundry workers deserve a raise now.

Looking back, it is not the case that we were meek and cowardly a year ago. Our union business agent had been allowed a peek at the books. The bankruptcy was real. However, not disclosed was the degree to which the owners previously had bled the company to sustain the “high-life”. As always, we workers were made to pay for it when times got bad.

Time will tell”¦

Thinking about “owners”, a few weeks back I ran into Gary Smith, son of Clark Smith the original. Were it not for the class divide, Gary and I might actually have been friends. For starters, we are the same age. He informed me that he had suffered a stroke.

So, we ponder the after-life. It is said that very few rich people will see God in heaven. Yet every foundry worker, through arduous labor and sacrifice, has earned the right of passage. An infinity beyond all contradictions awaits us.

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One Response to “Thoughts From Smith Foundry”

  1. Craig Phillips says:

    Please contact me. I married Clark Smith’s daughter in 1987 (we’re now divorced). I played cribbage with Clark Smith. I spent time with Gary Smith as well.

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