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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Tuesday July 16th 2024

Raise Your Voice: September ’23


A picture of the author with a black face mask reading 'Solidarity'
Peter Molenaar

Yes, the City’s plan to concentrate diesel fumes in our neighborhood has been stopped, and the focus has shifted to the implementation of the Urban Farm business plan. To this end, I have engaged Mayor Frey regarding the Urban Farm to school market connection, and he was receptive.
Meanwhile, activists have contacted me for insider information about Smith Foundry’s contribution to our diminished air quality.
Note: At Smith Foundry, iron is cast in molds made of sand, the sand is composed of grains of quartz, quartz is crystalline silica (silicon dioxide) and fine silica particles make dust in the air we breathe. When concentrated, silica dust will, over the course of time, accumulate in the lungs. Having worked inside the bowels of Smith Foundry for 35 years, I should know. Hey, the community has a right to know.

Hennepin County Commissioners get a message. Source: Peter Molenaar

Smith Foundry, 1855 E 28th Street…
Once upon a time, there was an influx of Spanish speaking workers. Incredibly, the established shop steward declined to sign them into our union. This was the foul play which facilitated my election to the union steward position. More recently, an association with the Retirees Council (AFL-CIO) qualified me for a trip to Chicago for a meeting of the Labor Commission (CP). For me, there would be a shining moment from the podium there!
Evidently, self-criticism in front of a crowd works wonders. Before the mostly youthful gathering I said, “Do not be shy, ashamed, or afraid to engage the circle of your opposition, in order to ask: how can I do a better job?’ The applause was tumultuous.
Among my new found fans was a woman of Cherokee descent. She had been in a place called Little Village (a largely latinx neighborhood of Chicago) when the old Crawford Coal plant smokestack was demolished without warning; in the midst of the pandemic, a cloud of dust engulfed the neighborhood within minutes.

Peter Molenaar advocates a broad united-front, even as he describes socialism as the future solution.

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