George Edwards

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George Edwards


George Edwards was married to Denise Winebrenner Edwards. He died in 2012, age 94.

Activist life

Born in 1918 in South Dakota, his family moved to Tennessee and homesteaded land in what is now the Great Smoky National Park. His father worked in the Indian Service until becoming frustrated with mistreatment of native peoples.

George obtained a bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee, then received his graduate degree from Oberlin Seminary, studying to enter the ministry. After completing his studies, George went to work as a machinist at the huge U. S. Steel Works in nearby Lorain, Ohio, making less than $1 an hour. His goal was to set up a "labor church."

However, he quickly joined the Steelworker's Organizing Committee, which was campaigning to organize that mill, and joined the Communist Party USA, along with many of the other organizers. He was active as a member/leader for the rest of his life.

After winning unionization in 1942, George founded the local union newspaper, the Lorain Labor Leader, founded a veteran's committee, and was part of the local's Political Action Committee. He was elected the local's vice president.

When America entered World War II, George immediately joined up, fighting to defeat the fascist menace in Europe.

After victory, he came back, but to a much different political climate. McCarthyism was rearing its ugly head. Still, George was elected to the 1948 United Steelworkers of America (USWA) convention, where he raised the first resolution calling for an African American vice president of the union. Although this wasn't won at that convention, George was a leading part of the movement that achieved that goal at the USWA convention nearly 40 years later.

For George, the 1950s were difficult times. Hounded by the FBI, spied on, and ostracized at the union he helped found, his name was even chiseled off of the founders' plaque at the union hall. He suffered isolation and tough times, even going through a divorce.

However, George used this time to become a photographer, setting up a studio in Lorain, became involved in hiking, camping, and became a serious artist, painting and producing metal sculptures.

In the '70's, George really began to put his stamp on policy changes that would shift political ground for all of us. Seeing a lack of democracy, a slackening of the fight against the big corporations, in the USWA, George formed the National Steelworkers Rank & File Committee. It pushed for democracy, membership involvement and solidarity. He literally ran the budding rank and file movement from an old mimeograph machine in his front room, almost permanently having blue-stained fingers. Local committees were formed in Steelworker locals across the nation, mainly made up of younger workers.

The Steelworkers union began to shift, becoming the progressive union it is today, mobilizing its members, building coalitions, standing up for solidarity with other workers and unions across the globe.

After retiring, George married Denise Winebrenner Edwards and moved to Pittsburgh. Winebrenner, a USW activist in her own right, was elected to the Wilkinsburg City Council.

Hardly ready to relax and enjoy "golden years," George spoke of these as "the best years of my life." He was a founding member of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR) and was a member of SOAR's ruling executive board. With his wife Denise, they formed a local coalition, Wilkinsburg for Change, which stopped privatization of the local elementary school and pushed for better services and more access for the community to local government.[1]

Supported Communist Party call

In May 1992 the Communist Party USA newspaper Peoples Weekly World published a May Day supplement which included a call to "support our continuing struggle for justice and dignity"

Endorsers of the call included George Edwards, USWA.[2]

Communist Party's May Day Salute

In 1995 the Communist Party USA newspaper People's Weekly World, published a "May Day salute" to the "heroes in the class war zone". More than 100 unionists/activists endorsed the call, mostly known affiliates, or members of the Communist Party.

George Edwards SOAR, Pittsburgh, was one of those listed[3].

Endorsed Communist Party Call

On March 30 2002 the Communist Party USA paper People’s Weekly World called for a national holiday in honor of late Farm Workers Union leader Cesar Chavez. The article was followed by a long list of endorsers[4]including George Edwards, Almost all endorsers were confirmed members of the Communist Party USA.

Communist Party USA

In September 2006 the Peoples Weekly World listed several members, or supporters of the Pennsylvania Communist Party:[5]

Asad Ali, Billie Penn Johnson, Denise Winebrenner Edwards, Donna Puleio Spadaro Dr A S Mahdi Ibn-Ziyad, Gary Puleio (In Memoriam), George Edwards, Joe Kopnitsky, Ken Heard, Ben Sears, Dave Bell, Debbie Bell, Diane Mohney & John Vago, Evie Horwitz & Larry Horwitz , Frances Gabow, The Incognito Family, James Bradford, Jimmie Wayne Moore, June Krebs, Leonard Pepper, Rookie Perna, Rosita Johnson, Sharon Hurley.

References