Vicky Starr

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Vicky Starr

Vicky Starr, (died 2010, at Evanston illinois, age 93) was a long time Chicago activist.

Vicky Starr’s life as a union organizer and co-founder of the United Packinghouse Workers Union , first in the slaughterhouses in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhoods in the 1930s and 40s, made her a touchstone for many authors and a star of the Oscar nominated documentary, “Union Maids.” Accounts of her life are referenced in dozens of books, including Studs Terkel’s bestseller The American Dream, the Lynds’ Rank and File, Howard Zinn’s and Anthony Amove’s Voices of a People’s History of the United States, Judith Kegan Gardiner’s Provoking Agents, and First Person America by Ann Banks.[1]

YCL member

Vicky Starr (then known as Stella Nowicki )was a member of the Young Communist League USA in pre-WW2 Chicago[2].


In the 1970s and 1980s, Vicky Starr helped to organize clerical workers at the University of Chicago into Local 743 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. She was also an active member of the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union and the New American Movement. Under the name Stella Nowicki, Vicky Starr was, along with Sylvia Wood and Katherine Hyndman, one of the stars of “Union Maids,” a documentary (available from New Day Films) about female union organizers in the 1930s.[3]

New American Movement

In 1981 the Lucy Parsons Chapter of the New American Movement and friends honored Milt Cohen and Vicky Starr for their many years of activity in the causes for people's progress and democracy. The members of NAM listed were: Alba Alexander, Bill Barclay, Dan Gilman, Roger Gilman, Debby Holdstein, Rob Persons, Miriam Rabban, Ralph Scott, Julie Skurski, Peg Stroebel, Monty Tarbox and Ed Kucinsky. The friends of NAM listed were: Florence Green and Ben Green, Bob Reed of Seattle, Judy MacLean of San Francisco, Max Gordon of NYC, Quentin Young and Ruth Young of Chicago, Clarence Lipschutz and Peggy Lipschutz of Evanston, Miriam Bazell, Florence Gibbon of Chicago, Bronwen Zwirner of New Bedford, Leonard Lamb and Constance Lamb of Astoria, Helene Susman and Bill Susman of Great Neck, Corinne Golden of Chicago, Robert Havighurst and Edythe Havighurst of Chicago, Sara Heslep, Sandy Barty, Clara Diamont, Pete Seeger, Steve Nelson, Hannah Frisch, Sue Cohen, Gil Green of NYC, Joan Powers, Clarence Stoecker and Rebecca Hobbs of Chicago, James Bond of Oakland, Pat McGauley, Gabby Rosenstein of Santa Monica, Karl Cannon and Fay Cannon of Camarillo, Loriel Busenbard and Steven Starr, Daniel Starr, Beth Starr and Bob Starr (children of Vicky Starr) were listed as friends of the Lucy Parsons Chapter of the New American Movement.[4]

DSA Conference delegate

In 1983 Vicki Starr was a Chicago delegate to the Democratic Socialists of America conference in New York City, October 14-16, 1983[5]

DSA Feminist Commission

In 1986 Vicky Starr of Illinois was listed as a member of the Feminist Commission of the Democratic Socialists of America.[6]

DSA honor

In 1985 Vicky Starr was honored with a Debs-Thomas-Harrington Award at an event that featured fellow Democratic Socialists of America member and then Screen Actors Guild President Ed Asner, and keynote speaker Congressman Lane Evans. In the years since, she remained a faithful patron of the dinner, attending nearly every one.[7]

"Raise Hell with Chicago Democratic Socialists"

In 1992, Chicago Democratic Socialists of America members published a six-page leaflet, "Raise Hell with Chicago Democratic Socialists", welcoming progressives into membership. It features comments by United Steelworkers leader Ed Sadlowski; Dr. Ron Sable, the Illinois chair of the Physicians for a National Health Plan; Vicki Starr, who appeared in the film Union Maids; political scientist Jane Mansbridge;and theologians Rosemary Reuther and Michael Eric Dyson.[8]


  1. DL Spring 2010
  2. Red Chicago, Randi Storch p 192
  3. DL Spring 2010
  4. 10th Anniversary Booklet for the New American Movement, 1981
  5. DSA Conference delegate list Oct. 12 1983 update
  6. 1986 DSA Feminist Commission Directory
  7. DL Spring 2010
  8. Dem. Left, Jan./Feb. 1993. page 9