Skip to main content

Gene Saari Papers

 Collection
Identifier: LP001437
The Gene Saari Collection contains correspondence, reports, grievance and contract negotiations files, newspaper clippings, publications and other documents related to labor organizing, collective bargaining and strikes in the Michigan copper industry, to jurisdictional disputes between Mine-Mill and the Steelworkers union, to economic and social conditions in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and to Mr. Saari’s campaigns for public office in the 1940s.

Important subjects in the collection: Atlas Powder Co. Calumet and Hecla, Inc. Copper miners--Copper Country Michigan Copper miners--Trade unions--organizing Copper mines and mining--Copper Country Michigan Copper mines and mining--Strikes and lockouts Copper Range Co. Copper Workers Industrial Union Local No. 494 Hanna Mining Co. International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Quincy Mining Co. United Steelworkers of America nonferrous locals USWA-IUMMSW jurisdictional disputes in Michigan Copper Country White Pine Copper Co.

Important correspondents in the collection: I. W. Abel Earl T. Bester Henry A. Burkhammer R. C. Cole Frank E. Hook David J. McDonald J. K. Richardson Reid Robinson August Scholle Angelo Verdu Nick Zonarich

Dates

  • 1913 - 1979

Creator

Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Use

Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.

Extent

11 Linear Feet (11 SB)

Abstract

As an active member of the labor movement, Gene Saari worked for the Timber and Sawmill Workers Union Local 15, helped to form the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers (IUMMSW, or Mine-Mill), and served as secretary-treasurer of United Copper Workers Union Local 494. Mr. Saari also served as a vice-president of the Michigan State Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), a Mine-Mill international representative, and as an organizer for the United Steelworkers of America. Mr. Saari’s papers relate to labor issues in the Michigan copper industry, jurisdictional disputes between Mine-Mill and the Steelworkers union, to economic and social conditions in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and to Mr. Saari’s campaigns for public office in the 1940’s. Calumet and Hecla, Inc., Copper Range Railroad Company and Hanna Mining Company are among important subjects in the collections.

History

Eugene Saari was born June 21, 1909 in the small mining community of Chisolm, Minnesota, where his father worked as an iron miner. After the Western Federation of Miners failed in its attempt to unionize Mesabi Range miners, the elder Saari moved the family to a homestead farm on Sugar Island, near Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. At the age of fifteen, to supplement the meager family income, Gene took a job in an auto plant in Wayne, Michigan, later working on Great Lakes iron ore carriers and in lumber camps and other auto factories.

He began his union activities in 1937, helping to organize Cadillac workers for the UAW. While working for the Timber and Sawmill Workers Union Local 15 in 1940, he helped arrange the transfer of the fledgling CIO local representing miners at Copper Range Co. into the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers. United Copper Workers Union Local 494, which he served as secretary-treasurer, was the first local union organized in the Michigan nonferrous fields since the 1913 Western Federation of Miners strike.

As a Michigan State CIO vice-president and Mine-Mill international representative, Mr. Saari was instrumental in bringing Quincy, Isle Royale and Calumet and Hecla miners as well as UP limestone and explosives workers into the union. In 1950 he left the IUMMSW for the United Steelworkers of America where he helped organize the campaigns that brought these locals into the Steelworkers union. He continued to organize and service UP copper locals as an international representative for the Steelworkers in the 1950s and 1960s. Gene Saari died April 7, 1990.

Arrangement

Folders are listed in the order in which they appear.

Transfers

A number of photographs, a filmed interview of Gene Saari discussing the settlement of the 1968 strike at White Pine and a nightstick carried by a National Guardsman during the 1913-1914 Calumet-Hecla strike have been placed in the Archives Audiovisual Collection.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.

Creator

Title
Guide to the Gene Saari Papers
Status
completed
Author
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA