Black Monday 77'
John started working when he was 18, on the weekends. He stayed at the same company until he was 51. He was part of the lucky one who did not get fired in September 1977. He was born in Youngstown and spent his whole life here.
John used to work by the furnace.
Manipulating heavy tools all day. All those years of physical work left scars on its body.
He was diagnosed with Asbestosis. A disease he caught while working in the Steel Mills. He breathed this air full of dust and asbestos for years.
John told me that this job helped him to build a family and provide for their needs. It was a tough job, but enough money for him to raise his children.
Eddie worked at “Sheet and Tube Company” for 30 years. He was in charge of molding the Steel Tube. They let him go during the second wave of layoffs
Black Monday is the name given to the mass lay-off that happened that day, at the “Youngstown Sheet and Tube Factory”. On this day, 5000 people were let go by the company. This episode shocked the whole “Steel Valley” and was the first event in a succession of companies closing or getting bought out. For Youngstown, Black Monday was tragic. Nearly half of the population went away. Black Monday was just the beginning of it, before a wave of unemployment in the whole state of Ohio.
This is for me a way to show the more let-down part of the United States of America, bringing a closer point of view on a bigger problem that we call the “Rust Belt” phenomenon. Bringing it to a more human scale helped to understand the incomes and the outcomes of the “Steel Valley”. How much the lack of employment and social service could impact a community like that?
The testimony part of my work was even a step closer. How such an industrial and economical event could affect the lives of people inside their households. I focused my project on two workers now retired, but mostly on John Julien Fusco.
John lived his whole life in Youngstown. He wasn’t let down for Black Monday but saw the whole transformation of the region during this period. Like every social issue, there’s a matter of scale. It is always a good reminder that every policy, and every economic issue, affects the daily lives of the communities taking part in it.