Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bread and Roses

“What the woman who labors wants is the right to live, not simply exist – the right to life, and the sun and music and art.  The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too.” Feminist labor leader Rose Schneiderman
photo by Lewis Hine

On Labor Day Northwest Indiana Times ran a long (thousand-word) article by ace reporter Joseph S. Pete entitled “Book on gay steelworkers prompts national union changes,” along with a shot of Anne Balay and “Steel Closets” by award-winning photographer John J. Watkins.  Pete wrote:  “As part of her extensive research, Balay met with the USW’s civil rights coordinator in Pittsburgh and found GLBT steelworkers had not filed a single complaint about discrimination – ever. ‘They were too scared to come forward,’ she said.”  “Steel Closets” documented the need for policy changes, so Balay worked with USW’s civil rights division to bring forward a proposal at the national convention in Las Vegas to protect LGBYs from discrimination and ensure for them equal health benefits.  Beforehand locals in Northwest Indiana and four other states endorsed such a resolution.  At the constitutional convention, Pete wrote:
  “The resolution met with some resistance from southern delegates, but President Leo Gerard shouted them down, saying there would be no discrimination in the union.  For the first time the union’s constitution adds gender identity to the list of protected classes.  The USW resolution provided an immediate psychological boost for LGBT steelworkers who had long felt invisible and finally got recognition, Balay said.  But the true test will be in what changes in the mills take place over the next ten years, and whether protections are written into contracts and harassment is discouraged.”

Pete reported that Balay has dropped a discrimination complaint against IU Northwest that she filed with the EEOC over being denied tenure and concludes with this statement by her:
  “You would expect universities to be more receptive to this issue [discrimination against LGBTs] than steel mills.  But the USW listened, and the university made it clear they didn’t care.  So I’m just going to move on.  I’ve got so many cool things to move on to.”

I am certain IU administrators are breathing a huge sigh of relief that Balay is dropping her suit. Hopefully they will experience a tinge of, if not guilt at the unconscionable way she was treated, first by her immediate superiors and then by administrators overly deferential to those detractors, then regret at the lost opportunities to brag about her accomplishments.  On Facebook Anne wrote:
         “Labor Day.  Thanks to everyone who works, especially those doing dirty, dangerous work from which we all benefit.  And thanks to those who organize so workers can be safer, and have dignity.  To celebrate Labor Day, I’m going off to trucker apprenticeship in Wisconsin, and then Over the Road.”
above, Alyssa Black; below, Ned Vizzini

Meanwhile Alyssa Black is house-sitting for Anne Balay’s dog and two cats.  Recently Alyssa listed her ten favorite books, starting with the first one she memorized (“ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book” by Dr. Seuss), her favorite high school novel (“Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens”), and the first Young Adult fiction she identified with (“Be More Chill” by Ned Vizzini).  Also on the list are authors Harry Potter, Stephen King, Chuck Palahnuik (“Fight Club”), and Chinese American Maxine Hong Kingston’s (The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts”).  “Be More Chill” is a science fiction story about Jeremy, a high school nerd who takes a supercomputer pill that allows one to communicate directly to one’s brain.  Jeremy becomes a stud but gets caught up in a world of falsehoods and violence.  In 2004, the year “Chill No More” was published, author Ned Vizzini had suicidal thoughts and checked himself into a psychiatric ward, an experience he recalled in “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” first a book and then a topnotch movie with Zach Galifianakis and Keir Gilchrist.  Last December, sadly, at age 32, Vizzini killed himself.

Saturday grandson James, who spent the night and downed eight of my pancakes, rolled a 154 after getting a new ball drilled.  In the car we discussed colonial American history, an eighth grade subject he is studying.  He was very knowledgeable about the Pilgrims and Jamestown.  I asked if he knew the origin of the colony’s name, Virginia.  He guessed it was because of Virginia Dare or due to the Virginia Company financing the enterprise.  I told him the colony was named for Elizabeth, the “Virgin Queen.”  That afternoon, seven of us, including both sons, feasted Toni’s ribs with all the trimmings; afterwards Phil, Dave, and I played Acquire and Shark.  I won Acquire and made a dumb move in Shark that allowed Phil to win, but Dave took it very well.
 above, Grace and Sophia; below, Nicholas, Oliver, Anthony

Sunday we traveled to Lisa and Fritz’s in the South Bend suburb of Granger with Phil and 16 year-old Anthony, who couldn’t get over how much his cousins Grace and Sophia had grown up since he last saw them.  Anthony played lacrosse with Nicholas and Oliver, and then the three biked off for ice cream.  Grace took the ice bucket challenge in a bikini, with Sophia dousing her. Lisa contrasted Grace and Oliver’s recent overnight parties.  The girls were relatively well behaved, while the 12 year-old boys were “wild things,” staying up all night and then sneaking out to use a neighbor’s trampoline.  Toni opined that she didn’t think there were differences between boys and girls until granddaughter Alissa came to live with us.
Victoria Lane
While James and Becca have been in school for two weeks, today is Anthony and Tori’s first day, although Anthony has already had three varsity soccer games.  With four roommates Miranda moved into a house near Grand Valley State campus and is working part-time at the building where Phil’s PBS station is located.

Monday I made breakfast for Toni and Phil, who filled us in on Robert Blaszkiewicz’s Fantasy Football draft party before heading home.  We enjoyed a chicken dinner at Hagelbergs, followed by bridge.  The highlight was bidding and making a small slam.  Missing two kings, I needed one of two finesses to succeed.  The first failed, but, leading to the dummy, which contained the ace and queen of clubs, I successfully played the queen, since the king was in the hand on my left.
Dave, left, third row; below, Jahaira Perez

Dave attended East Chicago Central’s class of 2004 tenth reunion.  Jahaira Perez thanked Dave for coming and wrote: “You are an honorary alum of 2004.”
 Rosemary Quinones (r) with LaTasha Richardson,Chief Patricia Nowak and Chris Sicinski; photo by Danielle Prusynski

At lunch Office of Diversity director James Wallace and police officer Rosemary Quinones, whom I hadn’t previously met, discussed efforts to create a women’s organization similar to Brother2Brother, open to students of all ethnic backgrounds.  I suggested they get student leaders to spearhead the recruitment drive.  Joe Gomeztagle, teaching a SPEA course, told me how impressive the Times article about Anne Balay was.  He met Anne at a History Book Club meeting when I led a discussion about “The House on Mango Street.”  April Lidinsky reported that the Balay article ran in the South Bend Tribune and added: “I’m proud to know Anne and inspired by what her excellent book is accomplishing.”  The AP picked up the story, and it has appeared in newspapers as far away as Danbury, Connecticut.

Roy Dominguez called about Balay’s lawsuit and the Times article.  He said he has never been as upset over the resolution of a case as this one.  The Chicago attorney he consulted told him that since Indiana has no law pertaining to discrimination against LGBTs, the odds against successfully suing the university were formidable and the case could drag on for many years, something Anne did not want, having suffered enough mental anguish.

In the mail was this plea from IU Foundation Vice President John T. Keith: “I hope you will once again support Indiana University at the Leader level of the 1820 Society with a generous gift of $10,000 or more.”  For several years I have donated $10,000 and had it earmarked for my Steel Shavings account to cover the cost of publishing my annual magazine.  This year my request was denied, as IUN disassociated itself from Steel Shavings on the flimsy grounds that it was no longer serving its original purpose of featuring student work.  I was even denied access to the existing funds in the account.  The real reason for the university’s action is that the magazine contained material sympathetic to Anne Balay’s tenure case and her appeal of a truly unjust decision.   

The original purpose of Steel Shavings was threefold; in addition to highlighting student work it was dedicated to documenting the social history of the Calumet Region and publicizing holdings of IUN’s Calumet Regional Archives.  Leafing through the issue (volume 43) IUN administrators were so offended by, I highlighted the student work of Alyssa Black, Ava Meux, Seamus McColly, Marla Gee, Larissa Dragu, and Taylor Jo Thompson, plus the activities of former IUN students Henry Farag, Jef Halberstadt, Robin Halberstadt, Nancy Hrnjak George, Pennie Bozetarnik, Roy Dominguez, Vernon Smith, Scott Fulk, Mike Brown, Blanca Lopez, David Lane, and Mike Olszanski.  And that is just in the first 30 pages!  In declining to contribute to IU Foundation I also argued that historians will look back on the Anne Balay tenure case as one of the most important issues of our time regarding discrimination against LGBTs and for me as editor not to have covered it would have been a dereliction of my duty as a Regional historian.   In addition, Balay's path breaking book "Steel Closets" is an important addition to the holdings of the Calumet Regional Archives. If IUN reconsiders its asinine policy concerning my magazine, I’ll reconsider my decision about donating to IU Foundation in the future.


  1. is that my sister I'm looking for my sister rosemary Quiñones my dad name is rodolfo

  2. is that my sister I'm looking for my sister rosemary Quiñones my dad name is rodolfo