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1982 Norman Thomas - Eugene V. Debs Dinner

The 1982 Norman Thomas - Eugene V. Debs Dinner was held on Saturday evening, May 1st, at the McCormick Inn hotel in Chicago. This event honored Carl Shier, one of the founders of the Dinner, and it celebrated the merger of the New American Movement and the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee. The latter had been the sponsor of the dinner for the previous decade. William Winpisinger, the President of the Machinists, was the featured speaker.

According to the program, Roberta Lynch gave the opening remarks. James Wright gave greetings from UAW Region 4. Michael Harrington gave greetings from the newly merged Democratic Socialists of America. Elizabeth Goldstein gave greetings from the Chicago local of DSA. William Winpisinger then gave the Thomas - Debs Address. Seymour Kahan presented the Thomas - Debs award to Carl Shier. Carl Shier responded. Entertainment was by Peyton Hopkins.

The photos below are by Syd Harris.


Carl Shier

We honor you as an exemplary socialist and trade unionist

You have spent a lifetime in the effort to build a socialist movement. You have refused to succumb to disappointment and defeat. You have helped win the small and lasting victories that inspire others to join and continue in the struggle.

Above all, your life has been a constant act of sharing - sharing your time, energy, enthusiasm, intelligence, and constant good spirits with your friends and co-workers.

You have demonstrated that true comradeship is capable of breaking the bonds of generations, color, sex, and class which separate us from one another in this society - and will be broken forever in the society that we seek.

We honor you for living for others and the Norman Thomas - Eugene V. Debs Committee does hereby present you with its award on this 1st day of May, 1982.


Carl Shier

Carl's life of activity in the socialist and trade union movement seems almost destined. His parents, Frieda and David Shier, named their only son Carl Marx. He grew up in a socialist family and as a teenager traveled around the state of Illinois with Norman Thomas, acting as his literature agent.

Carl's trade union activity was inspired by the sit-ins of the CIO and in 1942 he hired in at Buick Aviation in Melrose Park, Illinois, represented by UAW Local 6.

After a turn in the Navy, Carl returned to Melrose Park and found that Buick Aviation had been sold to International Harvester Company. He was active in the success of UAW Local 6 winning their NLRB election and Carl was elected and served as Shop Committeeman and its Chairman. Carl with others in Local 6 were founders of the Reuther caucus in Region 4 and served as his Local's delegate at four UAW Conventions. He was a member of the International Harvester National Negotiations Committee from 1948 through 1957. In the present negotiations Carl is the last worker who signed the original 1950 Master Harvester Contract.

In June, 1957, Carl was chosen to go on the International Union staff by Walter Reuther. He worked first as an organizer and during that period Carl worked with the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Department Coordinated Organizing Campaign, and through that organization worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the West Side Community Action Program.

In 1964 the newly elected President of AFSCME (American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees) Jerry Wurf asked Walter Reuther for assistance in several states. Carl was assigned to Illinois, and became Acting Director of the State Council. The first Illinois state contribution to Workers Health Insurance was one of his achievements. Carl became a Servicing Representative assigned to his Local 6 and other Locals, as negotiator, handler of grievances and arbitrating cases.

Among his recent experiences were long strikes in Aurora, Melrose Park Harvester (172 days) and last year's successful strike against the Schwinn Bicycle Company.

Carl used his long experience in the Union to help other weak and newly formed unions, among them the Cook County College Teachers, the clerks of that division, the West Suburban Teachers Union, and the Welfare Local of AFSCME.

From the time Carl joined the Young People's Socialist League in 1936, he remained a life-long socialist. Three International visits as a representative of the U.S. Socialists were memorable.

He went to Sweden with a number of UAW health and safety unionists, and as a delegate to the Socialist International Congress in 1978 held in Vancouver, British Columbia - the first Congress held away from the European continent, and as a delegate and spokesman for the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee at the People's National Party Convention in Jamaica where the then Prime Minister Manley introduced Carl to the convention.


Roberta Lynch

Roberta Lynch giving the opening remarks.

Shiers and James Wright

From left to right: Carl Shier, Marion Shier, and James Wright.

Speakers Table

A view of the speakers table from behind. From left to right, you see Wright, Harrington, and Lynch. Carl Shier is speaking.

French TV Crew

Carl Shier is second from the right, but otherwise it's not known who these folks are. Possibly the crew from French TV?

Carl Shier and friends

Carl Shier is in the center with the bottle of beer.


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