The summer of 1937 was a sizzling one in more ways than just the weather. It was the height if the Great Depression and people were frustrated, some of the despair turned ugly, including life in our Twin Cities.

Labor disputes stretched across the United States. Republic Steel Corp., Inland Steel and Alcoa Aluminum, three giant industries, had bitter strikes going on. Several people were killed, dozens were injured in the melees. State troopers and National Guardsmen, the latter toting machine guns fixed with bayonets, were summoned to assist local law enforcement.

Workers in the Oconto County Highway Department were engaged in a bitter labor dispute. Laborers at the M&M Box Co. in Marinette went on a seven-week strike to gain a 45-hour work week and a 1 cent an hour pay increase. Seventy caddies in Riverside Country Club in Menominee went on strike for better wages.

The dominant strike in the M&M area, however, took place at Lloyd Manufacturing Co. in Menominee. Lloyd was the largest employer in the area with more than 1.300 on the payroll. The strike ranks as the most rancorous in M&M labor history. There have been several other contentious labor spats in Twin City history, but none like this one.

About 300 pickets maneuvered in front of the gates at the plant in late June, the first day of the strike. Caustic chants greeted nonunion workers as they attempted to cross picket lines on North State Street (10th Street). The pickets only aimed at their mordacity at scab workers and allowed office personnel to enter the plant unharmed.

Frank Heraly, long active in the local labor movement and one of the prime leaders in its growth headed the furniture worker’s union which represented Lloyd workers, W.B. Davis of Chicago was the regional union representative directing strike operations in alliance with local union leaders.

Lewis Larsen was the front man for the company. The general manager issued a public statement saying the company had increased wages by 10% in recent years. The union countered with a statement indicating the company rejected their demands for a closed shop and a 20% wage increase and that the 10% wage hike referred to by Larsen was shaved by 7% in 1935, resulting only in a 3% gain. A war of words erupted in the local newspapers.

As the city was preparing for the joyous three-day Fourth of July celebration that included the dedication of the new Michigan Highway Department Tourist Information Lodge at the foot of the Interstate Bridge, Mayor Albert Cherney called a conference at city hall to announce a settlement in the strike. He was joined by Heraly and company officials. The mayor called the meeting after 446 striking workers petitioned him to help reopen the plant.

Larsen’s signature appeared at the bottom of a half-page ad in the Herald-Leader denoting the company’s position for an open shop, 40-hour work week with time-and-a-half for over 40 hours, a 5% pay differential for the second and third shift workers and no change in the hourly wage rates. The tentative agreement that was in the works blew up.

Three days after the mayor’s press conference, tragedy struck. Joseph Jozwiak, a 42-year-old union worker, was struck by an out-of-state driver attempting to pass through the picket line in his automobile. He died of his injuries at St. Joseph Hospital about an hour after the accident. He left his wife and two sons, Marshall and Howard.

The local weather thermometer soared into the mid-90s and the heatwave killed more than 340 people across the U.S. The community emotional stress after the fatal accident was even more feverish. Larsen ordered the plant closed indefinitely. More than 500 strikers circled the plant. Women joined men on the picket lines. Mayor Cherney and Police Chief Frank Parsek called for police support. Nineteen Michigan state troopers were assigned here from U.P. to downstate posts. Stephenson did not have a police post until 1956. Twenty deputies from outside the sheriff’s department pitched in.

A native of Germany, Jozwiak was extremely popular. He served in the Army artillery in France in World War I and was wounded in combat. He had one of the largest military, labor and civic wake services ever seen in Menominee. At the request of labor, the Rev. William Nern, president of Jordan College in Menominee, and the Rev. Victor Karch, pastor at St. Adalbert’s Catholic Church, joined federal mediators in efforts to solve the labor row. A public gathering, organized by Heraly, also a city alderman, at Menominee Beach Park (now the Menominee Marina) drew more than 2,000 people.

The company ran another large ad in the Herald-Leader listing the pay rates of 1,399 hourly workers. The names of the workers were not used, but time card numbers were. The as noted apprentice woman were guaranteed a minimum of 33 cents an hour and male apprentices 38.5 cents an hour. The company offered to open its records to any employee or citizen “desiring to get the facts.” The union was furious.

Finally, the six-week strike that spanned three months was settled in early August when the union, by a 118-vote margin, accepted the contract. The vote was taken between 10 p.m. and midnight. The union won a minimum hourly rate from 38 to 45 cents for men and from 33 to 37 cents for women; time and a half for over 40 hours; and revisions in the piecework rates.

It did not get a closed union shop.

The company and the union, with the help pf community leaders, worked hard to patch the wounds from the painful labor dispute, but the healing process took years.