Leslie Orear, 103, Helped Bring Together Black and White Packinghouse Workers in the 1930s

Stephen Franklin
In These Times
June 11, 2014

Leslie Orear, a lifelong labor activist, died in Chicago on May 30 at the age of 103. After entering the Chicago stockyards at a time when the idea of unions for blue-collar workers was spreading like wildfire, Orear quickly emerged as a voice for stockyard workers.

Leslie Orear started in the giant packing house’s sweet-pickle shipping department in 1932, tying string onto hunks of bacon. It was often hot and stunk, and the pay was a measly 32.5-cents an hour.

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