Joe Jencks

Christmas in Mansfield

My friend Bruce Bostic asked me to go with him to meet and interview some of the members of the United Steel Workers of America USWA Local 169 in Mansfield, OH.  They were locked out for more than 4 years. Their motto is "We'll be stronger, one day longer!" After getting to know them a bit I really wanted to honor their struggle, faith, perseverance, solidarity, and tremendous courage.  Labor issues don't just affect workers; they impact entire communities.  The "Women of Steel" have done some tremendous solidarity work in Mansfield and at large.

Dad used to spend time with his children
When they'd come home from school every day
Before he would go to work second shift
He'd help them with homework and sometimes they'd play
Baseball out in the yard
If it was raining they'd sit and play cards

But then there was trouble at the steel mill
One night there were sirens and light
People were screaming and shouting
And somebody started a fight
Now daddy's home more than before
But he doesn't play much anymore

It's Christmas in Mansfield, Ohio
The children are snuggled in bed
But there are no visions of sugar plumbs dancing
It's questions that fill up their heads

The company boarded up windows
Put a fence all the way around the mill
They told union workers they couldn't come back
That all of their jobs had been filled
By people from out of the state
Then the company locked up the gates

But it's seventeen years at the steel mill
To provide for his families needs
But the company it seems cares lees about people
And more about profits and greed
So it's up with the burn barrels and signs
Make a stand on the old picket line

The union is still in a lockout
And more than three years have gone by
The first Christmas was tough, but donations came in
And that seemed to keep everyone's spirits high
And daddy did odd jobs in town
He refused to let his family down

But it's Christmas once more down in Mansfield
And there isn't even much snow
And nobody's counting on charity
It seems that was used up a long time ago
But somewhere dad found a small tree
And he hung up the lights carefully

Then the women of steel from the steel workers union
Brought toys for the girls and the boys
The firemen's union from somewhere down state
Brought turkeys and hams and they filled up the plate
With cheers and good tidings for all
It's Christmas in steel union hall

Daddy looked down at his children
And he smiled with sorrow and pride
Then he sat down on the union hall floor
Put his face in his hands and he started to cry
He had been strong now for years
But he just couldn't hold back the tears

God bless these workers and families
For the road that they travel is long
And as they stand up for what they believe
God grant them courage and help them along
Let the spirit of hope still shine bright
As the stars down on Mansfield that night

It's Christmas in Mansfield, Ohio
And the children laugh and they play
Though nobody here can forget about troubles
Maybe they'll set them aside for one day
And remember the kindness they've found
This Christmas in a steel mill town
Give thanks for the kindness they've found
This Christmas in a steel mill town
© 2002, 2003 Joe Jencks