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Brief Biographical / Historical Sketch


Bernard Gorczyca was born in 1900 and was the eldest of 7 children to Polish immigrants on Pittsburgh's South Side. He attended a Catholic Seminary in Orchard Lake, Michigan before taking a series of manufacturing jobs in South Bend, Indiana. He returned to Pittsburgh in 1924 to work at the Jones and Laughlin South Side Works, but after a short time, according to his account, he was blacklisted from local mills for asking for a raise and was only able to be rehired by using an alias. In 1937, after meeting union organizers at the Jones and Laughlin mill, Gorczyca joined the Steel Workers Organizing Committee(SWOC) and the American Communist Party. By 1938, Gorczyca was elected financial secretary of the SWOC Local 1272, but in 1940, The Pittsburgh Press listed Gorczyca and hundreds of other Pittsburghers as Communist supporters and on June 18 he was notified of his expulsion from the union by his Local 1272 president, Joseph Smoker. At this point, he was forced to appeal to the chairman of SWOC, Philip Murray, who reinstated him in September 1940, and in 1942 he was again elected financial secretary of the Jones and Laughlin Local. Gorczyca served on the union delegation before the United States Senate Banking Committee in 1946 when post-war unions sought to extend price controls to prevent inflation. In 1948, Gorczyca ran for president of Local 1272, but was ruled ineligible to hold office by the union because of his alleged continuous membership in the Communist Party. Throughout his appeals to the union he never once denied his Communist Party membership and after giving up his battle for officer eligibility he became inactive within the union. Then, due to his self-admitted affiliation with the Communist Party, the passing of the Internal Security Act of 1950 resulted in his being interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation four times between 1952 and 1956 and he was placed under surveillance for several years after. Gorczyca's association with the Communist Party also led to his children being questioned about their possible involvement in security-threatening activities. Bernard Gorczyca died January 1989.