Johns Manville strike of 1970

IMG_6433All photos by Neal Ranauro • Click photo to enlarge

So given the current political environment it felt like the right time to finally post these JM asbestos strike photos. Back in 1970 a bunch of papers were carrying national headlines about asbestos workers contracting asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma from spraying buildings under construction, which ultimately led to the banning of the practice completely in New York, Boston and Chicago. They reported on the death of Albert Hutchinson, who was a prominent asbestos industry union leader. I can only assume that was the catalyst for these demonstrations, which carried on for months in 1970

Maybe some of the folks on this board can comment on the local events that led to this particular protest, as this is basically recent history. For me personally, I was born in 1976 and most of my memories of JM are of the barely active shadowy factory that loomed behind a huge creepy fence. Of course, nearly everyone in my family worked there at one point or another. Anyway without involving my personally feeling in the matter… here are some photos. They will all enlarge if you click them.


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Here is an actual homemade protest sign that was included in Ranauro’s collection. There is no credit to who made it…


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7 thoughts on “Johns Manville strike of 1970

  1. I was 22 working for JM in the salaried area as was my husband. My father and uncles were on strike. Uncles were shop stewards. Very emotional and rough time. Saw three uncles die of asbestos, my father, my husband’s uncle. Now, our generation is still passing away from this horrible rock. Many worked summers between college years. It’s a time bomb that those of us that worked there live with.

  2. Too many emotions from this strike. Worked there as a salaried worker as did my husband. My father, uncles and my husband’s uncle were on strike. We lost many of the uncles and my father to this rock. Friends from my generation (65+) are still dying from this horror. Many contacted the asbestos working summers during college breaks. I horrible how they were lied to about the dangers of working there.

  3. I used to get some great sub sandwiches from that place that is in several of these photo.
    Can anyone identify the man in the photo which is number 342? He looks so familiar but no name comes to mind. I’m also noticing the variety of police uniforms , Does any one remember which department they were from?

  4. I remember driving east down Brooks towards many 55 gallon drum bonfires and many JM workers and cops from all over Somerset County. I hit a deer in the butt that was running down Main street,, didn’t hurt him but knocked him down in front of the strikers.Now that got some unneeded attention as my car was overdue inspection.

    Sad to remember all the friends and family that lay in the ground over J-M profits and lying for 70 years.We all know SOMEBODY.

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