United Steel Workers Locals 2609 and 2610

Old and New Union Halls on Dundalk Avenue

Two aging union halls on Dundalk Avenue help the story of Baltimore’s steel industry. In 1942, steel workers had won their right to unionize and established the United Steel Workers’ of America. When the two-story tan brick building at the corner of Dundalk Avenue and Gusryan Street was built in 1952, it served as the headquarters for USW locals 2609 and 2610. As both groups grew in size, however, local 2610 split off and constructed a modern new building next door. According to Gay Flynn, a steelworker who lived in Highlandtown and worked at Sparrow’s Point, many workers recognized the need for a union:

“A lot of people were afraid to go to the higher-ups and that, to me, is what brought the unions. They have somebody that they can go to and call that’s on their side. They always used to feel that they had nobody to talk to. We used to have a company union and a lot of people looked at that as being just that, a company union. Everybody thought that that union was for the company.”

Once the USW started, some, like Flynn, joined to protect their jobs, whereas others saw the union as a necessary way to protect the gains that workers had made in the labor movement. Mike Lewis, a 34-year veteran of Sparrow’s Point, former shop steward and member of the alternate grievance committee, views the USW, and other unions, this way:

“Well what I feel is, thank God for unions in America. Because it made me realize that nothing was given freely, everything was born out of struggle. A lot of people today take for [granted] that fact that you get paid vacations. That was something born out of the labor movement—that you get paid if you off sick, that you have workers compensation laws, that you have employer provided health insurance, that you have many safeguards in place, all that were met with resistance when lobbied for that we have in place today that a lot of people think that they are etched into the fabric.”



5500 Dundalk Avenue, Dundalk, MD 21224