A man credited with advancing much of Illinois’ labor movement was immortalized in bronze Sunday. A statue of Reuben Soderstrom was dedicated in his hometown of Streator.
Soderstrom, who died in 1970, had a hand in most of the labor-related bills when he served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1918 to 1936. And, for the last 40 years of his life, he was president of the Illinois Federation of Labor and AFL-CIO.
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With companies implementing two-tier wage systems and the governor and lawmakers thinking of ways to roll back pensions, Carl Soderstrom says his grandfather would be disappointed.
“I think that it wouldn’t have gone that far if Reuben was still around,” Carl Soderstrom says. “Reuben believed in capitalism; he was a Republican. But he also believed in unionism, and, for that reason, he was a labor leader. So he belonged to the Chamber of Commerce at the same time he was president of the Streator Trades and Labor Council.”