Sadlowski was a candidate for president of the Steelworkers in 1977, running at the head of a reformist slate(Steelworkers Fight Back). During his campaign for District Director of District 31 in 1973, and the subsequent campaign for the presidency of the USWA, he was opposed by incumbent union leadership. During the 1977 election, Sadlowski ran against Lloyd McBride, who received substantial support from union officers and staff. Sadlowski raised donations from both inside and outside the union. Sadlowski lost the election, and the USWA subsequently outlawed such donations. Sadlowski sued to overturn the union rule on First Amendment grounds. Although he initially won his case at the federal district and appellate court levels, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the rulings. Sadlowski was featured in the first chapter of the novel "Never a City So Real: A Walk in Chicago," as well as the history "Homestead," and memoir "Which Side Are You On?"
He is currently a member of the advisory board for the Association for Union Democracy.
- Kotlowitz, Alex. Never a City So Real: A Walk in Chicago. New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2004. ISBN 1-4000-4621-1
- "No Go for Oilcan Eddie." Time. February 21, 1977.
- "U.S.W. Brawls, U.A.W Harmony." Time. January 17, 1977.
- The Association for Union Democracy.
- James Balanoff Papers. Calumet Regional Archives: CRA 417, Box 5. Legal Documents, Ed Sadlowski, 1977-1980. Online directory available.
- Steelworkers v. Sadlowski, 457 U.S. 102 (1982).
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