The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 79/No. 34      September 28, 2015

(front page)
Steelworkers rally against boss
cutback demands, ATI lockout
Karl Brendle
Steelworkers picket Allegheny Technologies official speaking in New York Sept. 9. ATI locked out workers Aug. 15. Bosses at three major steel companies are demanding deep concessions.

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. — Steelworkers at ArcelorMittal took action after representatives of the steel giant walked out of negotiations over the Sept. 12-13 weekend. ArcelorMittal is one of three major steel companies whose contracts have run out as bosses demand deep concessions.

Contracts covering some 13,000 Steelworkers at ArcelorMittal and 17,000 at U.S. Steel expired Sept. 1. Union members at 12 Allegheny Technologies Inc. facilities in six states have been walking the picket line since the company locked out 2,200 workers Aug. 15.

More than 100 members of United Steelworkers Local 1011, joined by several members of USW 1010, rallied outside the ArcelorMittal mill here Sept. 14.

“ArcelorMittal continues to demand major economic and non-economic concessions on many issues, such as vacation pay, incentive pay, sickness and accident benefits and transfer rights,” said an update issued Sept. 12 by Local 1011 leaders. The company also demands big concessions in medical benefits.

“The steel industry is like a rollercoaster, but we still have to sustain ourselves and our families,” Sherry Lane, an overhead crane operator, told the Militant. “We aren’t asking for more. We just want to keep up with inflation, maintain our health care, and work in a safe environment. We fight corporate greed on a daily basis. This is going to be a fight and we’re here today to let the world know we’re ready for it.”

LOUISVILLE, Ohio — About 40 locked-out Steelworkers from several locals took our fight for a fair contract at Allegheny Technologies Inc. to New York City Sept. 9.

It was a satisfying trip. For about two hours we chanted and held our signs high in front of the Grand Hyatt Hotel where ATI Vice President Dan Greenfield was speaking at an industry conference. Over the live web broadcast of the meeting, you can hear us chanting, “What do we want? A fair contract! When do we want it? Now!”

ATI is boasting that replacement workers are getting the job done. But from the picket line here, we see trucks bringing in a coil, and a few hours later the same coil is brought back out.

The United Steelworkers and ATI met with a federal mediator Sept. 11 to try to continue to bargain by ending the unfair lockout. The company was not willing to do that and didn’t move off their “last, best and final” Aug. 6 offer.

The union gave ATI a proposal on scheduling issues through mediation in a good faith attempt to move forward. The company left without responding to the union’s proposal, and hasn’t responded as to whether they will attend the next scheduled meeting.

Meanwhile, the USW remains unified in growing its solidarity on the picket lines and strategic rallies.

— Karl Brendle works at ATI in Louisville, Ohio, and is president of Steelworkers Local 1046

WASHINGTON, Pa. — I stood at the ATI plant gate on picket duty this week watching seven unmarked vans unloading 45 scab workers, of which 40 or so were people of color or females. ATI, a company that has hired few Black or female workers, is exploiting minority hands and feet to help break the back of organized labor. Currently, there are fewer than 10 African-Americans and fewer than 10 females out of 235 locked-out workers. I have heard all the excuses from the company about why this is so — “lack of qualifications, education and experience,” or, with shoulders shrugged, management says, “We can’t find any.”

As a Black man who has worked here since the mid-1980s, I can attest that under “normal” hiring circumstances, ATI would never hire so many women and Blacks. The new “complexion” of the scabs at my plant is an attempt by ATI and scab-supplier Strom Engineering to stir up the already volatile situation of the lockout.

Our union members support one another and continue to hold the picket line with discipline and respect.

Workers need to know the labor history of America. The divide-and-conquer tactics of the employers have often included efforts to pit workers against each other on the basis of race and sex.

Take time on picket duty to educate one another as proud, undivided workers. You cannot tell the story of this nation accurately without discussing the mechanisms of capitalist exploitation. “Educated” HR personnel often attend Dale Carnegie business courses. Likewise, workers must educate ourselves. Unions need to popularize labor causes. The infusion of information from papers like the Militant can go a long way in raising awareness of labor struggles.

We are more than the sum of our clock numbers!

— Marvin Dunklin is a member USW Local 7139 in Washington, Pa.
Related articles:
Oct. 11 Quebec protest set to demand rail safety
Fight frame-up of rail workers for 2013 disaster
On the Picket Line
Fight for $15, union drives mark NY Labor Day Parade  
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