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Tell us how changes in technology, automation have impacted your workplace!

Mon, 08/02/2021 - 14:03

Automation and other changes with technology have impacted workers in every sector for decades, including the health care industry. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has accelerated this phenomenon over the past year and a half, and it shows no signs of stopping.

“This has been an ongoing issue,” said USW Health Care Workers Council Coordinator Tamara Lefcowitz in an informal focus group with several members about the survey last week. “Now we’ve been just been inundated due to COVID.”

From digital key fobs or surveillance cameras that could potentially be used to track and discipline workers, to increased usage of telehealth services, these issues are wide-reaching and highly consequential.

The USW Health Care Workers Council wants to know how these and other new technologies are affecting our members. We have teamed up with the USW Tony Mazzocchi Center (TMC) to create a brief, 5-minute survey on how this has impacted you and your workplaces.

You can access the survey here.

This is just one of the many steps our union is taking to address changing technology in health care, and we appreciate your (voluntary) participation!

August Update from SOAR President Bill Pienta

Mon, 08/02/2021 - 12:57
Celebrating Medicare and Social Security

Each year, in the early days of January, I’ll flip through my wall calendar and markdown important dates I’m looking forward to in the coming year, including holidays, vacations, birthdays and anniversaries like my wedding (obviously!) and the day I became a USW member. 

Since I retired in 2012, I’ve also gotten into the practice of marking down the anniversaries of Medicare (enacted in July of 1965) and Social Security (enacted in August of 1935) because, quite frankly, these two programs make it possible for me to celebrate all of these other milestones I’m marking on my calendar. 

This is not an exaggeration.  In 1935, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law, the average American was only expected to live 60 years.  By 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson enacted Medicare, life expectancy had increased to 70 years.  By 2018 the figure grew to 79 years. 

Together, Social Security and Medicare were intended to address two significant needs among Americans who are vulnerable because of age or disability:  1) access to health care and 2) a monthly financial supplement intended to help Americans avoid poverty after they retire. 

There are approximately 61 million Americans who access their health care through Medicare, and according to the recent Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS), 92 percent of recipients are satisfied with their overall care and access to health services through the program.  

According to a recent report from AARP, sixty-four million Americans currently receive a monthly monetary supplement from Social Security, a program deemed necessary by 96 percent of Americans.  The same report also found that a majority of Americans (56 percent) believe Social Security benefits have become even more critical during our post-pandemic economy (Source: www.socialsecurityworks.org).

For many Americans, the promise of Social Security and Medicare is the only thing that makes retirement possible.  As a retiree, one thing I know is that it is nice to be retired.  So, this July and August, I’ll be celebrating the anniversaries of Medicare and Social Security.  I hope you will as well.

August Update from SOAR Director Julie Stein

Mon, 08/02/2021 - 12:52
A Pandemic and a Promise

One of the lesser-mentioned but not surprising outcomes of the COVID pandemic is the notable increase of early retirements.  According to a recent report in the New York Times, retirements among Americans age 65 to 74 increased by nearly two percent since the beginning of the pandemic after experiencing a steady decline throughout the last 20 years.

Further, they reported that “the retirement rate rose during the pandemic for those 65 to 74, regardless of education level. But for those 55 to 64, the rate rose only for those without a college degree. In contrast, the retirement rate fell for 55 to 64-year-olds with a college degree.”

While their survey did not explore why people retired, this finding leads me to believe that older blue-collar workers were more likely to consider retirement because they felt more exposed in their workplaces compared to white-collar workers who could work safely from home.

However, it is going to take time for us to fully understand how Steelworkers were impacted by the pandemic, and it is possible this trend will continue as workers and employers struggle to adjust to new workplace rules and a delicate economic recovery.

Regardless, the last 15 months have served to me as a reminder of the importance of our work to ensure the promise of a secure retirement for all workers.  Our work to defend Medicare and Social Security is unending, and in the early months of 2021, we celebrated a massive victory when President Biden’s American Rescue Plan included the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act.

This concluded our decade-long fight to resolve the multiemployer pension crisis, and has had an immediate impact on more than 1.5 million workers, including 120,000 USW retirees.

We should never lose sight of the fact that our ability to retire often depends upon the decisions made by our lawmakers.  So, THANK YOU for being a part of our work to ensure everyone’s right to a secure retirement. 

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/12/upshot/retirements-increased-pandemic.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/09/the-pandemic-drove-these-americans-into-early-retirement.html

USW International Affairs Director Ben Davis Testifies at Senate Finance Committee Hearing on USMCA

Sun, 08/01/2021 - 14:13

USW International Affairs Director Ben Davis on July 27 testified at a Senate Finance Committee hearing marking the anniversary of the implementation of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Davis specifically addressed the labor protections Democrats and unions fought to include in the USMCA, a trade agreement that replaced the disastrous North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

In particular, Davis noted the significance of the rapid response mechanism developed by Sens. Ron Wyden and Sherrod Brown as a critical tool in holding Mexico accountable for enforcing its new labor laws and ultimately improving wages and working conditions across North America. 

This mechanism has been employed twice since the implementation of USMCA: a petition filed by the AFL-CIO to protect workers at Tridonex’s Matamoros plant and a USTR-initiated filing regarding violations of workers’ rights at a General Motors plant in Silao in northern Mexico.

Workers in both plants, like many workers in Mexico, are represented by company-aligned protection unions under which workers have no voice in choosing their union representatives and often have no knowledge of the contract that determines their wages and working conditions.

Davis, who also serves as chair of the Independent Mexico Labor Expert Board established by Congress to monitor USMCA implementation, said that unless this system is replaced with widespread access to democratic unions, corporations will continue to exploit workers in Mexico and pit them against their U.S. and Canadian counterparts. 

“Without a fundamental shift from protection unions like the ones at GM and Tridonex towards democratic labor organizations, no amount of government oversight will result in a trade union movement that can organize and bargain for higher wages for Mexican workers to address the structural inequality in the USMCA region that drives both migration and loss of good manufacturing jobs,” Davis said.

Davis stressed urgency in making this transition and recommended that at least $30 million annually of USMCA appropriated funds be devoted to worker organizing and union capacity building in Mexico.

The full hearing is available here.

 

Women paper workers talk shop, empowerment in USW webinar

Wed, 07/28/2021 - 13:43

The USW Paper Bargaining Conference hosted an inspiring and informative online discussion on Tues., July 20, about what it means to be a woman in the traditionally male-dominated paper industry.

USW Vice President Leeann Foster moderated the virtual town hall along with American Forest & Paper Association President (AF&PA) Heidi Brock. Foster grew up a paper worker’s kid and paid her way through college by working at the same plant that employed her father.

“I couldn’t have worked in the industry without the union, and I never forgot that,” said Foster.

The panelists consisted of six USW sisters who work at various paper mills and plants across the United States, including Cindy Moss, who works at the Essity Barton Mill in Cherokee, Ala. Moss, who is a new member of Local 9-1535, said that the stereotypical masculine veneer of manufacturing can be misleading to many young women looking for a career.

“There’s nothing out here a woman could not do,” said Moss.

Moss and others expressed a desire to do more community outreach via job fairs and plant tours specifically for women, who make up less than 12 percent of the sector.

Amy McGuire, who has worked at Essity for 18 years, said her life was as a young woman was made exponentially better because of the industry.

“It’s meant economic security,” said McGuire, who was also attending college at the time she started at Essity. “It provided a way for us to raise our family.”

Gwin Booker, who works at International Paper in Rome, Ga., also found her life uplifted by her union experience. Now a USW staff representative, Booker has been at International Paper for 20 years. 

“I’ve met people and been places I’ve never dreamed of because of the union and because of the industry,” said Booker.

The panel also featured Teresa Cassady, Assistant to District 1 Director Donnie Blatt, who talked about the union’s plan to bargain domestic violence leave and support language in future paper contracts.

She shared her own personal, harrowing experience of surviving domestic abuse and how it can impact both the victim’s life and their workplace.

“Domestic violence is not limited to women, but it does impact women at an alarming rate,” said Cassady. “I know this language will be life-changing for so many of our sisters, brothers and siblings.”

All in all, the panelists wanted the world to know that women need only to be given the opportunity to show they can rise to any task.

“We are listeners, we are leaders,” said Booker. “And we don’t like to be disregarded.

Watch the full online town hall below.

David McCall discusses domestic manufacturing policy, potential on the Leslie Marshall Show

Mon, 07/26/2021 - 12:41

USW International Vice President David McCall appeared on the Leslie Marshall Show last week to discuss the importance of American manufacturing to meaningful economic growth and the union’s upcoming We Supply America bus tour that will highlight jobs potential in a robust infrastructure investment.

“Manufacturing supplies all the critical goods we need and want,” said McCall. “It also provides good-paying jobs and good, family-sustaining jobs for the American workforce.”

McCall mentioned a shortage of computer chips in the auto industry as a glaring example of the country’s weakened supply chains. He also pointed to dependence on foreign producers for steel, aluminum and other essential goods as a national security threat.

“It's really time that people wake up and understand that the manufacturing sector has been weakened over the years and over the decades by bad trade policy and lack of attention to meaningful and sound economic growth,” said McCall.

A bipartisan, comprehensive infrastructure bill from Congress would help to strengthen those supply chains by boosting American manufacturing, while also making communities safer and more resilient. 

The USW is undertaking We Supply America bus tours in August to highlight the goods and services Steelworkers are already providing that can intersect with a modern infrastructure initiative. 

“It really is our opportunity to communicate with not only people in the communities where we live and work, but also with the general public and with the administration,” McCall said of the USW’s upcoming bus tour. 

“We need the support of Congress and continuing support from the administration to bring back our economy and bring back our jobs.”

Click below to listen to the full interview with David McCall about the importance of domestic manufacturing:

USW New Media · 07.26.202 USW VP David McCall on the Leslie Marshall Show

Negotiations heat up in Southern California for Local 7600

Mon, 07/26/2021 - 12:18

Things are heating up at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, where members of Local 7600 have held a summer series of solidarity actions, including button and sticker days, as a show of strength during what has proven to be a difficult start to their negotiations.

The union’s contract with Kaiser, which Steelworkers in Local 7600 negotiate as part of the 21-member Alliance of Health Care Unions, is set to expire in October. The USW represents about 7,500 workers across dozens of Kaiser Permanente locations.

While the union has proposed wage increases, expanded benefits and strengthened standards, Kaiser management has stressed “affordability,” making no mention of quality care. They have even suggested worker pay is too high.

The company made $16.3 billion in net profits between 2018 and 2020.

“It’s been frustrating to see the company place a higher value on their bottom line than they do on the people who are working every day to provide top-quality care,” said Michael Barnett, president of Local 7600.

Click here to follow the local’s #BestJobsBestCare campaign on Facebook.

USW Members Support Space Exploration

Wed, 07/21/2021 - 15:41

Nine highly skilled USW members at the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) use their expertise to help propel America’s spacecraft and rover systems across the solar system.

The members of Local 12-652 play a critical role making sophisticated tooling and producing secure shipping for the radioisotope power system, a generator with a radioactive power source, and the heat sources needed to fuel it. Eight of them work as machinists and one as a welder in the machine shop at the Materials and Fuels Complex in support of the Space and Security Power Systems Facility.

The power system runs on plutonium-238, which gives off a steady supply of heat as it decays. It’s a reliable energy source that lasts for decades allowing scientists to operate spacecraft or rover systems such as scientific instruments, robotic arms, computers, radio and drive systems.

These generators currently power the New Horizons mission to Pluto, and the Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity and Mars 2020’s Perseverance rovers. These devices provide the onboard heat and electrical power for NASA’s planetary missions. 

Pictured: Employees test the latest radioisotope power system, called the multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator, for the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. (Department of Energy)

“It’s pretty exciting being a part of the Mars rover and space,” said Local 12-652 member Brandon Ferguson. “I can tell my family what I’ve done, and they can see it on TV.”

The USW members build specific fixtures, like the casks that ship the power systems to NASA in Florida and the heat sources needed to fuel the power systems. USW members also perform preventative and corrective maintenance.

Dr. Steve Johnson, director of Space Nuclear Systems and Isotope Technologies Division, said the space generator program involves “a great team effort and everyone contributes to the project. We count on the USW members.”

Precision required

Precision work is key to the tools the USW members create.

“We work within tight tolerances on the tools we make,” said Ferguson, an 11-year INL veteran who is a machinist and runs a dual spindle lathe with live tooling. “The tolerances we deal with are like .0005 of an inch. It takes a lot of experience to hold this tolerance.”

The machinists program and set up their own equipment and run a part from start to finish. Usually they work on one or two intricate parts on non-typical and exotic alloyed materials and non-metallic material such as graphite and plastics. 

Ferguson said it is easy to make a mistake while using these materials, and they cannot be reused if an error occurs. He said the diversity of material is a challenge, but also rewarding. 

Welding also must be precise. It requires exceptional ability to weld non-typical and exotic materials to the required specifications.  Knowing the proper distance, angle, speed, and heat to use are essential.

Ferguson and his coworkers collaborate with the engineers, who answer their questions and help them solve problems. They also suggest changes in designs for parts to make them more precise and easier to produce.

“We take pride in what we do,” Ferguson said, “and strive to be the best for all the engineering groups we work with.”

It’s Time to Pass the PRO Act! Contact Your Senators Today!

Wed, 07/21/2021 - 11:18

Recently, USW organizers were on the ground in South Carolina, talking to workers at Giti Tire about joining our union. Within hours, the company held mandatory meetings with the workers at the plant and sent a letter to their homes discouraging them from organizing.

We know that if labor reform like the PRO Act doesn’t happen, Giti will continue to intimidate its workers and likely retaliate or fire those who fight to get the union in.

The purposes of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act are simple: to ensure workers can push for the changes we want to see at our jobs without fear of retaliation, and to strengthen workers’ rights to form a union and negotiate for those changes if we so choose.

The PRO Act ensures that employers cannot:

  • Fire and permanently replace workers who are on strike.
  • Lock out, suspend or withhold work from employees to stop them from striking.
  • Tell employees that they are independent contractors when they are actually employees.
  • Force employees to attend anti-union messaging meetings.
  • Change work conditions, pay or benefits while negotiating a union contract.
  • Force employees to waive their right to collective and class legal action.
  • Prohibit employees from using work computers for collective action.

Currently, there are no penalties for employers like Giti who illegally retaliate against or fire workers for collective action. The bill is necessary because our woefully outdated labor laws are no longer effective as a means for working people to have our voices heard.

This week, the AFL-CIO is holding a PRO Act week of action. Here are three ways you can make your voice heard: 

  1. Click HERE to send an email to your Senators urging them to support the PRO Act.
  2. Call your Senators at 877-607-0785, tell them who you are, where you are from, and that you are counting on them to PASS the PRO Act.
  3. Click HERE to find PRO Act week of action events near you.

 

Bishop Noa Workers Ratify First Contract

Mon, 07/19/2021 - 15:40

Workers at Bishop Noa Home in Escanaba, Mich., ratified their first contract July 15 after a bitter, protracted battle to secure a deal.

The approximately 55 certified nursing assistants and dietary, environmental services and laundry workers at the senior living center will form two new units of Local 2-21. Members of Local 2-21, many of whom work at the nearby Verso paper mill, stood in solidarity with Bishop Noa workers throughout their campaign to beat back major concessions and finally secure an agreement.

Bishop Noa workers first organized nearly four years ago. They came to the table committed to negotiating a fair deal but were instead subjected to repeated attempts to break their resolve, including management bringing in an out-of-town union-busting lawyer who tried to bully workers into submission. 

Even without a contract, the union was able to prevent widescale layoffs over the course of negotiations and advocate for the workers during the pandemic, including securing across-the-board hazard pay.

Now, thanks to the agreement, they have a formal voice in the workplace that gives them a say in vital issues like workplace health and safety.

Local 1-689 Pushes Reindustrialization of Former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant

Mon, 07/19/2021 - 13:33

Local 1-689 leaders met separately with a top Department of Energy (DOE) official and an Ohio congressman to gauge their support for possible initiatives that could bring jobs to the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant after the cleanup work is completed.

“Right now, the mission at Portsmouth is to tear it all down. You have to change missions and establish new projects in order to keep people working,” said Herman Potter, Local 1-689 president. “The majority of the workforce is doing decontamination and decommissioning work. Once the buildings are down, there’s no jobs.”

He said he would like to see DOE connect its EM mission at Portsmouth with a reindustrialization program similar to what is happening at the former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant site, which is now called the East Tennessee Technology Park. As cleanup advances there, DOE transfers more facilities and land for reuse and development, which saves taxpayer dollars and accelerates economic development in the region.

Potter  and Local 1-689 vice president Tom Lamerson, raised the possibility of job creation initiatives with DOE Environmental Management (EM) Acting Assistant Secretary William “Ike” White when he met with union leadership from Local 1-689 and the building trades.

White visited the former uranium enrichment plant, located near Piketon, Ohio, the end of June to see progress of the demolition and disposal work that is part of the decontamination and decommissioning of the site.

They also flagged their concerns with Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan spoke with Potter and Lamerson on July 9. Ryan is running for the Senate seat vacated by Rob Portman, who also has a relationship with the local.

Pictured: Tom Lamerson, Herman Potter and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio)

Potter and Lamerson suggested to White and Ryan that Congress appropriate more funding for Centrus Energy Corp.’s American Centrifuge Project at its high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) enrichment facility at the site. Potter estimated that at full operation, the centrifuge plant could generate between 400 and 500 new USW jobs, since the union represents the existing workforce.

Another initiative that would bring jobs to the site is the recovery of 140 metric tons of nickel that could be cleaned and resold. In 2000, DOE Secretary Bill Richardson placed a moratorium on the recycling and reuse of metals from DOE sites. Since then, the technology to clean nickel has advanced, Potter said, but the moratorium would have to be lifted. The local inserted language into its contracts that any recycling would be done by USW workers.

Other job creation initiatives Potter and Lamerson raised with White concerned the creation of an energy hub that would include small modular reactors, recycling of steel beams, worker training and re-establishing a petrochemical initiative a former DOE Secretary proposed several years ago.

Legislative Director Roy Houseman Testifies for Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth on “Defending and Investing in U.S. Competitiveness”

Wed, 07/14/2021 - 10:00

On July 14, 2021 Legislative Director Roy Houseman estified for the Committee on Finance's Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth hearing on “Defending and Investing in U.S. Competitiveness.” 

You can read his full testimony below or click here to download it as a PDF.

Chairwoman Warren, Ranking Member Cassidy, thank you for the opportunity to testify today on defending and investing in U.S. competitiveness. As a former trade impacted mill worker, and now Legislative Director for the largest industrial union in North America, it is an honor to be a voice for organized workers in this discussion and our union’s international President Tom Conway gives his regards. 

The United Steelworkers (USW) is the largest industrial union in North America, representing workers throughout the manufacturing sector. Our union’s representation in commodities, which Americans and people across the globe use every day – from paper, steel, fiber optics, to tires –, provides a unique lens into U.S. competitiveness. It is also important to note that as our economy has changed over the decades, our union continues to evolve, representing workers in industries from software development to electric bus assembly to healthcare. 

Defending and strengthening our country’s competitiveness requires at least three key strategic shifts: refocusing federal domestic investments on critical infrastructure; retooling our labor and environmental laws for a twenty-first century democracy; and exporting not just our goods, but our ideals, for a just global economy. Trade policy in particular must play a dual role of defending our communities from unfair trade practices by governments and foreign multi-national corporations, while ensuring the goods and services our workers produce can reach global markets. 

Domestic Investment 

Turning first to domestic investment, the USW takes a holistic approach to our country’s infrastructure. Right now, Steelworkers local unions across the country are working with their respective employers to send letters to the Biden administration in a campaign called “We Supply America”. This campaign emphasizes the critical role USW members play in America’s infrastructure supply chain. For example, on our country’s interstate highway system Steelworkers provide everything from steel for the over 6 million tons of guard rails to the pigment for paint that guides travelers every day. They provide the steel that supports our bridges and buttresses our ports. From roads and bridges to our electric grid to broadband and so many other areas, our members produce the products that are needed. That is why we are hopeful and anxious to review the details of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework.

If done right, this framework has the potential to upgrade our crumbling infrastructure and coupled with strong domestic procurement policies that ensure American manufacturing workers benefit from the tax dollars spent across the country. We know this new investment is needed when, for example, 6 billion gallons of treated water is lost each day in the U.S. That is over four million-gallon jugs of lost drinking water in the 5 minutes set aside for my oral testimony. We can do better, and our members who work at companies, like McWane, stand ready at the crucible to pour melted iron for the next generation of water infrastructure should Congress move on this historic investment. 

As the largest union in hard rock mining, we recognize the potential that a changing transportation infrastructure creates for miners of copper and other metals here in the U.S., and the new opportunities that clean technology will present for workers in the supply chain. But, even aggressive electric vehicle (EV) uptake will not completely replace traditional fuels in the near term. For example, Bloomberg estimates that EV sales will only reach 34.3 percent by 2030. This means there will be a continuing need for traditional fuels and refineries, most of which are represented by our union. These workers have bargained generous pay and benefits for safely and efficiently refining hydrocarbons over the years, supplying America with the needed fuels to drive the country and our military.

The U.S. can achieve a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, while still maintaining production and employment in energy-intensive, trade-exposed industries, but it will require workers, government, and industry working together. Our union is prepared to tackle this challenge in the many carbon intensive industries where we have members. That is why we are working closely with our member companies and community stakeholders to encourage investment in Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration (CCUS) and Direct Air Capture (DAC) Technology and supporting legislation like the SCALE Act (S. 986) and the CATCH Emissions Act (S. 2230). 

A mix of policies will be needed for these changes. For example, the USW urges Congress to invest in Section 132 Manufacturing Conversion / Industrial Retooling Grant program, which was established under the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, but never funded. This and other strategic manufacturing investment programs would provide capital for the conversion and retooling of industrial facilities.3 

Investing in American Workers   

Domestic investments in infrastructure and industrial capacity will be key to building a twenty-first century economy. But, physical infrastructure is only one leg in a stool toward a prosperous, equitable, and just democracy. Our human infrastructure needs investment as well to ensure that America’s workers have the knowledge and skills to face global competition and to combat growing income inequality. Whether it is preparing for the next pandemic, eliminating systemic racism, improving childcare, or increasing worker power – the tools to empower workers and their communities need improving. 

According to the Economic Policy Institute, de-unionization explains approximately a third of the growth of the wage gap between high- and middle-wage earners over the 1979–2017 period. Unions have played a key role in improving hours, wages, and working conditions for the country’s 150 million plus workers, but eroded labor laws are undermining take home pay for everyone. The drop in union membership has taken $52 weekly out of nonunion working men's wages alone since 1979. 

Economic disparities for communities of color are also reduced with unionization. Black workers —both men and women— are more likely than white workers to be covered by collective bargaining, and the wage boost that they get from being covered by collective bargaining is 13.1 percent, above the 10.2 percent average wage boost for unionized workers overall. 

These are a few of the reasons why the USW supports the passage of the PRO Act (H.R. 842). Labor law reform has the potential to reduce income inequality, which is vital to creating a competitive economy. For example, research indicates in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, the average increase in inequality of 3 Gini points over the past couple of decades is estimated to have cut GDP by around 8.5 percent. We are seeing reduced economic mobility for the middle class and fewer children growing up in the bottom of the income distribution are able to climb to the top. Improved bargaining power through simple things, such as holding corporations truly accountable for unfair labor practices and allowing workers to get a contract, when combined with investments in our children and our working families, will bend the arc of inequality back in favor of workers.

Inequality destabilizes and undermines long term educational achievement as well, creating jarring inequities. Research has shown spending on “enrichment” activities for children like books, childcare, and non-school activities among the bottom fifth of the income distribution rose by just over 55 percent between the mid-1970s to around $1,300 in the mid-2000s. Among the top fifth, however, it rose by over 155 percent to $9,000 per child.9 We are permitting an increasingly tiered society with an enormous waste of human potential, but the Steelworkers union sees a path to reverse this trend with the Biden Administration’s proposals to upgrade and invest in child care facilities, while providing aid to workers who need child care through the American Jobs Plan and American Family Plan. 

Our country will also need to improve our training programs for both dislocated and incumbent workers. Unions already provide a significant role in training the manufacturing workforce. As an example, United States Steel and USW have contract language, which incorporates training coordinators who work with management to ensure that workers “receive sufficient training to allow for all reasonable opportunities to progress within the workforce and maximize their skills to the greatest extent possible”. For manufacturing employers who often have specialized equipment that require hands-on experience, the federal government should provide resources to support hands-on training coordinators, and also to reward employers who have established relationships with incumbent worker training programs through collective bargaining. 

The U.S. must improve resources available for adult worker training. The U.S. is among the worst of all 37 countries in the OECD in job training programs relative to the size of our economy. Public spending is less than half the spending levels of Australia, Canada, and the U.K., and one-sixth the level of spending in Germany.

The USW is dismayed that Congress has allowed the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for dislocated workers impacted by an increasing globalized economy to revert to an inadequate older program. Today a worker who loses their job to unfair competition from China – with which we had a $310.8 billion trade deficit in 2020 – cannot get TAA benefits. This is unacceptable and the union supports a healthy reauthorization of the TAA program similar to legislative proposals put forward by Senator Stabenow. As a past recipient of TAA benefits, I know how important this program is.  

A Worker-Centered Trade Agenda 

This discussion on dislocated worker training leads to the final leg of the U.S. competitiveness stool: building a robust worker-centered trade agenda. The USW, which has participated in over 100 anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations, and is the largest union in steel and aluminum manufacturing vital to our critical infrastructure and national security, and currently benefit from section 232 safeguards. For us, getting trade policy right is a must for a sustainable, competitive economy. 

Our trade policy must continue to evolve. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was a significant improvement over inadequate multilateral trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Brown-Wyden Rapid Response Mechanism is already leading to investigations of labor violations by employers in Mexico and the first remediation plan was announced last week. We will closely watch the results of this remediation plan, but remain concerned that Mexico’s labor reforms are moving too slowly. The resources must be quickly deployed to enhance on-the-ground labor capacity building. 

Other elements of the USMCA agreement also provide framework for a more worker-centered trade policy. The Rules of Origin for automobiles, which require 75 percent of a vehicle content to originate in North America, is a solid step to rewarding employers who manufacture in North America. Combined with the novel labor value content rule for automobiles, future trade agreement negotiations can no longer ignore wages and benefits. These provisions were an improvement over the original flawed NAFTA, but they are far from perfect. They provide a floor for potential future trade agreements, but they are not a template. 

It should also be noted that the voting margins in support of USMCA in Congress show that the Trade Promotion Authority or expedited voting authority is unnecessary if stakeholders are meaningfully engaged. 

U.S. competitiveness requires a “zero tolerance” policy toward forced labor and the countries who permit its existence in their supply chains, from manufacturing to fishing, and must be severely sanctioned. Earlier this year USW member and tire worker Joe Wrona testified before the full Finance Committee on the impact of forced labor on his job and the solar supply chain in China.15 Broader reforms are needed to combat forced labor, particularly in China, and the USW supports Representatives McGovern and Smith’s Bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (H.R. 1155). 

But, there must also be broader unilateral and multi-lateral reform efforts to uphold democratic values in our trade negotiations. Global overcapacity in products, such as steel and aluminum, will need to be reduced if we are to preserve strategic domestic industries and push back on state-capitalist models. China’s Belt and Road initiative has led to expansions of dumped and subsidized goods entering from third party countries. However, our trade enforcement tools have not yet been upgraded to contain this growing problem. 

Fortunately, Senator Brown and Senator Portman are leading with a much-needed update to our trade enforcement laws. Commonly referred to as “Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0”, S.1187 recognizes that as globalization accelerates, our trade enforcement mechanism must move at the speed of our increasingly digitalized economy. USW urges the Congress to pass this legislation. 

The World Trade Organization (WTO) will also need to be reformed to better account for labor and environmental protections. Trade policy debates can no longer be conducted simplistically in terms of Economics 101 notions of comparative advantage, but require a recognition that repression of fundamental workers’ rights in China and other countries violates international law and adversely affects American workers. We are heartened by Ambassador Tai’s recent remarks at the AFL-CIO on increasing workers’ voices at the WTO to improve global labor rights.

Finally, 52 years ago a U.S. river physically catching fire from industrial pollution finally pressed lawmakers over the line to create the Environmental Protection Agency, an agency responsible for dramatic improvements of our air and water quality. But, a lack of recognition that corporations will outsource their pollution if permitted has led to ecological disasters such as less than a third of Mexico’s industrial wastewater being treated. This lack of equal treatment and accountability has meant corporate investments abroad have avoided domestic pollution controls such as those for lead acid batteries. And, it is well documented that trade agreements can also shrink the “policy space” available to countries to tackle climate change.

Future trade policy will also need to address carbon in a sensible way that prevents “carbon leakage”. The USW has long advocated for sensible climate change policy, including policy which addresses carbon border adjustments so carbon intensive industries are not disadvantaged as they adhere to new government policies.

Ensuring that the U.S. and its workers remain competitive will require a whole of government approach that includes both investment in our country’s infrastructure and workers, and an ever-evolving trade policy, which defends against trade abuses and encourages exports while raising global labor and environmental standards. USW members stand ready to make this the future. Thank you for the opportunity to testify. 

References:

https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2006/3127/2006-3127.pdf 

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-26/where-we-are-on-the-road-to-electric-vehicles-quicktake?sref=HEwoTbCT 

https://docs.house.gov/meetings/AP/AP10/20210317/111330/HHRG-117-AP10-Wstate-BrownR-20210317.pdf 

https://www.epi.org/publication/unions-help-reduce-disparities-and-strengthen-our-democracy/  

https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/9789264246010-6-en.pdf?expires=1625932386&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=DE7CCC1AD26D92DBB4C2F988581753B6 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/13/american-dream-broken-upward-mobility-us 

https://edlabor.house.gov/imo/media/doc/PRO%20ACT%20-%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/9789264246010-6-en.pdf?expires=1625932386&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=DE7CCC1AD26D92DBB4C2F988581753B6 

https://uswlocals.org/system/files/2018_uss-usw_pm_bla_printer.pdf 

https://www.oecd.org/unitedstates/back-to-work-united-states-9789264266513-en.htm 

https://www.thebalance.com/u-s-china-trade-deficit-causes-effects-and-solutions-3306277 

https://www.stabenow.senate.gov/news/senators-stabenow-peters-introduce-bill-to-support-workers-impacted-by-trade 

https://ustr.gov/about-us/policy-offices/press-office/press-releases/2021/july/united-states-and-mexico-announce-course-remediation-workers-rights-denial-auto-manufacturing

https://www.finance.senate.gov/download/03182021-wrona-testimony 

https://ustr.gov/about-us/policy-offices/press-office/press-releases/2021/june/remarks-ambassador-katherine-tai-outlining-biden-harris-administrations-worker-centered-trade-policy 

http://ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Cuyahoga_River_Fire 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/30/world/americas/mexico-environment-trade.html 

https://www.sierraclub.org/sites/www.sierraclub.org/files/uploads-wysiwig/NAFTA%20and%20Climate%20Report%202018.pdf 

https://iccwbo.org/content/uploads/sites/3/2019/03/icc-report-trade-and-climate-change.pdf 

https://www.congress.gov/116/meeting/house/110026/documents/HHRG-116-CN00-20190926-SD003.pdf  

USW health care workers showcase their solidarity during negotiations

Mon, 07/12/2021 - 10:13

Members of Local 7600 held a button and sticker week at the end of June to showcase their solidarity amidst a tough round of negotiations with health care giant Kaiser-Permanente.

Workers across multiples Southern California locations and unions belonging to the Alliance of Health Care Unions (AHCU), including the USW, participated in the week-long campaign and shared photos online of their gear.

Click here to watch a slideshow from Local 7600. And click here to follow AHCU and their fight for the #BestJobsBestCare.

PRO Act Would Rebuild Labor Movement

Thu, 07/08/2021 - 10:01


Biden, Democrats Breathe New Life into Legislation to Restore Workers’ Rights

A new president and Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress have given new life to a bill that would restore union rights and level the playing field for workers more than any time since the New Deal reforms that followed the Great Depression.

The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act would mean better wages, benefits and working conditions for all workers as many more Americans would have a fair shot at joining a union. The bill would remove unnecessary barriers to joining unions and would establish meaningful penalties against employers who illegally try to bully and intimidate workers into halting unionization efforts.

The U.S. House passed the legislation in February in a bipartisan vote. It faces a tougher battle in the U.S. Senate, where Republicans continue to employ the filibuster to thwart much of the majority’s pro-worker agenda. 

Unnecessary Delays

One employer that used a host of bullying and obstruction tactics in recent years was Kumho Tire in Macon, Ga. Though the workers were eventually successful in joining the USW, their efforts were met with a vicious union-busting campaign and years of delays. The company’s behavior included repeated threats to workers, unwarranted dismissals, illegal interrogations and creating the impression of surveillance.

“For too long, corporations and their political cronies have been chipping away at workers’ rights, making it harder for them to band together,” said International President Tom Conway. “The PRO Act is a much-needed corrective to this assault on workers’ power. It will pave the way for American workers to better advocate for themselves and their families.”

The legislation also would set realistic deadlines for companies and union members to bargain first contracts following successful organizing drives. Under current rules, companies often employ high-priced union-busting lawyers to drag the process out for years in an attempt to frustrate workers and stymie their efforts, even in cases where large majorities voted for representation.

Halting Union-Busting

In many cases, workers who want a union don’t even get to the point where they begin to negotiate, because for decades labor laws have been written to favor union-busting employers rather than workers.

When Duane Forbes and his co-workers tried to form a union at Orchid Orthopedic Solutions in Bridgeport, Mich., the company hired five union-busters to harass workers. They badgered employees regularly on the shop floor, issuing veiled threats that the medical device factory would close or cut off workers’ health care if they voted to join the union. The vote eventually fell short.

“Fear was their main tactic. Fear is the hardest thing to overcome,” Forbes said. “There was nowhere to go. You couldn’t just go to work and do your job anymore.”

Under current labor law, union-busting employers engage in such behavior regularly with little to no consequences. The PRO Act would change that and usher in a new era of union organizing not seen in decades.

Workers Want Unions

Polls show that more than 60 percent of U.S. workers would join a union if given the choice. Yet, unions in 2020 only represented 10.8 percent of the American work force, a number that has fallen by roughly half over the past 40 years.

President Joe Biden, both on the campaign trail and now in the Oval Office, has promised to reverse that trend and restore the voice of workers.

“The middle class built this country, and unions built the middle class,” Biden said in March. Unions, he said, “increase wages, improve the quality of jobs and protect job security, protect against racial and all other forms of discrimination and sexual harassment, and protect workers’ health, safety, and benefits in the workplace.”

“I urge Congress to send the PRO Act to my desk,” he said.

The new law, the president said, would usher in an era of prosperity for working families like the nation saw in the decades that followed the passage of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935.

Perhaps even more importantly, said Conway, the PRO Act will restore the voices of American workers so they can be equal partners in the decisions that affect their lives and communities.

“The opportunity to organize and bargain collectively is one of our most fundamental rights as workers,” Conway said. “If we truly want to rebuild our nation’s middle class and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to realize the American dream, we must enact pro-worker legislation, starting with the PRO Act.”


Call Your Senators

The Rapid Response team is asking USW members across the country to contact their U.S. senators and urge them to vote YES for the PRO Act to restore workers’ rights.

Please call your senators at: 877-607-0785. (Remember, you have two senators, so be sure to make two calls!)

U.S. Chemical Industry Mid-Year Outlook Reveals Demand Growth

Thu, 07/08/2021 - 08:34

Chemical sales are rebounding as the nation starts reopening after the Covid-19 pandemic, but full recovery may take until 2023, according to an economist with the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

Pent-up demand during the pandemic is fueling growth in durable goods like cars and appliances and propelling a corresponding increase in chemical sales, said the ACC’s chief economist Dr. Thomas Kevin Swift. The ACC is a trade council for 150 U.S. chemical companies and businesses.

With the economy reopening and a rebound in world trade, Swift expects to see gains in all the performance metrics this year for the sector, he said during a June 30 webinar for chemical processing engineers, managers and staff.

While chemicals tied to manufacturing and industrial activity like auto production are recovering quickly, sales of basic chemicals, which are made in large quantities and go into products for industrial and consumer use, are rebounding at a lesser pace, said Swift. He expects growth to continue into 2022 and beyond.

Demand for plastic virgin resins remains strong  and will increase incrementally the next five years.

Swift said he expects supply chain shortages to last at least into the fall. These challenges are pushing prices up and are interfering with full recovery, though chemical trade worldwide is returning more quickly than the ACC expected.

The United States is also still very competitive in the chemical sector when compared to the rest of the world, particularly given its well trained and highly productive labor force, Swift said.

To read Dr. Swift’s presentation on the state of the chemical industry, go HERE.

Former OSHA Head Advocates Better Safety and Health System to Protect Workers and the Public

Wed, 07/07/2021 - 12:33

Dr. David Michaels, who ran the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for eight years, recently discussed his vision for overhauling the agency to increase worker safety and the opportunity to do so under the Biden administration’s worker-friendly climate.

In an interview with Chemical and Engineering News, Michaels cited the extended lead time required to create a final standard that he and—even the agency—admit is oftentimes too weak.

Michaels also said that inadequate penalties for violating these standards, a low number of workplace safety inspectors for a growing workforce, opportunities for opponents to delay or block stronger regulations, and a lack of protection for contract, temporary or gig workers mandate a new approach to workplace safety.

President Biden has already indicated support for increasing worker safety, including issuing an executive order on inauguration day that calls for modernizing federal regulations. Michaels would like to see Biden keep up this momentum with an overhaul of the current workplace safety regulatory system.

To read more about OSHA and Michaels’ thoughts about U.S. workplace safety, go HERE.

3M Workers Unanimously Approve 3-Year Contract With Wage Gains, Other Improvements

Tue, 07/06/2021 - 08:38

Members of Local 4-574 at 3M’s Tilton, N.H., plant unanimously approved a three-year contract on June 5 that included improvements throughout the agreement.

“We gained in wages, the pension and got the language we wanted,” said Local 4-574 President Earl Lockwood. “I think our contract is getting better and stronger. When 3M bought us 12- to -13 years ago, they didn’t recognize the old contract, and since then, we’ve been building language back into it. I think the new agreement is clear and concise.”

The 35 members who work in maintenance, production and the shipping department will receive 2.5 percent wage increases each year of the contract, which begins July 1, 2021 and ends July 1, 2024.

The local improved retirement security by negotiating increases in the defined benefit pension.

The new contract includes a progression system to reach the top job level; streamlined and clear language on call-in pay; insertion of flextime language; a limit on the number of hours that can be worked in a 24-hour period, and improved union leave language.

Lockwood said 3M is looking to invest in the site, hire another 10 bargaining unit employees by the end of the year and change to an 8-hour, 3-shift structure. With these changes, he said the local decided to insert a firm date of Dec. 1, 2021, within the new contract for both parties to review all job descriptions. This provision meets the one-time job description review required in the agreement.

Negotiating this new contract only took three days, and Lockwood attributed that to the new management team that came in 14 months ago and membership participation in creating the local’s proposal.

“This management team is willing to work with us more than the last group of managers,” Lockwood said. “They ask us questions about the contract, ask us for our opinions, and are very good about coming and talking to the union.”

Members provided suggestions for the contract via a drop box, and the negotiating committee talked with each member to see what they wanted in the agreement. This created the solidarity the local needed to achieve a favorable settlement.

Local 4-574 members make insulating paper for motors and transformers. This paper forms the “honeycomb” placed into Humvee doors to make them bullet-proof. It also is used in electric cars, LED lighting and welding units.

Southeast Chicago SOAR Chapter 31-9 Commemorates 84th Anniversary of Memorial Day Massacre

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 09:06

Despite the pandemic, Southeast Chicago SOAR Chapter 31-9 safely gathered to commemorate the 84th anniversary of the Memorial Day Massacre at Republic Steel.

Chapter 31-9 held a live-streamed outdoor gathering and a rose-laying ceremony at the memorial site.


Pictured: USW District 7 Director Mike Millsap and SOAR VICE President Scott Marshall

Dr. Rev. Zaki L. Zaki, Senior Pastor of the United Methodist Church, kicked off the event with the invocation. He said, “The ten who were killed on Memorial Day, 1937, did not die in vain.” He commended members of SOAR and praised the leadership of Ed Sadlowski, deceased leader of USW District 7, for keeping the memory of the martyrs alive.

Rev. Zaki was followed by Bill Alexander, President of Southeast Chicago SOAR, who welcomed all and gave a brief overview of the demands of the steelworkers in 1937. Alexander explained that the Wagner Act of 1935 gave workers the right to organize unions but did not force employers to sign a first contract. He also exaplined that The PRO act, a pro-worker piece of legislation awaiting a vote in the Senate, goes further than the Wagner Act and provides for arbitration, if needed, to guarantee a first contract after a year of negotiations.

Sue Sadlowski Garza, Alderwoman of the 10th Ward, and daughter of Ed Sadlowski, said that in the 10th Ward, people remember the 1937 fight for workers’ rights. She described that fight in detail and pledged never to forget the martyrs in the cause of union rights.

Next, the Women of Steel, the women’s caucus of United Steelworkers, AFL-CIO, gave a dramatic presentation that highlighted the Martyrs’ sacrifice. Each woman, dressed in black, called out the name of each Martyr. They told how each was killed, in most cases by a bullet in the back. In an impressive ceremony, Women of Steel draped each cross in black, ten in all.

Then Donald Davis, history teacher at Washington H.S. and Chicago Teachers Union activist, read from the two winners of the student essay contest sponsored by SOAR. The essay contest was about the Memorial Day Massacre and its relevance today in the fight for the PRO Act, the Protect the Right to Organize Act. Winners of the SOAR scholarship were Brianna Costillo and Alejandro Rojas.

The last speaker was Bea Lumpkin, 102-year old retiree leader and a CIO organizer in 1937. She demanded answers to “Who was punished, who went to jail for these murders?” Lumpkin replied, “Nobody!”

Placing roses on the monument to the martyrs was the final ceremony.

As they walked to the monument across the street, all sang labor’s song, Solidarity, led by Mike Wolfe, the SOAR chapter Financial Secretary. Everyone placed a rose on the monument, inspired by those who gave their lives fighting for a Union and better conditions for workers and their families.

New video tells the story of the deadly attacks on workers in 1937

Chapter 31-9 also commemorated the 84th anniversary of the Memorial Day Massacre by publishing a new video that outlines the events of that day at Republic Steel, and other attacks on workers in the steel industry across the country at that time.

Watch the video and read a short description below.

It began peacefully with the winning of a union contract between SWOC, Steel Workers Organizing Committee-CIO, and US Steel in March, 1937. Victories included the 8-hour day with time-and-a-half for overtime and the 40-hour week. But the basic victory was union recognition and the respect that a union brings.

Workers at Republic Steel and other companies had also joined SWOC. But the smaller steel companies (Little Steel) refused to sign a contract, forcing 80,000 to strike for union recognition on May 26, 1937.  Republic Steel in Chicago was especially brutal. In Chicago, Republic Steel Company housed and fed 270 uniformed Chicago City Police in the mill, even issued them tear gas and lethal weapons. This police army forcibly broke up peaceful mass picketing the first day of the strike. 

Four days later, Memorial Day, 1937, 1500 strikers, family members and friends, rallied on the prairie next to Republic Steel. There was a picnic atmosphere with good weather and children having fun. About 1000 joined the walk to peacefully mass picket. When 200 uniformed police stopped them, strikers told police that they had a legal right to picket. As they were talking, police shots rang out, mowing down unarmed strikers who were running away from the massive shooting and merciless clubbing. Four died on that killing field. Six more died soon after from a total lack, of or too-long-delayed medical treatment. At least two children were among the over 100 wounded. 

Just the day before the Chicago Massacre, in the Akron, Ohio Little Steel Strike, two had been killed in what became known as “The Women’s Day Massacre”. So vicious were the Little Steel employers that four additional strikers were killed during this strike, elsewhere in Ohio.

Southeast Chicago SOAR Chapter 31-7 Commemorates 84th Anniversary of Memorial Day Massacre

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 09:06

Despite the pandemic, Southeast Chicago SOAR Chapter 31-7 safely gathered to commemorate the 84th anniversary of the Memorial Day Massacre at Republic Steel.

Chapter 31-7 held a live-streamed outdoor gathering and a rose-laying ceremony at the memorial site.


Pictured: USW District 7 Director Mike Millsap and SOAR VICE President Scott Marshall

Dr. Rev. Zaki L. Zaki, Senior Pastor of the United Methodist Church, kicked off the event with the invocation. He said, “The ten who were killed on Memorial Day, 1937, did not die in vain.” He commended members of SOAR and praised the leadership of Ed Sadlowski, deceased leader of USW District 7, for keeping the memory of the martyrs alive.

Rev. Zaki was followed by Bill Alexander, President of Southeast Chicago SOAR, who welcomed all and gave a brief overview of the demands of the steelworkers in 1937. Alexander explained that the Wagner Act of 1935 gave workers the right to organize unions but did not force employers to sign a first contract. He also exaplined that The PRO act, a pro-worker piece of legislation awaiting a vote in the Senate, goes further than the Wagner Act and provides for arbitration, if needed, to guarantee a first contract after a year of negotiations.

Sue Sadlowski Garza, Alderwoman of the 10th Ward, and daughter of Ed Sadlowski, said that in the 10th Ward, people remember the 1937 fight for workers’ rights. She described that fight in detail and pledged never to forget the martyrs in the cause of union rights.

Next, the Women of Steel, the women’s caucus of United Steelworkers, AFL-CIO, gave a dramatic presentation that highlighted the Martyrs’ sacrifice. Each woman, dressed in black, called out the name of each Martyr. They told how each was killed, in most cases by a bullet in the back. In an impressive ceremony, Women of Steel draped each cross in black, ten in all.

Then Donald Davis, history teacher at Washington H.S. and Chicago Teachers Union activist, read from the two winners of the student essay contest sponsored by SOAR. The essay contest was about the Memorial Day Massacre and its relevance today in the fight for the PRO Act, the Protect the Right to Organize Act. Winners of the SOAR scholarship were Brianna Costillo and Alejandro Rojas.

The last speaker was Bea Lumpkin, 102-year old retiree leader and a CIO organizer in 1937. She demanded answers to “Who was punished, who went to jail for these murders?” Lumpkin replied, “Nobody!”

Placing roses on the monument to the martyrs was the final ceremony.

As they walked to the monument across the street, all sang labor’s song, Solidarity, led by Mike Wolfe, the SOAR chapter Financial Secretary. Everyone placed a rose on the monument, inspired by those who gave their lives fighting for a Union and better conditions for workers and their families.

New video tells the story of the deadly attacks on workers in 1937

Chapter 31-7 also commemorated the 84th anniversary of the Memorial Day Massacre by publishing a new video that outlines the events of that day at Republic Steel, and other attacks on workers in the steel industry across the country at that time.

Watch the video and read a short description below.

It began peacefully with the winning of a union contract between SWOC, Steel Workers Organizing Committee-CIO, and US Steel in March, 1937. Victories included the 8-hour day with time-and-a-half for overtime and the 40-hour week. But the basic victory was union recognition and the respect that a union brings.

Workers at Republic Steel and other companies had also joined SWOC. But the smaller steel companies (Little Steel) refused to sign a contract, forcing 80,000 to strike for union recognition on May 26, 1937.  Republic Steel in Chicago was especially brutal. In Chicago, Republic Steel Company housed and fed 270 uniformed Chicago City Police in the mill, even issued them tear gas and lethal weapons. This police army forcibly broke up peaceful mass picketing the first day of the strike. 

Four days later, Memorial Day, 1937, 1500 strikers, family members and friends, rallied on the prairie next to Republic Steel. There was a picnic atmosphere with good weather and children having fun. About 1000 joined the walk to peacefully mass picket. When 200 uniformed police stopped them, strikers told police that they had a legal right to picket. As they were talking, police shots rang out, mowing down unarmed strikers who were running away from the massive shooting and merciless clubbing. Four died on that killing field. Six more died soon after from a total lack, of or too-long-delayed medical treatment. At least two children were among the over 100 wounded. 

Just the day before the Chicago Massacre, in the Akron, Ohio Little Steel Strike, two had been killed in what became known as “The Women’s Day Massacre”. So vicious were the Little Steel employers that four additional strikers were killed during this strike, elsewhere in Ohio.

Minnesota health care workers hold picket ahead of contract negotiations

Mon, 06/28/2021 - 11:23

More than 100 health care workers at Essentia Health in Duluth, Minn., took to the streets this past weekend for an informational picket as they enter bargaining with their employer.

The workers are members of USW Local 9460 and have been pushing Essentia to negotiate a contract since last July. Only recently has the employer made it to the table.

The Steelworkers say the company’s proposed wage increases do not reflect the health care workers’ dedication and sacrifices throughout the pandemic.

“We feel very undervalued by the company,” said Local 9460 President Deanna Hughes. “I think that Essentia needs to recognize that the community is behind their healthcare workers because these people out here are the ones who take care of all the patients in the community.”

Click here to follow Local 9460’s campaign on Facebook.

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