Headed to D.C., Steelworkers Want Trump to Keep His Promise — & Protect America’s National Security

Jeffrey Bonoir Researcher, Alliance for American Manufacturing

When steelworker Calvin Croftcheck came to Washington in June, it looked like the Trump administration was prepping to do something about unfair steel and aluminum imports.

Croftcheck and several of his colleagues were in town for Commerce Department hearings on ongoing national security investigations into the imports, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he expected everything would be wrapped up by the end of the month.

It is now September, and the Trump administration still hasn’t unveiled the findings of the Section 232 investigations. And for steelworkers like Croftcheck, the frustration is mounting.

“We’re pretty much at a make or break point now,” Croftcheck said. “If we don’t get some relief pretty quickly, and if it’s not substantial relief, that’s not going to help us any.”

Croftcheck is headed back to Washington this week to join dozens of his fellow steelworkers to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and push for action on imports.

Croftcheck, who has 40 years of experience in the steel industry, is currently the chief safety inspector for U.S. Steel, overseeing 18,000 steelworkers at 12 locations throughout the country. He’s based in the Mon Valley of Southwestern Pennsylvania, where Trump once infamously told an audience: “It will be American steel that sends our skyscrapers soaring, soaring into the sky, beautiful sight, more beautiful with American steel. We are going to put American steel and aluminum back into the backbone of country.”

Workers there haven’t forgotten Trump’s pledge, Croftcheck said.

“He’s said a lot of things,” Croftcheck said. “He was here in Pittsburgh on a campaign stop, and he said he was going to bring back steel, and he said he was going to bring back coal, and he was going to bring back (legendary Penn St. football coach) Joe Paterno, and the crowd went wild. But, what, Joe Paterno’s been dead for five years.”

Since the investigations were announced in the spring, importers have dumped huge amounts of steel and aluminum into the U.S. market to get ahead of any potential action. In the first seven months of 2017, steel imports alone are up more than 21 percent.

“By doing the grandstanding like this and not following through, he actually hurt us worse than if he would have done nothing,” Croftcheck said.

“It doesn’t help any of us in the Mon Valley,” Croftcheck added. “I mean, this guy has made promises he was going to take care of Pittsburgh, not Paris. The steelworkers here are desperately holding out hope. But the president is going to come up short with these guys unless he does something.”

Tom Duffy, a 49-year-old U.S. Steel safety inspector at the facilities in the Mon Valley and the Fairless Hills mill near Philadelphia, also is headed back to Washington this week. And Duffy, a Gulf War veteran, echoed Croftcheck’s remarks.

“People are frustrated right now,” Duffy said. “There is not enough being done for the steel industry. We are looking to see this big light of hope that Trump said was going to save the steel industry but we’re just not seeing action.

“He’s the president and he made a lot of promises and one of those big promises was that he was going to bring steel back. And we really haven’t seen anything that has been done to help us. Promises are promises, but actions kind of say everything. If we start to see something happen, then we can say, ‘Well, yeah, maybe there is more potential for progress with the steel industry.’ But right now, it’s a lot of smoke and mirrors.

“Where are you at Mr. President? Where are you at? What are you doing for the steel industry? He thinks fixing taxes is more important than taking care of the steel industry,” Duffy added. “We need to get those tax cuts for the rich because I guess they all are going to go hungry.”

Donald Jackson is a third-generation steelworker who has worked for the past five years at the Edgar Thomson Works Blast Furnace facility on the outskirts of Pittsburgh. After hearing Trump’s speech and attending the Section 232 hearings in June, he was confident there would be an American steelmaking resurgence.

“Out of this president, I went from being optimistic that this mill that I work at, U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thomson plant, would be busier than we’ve ever been since its heyday to basically thinking what just happened,” Jackson said. “I am thinking not only where is the big action from the big talker, but where’s the big talk? The big talk has gone away. It’s almost like the president’s thought process is, well if I stop talking about it, they’ll forget about it and I’m off the hook. There’s 13,000 of us at U.S. Steel that are not going to forget about it. And that’s just U.S. Steel. That doesn’t include ArcelorMittal and the rest of them.

“I didn’t have a very big issue with him becoming president. I pride myself on the way I was raised. Being open minded,” Jackson added. “So, that’s why I said give President Trump a chance. A chance that he’s entitled to. But to me and my union brothers and sisters, he’s blowing that chance.”

***

Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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