International Convention Guests Visit Granite City and Learn How Bad Trade Policies Affect Illinois Steelworkers

Brian Finnegan AFL-CIO

More than 60 international labor guests attending the AFL-CIO convention in St. Louis, Mo.,crossed the river to Granite City, Ill., to visit the United Steelworkers Locals at the U.S. Steel plant that has operated there for decades.

Granite City and its Labor Temple that serves as the union hall for United Steelworkers (USW) Locals 1899, 50 and 68, have an illustrious place in U.S. labor history and progressive politics. These days, however, the community is feeling the impact of short-sighted trade policies that lead to fewer good jobs and local resources.

The week before Christmas in 2015, the plant was idled and laid off more than 2,000 people because of years of these bad trade laws and weak enforcement. This has allowed unfair competition that distorts markets and prices of steel. As the economy recovers from the 2008 financial crisis, demand for U.S.-made steel lags behind. Even with heavy investment in state-of-the-art production, U.S. plants can't compete with companies that have financial backing from governments like that of China.

There are now about 600 workers at the plant, but as one worker said to the visitors, "We're not making any steel here. We're finishing the steel made somewhere else."

The international labor leaders told similar stories of job losses due to dumped steel in Jordan, Egypt, and the Ukraine. As USW President Leo Gerard made clear, “the fight is not worker against worker, it is workers united around the world to fight against rigged rules that reward corporate greed.”

While he was a candidate and now as president, Donald Trump has claimed he would take action to defend U.S. production and workers from such unfair trade. But the administration has taken no action to enforce rules that would put the Granite City plant back online and workers back in the plant.

"We won't stop pushing this government to fix the trade laws and take action to stop illegal dumping of foreign steel until this plant and many others like it are up and running again," Gerard told the international visitors.

See more action from the AFL-CIO convention.


Reposted from the AFL-CIO

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From AFL-CIO

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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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work