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.

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Reposted from the AFL-CIO

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From AFL-CIO

Union Matters

Failing Bridges Hold Public Hostage

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) gave the public just a few hours’ notice before closing a major bridge in March, citing significant safety concerns.

The West Seattle Bridge functioned as an essential component of  the city’s local and regional transportation network, carrying 125,000 travelers a day while serving Seattle’s critical maritime and freight industries. Closing it was a huge blow to the city and its citizens. 

Yet neither Seattle’s struggle with bridge maintenance nor the inconvenience now facing the city’s motorists is unusual. Decades of neglect left bridges across the country crumbling or near collapse, requiring a massive investment to keep traffic flowing safely.

When they opened it in 1984, officials predicted the West Seattle Bridge would last 75 years.

But in 2013, cracks started appearing in the center span’s box girders, the main horizontal support beams below the roadway. These cracks spread 2 feet in a little more than two weeks, prompting the bridge’s closure.

And it’s still at risk of falling.  

The city set up an emergency alert system so those in the “fall zone” could be quickly evacuated if the bridge deteriorates to the point of collapse.

More than one-third of U.S. bridges similarly need repair work or replacement, a reminder of America’s urgent need to invest in long-ignored infrastructure.

Fixing or replacing America’s bridges wouldn’t just keep Americans moving. It would also provide millions of family-supporting jobs for steel and cement workers, while also boosting the building trades and other industries.

With bridges across the country close to failure and millions unemployed, America needs a major infrastructure campaign now more than ever.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work