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

An Invitation to Sunny Miami. What Could Be Bad?

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

If a billionaire “invites” you somewhere, you’d better go. Or be prepared to suffer the consequences. This past May, hedge fund kingpin Carl Icahn announced in a letter to his New York-based staff of about 50 that he would be moving his business operations to Florida. But the 83-year-old Icahn assured his staffers they had no reason to worry: “My employees have always been very important to the company, so I’d like to invite you all to join me in Miami.” Those who go south, his letter added, would get a $50,000 relocation benefit “once you have established your permanent residence in Florida.” Those who stay put, the letter continued, can file for state unemployment benefits, a $450 weekly maximum that “you can receive for a total of 26 weeks.” What about severance from Icahn Enterprises? The New York Post reported last week that the two dozen employees who have chosen not to uproot their families and follow Icahn to Florida “will be let go without any severance” when the billionaire shutters his New York offices this coming March. Bloomberg currently puts Carl Icahn’s net worth at $20.5 billion.


More ...

Health Care Should Not Be A Bargaining Weapon

Health Care Should Not Be A Bargaining Weapon