Michigan Rep. Andy Levin Lauds Retiring USW President Gerard

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., has an unusual retirement gift for departing Steelworkers President Leo Gerard: No new NAFTA without strong and enforceable worker rights in all three of its countries: The U.S., Canada and especially Mexico.

Of course, Levin knows Gerard better than almost any other lawmaker does: After a long career as an union organizer, capped by a stint as deputy AFL-CIO Organizing Director, the first-termer from Michigan succeeded his pro-worker father Sandy in the U.S. House.

Gerard, president of USW starting in 2001, retired effective July 15, which led Levin to laud him that day in a short House floor speech. Levin called Gerard “a great leader of workers throughout North America and, indeed, the world. Leo rose through the ranks and was a dynamic leader of the Steelworkers for 40 years, and he was president for the last 18 years. He led on so many issues.”

“He was a fierce negotiator for his members, but he was also a leader for all workers. For example, he brought the environmental movement and the labor movement together to tackle tough issues about keeping our water and air clean for everyone and for future generations, while protecting our jobs.”

“But one thing I think stands out. I want to pledge to Leo Gerard on his retirement that we are not going to pass a replacement NAFTA unless it honors the workers of Mexico, Canada, and the United States.  What a great champion for workers in North America. I assure Leo we are going to carry on his work. God bless him.”

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Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Steel for Wind Power

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. 

Siemens Gamesa last month laid off 130 workers at its turbine blade manufacturing plant in Iowa, just months after GE Renewable Energy decided to close an Arkansas factory and eliminate 470 jobs.

The companies reported shrinking demand for their products, even though U.S. consumption of wind energy increases every year.

America’s prosperity depends not only on harnessing this crucial energy source but also ensuring that highly skilled U.S. workers build the components with the cleanest technology available.

Right now, the nation relies on imported steel and turbine components from foreign manufacturers like China while America’s own steel industry—well equipped for this production—struggles because of dumping and other unfair trade practices.

Steel makes up the bulk of turbine hubs and the wind towers themselves. It’s also used to make the cranes and platforms necessary for installing the towers.

Yet the potential boon to America’s steel industry is just one reason to ramp up domestic production of wind energy infrastructure.

American steel production ranks among the cleanest in the world, while China has the highest carbon emissions of any steelmaking nation and flouts environmental regulations.

The nation’s highly-skilled steelmaking workforce must play an essential role in the deeply-needed revitalization and modernization of the nation’s failing infrastructure. Producing the components for harnessing wind energy domestically and cleanly is an important step that will put Americans to work and position the United States to be world leaders in this growing industry.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work