'We need someone who will support us' - Cleveland Steelworker Biden's debate guest

James Evanoff, Local 979

USW Local 979 member James Evanoff says it was one of the honors of his life to be invited as Joe Biden's guest at Tuesday night's debate, especially when he realized the former Vice President could only have a handful of people join him in person.

"It says a whole lot about what he thinks about working people like me," Evanoff, a lifelong union member said. "That's why I'm supporting Joe Biden: ultimately, it boils down to people who have and will support us."

Evanoff said he was shocked and excited to get the invite to the first presidential debate in Cleveland, where he's worked at the Arcelor-Mittal steel faciliity for 12 years. He says his workplace is pretty divided when it comes to the election but he hopes continued education and conversation will help Steelworkers learn about why Biden is the best candidate for our union and the issues we fight for at the bargaining table: health care, retirement security, health and safety and more.

"The guys at my mill talk about the one good thing Trump has done to help us, but he's done at least 30 things to hurt us," Evanoff said. He said he's most worried about Trump and his appointees repealing the Affordable Care Act and taking away things like lifetime caps on health insurance. Trump's appointees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also have hurt workers, he said.

"People need to realize they're not just voting for a president - they're voting for every single person that president appoints," Evanoff said. "Every single thing we have bargained for can be taken away."

Evanoff said he's impressed with Biden's record of supporting collective bargaining, his work to improve health care, his pledge to support the PRO-Act to allow for easier union organizing and his support for retirement security for working people. 

"I've got the union in my blood," he said. "I'm a fourth-generation Steelworker. My great-grandfather was one of the orginal founders of the union in Cleveland. My family history goes all the way back and I'm just trying to live up to what my relatives gave to me, all the things they fought for at the bargaining table.

"Supporting an anti-union candidate like Donald Trump is so disrepectful to my family. It would be like spitting on their graves."

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