The Clock is Ticking, Mr. President

Richard Cucarese
USW Local 4889

There was a time during the history of America that our elected officials did their best to act expeditiously on the behalf of their constituents when it came to dealing with the ‘hot button’ issues of the day.

But over the past few decades especially, the most important issues seem to be pushed aside in the interest of partisan politics and media posturing while the proletariat suffers under the weight of indecision.  Within this framework of political grandstanding, the Section 232 cases for the steel and aluminum industries are no exception.

Contending these measures that would help save the industries and create jobs in these vitally important sectors, candidate Donald Trump used Section 232 as a dangling carrot to a workforce that has recently become resentful of presidents whom we thought were our allies promising us job security, only to have them deliver a hard slap to the face by decimating our ranks under the guise and false promises of the benefits of Free Trade.

Riding into the White House with not much wiggle room to have a mandate, President Trump still acknowledged that one of his key achievements would be to move along Section 232 expeditiously in the interests of national security due to their level of importance in the military sector and the resurrection of our once-mighty but now-crumbling national infrastructure.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the president set a date for delivery of 232 for mid-June, creating a buzz around the domestic steel companies and their workers that their long-ignored issues would finally be addressed.

Unfortunately, for the two industries, which combined employ more than 180,000 workers and support the livelihoods of another million and a half, the Trump Administration decided it was more important to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, foist a tax reduction plan on the American people that seems to benefit only Wall Street and large corporations, and cajole Premier Xi this past July during bilateral talks instead of confront him.

And the truly sad part is that although the Commerce Department has finally sent its report to the White House, seven months after its targeted due date, President Trump’s and Secretary Ross’ unnecessary dawdling has exacted a toll on domestic steel corporations, who’ve watched imports increase 21% this year. That forced some steel facilities to either idle or cease operations, thus ushering in a new wave of job losses.  Domestic aluminum producers haven’t fared much better. 

Ten years ago there were 22 smelters, now only five are in operation, with one possibly slated to close its doors, even though this is an industry that’s incredibly vital to national defense. 

President Trump now has 90 days to act. He’ll do it in less time if he’s truly serious.

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Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Human Service Workers at Persad Center Vote to Join the USW

From the USW

Workers at Persad Center, a human service organization that serves the LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS communities of the Pittsburgh area, voted last week to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

The unit of 24 workers, ranging from therapists and program coordinators to case managers and administrative staff, announced their union campaign as the Persad Staff Union last month and filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

“We care about our work and the communities we serve,” said Johanna Smith, Persad’s Development, Communications, and Events Associate. “We strongly believe this work and our connections to our clients will only improve now that we will be represented by a union.”

The Persad workers join the growing number of white-collar professionals organizing with the USW, especially in the Pittsburgh region. Their membership is also in line with the recent work the Steelworkers have been doing to engage LGBTQ+ members and improve contract language regarding issues that affect their lives.

“Workplaces are changing and evolving, and the labor movement is changing and evolving along with that,” said USW Vice President Fred Redmond, who oversees the union’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee as well as the USW Health Care Workers Council. “This campaign gives us an opportunity to diversify our great union while uplifting and empowering a group of workers who give their all for others.”

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work