District 10 of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR) in Pennsylvania represents 150,000 retired steelworkers and is the largest of all 13 SOAR districts.
Two SOAR conferences were organized after Sept. 11 and Bethlehem Steel declaring bankruptcy. One took place Oct. 19 at United Steelworkers of America (USWA) Local 2227, Irvin Works, U.S. Steel.
The second was held Oct. 25 at the hall built by USWA Locals 2598, 2599 and 2600, Bethelehem Works, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This mill, which had 11,349 steelworkers, closed in 1998. The Bethlehem SOAR chapter is the largest in Pennsylvania.
George Edwards, a member of the SOAR International Board, opened both conferences with the statement featuring:
We are having a meeting of District 10 SOAR for the first time since Sept. 11, when terrorism took a heavy toll on our citizens, especially our union brothers and sisters who died in the disasters.
Many things changed in the minutes that followed the murder of thousands of our countrymen. SOAR, and the labor movement generally, are caught between a gang of terrorists who want to return us to the Dark Ages where clerics and royalty oppressed the world, and, on the other hand, a right-wing government dominated by officials who operate it on the orders of the super-wealthy international corporations whose only desire is to increase their profits.
We must bring the terrorists to justice under our laws and traditions. We will not cower at their actions. But we must also continue our struggle against the policies of our government that disregard the needs of our members and the citizens of our country.
I hope we can continue to build the kind of coalition with students, environmentalists, religious people, the Black community and others working for justice in our country. We must continue our fight for Medicare prescriptions and for a Social Security that is safe, for HR-808, which will guarantee jobs for our working brothers and sisters, and more secure pensions for us.
Our slogan should be ‘United we stand for a better America.’