Steelworkers rally in East Chicago

Workers’ Correspondence

“Steelworkers all came from somewhere else,” Africa, Europe, Asia, South and Central America, said United Steelworkers of America District 7 Director Jim Robinson to a lunch-hour rally called to demand President Bush keep tariffs on steel for their full term. The World Trade Organization has ruled against the tariffs.

“We need to look at workers from those countries as part of our family that stayed behind,” Robinson said to the 500 steelworkers who turned out Nov. 7 at Ispat Steel headquarters in East Chicago, Ind. He cautioned that there are those who are trying to use the crisis in steel to pit U.S. workers against workers from other countries.

“We should not fall for that,” he said, urging the workers to fight to “uphold conditions and good-paying jobs our fathers and grandfathers fought for.” Robinson made it clear that the fight was not against workers in other countries. He explained that “keeping good-paying jobs will help the other workers in our family from Europe, Africa, Asia, Central and South America that stayed home.”

Other speakers at the rally included Dan Stevenson, an Indiana state representative and member of USWA Local 1010, Tom Hargrove, President of Local 1010, and Loren Hansen, President of Local 1011, representing ISG (formerly LTV). Hanson said it’s important to fight for steelworker jobs because we don’t want any more shutdowns like LTV. “I saw the human tragedy up close and don’t want that to happen to anyone else,” he said.

It was a spirited rally, although the fact that the head of Ispat in East Chicago was one of the speakers undoubtedly took some of the steam out of the crowd. After all, who feels like clapping for their boss at lunchtime? Nevertheless, I’m sure that President Bush got the message.

– Jim Lange, retired steelworker (pww@pww.org)