PITTSBURGH – Steel corporations are down, but steelworkers, clergy, elected officials and supporters are going to be rolling to the White House Feb. 28, demanding that President Bush act immediately on recommendations from the International Trade Commission (ITC) to impose a 40 percent tariff on steel imports that would pay for a government takeover of retiree health-care costs.

The same day, the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) will be mobilizing to fill the courtroom in Youngstown, Ohio, to ensure that steel will continue to be made at LTV in Cleveland. The fate of steelmaking in the country’s most industrialized city will be decided in bankruptcy court.

It is now or never for the country’s industrial heartland. At stake are thousands of jobs, health care for 600,000 retirees and the survival of towns and cities and their schools. The USWA has been on full-scale mobilization for over a year, while the corporations have been running into bankruptcy court to protect golden parachutes for a handful of top executives. Of the 75 domestic steel corporations, 29 are in Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy and LTV is in Chapter 7 liquidation proceedings.

In what can only be termed anarchy driven by greed, the steel corporations bulldozed 15 percent of capacity (the machinery to make steel) and slashed the work force by 56 percent, or 243,600 jobs, while domestic demand for steel grew by 39 percent.

USWA President Leo Gerard said, “We need companies that can invest in research and development to be able to compete through technological advancement. We don’t need companies that can compete through producing less and less steel.”

On Feb. 15, over 1,000 steelworkers and supporters rallied in Harrisburg, Pa. The state’s Republican-controlled legislature voted to support the union’s efforts to save and rationalize domestic steelmaking and protect retiree health care. The Alabama Legislature followed suit. Both states sent resolutions of support for the USWA campaign to President Bush.

The union’s Rapid Response network has generated nearly 200,000 handwritten letters from the shops, mill floors and iron mines. Communities from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Plains have held rallies and dispatched delegations to federal representatives demanding that steelmaking and health care be saved.

The Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees and the Alliance for Retired Americans are filling buses for the Feb. 28 White House rally and filling out postcards to the president.

To get on the bus or for more information, contact the USWA or the AFL-CIO in your state.