Workers Correspondence

PORTAGE, Ind. – The United Steelworkers of America (USWA) held three rallies in Indiana Feb. 19-21 to call attention to the plight of steelworkers, retirees and the industry as well as to mobilize for a Feb. 28 march on the White House.

They are pressing the Bush administration to support the findings of the International Trade Commission on steel tariffs.

On Feb. 19 about 800 steelworkers and retirees, mainly from LTV and Inland Steel, met at East Chicago Central High School.

USWA District 7 Director Jim Robinson called on steelworkers to show President Bush who really votes for president.

“Is it the editorial writers of The Washington Post or is it the tens of thousands of steelworkers, retirees and their families?”

The crowd gave a standing ovation when it was reported that the Indiana State Senate sent a resolution of support for the steelworkers to Bush.

On Feb. 20, USWA President Leo Gerard spoke to a rally of 900 at McBride Hall in Gary.

Gerard said, “Tell me, is there an industry doing well? Is aluminium doing well? Or tires? Or technology? Or auto? Is anybody doing well in America?”

In urging Bush to act on tariffs, Gerard said, “Think if Bush does not act favorably. Think of the message that will be sent to the rest of the world. Bush will be saying if you target U.S. industry and violate its laws nothing will be done.”

On Feb. 21 about 1,300 people rallied in Portage, Indiana. They heard local union leaders from Bethlehem, National and Midwest Steel.

Former USWA President Lynn Williams was the featured speaker. Noting that the union had been through some tough times in the past, he said it had been able to build a decent livelihood for its members.

“The challenge today is even more difficult but if our members raise hell, march, call your congressman,” Williams said. “As we did in the past, we can win now.”

Williams said we must fight on two issues: tariffs and retiree health care.

He counselled members not to be intimidated by editorials in The Washington Post or Wall Street Journal.

“Why shouldn’t workers have decent health care?” he asked.

“Our victories help not only steelworkers, but all of society.”