Closing Thought–10Sep18


Something that is not in the news much these days….a labor strike.  Seems that the industry that may benefit most from Our Dear Leader’s tariffs is the steel industry and they may go on strike……

US Steel workers are fired up and ready to strike if a new contract isn’t reached soon, the Times of Northwest Indiana reports. Workers for the Pittsburgh-based company voted nationwide this week to approve a strike if talks involving health care costs, retiree benefits, and wage increases don’t work out—at a time when their employer is apparently rolling in money. “Angry USW members conducted strike authorization meetings at each US Steel local over the past week,” the United Steelworkers said in a statement to workers, adding that there was “an overwhelming ‘yes’ vote in every local. Many locals reported that their results were unanimous.” A three-year US Steel contract for roughly 16,000 USW workers ran out Saturday.

Don Furko, president of USW Local 1557 in Clairton, Pa., says workers are pushing back at a time when President Trump’s policies are benefitting US Steel: “Between the tariffs and the tax break for corporations, they stand to make $2 billion this year,” he tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. US Steel says it’s offering workers profit-sharing of at least $6,000, a signing bonus of $4,000, wage increases starting at 4%, a 15-cent hourly increase to 401(k) retirement plans, and a one-time $5,000 health-care bonus. But Farko says workers still have too many out-of-pocket health care costs for family coverage. The pro-strike vote surprised steel-industry sources, says the Post-Gazette. There hasn’t been a US Steel work stoppage since the company locked out workers for six months in 1986.

As an old labor activist it is good to see the workers taking control once again.  No matter the outcome…..the workers are asserting themselves once again…..but the “Man” will make sure this goes nowhere.

Will the National Guard be called in to “break” any strike….

But the gauzy, halcyon portrait of the New Deal does not stand up to the reality of the Little Steel Strike of 1937 that is the subject of Ahmed White’s magisterial The Last Great Strike: Little Steel, the CIO, and the Struggle for Labor Rights in New Deal America that I discussed in a previous CounterPunch article focused on identity politics and the racism endured by Black steelworkers. For those new to the topic, “little” refers to the group of companies that blocked the CIO from organizing its workers, as opposed to US Steel, the “big” company that had they had come to terms with in March 1937. Little Steel consisted of Republic Steel Corporation, Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company and Inland Steel Company. Despite being called “little” in comparison to US Steel, each ranked among the hundred largest firms in America

Would Our Dear Leader call out the Guard to break a strike?

8 thoughts on “Closing Thought–10Sep18

  1. That would be interesting, the US having to buy steel from China after all, since imposing the tariffs.
    Life has a way of coming around to kick you up the arse, that’s for sure!
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. While this action may be a tad premature to point to as “proof”…This is the kind of thing that can happen when nations take back a measure of control over their economy (tariffs, cancelling trade deals, etc.) from the global multinationals who float above them like the gods they think they are.

    With less offshoring/offshore competition, workers are more secure in their jobs. They can unionize and start demanding better wages & treatment. Instead of competing in a wage/condition limbo with starving Asians, they start doing wage/condition high jumps. And that kind of Worker Confidence (as opposed to merely being Confident Consumers) can spread. And that’s exactly why the capitalist ruling class hates it and has spent the last 3 decades undermining it with Free Trade philosophies. They want us all dancing the limbo.

    This is the first whiff of an economic alternative in decades. It’s pretty late in the game, but I still hope it works out…But if there’s one guy who will fuck it up..

  3. I would like to see employers get out of the business of supplying health coverage. Past more money so employees can by the insurance they want or go to Universal health care or Medicare for everyone. Either would be an improvement.

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