The More Things Change….

Richard Cucarese

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

The season of contract discussions with some of the major steel producers in the United States has begun, and if the first weeks are any indication of what is to come, the battle will be an arduous one. 

The proposals set forth by the companies harken back to the dark days of the 1980’s, when workers were crucified in the areas of pensions, wages, benefits and the stripping of their bargaining rights.  Once again in 2015, the workers must face reprisal for the impotent business decisions of their corporations and the laxity of the Federal government towards the unfair trading practices of other nations.

While the companies’ claim of hardship imposed by the rampant and unchecked dumping on our shores of Chinese, Korean and Japanese steel is valid, it does not negate the fact that we have faced much more difficult situations in the past, without having to enter into a concessionary period.

In the past year alone, Steelworkers have been subjected to layoffs and the reduction of hours, increasing the chances that salaries of the affected workers will quite possibly be halved compared to previous years. Steelworkers have suffered these cuts with the understanding that these harsh sacrifices will protect their jobs in the long run. 

The same spirit of sacrifice cannot be seen at one major producer, especially.  While asking workers to accept these hard cuts, the U.S. Steel Corporation Board of Directors gave its CEO an $8.5 million increase in wages and other compensation.  This was added to the already copious salary and benefits package of approximately $5.5 million.  At the time this was announced, the company had another losing fiscal quarter, their stock value had once again fallen, and most importantly, plants were being idled and layoffs were announced. 

The American worker and the public in general have put up with the hubris of these corporations for far too long.  It is time for us all to stand firm, concede no more, and let our voices be heard from the corporate boardroom to the halls of our government.


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Contact Richard on Twitter, Richard Cucarese @stlwrkr4889