Paul Gipson has been re-elected to his 10th consecutive term of United
Steelworkers Local 6787.
But it was a squeaker.
In the election held on April 10, Gipson outlasted his opponent, Dennis D.
Edgington by a mere 50 votes, or 2 percent of the ballots cast in the race.
Gipson took 1,162 to Edgington’s 1,112.
The results of other races:
•Pete Trinidad was re-elected to the vice-presidency with 60 percent of the
votes cast in his race, beating Roy Wilson 1,382 votes to 906.
•Recording secretary: Raleigh “Al” Smallwood beat Nector M. Cruz 1,131 to
1,107, in another very close race.
•Financial secretary: Ryan Kadish edged by Brenda Boler-English 1,167 to
•Treasurer: Ray Jackson beat Allen Blakely in a photo finish, 1,139 to
A total of 2,305 ballots were cast of the 3,422 Local 6787 members eligible
to vote, for a turnout rate of about 67 percent.
And—for the first time in the memory of Jack Tipold, chair of the Tellers
Committee—no ballots were challenged and thrown out. “Every ballot was
counted,” Tipold told the Chesterton Tribune. “It was one of the most
efficient, well-run elections we’ve ever had in our history.”
Gipson on his
Gipson acknowledged that his victory “was the closest ever” and for that
reason “the sweetest of all 10, I’ll tell you that.”
Edgington was “a worthy opponent,” Gipson said, but even so he attributed
the razor closeness of the race to a continued misunderstanding among
members over the memorandum of understanding struck between Local 6787 and
ArcelorMittal late in 2008, after the company invoked the Workers Adjustment
and Retraining Act and announced the potential layoff of up to 2,444 members
of the local.
Gipson recalled that his immediate response to the announcement was to
remind ArcelorMittal about layoff-minimization language in the collective
bargaining agreement. Under a layoff minimization plan subsequently adopted
by both the union and the company, up to 490 members were laid off
voluntarily—with retirements counting toward that number—and a further 900
members were put on 32-hour weeks.
Local 6787 agreed to some other concessions, Gipson said last week, but so
did the company. Among them: the pledge that, should the economy tank again
as it did in 2008 and it be forced to begin putting its North American blast
furnaces on outage, so long as three blast furnaces remain in operation in
North America two of them will be at the Burns Harbor facility.
ArcelorMittal also committed at the time to numerous capital improvements,
including the completion of the re-line of Blast Furnace C and the
rebuilding of the coke oven. To date, Gipson said, the company has made
something on the order of $400 million worth of improvements and is looking
to spend nearly as much in the construction of a walking beam facility to go
into direct competition with ThyssenKrupp’s similar facility now under
construction in Alabama. The walking beam facility would make “high-grade,
high-quality, high-strength steel, the best steel there is.”
“People didn’t have a real good grasp of the memorandum of understanding,”
Gipson said. “But it says to a young person coming in, ‘You can make a
career here.’ And you can. Not many steelworkers in steel plants in the U.S.
can say that. But you can. You’ve got a career.”
Gipson did say this, his 10th term as local president, will be his last. “I
will not seek office again.”
Also elected: Trustees—Tony Lewis Sr., Tony Edgington, and Frank Schwartz;
Guide—Bob Hall; Inner Guard—Bill Richardson; Outer Guard—Jerome Davison;
Chairman Grievance Committee—John Moloney; and Zone Grievers—Dave Williams
(1), Russ “Bubba” Harris (2), Bruce Aubrey (3), Tim Dobkins (4), Bob
Hamscher (5), and Kirk A. Roby (6).