daybreak today sirens and air horns began to sound at ArcelorMittal’s East
Gate on U.S. 12. Then the car and semi horns. Then the chanting, as several
hundred members of United Steelworkers Local 6787 greeted the day, their
brothers and sisters reporting for shift, and any managers who happened to
be in the car line with this promise: No contract, no peace. No contract,
And this demand
too: Who are we?
What do we want?
A fair contract.
When do we want it?
In fact today is
the tenth day the USW memberships at ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel have
worked without a contract, as negotiations continue in Pittsburgh. What
exactly the status of the talks is only the negotiating teams know for sure,
although on Friday the USW issued a communiquŽ regretting a lack of progress
and stopping just short of accusing ArcelorMittal of negotiating in bad
Jack Tibold, on the
other hand, a USW District 7 strategic organizer, had no such qualms this
morning. “They won’t negotiate in good faith,” he said of the company. “They
haven’t negotiated in good faith since negotiations first began this
Which, Tibold told
the Chesterton Tribune, isn’t simply a dirty trick played against the
union. It’s one played against everyone in the region who depends on steel.
Which, Tibold added, is pretty much everyone. “This isn’t just about the
Steelworkers. It’s about the community. It’s about Northwest Indiana. The
barbershops. The restaurants. The hardware stores. All the small
“What does (ArcelorMittal
Chair and CEO) Lakshmi Mittal know about Northwest Indiana?” Tibold said.
“He’s never spent any time here. He’s never sat in the diners drinking
coffee. We do. Everybody will be affected by this. We’re standing up for the
entire Northwest Indiana community.”
Stand up, fight
back, the Steelworkers chanted.
“We have asked for
nothing outrageous,” Tibold said. “We want our benefits intact and a
reasonable rate increase. But the company is trying to take away 75 years of
progress and protections in one swipe. Vacation pay. Sunday premiums.
Overtime after eight hours. And retirees’ health coverage and new hires’,
they want to gut that.”
The bottom line is
this, Tibold said: at stake is not simply the Steelworkers’ standard of
living but their piece of the American Dream. “It’s about our future,
well-paying jobs for our children that can sustain a family. And sustain the
community. What’s wrong with being able to take a vacation? Buying a new car
every five years? Sending your kids to a good college? What’s wrong with
“Not one damn
thing,” Tibold said. “No one’s getting rich here.”
No contract, no
No contract, no