Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Steelworkers Local 6787 rallies at dawn: 'No contract, no peace'

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Just before 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, no peace.

And this demand too: Who are we?

Steelworkers.

What do we want?

A fair contract.

When do we want it?

Now.

Yesterday.

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 faith.

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 summer.”

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 businesses.”

“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 that?”

“Not one damn thing,” Tibold said. “No one’s getting rich here.”

No contract, no peace.

No contract, no peace.

 

 

 

 

Posted 9/10/2015

 
 
 
 

 

 

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