Chesterton Tribune



USW's Gerard blasts lockouts and temporary strike staffers

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United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard is taking aim at the corporate practice of lockouts as well as at the strike-breaking industry which can make lockouts successful.

In his latest blog, “Corporations Deploy Anti-Worker Weapon,” posted on Tuesday--a week and a day after the USW’s contract with ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel expired and the union agreed to continue working while negotiations proceed--Gerard cited Allegheny Technologies Inc.’s lockout of more than 2,000 members last month as the latest example of a company’s using the “robber baron” strategy to as leverage against organized labor.

These 2,200 Steelworkers are not on strike,” Gerard noted. “They never even took a strike vote to threaten a walkout. ATI threw them out of the mills on Aug. 15 even though the Steelworkers clearly told the corporation that they were willing to work--that they wanted to work--while negotiating a new contract.”

A lockout like this is a weapon increasingly deployed by corporations to injure workers, families, and communities,” Gerard said. “And corporations are doing it even as workers engage in significantly fewer strikes. The growing use of lockouts to force workers to accept corporate demands demonstrates that the already powerful--corporations--have secured even more might in their relationship with workers.”

And that “might,” Gerard added, “has suppressed labor unions and contributed significantly to wage stagnation and income inequality.”

Aiding and abetting ATI, according to Gerard, is Strom Engineering of Hopkins, Minn., which specializes in recruiting and hiring temporary workers to staff plants during strikes or lockouts.

Strom Engineering has been providing temporary workforces and labor support for over 50 years,” Strom’s website states. “Strom Engineering is the nation’s most established industrial strike staffing company.”

The core factor of successful strike contingency plan execution is the temporary workforce,” Strom explains. “Strom’s 50 years of recruit experience ensures that our temporary strike workers are properly skilled for each job function to maintain your operations.”

As a union contract nears its date of expiration, you must respond quickly and effectively by exercising a reserve of bargaining tools that will give your company more leverage in negotiations,” Strom advises. “A contingent workforce provides one of the most effective sources of leverage, often forcing unions to abandon the uncompromising strategies they often employ.”

Strom goes on to explain its 17-step recruiting process, which can include using its own database as well as job fairs and local, national, and on-site recruiting.

For Gerard, ATI, staffed by Strom, harks back to Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick’s lockout of workers at the Homestead Steel Works in 1882. “In the end, with the help of troops sent by the state, they got what they wanted--the ability to impose wage cuts and hazardous conditions with no threat of pushback from organized workers.”


Labor is not down for the count,” Gerard concluded his blog. “Far from it.”

In evidence of which he pointed to the thousands of Steelworkers who rallied last week in Burns Harbor, Chicago, and Pittsburgh, “demanding fair contracts from ATI, U.S. Steel, and ArcelorMittal.”

On this Labor Day, with the public at its back, organized labor demands an end to lockouts and to this new age of robber barons who impose them,” Gerard said.




Posted 9/9/2015











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