Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Steelworkers Local 6787 puts Christmas under the tree for local folks in need

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The national unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent in October (3.9 percent in Indiana), a 17-year low, while the Consumer Confidence Index is now at a 17-year high.

But tell that to Melanie, a Dunelander with six kids who works as a phlebotomist--average hourly wage, according to PayScale.com: $14.15--and who’s struggling to put food on the table, make the nut on rent, and pay off her student loans.

Making ends meet on a shoestring is always stressful but never more so than during the holidays, when tight budgets stretch to breaking. This year, though, Melanie has something to be truly thankful for: hers is one of more than 40 families who’ll celebrate their Christmas courtesy of United Steelworkers Local 6787, representing workers at ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor.

On Tuesday evening at the Valparaiso Target, moms, dads, and their children--100 kids in all--gathered to shop, as Local 6787 provided parents with $100 for every child in the family plus a $25 Strack & Van Til gift card for a turkey or ham. All told, Local 6787 collected $15,265.87 from its membership as well as from local businesses to put Christmas under these folks’ trees.

For Local 6787 President Pete Trinidad Sr., it’s all about paying it forward. “We’re fortunate to have living-wage jobs,” he told the Chesterton Tribune. “Because of that we can reach out and help others in need. We want people to know that we know how blessed we are. Unions sometimes get a black eye. Sometimes the publicity is pretty critical. But today we’re making our own news.”

Yet there’s a larger point to be made too: unions don’t simply protect and prosper their members, they’re also the backbone of the community. “When we go to bargain, it’s not just for us,” Trinidad said. “It’s for our community. We shop local. We put our wages back into the small businesses, the mom-and-pop operations, the restaurants, the auto parts stores, the barbershops, the convenience stores.”

And those businesses in turn have stepped up as well. One way Local 6787 raised the money for the Target shopping spree is by selling window placards to local businesses--many of them in Duneland--reading “Proud Supporter of USW, Steelworkers for Kids.” A list of those businesses was then posted in the plant, with Local 6787 encouraging its members to take their trade to them. “The response from the businesses has just been phenomenal,” Trinidad said.

For Melanie and her family, it’s going to be a warm and blessed Christmas. “It’s just wonderful what the Steelworkers are doing,” she said. “And I’m so appreciative and grateful to them. It really helps out a lot.”

 

Posted 12/22/2017

 
 
 
 

 

 

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