Weekly Update: Immoral and a Disgrace

Immoral and a Disgrace: USW Still Locked Out

The United Steelworkers (USW) released the following statement from USW International Vice President Tom Conway in response to the Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI) fourth-quarter and year-end earnings report released this morning. The specialty steelmaker reported a larger than expected fourth-quarter loss of $226.9 million, as well as a 29 percent drop in fourth-quarter sales. Today’s earnings report also was greeted with a series of solidarity actions on USW picket lines at a dozen ATI facilities in six states, including right here in Oregon, where workers are locked out.

“It’s immoral and a disgrace that ATI continues to keep 2,200 workers illegally locked out of their jobs while behaving as if this is business as usual. As today’s earnings report made very clear, this type of reckless and irresponsible management has had a devastating effect on the company’s bottom line and on its standing in the community.

ATI’s weak fourth quarter follows an equally bleak third-quarter report. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. The key to any company’s success is a skilled, experienced work force. For the past six months, ATI has turned its back on these dedicated employees and their families. Sadly, the company seems intent on doubling down on its failed strategy of intimidation and manipulation.

Of course, the USW understands the situation facing our industry. Steelmakers around the country are under attack from illegal and unfairly traded imports from China and elsewhere. Global overcapacity has sent prices spiraling downward. These trends call for immediate and long term direct action from Washington to save jobs and preserve a vital industry.

However, locking out workers and forcing them to accept deep, permanent and unnecessary cuts in wages and benefits will do absolutely nothing to solve this crisis. As we saw today, this approach only makes a bad situation worse.

Throughout our bargaining with ATI beginning last spring, the USW has put forth proposals that would save the company millions of dollars over the term of the contract. We repeatedly offered to stay on the job while negotiations continued, but ATI management insisted on implementing a failed, unnecessary and illegal lockout. The company is throwing money away on inexperienced replacement workers rather than relying on its own experienced and dedicated employees who have proven track records of efficiently running these plants. That approach, as well as potential liabilities for this illegal lockout, could end up costing ATI and its shareholders millions of dollars.

It’s long past time for ATI management to let go of this foolhardy and irresponsible approach. The USW is committed to continuing to bargain in good faith on a fair contract, and we hope that ATI is interested in doing the same.”

Take Action:
Important Demonstration Tomorrow

Join us tomorrow in downtown Portland to urge the Murdock Charitable Trust to immediately end all funding for organizations that actively undermine our values of mutual respect, inclusiveness and tolerance

While many of the groups funded by the Murdock Charitable Trust are valuable organizations that provide critical services to our communities, we have been deeply troubled to learn of the growing list of extremist, intolerant organizations also funded by the Trust. The Freedom Foundation, who we wrote about last week, is among the groups funded by the Trust.

The demonstration will be at Wells Fargo Center, 1300 SW 5th Avenue Portland, OR (between Jefferson and Columbia) at 12pm.

For more information about the issue, you can see NWAP's petition on their website.

Posters for Work Sites

As our unions prepare for the Supreme Court’s decision on Friedrichs V. California Teachers Association and other attacks on working people, it is crucial that we spread the word about our unions, and about what Friedrichs is really about.

The Oregon AFL-CIO has prepared some posters to hang at your union hall, or on union bulletin boards at work sites. 


Out of State Billionaires
Are Attacking Oregon Workers

Working people in Oregon won major victories last year — and that means out-of-state billionaires are taking aim at our state. This year’s election is shaping up to be a busy one, and that means it’s more important than ever that we stick together.

Our friends over at Keep Oregon Working have the latest about what these out of state billionaires are planning — and how you can stand up and fight back.

Click here to head over to Keep Oregon Working for the latest.