On the Picket Line

Striking Minnesota steelworkers rally against 2-tier wages system

By Kevin Dwire
November 25, 2019
Striking Minnesota steelworkers rally against 2-tier wages system
Militant/Kevin DwireStriking Minnesota steelworkers rally against 2-tier wages system

BLAINE, Minn. — Chanting “What’s disgusting? Union busting,” some 200 union members and others joined an expanded picket line for striking members of United Steelworkers Local 63B Nov. 7 outside the Carley Foundry. The 220 workers there have been on strike since Nov. 2. Their contract expired May 31.

“The company makes millions of dollars, and they still want to take from the employees,” striker John Abrizenski told this Militant worker-correspondent. The company is demanding a two-tier wage system, paying overtime after 40 hours a week instead of after eight hours a day and other concessions.

“The new contract they want is not fair,” said Donteh Smith, who had tried to help organize a union at another foundry before being hired at Carley. “They want to be able to move you from one position to another and give you lower pay.”

Among the union members bringing solidarity was a carload of United Auto Workers Local 722 members who had been on strike at the GM parts distribution center in Hudson, Wisconsin. “We’re here to support our brothers and sisters,” UAW member Dashawn Ramsey said. “They’re fighting for the same thing we did — against two-tier wages.”

“It’s good to see different unions come to show solidarity,” said striker Greg McDowell. “It lets the company know we’re not going anywhere.”