On the Picket Line

Pennsylvania Steelworkers strike over NLMK concession contract

By Tony Lane
October 26, 2020

FARRELL, Penn. — More than 400 United Steelworkers, members of Local 1016-03, have been on strike since Aug. 22 at the NLMK rolling mill here.

A majority of workers oppose the new medical insurance plan in the company’s proposed contract, “which would have less coverage than the one we have,” Joe Germano, a roll grinder in the rolling mill, told the Militant on the picket line Oct. 3. It would have a $4,500 pre-pay, local President Jim Wells added.

Union members were outraged, Wells said, when they heard that after a worker had died, the company shut down his family’s insurance the next day. When the union demanded such callous measures be ruled out by the contract, the bosses took their signing bonus and proposed pay increase out of their offer.

More than a dozen members of United Electrical Workers Local 506, who work at the Wabtec plant in Erie, joined the Oct. 3 picket line. Workers there had struck for nine days early last year against company concession demands. Elton Brown, a shipper at NLMK, said how he told his brother, who is active in the UE local in Erie, about their strike. He and his co-workers “brought solidarity, which was good.”

“The community support is outstanding, bringing food, toilet paper, wood and water,” Wells said.

Messages of support and contributions can be sent to: USW Local 1016, 107 Broadway Ave, Wheatland, PA 16161. Tel.: (724) 346-1212.