Striking ATI workers rally in Louisville, Ohio

By Tony Lane
May 31, 2021
Steelworkers on strike against ATI and supporters rally May 15.
Militant/Tony LaneSteelworkers on strike against ATI and supporters rally May 15.

LOUISVILLE, Ohio — Some 150 striking steelworkers, fellow United Steelworkers union members, retirees and other supporters rallied May 15, as 1,300 steelworkers here and in four other states continue their strike against Allegheny Technologies Inc.

ATI announced last December they were planning to shut down the Louisville plant. Since then no closure date and no severance package have been set.

“The company won’t give us a shutdown date, so do they want to shut it down?” Dave Burgess, one of the Louisville strikers, told the Militant. “They’re trying to sway the union to take a bad contract.”

ATI “doesn’t care about the cost of health care. Their only agenda is to get us to pay premiums. That’s why I drove up here to be a part of this rally,” Keith Beavers, president of USW Local 1138 in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, told the Militant. Beavers and a group of fellow strikers made the 100-mile-plus trip on their motorcycles. Bosses insist workers must accept higher costs for health insurance, a cut to retirees’ benefits and an expansion of divisive lower wage and benefit tiers for new hires.

“There’s been no wage increase since 2014 and they say they’ll only give a wage increase if we take concessions,” Dave McCall, international vice president of the USW told the rally. “At the end of the day we’ll succeed, because of our determination. Our strength does come from our sticking together.”

Steelworkers came from USW Locals 169 and 979 at two Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.-owned plants in Mansfield and Cleveland.

“We just got done negotiating a contract at the place I work,” Steve Ackerman, president of Local 169, told the Militant. “So we saw what was happening at ATI, what they were doing, and knew we had to come and show our support. This fight is important because every fight today is important.”

USW District 1 Director Donnie Blatt and Melissa Cropper, secretary-treasurer of the Ohio AFL-CIO and president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, also addressed the rally. Two carloads of workers from USW Local 1010 drove six hours to the rally. They work at another Cleveland-Cliffs-owned plant in East Chicago, Indiana. Two weeks earlier a delegation from the local had joined the picket lines at the Brackenridge mill in Pennsylvania.

“It’s important to get the word out,” said Courtney Almazan, one of the workers from East Chicago. “When we went to Brackenridge, we saw tremendous community support.”

Mike Galati, a rail worker and member of the SMART union’s Transportation Division in Virginia, brought a message of solidarity from co-workers, that was read to the rally.

The USW reported after the event that ATI would resume talks with the union May 21. Send messages of support or strike fund contributions to USW Local 1046, 925 W. St. Louis Ct., Louisville, OH 44641, or USW Local 1196 at 1080 Brackenridge Ave., Brackenridge, PA 15014.