Special Metals strike in West Virginia wins support

By Amy Husk
and Jim Horn
December 20, 2021
Militant/Amy Husk

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — “We want a fair contract,” said workers on the picket line in front of Special Metals here Dec. 5. Some 450 members of United Steelworkers Local 40 have been on strike since Oct. 1. Special Metals Corp., which is owned by Warren Buffet’s massive Berkshire Hathaway worldwide operation, is demanding workers take more concessions. “My health care premiums would go from about $285 a month to $1,000,” striker Jack Johnson told the Militant. “And the company is offering no pay raise at all.”

“I’ve worked in the plant for 17 years. I’m out on disability now but I’m helping out at the union office since I can’t walk the picket line,”  Michelle Tharpe said. “We’ve gotten so much support from other unions and the community. Members of United Steelworkers Local 14581 have come up every two weeks from Elkhorn City, Kentucky, with a truckload of donations.”

Tharpe explained she and other workers have a lot of anger against the bosses because of the way they’re treated. When her only son died unexpectedly while she was at work, her supervisor told her she had to stay on the job until the end of her shift.

“We’re not going to let them push us around or divide us,” picket Barry Gibson, a 27-year veteran in the plant, told us. “No one has crossed the picket line.” The bosses are trying to use scabs to get production going.

Messages and contributions to the strike fund can be sent to Chad Thompson, president, USW Local 40, 421 Cherry Ridge Road, Thurman, OH 45685.