YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Thousands of steelworkers poured into the street in front of the Federal Court House here Dec. 4. The workers were demanding that the bankruptcy court reject a Chapter 7 (liquidation) petition filed by LTV Steel Corporation. During the hearing, at which only LTV testimony was presented that day, workers jammed the hallways and the street.

Dave McCall, Ohio USWA district director and USWA’s chief negotiator with LTV, said, “We are here to tell the judge we need time to secure loans, find a buyer or whatever else is necessary to keep LTV operating, and asking that he remove the present management and name a trustee to take over the company. We already have an agreement with the creditors.”

Some of the maintenance workers at the rally said that they were ready to do whatever it took to keep the Cleveland mills open. When LTV ordered maintenance to begin permanent shutdown procedures, they refused the direct order.

The LTV workers were supported by political leaders, including Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio), steelworkers from U.S. Steel, members of Ohio’s labor leadership and members of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR).

“A line has been drawn,” said USWA Indiana/Illinois District Director-elect Jim Robinson as he opened the rally. “We’re saying no to Wall Street and yes for workers.”

Robinson said, “LTV is only the beginning. This fight is to save our whole steel industry.”

McCall said, “Our next stop is Washington, D.C.,” referring to the Steel Revitalization Act of 2001 (S-957), which would reduce the stringent requirements needed to secure a loan from the Federal Steel Emergency Fund.

Kucinich, who filed a “friend of the court” brief in bankruptcy court, said “we are going into court to save your jobs, that is our main concern …We also are going to save the future of our cities and our country by saving the steel industry.”

Many speakers pointed to the fact that this is a life-and-death struggle to save not only jobs and health care, but also entire cities and communities. George Banks, Ohio SOAR Director, spoke of the harm the company wants to inflict on retired steelworkers and of company refusals to negotiate.

Ohio state Sen. Bob Hagan said, “Business is wrapping itself in the flag while they shut down the steel industry.”

Ohio AFL-CIO Representative Barry Buciglio, speaking on behalf of 700,000 union members, said, “There is something wrong with a political system that caters to corporate greed and gives nothing to workers.”

Wally Kaufman and Pat McKinney contributed to this article.


Conn Hallinan
Conn Hallinan

Conn Hallinan is a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus. A retired journalism professor, he previously was an editor of People's World when it was a West Coast publication.