The future of 8,600 steelworker families and tens of thousands of retirees at National Steel was resolved this week.

Amid the shouts of hundreds of steelworkers ringing the Federal Courthouse in Chicago and hoisting their signs, “No Contract, No Work” Judge John Squires decided to award National Steel to US Steel instead of AK (Armco Kawasaki) Steel, April 21.

“We are extremely pleased that the progressive labor agreement that our union reached with US Steel for the purchase of National apparently played a crucial role in the court’s decision,” said Leo W. Gerard, international president of the United Steelworkers of America (USWA). “Following on the heels of our successful negotiations with International Steel Group for the purchase of LTV Steel and Acme Steel, the purchase of National by US Steel builds on the consolidation momentum that our union led the way in launching last fall. That’s when our Basic Steel Industry Conference approved a set of bargaining principles that is leading the way to a humane restructuring of the steel industry.”

The union, while hailing “humane consolidation,” is looking ahead to the big fight – confronting a “belligerent” GOP-dominated Congress that has refused to address the health crisis where 250,000 retired steelworkers have lost their health insurance.

“These are the Americans (retired steelworkers) who fought the wars and built this country,” Gerard said. “And it’s a disgrace that some in Congress are refusing to come to their aid when their health care benefits have been wiped out because of the federal government’s failure to enforce its trade policies.”

The union is working for the passage of HR 1199, prescription drug coverage for all seniors covered by Medicare and health care for steelworkers who have been robbed of their insurance.