USW Invites Economic Politician and Chauvinist Sherrod Brown to ArcelorMittal Tubular Products Picket Line


As the strike of around 500 workers at the ArcelorMittal Tubular Products plant in Shelby, Ohio enters its second week, the United Steelworkers (USW) has responded by inviting Democratic Nationalist Economic Senator Sherrod Brown to the picket line.

The purpose of inviting Brown, a senior Ohio politician with close ties to the USW and the steel companies, is an attempt to redirect angry workers after long hours and poor working conditions in a direction reactionary nationalist.

Tubular products ArcellorMittal Shelcy, Ohio (ArcelorMittal supports)

The strike began on Sunday, October 31 at midnight after ArcelorMittal representatives made their “final offer” and withdrew from negotiations with Steelworkers Local 3057. Norm Shoemaker, president of Steelworkers Local 3057, told the Richland Source, “Shelby ArcelorMittal abruptly walked away from the negotiating table, which we believe warrants an accusation of unfair labor practices.”

USW officials said major sticking points in the contract include unpaid leave, healthcare and pensions.

Before the strike, it was common for factory workers to regularly work 56-hour weeks and report to work every day of the week. Union officials have told reporters they are currently asking the company to grant certain weekends, especially Thanksgiving weekend and Easter weekend, but only as non-statutory holidays. paid.

Shoemaker claimed that the pension has only been addressed twice in the past 20 years and the annual multiplier has increased from $ 75 to $ 54.

ArcelorMittal Tubular Products workers are also divided by a three-tier health care plan, with new employees having to pay higher premiums and deductibles.

USW officials met with the company’s bargaining team on Tuesday and Wednesday last week. Another meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 8, the same day Brown is due to address the workers.

According to Shoemaker, the senator will likely start at the union hall before heading to the picket line.

Brown is a reactionary economic nationalist, frequently making statements promoting various “Made in America” campaigns and anti-Mexican and anti-Chinese chauvinism. Because of his extreme nationalist and corporate views, Brown has become the darling of labor bureaucracies and industrial pressure groups. He maintains particularly close relations with the United Auto Workers (UAW), the USW and the large steel companies.

Brown has been deeply involved in discussions with General Motors over the closure of its Lordstown, Ohio plant. During the political debate, Brown and then President Donald Trump came into open conflict over the right-wing nationalist agenda to “save jobs”, inevitably involving further concessions on the part of workers. .

Brown was particularly defensive in the face of Trump’s denunciation of the president of UAW Local 1112, David Green. As Trump openly called for more concessions from Lordstown workers, Brown called Trump’s comments “shameful,” but did not explain why workers should trust a union, right down to their armpits. collaboration with management, where officials were found guilty of accepting massive bribes from auto companies. His alternative to Trump was to promote a massive taxpayer subsidy to automakers in the form of the American Cars, American Jobs Act.

As with all attempts to “save American jobs” through concessions and subsidies, attempts to maintain production in Lordstown have largely failed. GM ultimately sold the plant to Lordstown Motors, an electric vehicle maker with an uncertain future.

In the case of the steel industry, Brown has developed an even closer relationship with the USW and the companies. In 2016, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), an association of North American steel companies, awarded him the Congressional Steel Champion Award 2015-2016 for his work in the Senate Steel Caucus.

In September, Brown toured the Toledo plant in Cleveland-Cliffs alongside representatives from the company and the USW. The purpose of his tour was to promote the nationalist Build America Buy America Act and the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill, and to push the fraudulent narrative that high tariffs will secure well-paying jobs for workers in the States. -United.

The previous month, Brown issued a statement similarly saluting Cleveland-Cliffs and arguing that American steel was a national security imperative. In his statement, he said Russia and China “are circumventing US trade laws” by shipping steel products through Canada and Mexico.

Last year, Cleveland-Cliffs bought the majority of the US assets of Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal for around $ 1.4 billion. The Shelby plant was one of the few assets in America that ArcelorMittal kept.

On November 1, the first day of the strike, Brown spoke at a joint meeting of AISI and the Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA) where he praised the US steel industry.

Given his record, it’s safe to assume that the senior lawmaker will address striking workers with statements combining national chauvinism and a glorification of the Biden administration-sponsored infrastructure bill, which is in fact a distribution of billions of dollars to companies.

The economic nationalism pushed by Brown and the USW aims to drive a wedge between American workers and their brothers and sisters abroad. The outpouring against “foreign” steel comes amid a continuing rebellion by American auto workers and a wave of international strikes.

Workers should take warning about the rotten role the USW played in isolating and strangling a powerful 106-day strike led by 1,300 workers at Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Technologies earlier this year. After starving on the picket line with less than $ 200 in weekly strike pay, workers were grappled with a concession contract that sanctioned the loss of hundreds of jobs.

The strike in Ohio coincides with an ongoing strike of around 10,000 workers at John Deere. On November 2, the majority of workers at the farm equipment maker followed the advice of Deere’s workers’ grassroots committee and rejected the second sales deal offered by the UAW and the company.

The Shelby plant produces tubes and mandrels used by the automotive and agricultural machinery industries.

In recent years, ArcelorMittal factories have experienced strikes involving thousands of workers. This year, more than 150,000 steel and metal workers in South Africa took part in a four-week strike that hampered production at ArcelorMittal’s South African division. From early May to June, 2,500 ArcelorMittal workers in Canada were on strike until the USW succeeded in forcing a deal.

The promotion of national chauvinism – whether by Democrats, Republicans or union officials – is a diversion aimed at stoking animosity towards the working brothers abroad as the union tries to force a surrender deal. In order to lead any struggle for social benefits and decent working hours, workers in the steel and automotive industries must form grassroots committees to unite their struggles nationally and globally. Workers can contact the World Socialist Website for help in setting up these committees.

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