By Blake Garrison
On June 9, striking steelworkers from Allegheny Technologies, Inc. (ATI) rallied outside the main ATI facility in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, with some workers confronting scabs who crossed the picket line. Organized by United Steelworkers (USW), the event was joined by many supportive community members and workers, some representing the United Electric Workers and United Mine Workers of America (UMWA).
Throughout the rally, workers moved to block cars and trucks transporting scabs, only retreating when pulled back by other demonstrators who sought to divert confrontation. Tribune spoke with striking steelworkers, who say that tactics for dealing with scabs have been a point of deliberation as the strike goes on.
A Tribune investigation determined that ATI has been hiring scabs through Carol Harris Staffing and TOPS Staffing, LLC. Some of the scabs, brought across state lines, are being housed at a nearby Comfort Inn. Truckers with Don Martin Trucking have been crossing the picket line to carry steel coil out of the facility, while drivers for FedEx and UPS have refused to cross the line in solidarity.
A miner in attendance at the rally spoke with Tribune on the need for workers to stand together: “Coming from the coal mine, we realize coming from history that a struggle for one worker is a struggle for all workers. We’re out here trying to get a fair contract for these guys because we know that progress comes uphill to our guys as well. Workers are workers. We’re just trying to help out the best we can.”
Demonstrators chanted, “What do we want? Fair contract! When do we want it? Now!” ATI steelworkers have not received a pay increase in seven years, while last year, CEO Robert Wetherbee’s salary increased 3% to $5.7 million, with other executives making millions of dollars as well.
Many workers believe that achieving their demands will require a more militant stance towards the scabs, as the bused-in workers are undermining the effectiveness of the strike. As the rally neared its end, USW Local 1138 president Keith Beavers called on the crowd to “stand near the gate where the scabs exit and let’s say goodbye to them.”
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