Brits Show Solidarity with ATI Workers; Locked out Steelworkers at the Allegheny Technologies Inc. Plant in Harrison Learned Firsthand Tuesday about Labor Struggles in Great Britain. [Derived Headline]

By Yerace, Tom | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 2, 2015 | Go to article overview

Brits Show Solidarity with ATI Workers; Locked out Steelworkers at the Allegheny Technologies Inc. Plant in Harrison Learned Firsthand Tuesday about Labor Struggles in Great Britain. [Derived Headline]


Yerace, Tom, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Locked out steelworkers at the Allegheny Technologies Inc. plant in Harrison learned firsthand Tuesday about labor struggles in Great Britain.

Members of United Steelworkers Local 1196 in Brackenridge, locked out of the ATI plant since Aug. 15, hosted a group of nine officials from UNITE, the biggest labor union in Great Britain and Ireland, with 1.4 million members.

"Them coming here was their expression of support and solidarity for us," said Fran Arabia, USW Local 1196 president.

The UNITE officials' visit came about two weeks after Arabia and former Local 1196 president Walt Hill visited Great Britain at the invitation of the USW International.

They spoke at a rally in Sheffield, England, where ATI has a steel plant, telling them about the lockout that has idled 2,200 workers at 13 ATI Flat-Rolled Products plants in six states. The Sheffield plant is not affected.

Tony Burke, assistant general secretary for UNITE, said it and the USW, the largest private sector labor union in North America, in 2011 formed an international union called Workers Uniting. Workers Uniting includes more than 3 million active and retired workers in Great Britain, the United States, Canada and Ireland.

Burke said the kind of clout is needed in today's world.

"If you are a small union trying to survive, you've got no chance in a global economy," he said.

Burke said the UNITE contingent was here for a conference with USW officials in Pittsburgh and wanted to visit Local 1196 and the picket lines at the Harrison plant after hearing about the lockout from Arabia and Hill.

Also, they viewed the plaque on Outlook Street in Harrison marking the area where labor martyr Fannie Sellins was murdered by police while organizing coal miners in 1919.

"They came to our facility because of the story we told them, and that's why I was honored," Arabia said. "They could have gone anywhere but they came here."

Burke said UNITE's membership includes workers in 22 sectors of the economy with 450,000 in manufacturing, which includes the steel industry.

He said problems facing the steel industry in Britain and Ireland are directly related to steel dumping by Chinese companies, which also has adversely impacted American steel companies and their workers.

"This Chinese steel is just undercutting everybody," Burke said. …

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