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Scabbing in the New Gilded Age

[ 114 ] August 28, 2015 |

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Probably the most underreported story in American labor right now is what’s going on steel. There are more unionized steel jobs in the U.S. than you’d think and a lot of those union contracts are expiring on September 1. That means a lot of labor strife, with companies seeking to destroy their unions. One of the most egregious cases of union-busting right now is Allegheny Technologies Inc (ATI), which has locked out its workers in order to force enormous contract concessions for the workers to keep their jobs.*

ATI still wants to run. They just want to bring American labor down to Bangladeshi working levels. No, seriously. ATI is actually advertising on Craig’s List for scabs. What would the working conditions be like?

Must be able to lift up to 50 lbs. and work in a standing position for entire shift (12 hours/day) in a high heat/temperature manufacturing environment. Workweek is 84 hours/week.

Previous experience in a metal manufacturing or processing facility is required. All positions require working for unknown duration and are temporary. THIS IS A LABOR DISPUTE SITUATION – EMPLOYEES WILL BE TRANSPORTED ACROSS A PICKET LINE.

They are paying a lot of money for this, which would last precisely as long as the lockout goes on. But 84 hour work weeks? That’s 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, of hard hard work. And given this is Pittsburgh with its still powerful union culture, I’d guess that if they do get workers, and they probably will given the wages and poor choices for working-class people, they will be coming from outside the region by and large.

There are 2000 USW members out of work right now thanks to a company that wants to repeal decades of union victories. There is going to be a large rally in Pittsburgh to support the workers on September 1 at noon. There will rallies the same day for locked out steelworkers in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. I plan on being in Pittsburgh for this. Hope you can support these workers if you are near one of the four locations.

*Let’s face it–the reason this is so underreported is that while the United Steelworkers is a really good union, their communications strategy with the general public is significantly behind a lot of other large internationals. Get with the social media USW! I should be knowing about this stuff as it is happening. I found out about it on Tuesday and only because I was with labor people in Pittsburgh. Even in the labor media, there’s been very little coverage.

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Comments (114)

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  1. Rob in CT says:

    Must be able to lift up to 50 lbs. and work in a standing position for entire shift (12 hours/day) in a high heat/temperature manufacturing environment. Workweek is 84 hours/week.

    Holy fuck.

  2. tony in san diego says:

    Clearly these executives deserve to be earning 500 times what their laborers are earning.

  3. Shakezula says:

    Jesus, 84 hours/week x molten metal = dead workers.

    (I know accidents happen, but this is going to increase the rate and I suspect the job doesn’t come with insurance.)

  4. JosephNobles says:

    I ran the numbers.

    $1700 a week on the low end is $20.25 an hour.

    $3000 a week on the high end is $35.70 an hour.

    No benefits besides the nice bus ride to and from the pickup spot. And that’s before taxes, of course, and you’re paying for your own motel room.

    “Help us screw our workers the way we’re going to screw you!” Incredible.

    • DocAmazing says:

      I want YOU for the Reserve Army of the Unemployed!

    • Nubby says:

      Your numbers are for the average rate, base rate is far shittier:

      Assuming they’re getting time-and-half for the 44 hours over 40, the formula is:

      (40 * r) + (44 * 1.5 * r) = 1700, solving for the rate r says the base pay rate at the low end is $16.04. At the top end using the same formula, it’s $28.30.

      No wonder they advertise weekly gross instead of base rate.

      • Lee Rudolph says:

        Assuming they’re getting time-and-half for the 44 hours over 40

        And just why should we assume that?

        • Just_Dropping_By says:

          Because it seems wildly implausible that being a lineworker in a steel mill is an “exempt” position for overtime purposes under the FLSA and, given that this is a labor dispute situation where there’s going to be a heightened risk of attention from regulators and lots of people looking for an excuse to file complaints, management would have to be the dumbest people ever to walk the Earth to try to skip on FLSA compliance? If nothing else, that would seem to merit a presumption that there is overtime being paid as part of this compensation package unless there’s evidence to the contrary.

          • Ahuitzotl says:

            management would have to be the dumbest people ever to walk the Earth

            this may in fact be true, however.

          • Barry_D says:

            “Because it seems wildly implausible that being a lineworker in a steel mill is an “exempt” position for overtime purposes under the FLSA and, given that this is a labor dispute situation where there’s going to be a heightened risk of attention from regulators and lots of people looking for an excuse to file complaints, management would have to be the dumbest people ever to walk the Earth to try to skip on FLSA compliance? If nothing else, that would seem to merit a presumption that there is overtime being paid as part of this compensation package unless there’s evidence to the contrary.”

            OTOH:

            1) Management might not be worried about a ‘heightened risk of attention from regulators’; they may be figuring that they can mistreat contract workers and get away with it.

            2) ‘They are not *our* employees; any abuses which might have happened would be due to *their* employer’. ‘It’s the union’s fault’. etc.

          • Warren says:

            Oh, I have no doubt this has been checked by the company’s lawyers, and they have been advised that the FLSA is very unlikely to do anything that the company can’t live with.

            Deregulation = why we can’t have nice things.

      • JosephNobles says:

        Oh, god, you’re right. My bad. Thanks for that!

      • Karen24 says:

        Thanks for the correction. Wow.

  5. DanaHoule says:

    During the Detroit Newspapers strike we did residential pickets outside the homes of scabs. Almost without fail, some neighbor would saunter over to our picket and start chatting about how their neighbor was an asshole.

    • DanaHoule says:

      During Pittston Coal, the company set up tent cities for the scabs they’d brought in. The UMW picketed the tent cities, so to screw with them the company flew in fresh lobster from Maine, plus a chef from Maine to prepare the lobster.

      Nobody can explain how it happened, but weirdly within a few days just about everyone living inside the tent city got lice. Irresponsible people with no proof alleged that somehow the UMW got lice in to the camps, probably returning with the laundry they sent out to be washed. But that’s a rumor, and it’s irresponsible to spread rumors.

    • Murc says:

      Can we not demonstrate contempt for… actually, you know what, I don’t even like calling them scabs.

      People have families to support. People have THEMSELVES to support and would prefer to not become homeless. Absent proof that any individual one is an awful person, I feel uncomfortable slinging mud on them as a class. They’re workers too and they’re just trying to put food on the table. The fault lies, as always, 100% with the company.

      • Erik Loomis says:

        That’s true, but if you are choosing to betray your fellow workers by taking their jobs in this fashion, I can’t feel sorry for what happens to you.

        • celticdragonchick says:

          Ostracism is one thing. Scab workers have been known to turn up dead in some other scenarios. I know my grandfather who used to work for Douglas (and then McDonnell Douglas) aircraft told me that scabs would be photographed coming into the Long Beach plant and that their homes would mysteriously burn down later in the week.

          I never cross a picket line. Ever. But damned if I would use violence against another worker no matter how much I was pissed at him.

          • DanaHoule says:

            I’m not sure what “ending up dead’ has to do with residential picketing. And having been attacked by paramilitary guards in body armor, and having my parents receive calls telling them I was concealing from them that I had AIDS, and seeing far, far worse done to the striking employees of Detroit Newspapers, well, it’s not impossible, but it’s damn close to impossible for me to ever feel sympathy for scabs.

            • celticdragonchick says:

              The scabs are victims of the whole fucking game just as much as the striking workers. They are desperate (or they wouldn’t be taking on a temp job with poor conditions) and both sets of workers are being systematically exploited by the management who practices divide and conquer.

              And yes…scab labor has been murdered in some cases. Screw that…if anybody needs an old fashioned ass whooping, it’s the bastards flying in the Gulfstream jet.

              • DanaHoule says:

                The scabs are victims of the whole fucking game just as much as the striking workers.

                Great insights there. Uh huh.

                • celticdragonchick says:

                  That is the sort of attitude that allowed Southern gentry to keep white “cracker” farmers at the throats of black sharecroppers for a hundred years. Anyway, I’m sorry you’re angry.

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  Comparing white and black farmers after the Civil War to the people directly crossing picket lines seems more than a bit stretched, to say the least.

                • celticdragonchick says:

                  Analogy is always imperfect, Eric. All the same, exploitation of the working classes by the capital class is a constant in America history if my own studies have meant a thing, and keeping people fighting each other and distracted is what allows the exploitation to continue.

                  So who am I supposed to be genuinely mad at?

                  The schlub with no full time job who is looking for three weeks of work to keep his fucking rent paid…or the assholes making 500 times the average payroll and are threatening to send the whole enterprise to the Philippines if I don’t agree to a pay and benefits cut and 12 hour days?

                  The scab is an annoyance, but he is not my enemy.

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  I don’t disagree with you in theory. But if you are on strike–or in this case locked out–that theory goes away and it becomes about enforcing the picket line and doing what you can do to defend your job. The scab is an annoyance to us sitting out here but if you are a Pittsburgh steelworker, that scab is, at least for the time being, your enemy.

                • ajp says:

                  Real easy for someone who’s not working class to say that.

              • CaptainBringdown says:

                The scab is an annoyance, but he is not my enemy.

                The capitalists are the generals, the scabs are their foot soldiers.

                Fuck the scabs.

        • celticdragonchick says:

          Ostracism is one thing. Scab workers have been known to turn up dead in some other scenarios. I know my grandfather who used to work for Douglas (and then McDonnell Douglas) aircraft told me that scabs would be photographed coming into the Long Beach plant and that their homes would mysteriously burn down later in the week.

          I never cross a picket line. Ever. But damned if I would use violence against another worker no matter how much I was pissed at him.

      • CaptainBringdown says:

        Absent proof that any individual one is an awful person, I feel uncomfortable slinging mud on them as a class.

        Committing an awful act doesn’t necessarily make one an awful person, but crossing a picket line certainly meets my definition of an awful act. So we’re talking about a class of people engaging in awful behavior, which in my world, warrants shaming.

      • DanaHoule says:

        Can we not demonstrate contempt for… actually, you know what, I don’t even like calling them scabs.

        Not sure who “we” is. You can feel sorry for them. But seeing what strikes and lockouts do to people, I can’t not demonstrate contempt for them.

      • DanaHoule says:

        BTW, scabs are no more a “class” than are arsonists, or people who spread malware, or people who harass women on Twitter.

      • Linnaeus says:

        They’re workers too and they’re just trying to put food on the table. The fault lies, as always, 100% with the company.

        I’m sympathetic to this and I don’t advocate threatening or harming someone who crosses a picket line to work (I’m less sympathetic to someone who crosses the picket line against her or his own union, which I have seen before). Having said that, I don’t have a problem with making it clear that crossing a picket line undermines me if I’m on strike. Part of the social function of a picket line is to make the metaphorical crossing of a line a literal crossing and hence illustrate what it means to do so.

    • dilan says:

      I’m not really a fan of harassing scabs.

      Actually, I should be stronger than that. I think harassing scabs is terrible for a variety of reasons:

      1. The situation is not the scabs’ fault. They are just people seeking work. Often in difficult economic circumstances. Meanwhile, the employer would just love it if union representatives and their allies train their fire on other workers instead of management.

      2. I have a similar reaction to this as I do to pro-lifers protesting abortion clinics. It would be one thing if I thought this was just handing out literature, telling people you shouldn’t work there, whatever. BUT SHOWING UP AT PEOPLE’S FUCKING HOMES? I’m sorry, that’s a gross violation of privacy and an implied threat. (And, of course, in days gone by, unions issued express threats to scabs. I hope that doesn’t happen anymore, but I’m not inclined to believe it never does.)

      It isn’t exactly a priority of mine in labor law (because I think that unions generally get the shaft and should have card check, protections against management’s anti-union campaigns, the abolishment of right-to-work, etc.), but targeted harassment of replacement workers should be flatly illegal. There’s no excuse for threatening an ordinary grunt or invading his or her privacy because the grunt had the audacity to accept work.

      • Erik Loomis says:

        I know you’d rather concern troll about unions than care about actual workers, but how about we keep the focus on the real life workers who are being locked out rather than theoretical violence that may or may not be committed against theoretical scabs, especially when no word about any anti-scab violence has taken place in this event.

        • dilan says:

          This is a great example of why “concern troll” is a classic internet phase– a contentless insult that pretends to be an argument, not an actual argument.

          Dana Houle said HE SHOWED UP AT SCABS’ HOUSES. That is not theoretical, Erik. That is a gross invasion of privacy.

          And any argument that says it is “concern trolling” to care about the privacy (and safety) of one group of workers because we are only supposed to care about another group is just flat wrong. You are basically saying the interests of only one group counts.

          I am not concern trolling. I am, rather, saying that your position is wrong. And what Dana Houle did is evil. If you want to condemn my position on the merits and defend invading people’s privacy and picketing their houses, go ahead. Defend it. But argue your case. Don’t call me names. Intelligent people make arguments; they don’t call people names.

          • Erik Loomis says:

            Don’t call me names. Intelligent people make arguments; they don’t call people names.

            You go too far in thinking I care whether or not you find me intelligent.

          • ajp says:

            I believe Dana has talked about his working class upbringing so he’ll probably trot that out as an excuse for why he’s actually simpatico with the working man. It’s easy for us to sit in comfort and judge. I know there are some self-righteous armchair liberals here who think scabs should have the courage of their convictions and starve to death. Cold comfort for their families.

            I actually do sympathize with striking workers. I have no issue with protesting scabs at the work site. But I have zero sympathy for workers who actively intimidate scabs. Including smugly self-righteous fucks like a certain commenter on this thread.

            • DanaHoule says:

              As I said above, if those scabs were starving, maybe it’s because they didn’t sell their houses, didn’t sell their cars, and didn’t bother to look for other jobs when unemployment was at post-Vietnam lows.

              In other words, they weren’t starving. Maybe if you had some clue about the actual reality of these things you wouldn’t waste time on stupid, fantastical hypotheticals.

              The reality? Most of the scabs were people with substance abuse problems, or people who’d been fired from multiple jobs, or had criminal records that would ordinarily preclude them from that job, or people who lacked the skills to get the job against normal competition. Maybe if you weren’t so self-righteously determined to be ignorant rather than admit you don’t really have the knowledge base to justify your vehemence you’d learn something. But yeah, I know, for some people learning is so much less emotionally satisfying than preening.

          • DanaHoule says:

            Dilan, you seem to have a real issue with me. It doesn’t bother me, but it does kind of fascinate me. I’ve had assholes think I’m an asshole, and sometimes even someone who isn’t an asshole thinks I’m an asshole. Eh, whaddya gonna do? But evil? I’m quite confident you’re the first person who’s accused me of being evil. For standing around for a couple hours with picket signs on the public sidewalk in front of a scab’s house? That’s weird. It makes me wonder if you think I’m evil because I participated in the act, if all the other people were also evil, or if you concluded the act was evil because I participated in it.

            You’re a peculiar person.

      • Brett says:

        For me, it depends on who the “scabs” are. I don’t have much respect or concern for members of the striking union who cross the picket line and start working again, but I don’t really hold it against workers without any affiliation with the union. It’s not their responsibility to protect my job, especially not if they’re in dire economic straits. And I think of those who think otherwise in the same vein that I’d think of employers trying to punish someone for undercutting them on prices or raising wages above a tacitly agreed level.

        It’s weird to see so much hostility towards the “lockout” side of things, though. I just see it as the flip side of withholding your labor – the employer is withholding the workplace until negotiations improve.

        • Morse Code for J says:

          Because the lockout is intended to starve out the labor participant in negotiation, with the understanding that the company can live without an income longer than employees and their families. If this company had an impasse position that it could successfully defend before an arbitrator to resolve this, it could do that with the union’s blessing. It doesn’t, so it wants to harm its employees until they comply. Understand that USW offered to work under the expired contract until a new one could be ratified, and ATI preferred not to make any money if it meant paying USW members.

      • solidcitizen says:

        So, scabs get to violate class solidarity, but I have to remember they are just working slobs like myself and to be mad at them is to betray our class solidarity?

        Some asshole scab walks past me on the picket line, he gets to walk into my workplace, take my job, but if I show up at his house and just hold a fucking sign, I am invading his privacy? I am going too far? Have I taken his job? Have I taken his pay? Have I made it that much harder for him to have some fucking dignity and justice in his life? No, no, and maybe just a little, but fuck him.

        Scabs are not “fellow workers.” Fellow workers don’t scab. Scabs are not pawns in life. They have agency, they know what the fuck are they doing, and “Hey, I got bills, too” doesn’t fucking cut it.

        “Accept work.” Jesus fucking Christ.

        • Four Krustys says:

          Crabs in a bucket.

        • UserGoogol says:

          They work, so they’re fellow workers. Compassion isn’t something you have to earn.

        • ajp says:

          You don’t want them to scab? Solidarity goes both ways. Help them find a job elsewhere. They need to keep a roof over their heads? Let them sleep on your couch. They need to eat? Share meals with them. It goes both ways. Why should they help you if you do nothing for them?

          Otherwise stfu.

          • Erik Loomis says:

            This is dumb. How are you, locked out or on strike, supposed to help someone find a job elsewhere? How are you, without pay because you are not allowed to work, supposed to help someone else eat when you can’t feed your own children?

            God, people are clueless sometimes.

          • solidcitizen says:

            If someone is out on strike, they belong to a union. Unions are a good thing for job creation, good public policy, higher wages, better working conditions for all. We fight for good public policy (in most cases). We fight for our fellow workers.

            A lot of people in this thread seem to adopt the attitude that all workers are the pawns of the bosses, so workers who are on strike/locked out should understand that scabs are just like them and direct their anger toward the bosses. But the scabs are the people who are inflicting pain. Scabs are helping keep workers oppressed. As CaptainBringDown says above, scabs are the foot soldiers in the boss’ army.

            And frankly, if you are saying that the guy who is starving with kids gets to take a striker’s job and cause her to be hungry and her kids to starve, I just don’t get it. It’s almost like you’re saying that a striker shouldn’t walk off the job to fight for better if there is a chance poorer slob will work for less. Let’s all race to the bottom and see where it gets us. This is why the first rule is “never scab.”

            • UserGoogol says:

              Two wrongs don’t make a right. Scabs shouldn’t take away strikers’ jobs, and strikers shouldn’t take away scabs’ jobs. Certainly, in so far as unions are good for all it’s better for the scab to not take the job, but being a liberal means compassion for everyone. We shouldn’t demonize people as “foot soldiers in the boss’s army.” Everyone (including the boss) is just trying to get by in an unfair system.

              • Morse Code for J says:

                No, fuck the boss. He would rather take a loss (which he can write off) while making his employees’ children starve so that he can make his parents’ lives materially worse upon their return to work.

                And fuck liberals if they can’t understand that there is a bitter and losing class war in progress. A class war which produces benefits for the locals who don’t pay dues but nonetheless form part of the same labor pool, and which also has consequences much more severe for striking workers than those with no investment in their contract negotiation.

                • DanaHoule says:

                  Willingness to compromise is liberal. Compulsion to compromise, no matter who it’s with or what’s being compromised, isn’t liberal, it’s acquiescence to, even complicity with, the side that has more power and is more willing to use aggression, typically leading to inequalities and injustices.

              • DanaHoule says:

                Hey, the arms dealer shares no responsibility for the ethnic cleansing perpetrated by his customers, right?

                There is nothing in liberal thought or practice that says people should be passive victims and just “blame the system.”

                These comments remind me of during the Balkan Wars of the 1990’s, when the war started out with the Serbs in control of almost all the hardware of the Yugoslav army, and the response of the UN was an arms embargo. You had people getting slaughtered in Vukovar and Srebrinica and Sarajevo because a bunch of drunk Chetniks were up in the hills lobbing down artillery shells, and there were people who thought the answer was to lock in a huge military advantage of the perpetrators under the guise of not taking sides, of not wanting to contribute to the continuation of the conflict.

                Fortunately–and likely with the support of the then US ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith–the Saudis started shipping in arms through Croatia. It didn’t end the fighting, or prevent any atrocities by the Croats, but it allowed the Croats & Bosnians to fight back and put an end to the ethnic cleansing. It was and is a crappy peace, but there wasn’t a good solution, and it was the least bad solution. But it was necesary to fight back.

                Sometimes the liberal, the humane thing to do, is to fight back. It may be through military force–and it’s why I could never be a pacifist, and why I find a lot of value in a rigorous use of just war theory (which is usually invoked by people who ignore some of its conditions, but that’s a separate issue). “Fighting back” against scabs shouldn’t, except extreme cases (essentially where the scabs or their agents are initiating violence, which is quite common in bitter strikes), involve violence. But shaming and harassing someone who takes the job of unionized workers–usually when the company is committing unfair labor practices, for which they invariably pay a nominal fine when the litigation is completed 5 or 7 or 9 years later–doing that kind of thing as a way to fight back, pfft, anyone who gets the vapors over stuff like that has either lived a very soft life (which I wish more people could do, btw), or they learned the wrong lessons from the tough things they’ve experienced and seen.

              • Hogan says:

                Scabs shouldn’t take away strikers’ jobs, and strikers shouldn’t take away scabs’ jobs.

                But the whole premise behind that is that the job is entirely the property of the boss, and not at all the property of the person doing it. The point of a union is to challenge that premise.

    • CatoUticensis says:

      The replies to this comment are god-awful, Jesus.

      Some of you hand-wringing “WHY WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE SCABS” dipshits need to dig your heads out of your asses and realize that class politics isn’t some fucking genteel Oxford Union debate. Picketing scabs’ houses in a place like Detroit is going to be an effective way to strangle the flow of strikebreakers, which means the lockout becomes a far more tenuous thing for the company to push. Similar tactic could work in Pittsburgh and I hope to God USW does whatever it takes to break this lockout over its knee.

      Scabs don’t accidentally cross a picket line. It’s a deliberate act. You want me to worry about their well-being? How about they start worrying about the well-being of the workers who they are actively fucking over first instead.

  6. N__B says:

    And The Wolf Finally Came was apparently premature. What seemed to be the wolf back then was a chihuahua.

  7. kmannkoopa says:

    Strom Engineering has its employee handbook and some other good reads on its website.

    My favorite highlight is this gem:

    If your assignment with one of our customers comes to an end, you must notify us within five (5) business days of your desire and availability for consideration for another assignment. If you do not so notify us, we will assume you are no longer seeking assignment and will inform the appropriate state unemployment agency that you have voluntarily ceased employment with us. To find out more, contact your supervisor

    • Erik Loomis says:

      Even screwing these people out of unemployment. God.

      • Shakezula says:

        And leisure time, it looks like.

        (I assume people are expected to take assignments as they come up and have little or no advance warning.)

        • Barry_D says:

          And there’s other tricks. Their last assignment could have been within commuting distance; the company can hand them a new one 1,000 miles away[1]. If they don’t take it, they are judged to have quit.

          [1] Relocation is on their own dime.

          • rea says:

            That goes hand-in-hand with the bit in the manual about there being a bulletin board in the home office in Minnesota, and all employees are responsible for knowing anything posted on that board.

          • Malaclypse says:

            If they don’t take it, they are judged to have quit.

            The judgement of whether someone quit is made by the state, not the employer. At least in MA, your example would not be a voluntary quit.

          • Sebastian_h says:

            I’m so not going to give a legal opinion on Pennsylvania, but I will note that in most states this wouldn’t count as “quitting” for purposes of getting unemployment.

            However, I have regularly seen companies try to trick employees into thinking that they wouldn’t qualify for unemployment (a practice which can get you in DEEP trouble in California, and companies still do it). So I wouldn’t put that past a shady company at all.

  8. nonunique says:

    The USW link says there’s a rally in NY (not Illinois). Hoping it’s both…in which case, any details on the Illinois instance?

  9. clio says:

    “Must be able to lift up to 50 lbs. and work in a standing position for entire shift (12 hours/day) in a high heat/temperature manufacturing environment. Workweek is 84 hours/week.”

    I hope that the next time Congress debates or a Republican presidential candidate (Jeb!) endorses increasing the Social Security retirement age to 70, or even 67, someone reads this to them and/or into the Congressional Record.

  10. clio says:

    Of course you are correct about the increased SS retirement age.
    I wonder how many steel workers are able to work until SS retirement. The job as described would be difficult for many 60 year old workers to do day after day, especially after doing it for the preceding 35+ years.

    • Barry_D says:

      It’s so far beyond that that it doesn’t come into play. Try getting a job after age 50. Or in many fields, after 40.

      For example, anybody laid off after age 50 in a recession is likely to be permanently out of the professional world.

  11. […] * Update from the wide world of organized labor — yes, that’s still a thing — there is a major steelworkers lockout with employers advertising on Craigslist to get scabs to work 84 hours a week of hard labor. See this is EXACTLY why we need unions. [Lawyers Guns and Money] […]

  12. Brett says:

    They must be hoping to end the strike in a couple of weeks. That type of work schedule is absurdly brutal – even if the pay draws in people to do it at first, the turnover is going to be enormous with those hours and work. The company isn’t exactly rolling in the money, either, judging by their profit margins and stock performance.

  13. rea says:

    You know, my first reaction to this was outrage, but my second is just slack-jawed amazement. How many people are they looking to hire? There can’t be all that many people physically capable of doing that job, lifting 50 lbs. weights in high temperatures for 12 hours per day, 7 days a week. Experience is required. Must pass a background check (doubtless political as well as criminal, under the circumstances). Must pass a drug test . . . Implicitly, must have lost their job elsewhere–who’d quit a job for this?

    Potential hiring pool of 10 people?

  14. paul.c.klos says:

    I still have my old – very old – UAW union card and father’s Journeyman’s card. I’ve never crossed a picket line and never will until a cold day in hell, I rather pawn stuff and start selling my cars before I ever support scabs or be one. I can still recall how devastated I was when my father sold my coin collection give to the strike fund for the (maybe) united mine workers (but I can’t really remember which union it was)- F the man.

    I know people can be desperate but at some point you have to stop letting the corporate oligarchs create china and fox con here while they remain the ‘bloated ones’ (bonus if anyone can determine the reference to Classical Athenian History)

  15. Four Krustys says:

    The company itself is in serious financial doo-doo. Their market cap is about 20% of what it was 7 years ago, and half of what it was a year ago. They’re also a high dividend stock, about 4% per year, which is a lot of cashish to have to come up with every quarter.

    I’m curious what corporations can do when they’re swirling down the toilet, beyond fucking over workers, and if there are examples of that type of strategy working. What’s the labor-friendly hail mary pass in this sort of situation?

    (I ask because I am ignorant of such things, and not because I think that 80 hours a week is OK. I do find it surprising that nobody but dilan can muster any sympathy for someone who has to take a job like that to support their family. If you replace “scab” with “illegal alien”, the kneejerk fuck-yous to dilan read like something from Donald Trump’s fan club. Would I cross a picket line? Hell no. I’d probably rather starve to death, but I don’t have kids. I can’t imagine any condition where I’d stalk and harass people who are doing 80 hours a week of hard labor because they have no other options. That’s just messed up.)

    • Brett says:

      I’ve read they managed to build a new mill without borrowing money, which is good. Realistically, if they’re going to just slow-bleed money, they’ll need to start either laying people off or not replacing them when they retire (probably not a hard proposition- most manufacturing workers in unionized firms aren’t that young these days). Or shut down their older facilities, which will likely require lay-offs because of redundancy.

      Although with work conditions like that . . . if they hadn’t built the new mill, I’d suspect they were just looking for an excuse to shut down the plant and sell out to someone bigger/open a mill somewhere else. I have no idea what their long-term strategy is.

    • Morse Code for J says:

      They could have pled their case to their bargaining unit, and tried to negotiate something fair under the circumstances. They could have recognized areas where no agreement was possible, and asked the bargaining unit to accept binding arbitration. That would have been bargaining in good faith. This is bullshit.

      Instead, the contract expired June 30 during negotiations, and on August 14, they locked everyone out while continuing to negotiate for reductions in salary and benefits, but also other things with no relationship to the viability of the business (e.g., scheduling, contracting-out certain work, etc.). The lockout itself – a period wherein little or no work bringing money into the company will be performed – is a clear sign that this is less about money than it is about control.

    • DanaHoule says:

      People who scab for that kind of money for that kind of work typically aren’t worried about feeding their kids, they’re typically people who’ve burned bridges, who have gambling debts or accumulated life problems due to substance abuse, or they see it as a windfall so they can do something else, live move to Alaska or pay for college or start a business, or they’re just assholes who can’t get and/or keep a normal job, and may even like a little excitement. I mean, the people who works as “contractors” in war zones typically aren’t starving or struggling to feed their kids. They could do something else. But they see an opportunity, crappy as the details are, of getting out of a dead end, or avoiding problems they’ve done a lot to bring upon themselves, or because they just can’t imagine anything better.

      • celticdragonchick says:

        Christ on a crutch, dude…have you ever heard of ‘projection’? You sound like a Mitt Romney commercial for why the 99% deserve to be screwed over by their “Betters”. That is the sort of worker demonization I would expect from an Ayn Rand novel.

        • DanaHoule says:

          You’re an unserious person.

        • CatoUticensis says:

          Oh fuck you. I don’t particularly like Dana, but Jesus, the shit-soft liberal handwringing that’s gone on in the comments of this post is too much to fucking bear. If strikebreakers don’t want people saying mean things about them, maybe they shouldn’t fucking try to break a union at the bosses’ behalf. Jesus wept, is this where we are at now? Defending scabs from being treated with the disrespect they deserve?

          You want the union to show solidarity to the scabs actively trying to destroy their rights and protections at work, with effects that will likely have a massive impact on workplace safety? Houle’s right, you are deeply unserious.

  16. celticdragonchick says:

    While we are on the subject of bad work conditions…follow the link and show some solidarity with farm workers. Report inadequate shade violations.
    https://instagram.com/p/4Z_dPBKuFf/

  17. […] to get scabs to work 84 hours a week of hard labor. See this is EXACTLY why we need unions. [Lawyers Guns and Money] * The latest in James Woods’s suit to reveal the anonymous Twitter user that called him […]

  18. […] steel industry is still highly unionized. And the United Steelworkers (USW) union is coming to the end of its current contract at the beginning of next month. As a result, the steel businesses are doing everything they can to […]

  19. […] for what they are–people who think dead workers is a form of freedom. People who think working 84-hour weeks in a steel mill is totally acceptable. People who want you to experience another Donora Smog in the name of […]

  20. […] firm has apparently posted an ad on Craigslist in Pittsburgh (originally highlighted by Eric Loomis) advertising jobs paying $1,700 to $3,000 for an 84-hour-work week. That equates to 12 hours a day, […]

  21. […] firm has apparently posted an ad on Craigslist in Pittsburgh (originally highlighted by Eric Loomis) advertising jobs paying $1,700 to $3,000 for an 84-hour-work week. That equates to 12 hours a day, […]

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