A Stand for a Regular Life
Ever heard of Allegheny Technologies Inc? Its stock trades as ATI, but you didn’t need to know that, and you can guess why last summer it locked out 2,200 ATI workers in six states.
The company says the people who operate its steel mills earn too much money, get too much healthcare and have too much retirement security. The company wants cuts.
So… ATI is new to you, but so is Guy Jones. He’s one of the people who supposedly has too much. Does he? Well, no. Unless a regular life is too much.
“Corporate America has beaten it into Middle America for years. ‘You don’t deserve decent health care. You don’t deserve retirement. You don’t deserve good pay.’ Yes. Yes, you do!” said Guy Jones, a caster at the ATI plant in Midland, PA and a member of United Steelworkers Local 1212.
Since mid-August, the plant gate has been locked against Jones and his fellow union members.
Instead of making stainless steel slabs, Jones stands outside all day, every day, on the picket line. The pay is hard. There isn’t any. And that can be tough on a family.
“I’ve been through the good times and the bad. You know you’ll be OK. But you get worried about the young families. You worry about them breaking up,” said Jones, 52.
Jones and his wife have four kids — ages 28, 24, 19 and 16. The 16-year-old son wants a head start as a Marine Corps fighter pilot, which means Jones pays for flight training. The 19-year-old daughter postponed college fall semester because of the lockout.
“I don’t want this to be a determining factor in her life. I don’t want to see my youngest son’s plans change because of this,” Jones said.
And yet Jones knows an important truth: Sometimes you’ve got to take a stand, or die a slow death at the hands of corporate bosses who always wants more.
“How much is enough? I’m just a regular guy. I live in a regular house. I want what’s best for my family,” Jones said.
To Jones, unionism is about fairness. It’s about steadiness, about making good decisions, safe workplaces and a strong work ethic.
Apicket line can lift you up and then, just as fast, tear you down. Pizzas have been delivered anonymously by supporters, which is great. And then replacement workers and a few semi-tractor trailers crossed the line into the plant, which hurts.
“It’s frustrating to see other unions cross our picket line. In some ways, I know, they want us to go away. I’m just not going to do that,” he said. A horn honked in the background.
And then he added, “But we’ve gotten a few trucks to turn around, to honor the picket line. We make the managers uncomfortable. I come down here every day. Sometimes my kids come with me. Right now, for me, where I’m at in my life… this picket line is the most important thing.”
by Robert Struckman