Rally bolsters ailing industry
Several hundred people showed up to support the fight against illegal foreign steel dumping.
By CYNTHIA VINARSKY
VINDICATOR BUSINESS WRITER
WARREN -- Joe Kello has more than a passing interest in reviving the nation's ailing steel industry.
Standing among co-workers at a Stand Up For Steel rally, his 5-year-old son, Matthew, perched atop his shoulders, Kello said he's expecting to be in the unemployment lines by mid-July.
Youngstown Sinter Co., where he's been a machine operator for 10 years, will be idled this summer by owner WCI Steel of Warren.
"WCI has promised to try to find positions for us, but that won't do us any good if WCI doesn't make it," the Boardman resident said.
"I'm from a steel worker family. My father worked 30 years at Youngstown Sheet & amp; Tube. My grandfather worked at U.S. Steel. I know how much this area is going to hurt if we lose our steel industry, and I see a lot of people here who understand that. But not enough."
Gathering: Kello was one of several hundred steel workers, retirees, union leaders, public officials and industry supporters who gathered Monday afternoon at Courthouse Square to proclaim their support for the domestic steel industry and to oppose illegal steel dumping.
Some, like Martin McKinney of North Jackson, joined the rally even though their steel jobs are secure, at least for now.
An LTV Steel Co. employee and the fifth generation in his family to make a living in the iron and steel industry, McKinney works for the company's Youngstown pipe mill. Business has been good because the plant supplies pipe for the booming oil industry.
Still, LTV is operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and McKinney can't be certain of his future. He brought his mother, his wife and their three small children to show their support for the steel campaign.
"We're just here to stand up for steel," McKinney said. "I think it's important."
Revitalization Act: Jim English, secretary-treasurer of the United Steelworkers of America, was among the speakers urging the crowd to push for passage of legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, known as the Steel Revitalization Act.
English said the dumping of cut-rate foreign steel has furloughed 23,000 U.S. steel workers and forced 18 steel companies to seek bankruptcy protection since 1998. CSC Steel of Warren, once Trumbull County's fourth- largest employer, is one of those in bankruptcy.
He said the steel bill, HR 808, would put more limits on illegal foreign steel dumping, would strengthen the Steel Loan Guarantee program, and would provide funds to pay health benefits for steel industry retirees when steel employers are unable to provide them.
Lawmaker: U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-11th of Cleveland, a bill co-sponsor, said the community must get involved in the fight.
"Steel doesn't have a black face or a white face. Steel doesn't have an urban face or a suburban face," she said. "Steel has a working people face, and we all need to stand up for steel or we're going to lose our steel industry."
She told the audience to contact legislators and demand their support for the steel bill. "Call 'em, write 'em, e-mail 'em, fax 'em, stand in their face," she shouted. "Tell 'em: 'I stood up for you. Now, you stand up for me!' "