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Vallourec workers air grievances today before unionization vote

Published: Sat, January 18, 2014 @ 9:46 p.m.


Since Vallourec took ownership of its facility in Youngstown, things have just gotten worse for employees, according to Dave Lorenzi, a worker for Vallourec Star.

Lorenzi was one of the speakers Saturday at an event at the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers Union of America in Girard about a mile from the Vallourec Star facilities. The plant produces steel pipe for the oil and gas industry.

Voting will take place Tuesday through Thursday at both the old and new mills at the Vallourec property to determine if Vallourec workers will become part of the union.

One of the first things Vallourec did when it took over the plant was to freeze pensions for current employees and eliminate them for new employees, Lorenzi said. Employees also have had to pay higher insurance premiums and now work in a two-tier pay system.

“I think the final straw was when they pulled the Sunday premium,” he said. “They told us Sunday was just another day.”

Read more of the workers' assessments and the company's response in Sunday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.


1mnascar(36 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

Remember what it was like BEFORE they came in and spent millions. Now your not happy? They want to spend another 85 million, and you want to be greedy. If the grass is so green on the other side go get that job. Same old mentality we have had in this valley for decades. This is todays economy. You can't tell a company how to run or what to do. They don't ask for your opinion.

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2IslandMike(764 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago


No one asked for your opinion either.

This is a decision for the workers of Vallourec to make, only they know the current work environment. Does anyone think that the company could be lying about their expansion efforts in order to pressure the current workers to vote against unionizing?

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3BigJim2234(57 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

The last steel mill there gave Sunday premium
As well as offered a great pension.
In the end the workers got none of it because they left and went Bankrupt with the rest of the mills.
Good luck on your vote. I work at GM and we were close to that same situation if not for the government helping us out .
Watch what you wish for.

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4NoBS(2312 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

mnascar, yes, I remember. My electric bill was lower, because there was no jacked-up rates, so OE could offer low low rates to a company that was going to locate here regardless of the cost. There were a couple hundred fewer steel workers, but what's 200 jobs (a much higher number was promised, then reneged on) in the grand scheme of things?

Don't get me wrong - jobs are jobs, and I'm glad for every single one here in the Valley. But holding them over our heads is a fool's game. We made do before those jobs were here, with all their conditions, and we'll make do if they're taken back. Think Vallourec will walk away from the huge money they've invested here?

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5papa1(711 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

it sounds like unions in france are more powerful than ours which shows the sad state of unions in the u.s. vallorec is not going to close after investing millions and guaranteed, with the advent of fracking, to make many milliongs. I know what I would do but this is their decision. good luck.

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6Superstar7(122 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

Compete with the world.
Compete with the Chinese.
Either accept the wages Chinese receive or
1. Find another job.
2. Open your own business & learn the expenses.

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7Superstar7(122 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

Just like the previous owners of the Briar Hill Mills just West of Belmont, along the 7-11 expressway...
once night falls, they spew billions of tons of pollution into the air. The billowing clouds of small particulate matter they wait until dark to inject into our lungs is the reason this region's cancer rate, including breast, lung, pancreatic & bladder cancers always near THE HIGHEST IN THE COUNTRY! The clouds of toxic dust are so thick, often drivers cannot see 10 feet in front of their vehicles. These WWI mills still being used to ruin our lives must be shut down, leveled & the companies forced to pay the medical bills for the diseases they have burdened upon this entire community. Every person that works at these mills, every one that profits MUST reimburse the financial damage their profiteering has generated upon the people of this region. Hagen, Ryan...is it not your responsibility to protect the people of this region?

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8republicanRick(1501 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

Unions destroyed Lordstown, Delphi, US Steel, and the city of Detroit.

Maybe the good workers of Vallourec will see these past errors and instead will vote for a bright future for them, their families, and Youngstown and will reject the greedy and crooked unions.

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9JoeFromHubbard(1482 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

The union mentality and reputation has plagued this area for decades and has been a source of its decay.

Let us see if it still exists after the vote this coming week.

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10HenryTheBear(23 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

what is the matter with you people? why are we defending a corporation rather than our neighbors? most of you people wouldn't be able to put these workers gloves on and perform their jobs so quit pretending YOU know whats best for them! what ever happened to building people up rather than tearing down what they are working for. Why cant we respect workers!? whats so wrong about that??

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11republicanRick(1501 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

Henry, we absolutely respect workers. We do not like how unions will do anything to destroy companies if the union doesn't get their demands met.

Unions kill jobs, kill communities, and kill families.

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12JoeFromHubbard(1482 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

@ HenryTheBear :

I've worn those gloves many times when I belonged to the United Steel Workers of America. That was back in the day, long before the demise of the local steel industry.

Thank God there were greedy corporations that provided summer time employment to all of us college kids in the Valley.

Steel mills were a good place to work because they paid an unsustainably high wage to unskilled workers, including myself. They helped pay for my education.

Kids today won't find that kind of help with the high cost of education because the unions and government regulations killed the golden goose.

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13HenryTheBear(23 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

I'm not sure where you're going with this JoeFromHubbard? I wasn't even disputing anything you're saying in my previous comment.

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14YtownParent(557 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago


No one is really defending the corporation against the employees. They're defending the employees against the union which has historically been more detrimental than helpful and recently has been very predatory in its voting practices.

If you look at the other article on vindy.com titled "French metalworkers support unionization vote at Vallourec Star" you'll see a couple comments from an actual employee as to why they don't want the union in their shop. His comments echo the sentiments of my family members and neighbors who work there and are vocally against the union. What the article left out is how many employees who are against the union were not allowed to speak.

The same sentiments have been expressed by the employees over at Exall. They were so vocally against the union that the union went ahead and filed false complaints with the National Labor Board in order to get the vote postponed instead of allowing the workers the right to turn the union down.

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15Letstryagain(191 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

In this semi capitalistic system that we live with in this country, the goal is efficiency. He who is most efficient wins.

Business people look at a situation and find a more efficient way provide goods and services and the difference is shared with the customer, the owner and the taxing authority. If there is a profit sharing program, the employees get to share in the efficiency gains as well.

Everyone can say a lot of things about unions, but one thing is you cannot say is that they add to the efficiency of an operation. If they did, Lordstown/GM would have fewer robots and more employees.

Finally a word of encouragement to the employees at Vallourec who are voting against representation. As long as you believe you are getting a fair wage and benefits for your efforts take care of things yourself, you don't need a spokesperson.

For the rest of us in the Valley, send the message to the rest of the country that the old strangleholds that were so persuasive in the Mahoning Valley are not here anymore... it is a different Valley.

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16JoeFromHubbard(1482 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

@HenryTheBear :

Sorry about that, I tend to extrapolate a bit.

The corporation should be defended for it is the source of financial resources for most of us.

The steel workers themselves are not being derided but the wisdom of voting for a union is in question.

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17HSG(174 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

Well FalconFighter, sounds like you're just a tad conflicted. You claim to be happily employed, yet complain about favoritism, lack of communication, the tuition reimbursement program being a come-on, etc. Union representation would give you a say. It's called airing grievances. Don't believe those who say the company is going to leave or worst, go belly up. Grow a pair or at least a spine, vote FOR the union.

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18HSG(174 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

With all due respect, what juice does your president have if he isn't a union representative?
How can he "bargain" collectively? They may hear him out, but if you think important things will change, you're naive.
Unions enable labor to participate in decision making from a more powerful position. You say "We don't need a union to do it for us." Those words may come back to bite you.

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19chazz53071(6 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

As a Vallouric employee I can tell you that a Union is not needed and that I will be voting No!

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