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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 11 months, 1 week 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(757 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week 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 11 months, 1 week 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(2012 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week 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(696 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week 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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6UticaShale(854 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week ago

Unions are only good if you have a monopoly. When the unions cause competition, the factory will move to China or whoever wins. We definitely have seen this before and suffered tremendously.

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7Superstar7(122 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week 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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8Superstar7(122 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week 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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9republicanRick(1250 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week 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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10av667(18 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week ago

Americans (commonly known as those who only get their information from one source and then forget within a year).
Look at the history of France (Socialist), wanting coverage from cradle to grave. Unions who strike at anything for any cause (most violent in European Union). Now with a 75% corporate tax is causing the exodus of a myriad of companies and soccer players who want to escape France and the socialist views the union and government espouse.
Remember Americans, socialism is the other people getting the money not you. When you get it, you receive it because you are entitled and have earned it.

The same can be said of income inequality and the bemoaning of certain leaders (New York Mayor and Obama). Yes, there are rich people and there are poor people. Rich people put their lives, savings and property at risk to start and have companies to try to make a profit. Yes, companies do lose money and the owners suffer. Remember, companies are formed to make a profit not to provide employment. Employment is a benefit . The top 20% of wage earners (those having incomes of $204,000 or more) pay 70.8% of all federal taxes.

I have belonged to a number of unions and paid union dues only to see the union protect incompetent workers whose main focus was to find ways not to work, drink on the job or purposely damage product prior to shipment while crying to the union that they are being mistreated by the company.

Lastly, do some research. In the US, private sector unions account for 6.6% of the workers. In the public sector, the rate of union membership is 35.9%. It has decreased in the private sector dramatically from 1983 when the private sector rate was 20.1%. Public sector union membership and politicians who negotiate the contracts have as you should already know, bankrupted cities, counties and soon states. Of course, you do know that as a citizen of the city, county or state you are responsible. You will either pay more in taxes or receive less services to help pay for negotiated hospitalization and pensions. Wait a second, you are being put into the same scenario that business owners find themselves every day.

Think things through Americans, or repeat history and brush up on Lenin and Marx.

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11JoeFromHubbard(1134 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week 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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12HenryTheBear(23 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week 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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13republicanRick(1250 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week 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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14JoeFromHubbard(1134 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week 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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15HenryTheBear(23 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week 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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16YtownParent(350 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week 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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17JoeFromHubbard(1134 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week 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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18FalconFighter(38 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week ago

I am a current employee at Vallourec Star. I am happily employed and will be voting NO. But there are serious issues inside those walls. Members of my department feel that we have faith in Judson Wallace, who has been in his position for only 6 months as president of North Anerica, that he needs some time to devise a gameplan to address and correct these issues. I would say morale is a 2 on a scale of 10. This is not his fault, and quite honestly, I feel sorry for him because he had to walk into this midstream. This is the fault of the former president of North America(who was promoted) and the current Human Resources Dept. Unlike CHRISTOPHER GALLAGHER, who must live in a fantasy world, I do not paint a beautiful beach-like atmosphere, but I dont paint a thunderstorm either. Yes, there is a tuition reimbursement program, but anyone Ive ever known to inquire about it has been denied or never replied to. While the co. Wants us to think it, It is not for your avg. hrly employees. It is approved for those the company likes, and sees fit as mgmt. candidates in The future. There is no doubt about it, favoritism is played 100% of times. There is no OT distribution policy. If youre liked, youre asked if you want extra hrs, most times, granted to a guy with less seniority than a guy who didnt even get a chance to pick up OT. Sunday premium--Half of the hrly workforce receives it,those on an 8hr schedule, half doesnt., those on a 12 hr schedule. Why??? Should be ALL or NONE. Communication=ZERO. Employee Handbook=Worthless. There may as well not even be one, because under every paragraphed statement or policy it notes *subject to HR discretion." So if we like you, you'll be fine--if we don't, your job is at risk. 100% of the problems Ive seen, are the result of BS policies, or the lack thereof. These are not floor level issues. All crews ive seen have gotten along good with one another as well as their operations supervisors. Compensation=Excellent. Health Care=Good, Retirement= Good, Advancement=favoritism. Fair Job Bidding=non existent. 2tier wages=Yes.

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19HSG(139 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week 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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20UticaShale(854 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week ago

What happened to RG Steel?

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21FalconFighter(38 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week ago


I am happily employed. Over the yrs it has given my family and I a very comfortable, secure, quality of life. As stated, I am voting NO. That does not mean there are not serious issues at hand. If you call off 3x in 1 yr, you are at a "last chance agreement." If you have to leave work for any reason, family emergency, even the death of a spouse, child, parent--you get attendance demerits. This is unfortunately true. It has happened. How would you like to get a phone call at work that your father has died, then immediately leave work, and be penalized for leaving? True Story. How would you feel if an employee with 6 mos. seniority gets time and a half on Sunday, but a guy with 17 yrs does not? How would you feel if the guy working right next you, doing the same job you're doing, is making $7 more per hour than you? These things are not right. But we have faith in our new president, that he will correct these issues with changes to policies and/or elimination of certain policy makers. We don't need a union to do it for us.

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22HSG(139 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week 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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23chazz53071(6 comments)posted 11 months, 1 week 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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