Labor leader calls US Steel’s decision to sell the “ultimate betrayal”

A man walks into the United States Steel Corporation plant in the town of Clairton on March 2, 2018 in Clairton, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By Sean Kitchen

December 19, 2023

Thousands of Western Pennsylvania workers are faced with uncertainty following the sale of US Steel to a foreign company. Bernie Hall from the United Steelworkers called US Steel’s decision the “ultimate betrayal.”

The Pittsburgh-based US Steel announced on Monday that they have agreed to sell their company to Japanese steel producer Nippon Steel for $14.1 billion.

Bernie Hall, the Pennsylvania Director with the United Steelworkers and a fourth generation Steelworker, called US Steel’s decision to sell the “ultimate betrayal.”

“All that value that was created by that work from so many people, they took that value and sold it off to the highest foreign bidder and people were pissed. I’m pissed,” Hall said in an interview with The Keystone. “I know that there are thousands of steelworkers that are irate over this.”

Hall was referencing the years-long work that went into keeping US Steel afloat after the company’s record high stock prices crashed following the 2008 recession and bottomed out in 2016 and how they rebounded thanks to President Joe Biden’s key legislative accomplishments that required US-made steel.

“The US Steel, their leadership, wrapped themselves in the flag saying, ‘look, it’s about national security. It’s about making things in America. It’s an iconic brand,’” Hall said. “They’ve made more money in those last few years than they did in the previous hundred years combined.”

The sale has the potential to affect thousands of Steelworkers and other employees in the Mon Valley Works, which consists of three plants in the region. They are the Clairton Coke Plant in Clairton, the Edgar Thomson Plant in Braddock and the Irvin Plant in West Mifflin.

Hall describes the three plants as “the most efficient, integrated steel operation in North America.”

Democratic leaders from across Western Pennsylvania blasted the proposed sale on Monday with US Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pennsylvania) promising to use his position and platform to try and halt the deal from happening.

​​“I live across the street from US Steel’s Edgar Thompson plant in Braddock. It’s absolutely outrageous that US Steel has agreed to sell themselves to a foreign company,” Fetterman said in a statement.

“I am committed to doing anything I can do, using my platform and my position, to block this foreign sale.”

“This is yet another example of hard-working Americans being blindsided by greedy corporations willing to sell out their communities to serve their shareholders. I stand with the men and women of the Steelworkers and their union way of life. We cannot allow them to be screwed over or left behind,” he continued.

The news feels all too familiar for those living in Western Pennsylvania after corporations spent decades investing into the region only for them to disinvest and leave altogether.

Our region knows all too well what it’s like to get screwed over, to see our hard work tossed aside and our good union jobs shipped overseas by corporate executives and Wall Street chasing cheap labor and fatter profits,” Congressman Chris Deluzio (D-Allegheny) said in a statement.

“This deal sounds an awful lot like a betrayal: of my community, of Steelworker jobs, and of American industrial leadership. Folks sent me to Washington to fight for us, and that’s exactly what I intend to do.”

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

CATEGORIES: LABOR | POLITICS

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