The fight against shutdowns: youngstown’s steel mill closings -Staughton Lynd

Out of print book from Singlejack Books in 1982. Staughton Lynd tells of his efforts to support steel workers in Youngstown, Ohio to reopen three steel mills under worker-community ownership.

Submitted by UseValueNotExc… on March 15, 2021

According to a local newspaper, Youngstown, Ohio has scored a number of firsts:
the first strike by nurses in the country, and the first strike by teachers; the first school system in the nation to close due to a lack of money; during the 1950s, number one in gangland car bombings, and today, first in the number of unsolved gangland murders; and the largest plant closing in the nation’s history. . . .‘

This book tells the story of that plant closing, of the two additional steel mill shutdowns which followed in 1979-1980, and of the resistance to the shutdowns by steelworkers and the community.

During 1977-1979, three of the largest steel mills in the Youngstown, Ohio area were shut down, eliminating over 10,000 primary jobs. Historian/labor attorney Staughton Lynd documents the efforts of the community, employees, and local unions to reopen the first mill and to prevent the closing of the remaining two.

The Fight Against Shutdowns not only describes what happened, but defines the problems and outlines possible community strategy for the future.

Where 4
What and When 6
Who 9

Chapter One. Rumors 15
The Need for Modernization 16
Would Modernization Have Been Profitable? 16
False Assurances 18

Chapter Two. Shutdown 20
The Impact 21
Petition Campaign 22
Second Thoughts 24
The Role of the Lykes Corporation 24

Chapter Three. “Why Don’t We Buy the Damn Place?" 26
Selling the Idea of Employee-Community Ownership 27
Why the Idea Began to Catch On 29

Chapter Four. The “Save Our Valley” Campaign 32
Founding Conference of the Ecumenical Coalition 33
“Brownfield” or “Greenfield” Modernization? 35
The Coalition’s Pastoral Letter 36
Getting Organized 38
A Four Million Dollar Vote of Confidence 40

Chapter Five. Alternative Ownership Plans 41
Other Experiments with Employee Ownership 41
Feasibility Studies 42
The Alperovitz Model: Employee-Community Ownership 43
Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) 44
What Part Would a Union Play? 46
How “Community Steel” was to be Governed 47

Chapter Six. The Role of the International Union 49
“The Foreign Competition Hoax" 50
Giving Up the Right to Strike: A History of the
Experimental Negotiating Agreement 51
Joint Productivity Committees 52
“Where’s Joe?” 52
Grassroots Reaction to the ENA 53
The Sadlowski Campaign 55
The Union and the Campbell Works 56
Ad Hoc Steelworker Meetings 57
The Union’s District Director Intervenes 58
Opposition from the International 58
Conflict at the 1978 Convention 61

Chapter Seven. No Help from the White House 63
The Coalition’s Four Requests 64
Open Letter to President Carter 64
First Use of Direct Action 66
$100 Million in Loan Guarantees Promised 67

Chapter Eight. Waiting for Washington 70
The Company Offers to Sell the Plant 71
More Attacks 71
More Feasibility Problems 73
Steelworkers United for Employment (SUE) and the Problem of
Labor Costs 75
Human Costs and Hopes 76
The Government’s Decision and What Lay Behind It 78


Chapter One. The Merger of Lykes and LTV 95
Why the Companies Wanted to Merge 96
Brier Hill, the Piece of the Puzzle that Didn’t “Fit” 99
Advance Notice of a Shutdown But No Power 102
The International Union Takes a Hand 103
The Justice Department’s Decision 104

Chapter Two. Fighting Both the Company and the International 105
The Company’s Refusal to Bargain with the Local 105
Picketing for Jobs 107
The Local’s NLRB Charge Called Unauthorized by the International 109
The International Denies the Local’s Right to Self-Representation 111
The Local Puts Forth its own Program and Scores a Public Relations Victory 113
Company Officials are Picketed at the Country Club 115

Chapter Three. The End at Brier Hill 118
Management’s So-Called Compromise 119
Orderly Shutdown Agreed to by Local Leadership 121
Company’s Proposal Accepted by the Membership 122

Chapter Four. Lessons 123
The Downtown Rally 123
The Role of the International 125

Chapter One. The Shutdown 131
Promises to Stay Open 132
The Promises Repeated 134
U.S. Steel’s Decision 135
Workers were the Last to Know 137
How the Local Unions Took the Lead 138
An Unplanned Occupation of U.S. Steel’s National Headquarters 139

Chapter Two. The Fight Continued by Legal Means 141
Going to Court with the Help of a Congressman I41
The Theory of the Lawsuit 143
Political Support for the Suit 146
The Judge 147

Chapter Three. The Sit-In: Youngstown ’s Last Stand 149
A Futile Attempt to Bargain 149
Planning the Sit-In 151
“I’m Going Down that Hill" 153
The Sit-In Abandoned 157
Another Promise Broken 158

Chapter Four. Back to Legal Action 160
The Injunction 162
ls There a Community Property Right? 163
The Judge Says, Keep It Open 167
The Trial 168
The Superintendent’s Testimony 169
How Do You Measure Profit? 172
We Lose 174
Appeal and Settlement 177
“A Cry for Help” 177
No Money from Washington 179
U.S. Steel Leases Part of the Mill 180
The Logic of the Settlement 184
The Legal Strategy Evaluated 187

Chapter Five. Encore in Pittsburgh 190

Chapter One. Modernize Industry in "Brownfield ” Communities
Where It Already Exists 197
What the Companies Say 197
Three Arguments Against Industrial Flight 198
Federal Studies Show Brownfield Modernization More Profitable 199
Company Decisions Ignore Human Costs 201
What Kind of a World Do We Want to Live In? 205
Sweden Provides One Alternative 206
Brownfield versus Oil Field: The Problem of Disinvestment 208

Chapter Two. New Choices Needed When Private Enterprise Fails 212
Are Employee-Community Ownership Plans Workable? 212
Massive Federal Aid a Must in Capital-Intensive Industries 213
The Need for Democratic and Decentralized Workers’ Control 215
The Tennessee Valley Authority Model 216
The Need for Big Changes in American Society 217

Chapter Three. In the Short Run, the Best Way to Influence
Investment Decisions is by Direct Action 219
The Limitations of Collective Bargaining 220
The Supreme Court Makes Bargaining More Difficult 222
Direct Action Can Work 224