By Molly • 

Steel talks remain at standstill

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The first sentence of this article says that talks have been recessed at the direction of a federal mediator. Now as you read further into the article it almost feeels like the company or maybe the author of the article is blaming the union for not wanting to meet for two days. It also says that union members are losing an average of $357 a day. If you break that down that is $44.62 an hour for an eight hour shift or $29.75 an hour for a twelve hour shift. Those numbers are not correct at all. I have worked at Cascade for over 15 years and know for a fact no union emplyee makes anywhere near 44 dollars an hour, and I cant speak for all departments in the mill but where I work nobody makes 29 dollars an hour either. I am sure it is an honest mathmatical mistake by the company to release those numbers.

I would like to thank all the kind members of McMinnville for all your support and many gifts. Thank you to the lady for the doughnuts this morning and all those that have brought burritos, pizzas, burgers, coffee and much much more.

Lastly to all the union members reading this, and I know most of you are, I am proud of our solidarity, just hang in there, and give our union rep, president and negotiating commettee the trust they deserve.


They are probably including benefits in that number ($357), as they should. Hasn't the health insurance alone been discussed at about $16,000 per year? Plus Social Security. Do you get any paid vacation, or paid holidays?


I have not seen the $16,000 per year in health ins., I probably missed the comment where someone posted that number unless you have some inside info Kona. It seems to me that you must have some vested interest in our contract. I am thankful to those who support us and respect the opinion and comments of all that are interested in our fight but your comments always seemed to be swayed twords the side of the company. Do you have family that works there? And to answer your question, we used to have paid vacation and holidays but when our contract expired April 1, we have non of that. We had health insurance as of April 1, and have decieded to fight to keep what we had. If the company ever offers us a contract to vote on we will find out if we retain those benefits that our past union members have fought for the past 40 years.


Wow Molly, thank you for the uplifting article about the current situation. unfortunately I would have to question your facts. It was the mediator that called for both delays in negotiations, the Union has been will to meet with the company whenever they wanted. Please remember while we are on strike the people negotiating for us are not getting paid so it is in their best interests to bargain. Secondly the ball has been in the companies court from the get go. if they would just bargain in good faith this contract would have been settled long ago. Now if I am incorrect then to the company i say this, open the negotiations to any union member that wants to listen in and we will be able to see who is stalling and who is being fair. I have faith in the men bargaining on my behalf and i trust that they want the same things I do and that's to get back to making steel.



Help me understand the reasons for blocking or slowing traffic access to the mill. I have often wondered how this strategy helped in the negotiation process? I would understand if replacement workers were brought in, but that isn't the case here..the guy that was cited was security and isn't even an employee of the mill (according to the paper).I think most people view the road blocking actions as petty and at least for now the pickets would get more public support by taking the high road rather than looking to add to the litigation.


To the union members hit intentionally while on picket duty, our prayers are with you and your families and we hope for a speedy recovery. I have seen a great many wondrous things while walking the line. This community is fantastic and the support we have received has given us the courage to carry on in our quest for a fair deal from Cascade Steel. We really do love our jobs and look forward to getting back to work just as soon as possible. Hopefully the companies hearts are softened and they will come to negotiations with real intent on getting us back to work and again putting our hard earned dollars back into the community we live in.
Thanks and God Bless


Isn't their a law in Oregon that basically says an employee can quit their job at anytime for without even giving a reason and an employer can terminate an employee at anytime without giving a reason?
If so, why don't the disgruntled steel workers quit and go to work at a better place? Why doesn't the Mill just terminate the strikers and hire people that want to work under the current conditions?
Isn't this the good 'ol USA? Don't we still have liberty and freedom?
I really don't understand this whole union thing.


And further more, why are the people of McMinnville feeding these strikers so much garbage? Trying to fatten 'em up? Trying to clog their arteries? How fair is that? I mean come on, they have enough stress in their life being on strike and all and now you're going to feed them that??
I'm hoping to eventually read "Thanks for the heads of broccoli, bags of carrots and loves of whole wheat bread people have been dropping off".


One last thing and then I promise to stop. Quit yelling at me when I drive by. It's unsettling and doesn't strengthen your case. Not to mention I can't even tell what the hell it is you're even yelling.



There has been absolutely no blocking of traffic, but you are correct in saying slowing of traffic into and out of the mill. It is called a picket line for a reason, we walk in a line around access points to the mill, all in a completely legal manor. When any vehicle wants to pass through a cross walk the pedestrian always has the right of way to finish their path across. It may seem petty to some to walk in a leisurely manure across the intersection that may slow traffic for a few seconds but we are just exercising our civil rights. There have been several truck drivers cited for failure to yeild but to my knowledge no picketers have been even talked to by the police for doing anything wrong. We have no idea the impact this will have on negotiating but I doubt the company cares much that a few trucks have had to wait 30 extra seconds to get out of the driveway. Thank you for your input and I will give it some additional thought.


Mack- You answered your first question yourself quite well.
you said(I really don't understand this whole union thing)
2) Why are you so concerned about what other people give to us on the line, they are trying to help in any way they can and we are VERY thankful for their generosity
3) we are probably not yelling at you . We are more likely yelling thank you to the many folks that honk and wave in support of our strike.

If we have offended or upset you, I apologize. We are just trying to use the only option left to us to get our company to bargain fairly at the negotiation table. But this may not help you since you don't understand the whole union thing.
Peace and God Bless.


What is "bargain fairly at the negotiation table"? Is it compromising halfway? Is it giving in to union demands? Is it giving in to Cascade demands? It seems like a very loose term that has no meaning, but always used. What exactly does "bargain fairly at the negotiation table" mean? What is Cascade doing at the bargaining table that is unfair?


Ah Kona- you have asked this question and it has been answered many times for you. Why pray tell do you keep asking the same thing over and over? I think your smart enough to figure out what the words mean and if your unsure look them up in the dictionary. I think its humorous that we keep going in a circle on this. Anyway I know that you will find the answer you want one way or another, Peace


I've read a lot of the comments on a lot of these articles. I'm hoping putting in my $.02 will help answer some questions for people confused about how Union's work, why they are good (and bad) and what going on strike means (in this instance) and why some of the solutions offered might not be the most viable.

Warning, this is gonna take a few comments, hang in there with me please.

In the interest of full disclosure: I am the daughter of a Cascade Steel Worker who is currently on strike.

First - A Union is an entity designed to unite workers under a common flag and goal, to protect each of their rights within the company. In this instance the rights that the Union workers would most likely wish to secure are proportionate health benefits in accordance with the dangerous environment of the job, and fair and safe shift/working situations. Other benefits USW might be invested in for their members include wage security, job security and other benefit entitlements.

A bit of a clarification: The folks who work in mills, much like coal miners, carpenters, constructions workers, etc, are working in a volatile environment. Very few people would willingly work in such an environment for very long without similar compensations to those requested by USW union members in this instance. If they did chose to do so they would find out quickly why Unions such as these exist. A long time ago people figured out that, the long term health detriments working these sorts of jobs were high - as was (and sometimes is) the mortality/injury rate. Wages higher than a store clerk, office worker or truck driver can be directly correlated to the likely hood of making it to retirement without a severe increase in health problems, including but not limited to; Respitory illness, Heart & Muscle injuries, Back & Neck problems and increased stress on the body resulting in lower life expectancy.


I am not insinuating that these deficiencies are greater than any other stressors on similar jobs, but that is the benefit of having a Union behind you in that, your benefits are determined as a whole with the rest of your local union. This makes sure that everyone gets treated fairly for their work and effort because the union asks as a whole - if one has a grievance, they all have a grievance, which makes treating your workers unfairly harder to do.

The problems with Unions can come from bad leadership or a lack of faith/communication between leadership and the union body. If such is the case you will find Union's at odds with themselves, and the body feeling a bit helpless to protect it's jobs, because the leadership is vying for things that will not intrinsically help the body as a whole (an odd, unlikely example would be if the negotiations stalled on a point of higher wages/benefits for the highest ranking manager on duty only, which so happened to be the Union negotiator) if such a person used their power as the contact for negotiations to get better benefits for themselves, and held everyone else hostage under strike, that would be the worst case scenario for a Union and it's members. That's a constant fear for Union members on strike - are the people negotiating my contract doing it for me, or for themselves?

In this case, communications appear to be strong between Union leadership and the body on strike. There will always be rumors and anxiety, but as long as the body has faith in it's leadership to act altruistically in there interests, the Union is doing it's job.


Regarding this strike -

As has been stated before, this strike is based on UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICES (emphasis intended)

According to Section 185 of the NLAR (To which the Government holds all businesses who employ and deal with Unions) one of these unfair labor practices is:
"(5) to refuse to bargain collectively with the representatives of his employees, subject to the provisions of section 159(a) of this title."

So this is where the problem lies. What the Union is saying is that, prior to April 1st there were limited or no collective bargaining efforts. Or, if there were efforts, they were ineffective. The end of the contract term came, and no effective negotiations had been happening, so the local union decided to strike (a midst some controversy with the whole whether or not they were striking to early). They will remain on strike until an agreement can be made between the Union and the Company. This agreement can be a temporary extension of the previous contract to keep people at work whilst a new contract is agreed upon, or it can just straight up be a new contract.

What appears to be going on, is that, originally, contract negotiations were either not going well, or not happening at all. A Federal representative has been brought in and negotiations have begun. It's unfortunate that even in this day and age such drastic measures need to be taken by Union chapters to get negotiations going, but especially in economically hard times it is more prudent than ever to enforce what your constituency wants. You may not be able to get everything, but that shouldn't stop them from asserting the needs of their chapter!


Just because you read it in the News Register, that does NOT make it true. Usually it is because the whole story is not written, just the part the News Register FEELS is important to report. How can you possibly know the truth unless you are sitting in on the negotiations every time they meet? I am cancelling my subscription to this one sided reporting newspaper.



This is how you answered the question previously, it is a he said-she said answer. Just because the union defines the proper standard of living you should have to raise your families does not make it "unfair bargaining" if there is a disagreement on your interpretation of your standard of living. The value of your job is not defined by what you want, it is defined by your value to the company and the marketplace. This is the reason why union membership is at an all-time low as a percentage of the workforce in the United States. Unions define the wage scale as what they want without consideration of the value of their job in the marketplace. This only works when the value of what you want matches the value of your job in the marketplace. Apparently there is not a match at this time, but that does not make it "unfair bargaining".

You said,

#4 the old saying goes, it takes two to tango. if the company wants to truly negotiate then by all means that's what we want as well. but if they just want to play games and make no true strides in the resolution of this dispute then what would you have us do.

#1 a fair contract is one that insures our ability to work and raise our families, but also provides us with a standard of living and working compensatory to the work we preform. Please let me preface this. Our jobs have substantial risks inherent to the nature of the tasks we preform.


"That's a constant fear for Union members on strike - are the people negotiating my contract doing it for me, or for themselves?"

A very good question that I think more union members should be asking. Is the union dragging their feet to justify their existence or are they truly looking out for its members? Has anybody calculated how long the strike needs to continue that even if the union keeps the insurance contribution at 10% you'll just be breaking even over the life of the contract? Almost two weeks in has gotta be somewhere in the neighborhood of $2000 lost per employee.


DM -

It's always on their minds, which is why they have elections, and why they are constantly in contact with those sitting at the negotiations table. The first people to know about a potential contract will be the men and women of the Union chapter, and the leaders of Cascade/Schnitzer. THEN the press and the general public will get whatever information can be disclosed before a final contract is published. A lot of this is kept hush hush for security/legal reasons.

Until the Steelworkers get something real to vote on, it's a struggle between the needs and wants of the company and the union.

Neither side truly earns anything from a Strike. It detriments the integrity of the company as a distribution and production service, meaning companies who contract their bids to them may go elsewhere if the strike goes on too long.

For the Company - that is incentive to speed up the process, good, well trained Union workers are beneficial in that they are a higher producing, higher quality work force than Joe Schmoe off the street (or currently the wonderful ladies in the office). The sooner they get them back on the line, the less damage to the reputation.

For the Union - that is incentive to bargain as low as understandable to their constituency. There needs to be a job for them to go back to after the Strike, so making sure that it doesn't last longer than necessary is paramount to getting a good contract and having stable jobs.

Remember that this is a tug of war many businesses that work with Unions play all the time. This is not shocking, or unusual when it comes to serious contract discussions. It was pushed back a year by mutual understanding of the economic stress, and now it's finally being hashed out, as it must be. Strike's are an important part of American history/business culture. We have the ability to leverage our usefulness and talent against profits, so we can vie for a fair shake.

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