January 15, 2010 Volume 111 Number 2

More Steelworkers laid off at Cascade Steel

Cascade Steel Rolling Mills, Inc., the largest employer in Yamhill County, laid off 17 employees — members of Steelworkers Local 8378 — Jan. 10. This brings the number of union members who have been laid off and are still out of work since December 2008 to 103.

Local 8378 once represented nearly 400 workers at Cascade Steel, a division of Schnitzer Steel.

“Every one of these layoffs hurts another hard-working family, and it also hurts the wider economy,” said union President Joe Munger Sr. “When family-wage jobs are eliminated, there’s that much less money for people to spend at local businesses, and a ripple effect is created. This is a painful situation for everyone involved. Our members and our community deserve better than this.”

During a slight uptick in business in July and August of 2009, Cascade Steel brought back 41 employees, but that re-hiring trend has since reversed itself.

Last month, 71 union members who were laid off in December 2008 lost their recall rights and will not be returning to the mill. Several long-term management employees — including human resources director Mike Hereford, a former president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 — also lost their jobs.

Without any further economic recovery, an additional five union members will lose their recall rights in February and nine more in April after having been laid off for a year.

“One of the reasons we’ll continue to lose jobs across all sectors of the economy in McMinnville and nationally is because of imports,” said Munger, who also serves as president of the Marion-Polk-Yamhill Counties Central Labor Council. “Congress has passed trade policies that force local businesses to compete with companies taking advantage of sweatshop working conditions and lax environmental and safety standards overseas.”

“Oregon workers lose out every time in that scenario,” Munger continued. “Our union is urging Congress to support comprehensive reform legislation that would finally allow local workers to compete on an even playing field.”

Munger is referring to the TRADE Act, a bill currently supported by over 130 members of Congress that would require review and renegotiation of existing trade agreements and set mandatory standards for future trade agreements. The legislation’s co-sponsors include Sen. Jeff Merkley and Congressman David Wu and Peter DeFazio, all Oregon Democrats.

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