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Veterans of Ravenswood, WV strike to speak to Local 6500

By: Sudbury Northern Life Staff

 | Feb 26, 2010 - 2:54 PM |

On Nov. 1, 2000, the Ravenswood Aluminum Company in Ravenswood, West Virginia, locked out more than 1,700 of its unionized employees.

The company did this just before the contract expired, and the resulting lockout and strike went on for 19 months. According to media reports from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette during the 2000-2001 strike, two security guards and one worker died during the lockout, several violent encounters occurred, and the National Labour Relations Board accused the company of unfair labour practices.

The parallels between the Ravenswood strike and the current strike between members of the Steelworkers Local 6500 and Vale Inco, which is about to enter its eighth month, has several similarities, according to Eli Morris, grievance chair of the Steelworkers Local 5669. The local represents workers at the Ravenswood Aluminum Company.

"When we were locked out at Ravenswood, we were fighting against a global employer so we needed to fight on a global level," he said in a press release. "But all of the international work wouldn't have meant a thing if we couldn't hold strong on the picket lines. It really seems like Local 6500 is facing a lot of the same challenges we were."

Morris will be travelling to Greater Sudbury for a presentation at the Steelworker's Brady Street hall on Monday, March 1, at 1 p.m. He will be joined by Marge Flannigan and Dewey Taylor, veterans of the 19-month lockout. Union members, retirees and community supporters from Ravenswood will be coming with them.

The Ravenswood lockout was chronicled in the 1999 book "Ravenswood: The Steelworkers Victory and the Revival of America Labour" by Kate Bronfenbrenner and Tom Juravich.

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