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You must stop the continued water, land and air pollution, by whatever means you can.

  

May 12, 2001
AK Steel rally, Middletown

Rachael Belz, Southwest Ohio Program Director
Ohio Citizen Action

My name is Rachael Belz. I am here today representing Ohio Citizen Action, Ohio's largest environmental and consumer organization. We are here today to demonstrate solidarity with the locked out Mansfield workers as well as all AK Steel workers and neighbors.

Many of you have probably heard that Ohio Citizen Action and the Campaign for Safer Neighborhoods kicked off an AK Steel Good Neighbor Campaign right here in Middletown last week. During the course of the week, we talked with thousands of neighbors, workers and AK retirees.

First and foremost, our campaign is not working to shut down AK Steel Middletown. We are demanding that AK Steel treat its workers, neighbors and community members in a safe way. Many companies across the United States, most that aren't nearly as profitable as AK Steel, have found that good jobs and a clean and safe workplace and community go hand in hand.

Let me, in the words of one of our Middletown neighbor's letters written to Richard Wardrop, AK Steel's Chief Executive Officer, tell you why this is so important:

"I know it is very expensive to fix the problems at AK Steel. The people of Middletown wouldn't survive if you moved AK Steel away from here. The most important fact, though, is that you are breaking the law. You must stop the continued water, land and air pollution, by whatever means you can."

The kinds of commitments neighbors and workers need from AK Steel Middletown include stopping the illegal leeching of PCBs into Dick's Creek; stopping the dust, kish and particles from reaching the community and making neighbors sick; and working with all workers and neighbors to be a real good neighbor in Middletown. Over the next year, we will continue to take this campaign door-to-door, neighbor-to-neighbor, worker-to-worker all over Southwest Ohio until AK Steel commits to making real changes that help the workers and the neighbors.

AK Steel Corporation has already demonstrated over the past two years its lack of commitment to the locked-out members of Local 169 in Mansfield. These workers and these communities deserve better. We demand that AK Steel become a good neighbor at all of its plants, and they should start by putting the locked out workers back to work now.