By Diana DeCola, email@example.com
DIANA DECOLA The Marietta Times
Sherrod Brown, a Democrat running for U.S. Senate, greets Dencil Brown,
an Eramet worker, Saturday on the steelworkers union picket line in
front of the plant.
Sherrod Brown, D-13th District, visited Eramet workers who say they
have been locked out of the ferroalloys plant along Ohio 7 between
Marietta and Belpre.
Brown, a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat
held by Mike DeWine, was in town Saturday for a Democratic party rally
in Reno that also included State Sen. Charlie Wilson, D-Bridgeport.
the rally, he visited with several Eramet employees who told him they
had been locked out since Aug. 29 but had been willing to work under
their expired contract until a new one can be reached. The company says
members of the steelworkers union are on strike.
talked with workers for about an hour, asked questions such as how many
workers had been locked out, how much new employees hired by the
company were being paid, and how long the union workers had worked for
"Anything I can do?" Brown asked the workers.
The workers expressed gratitude for Brown’s attention.
does a lot for us coming down here," said Dencil Brown, who lives in
West Virginia. "We appreciate it. We need more people who want to work
for the working class."
The Eramet worker added that he’d vote for the congressman if he could.
The Senate candidate expressed some views after talking with the union members.
are workers who want to work and the company has locked them out," he
said. "I can't think of anything fairer than that for an employee to
say they are willing to work under the existing contract while they
Brown said the dispute not only hurts the employees and the company, but the whole community.
"This company needs to be talking to them," he said.
bargaining sessions since the work stoppage have failed to result in a
new contract. Employee benefits remain main sticking points. Brown went
on to say that this type of situation is common.
“We have a
government that has turned its back on the people," he said. "(And)
there is a trend going on around the state that companies are locking
out their workers because they can."
Brown believes companies,
especially foreign-owned companies such as Eramet which is based in
France, can offer more to their own employees but they choose to
instead squeeze their employees. His advice to the locked out employees
Saturday was that they have a lot more friends than they know.
United Steelworkers Union Local 1-00639 President Jim Deem said the congressman hit everything on the head.
"I think we need more people who actually care about the American worker not the American companies," Deem said.
Charlie Cokeley, a locked out worker, said Brown's visit gave him hope.
think they (the company) have enough money that they think they are
beyond our Congress," Cokeley said. "I think this will shed light that
they (Congress) will be backing us."
During Brown's visit, the
company hired an outside company to video record all the activity of
the workers on the picket line.