Three More Factory Workers on How Rebuilding Infrastructure Will Help Manufacturing

Apr 08 2021 |
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Forget the wonky policy talk. Manufacturing workers explain why infrastructure investment is so important.

The Biden administration is hard at work promoting the American Jobs Plan, the president’s proposal for rebuilding American infrastructure, shifting to a clean energy economy, and strengthening critical manufacturing and supply chains.

While most of the chatter around the plan has centered on what’s happening on Capitol Hill, we wanted to find out what factory workers think about a potential infrastructure investment package. In a new occasional Q&A series, we’re asking people working in manufacturing facilities for their thoughts on infrastructure, including how investment may effect their job and what kinds of improvements are needed where they live.

Read the first entry in the series here. If you are a factory worker who would like to take part, please email us at info@aamfg.org.


NAME: Don Wood
HOMETOWN: Stow, Ohio
EMPLOYER: Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.
UNION MEMBERSHIP: United Steelworkers USW Local 2L

Tell us a little bit about your job. What sort of products do you help make, and what is your role in making them?

I work at Goodyear, and we make race tires at our plant in Akron, Ohio for NASCAR and NHRA and other race tires. We are the only plant that makes these tires for NASCAR, only in the world.

Manufacturing industries have had a number of ups and downs over the past several years, including layoffs and plant closures, both temporary and permanent. Has this impacted you at all?

Not at this time. We had layoffs for Covid-19 only. Not impacted.

President Biden is proposing a major investment in U.S. infrastructure, including everything from fixing roads and bridges to building electric vehicle charging stations. Would an investment like this mean more business for your plant?

Yes, it would help out the entire company more than our plant.  Goodyear is a global company.

What sorts of infrastructure improvements are needed in your community? 

Repair of roads and bridges. Improvement for the interstate highways. 

Do you think infrastructure investment will help manufacturing workers overall? If not, what would you rather see the government doing for workers instead?

Yes, it will increase efficiency for transportation of our materials and parts.

Ken Poweski


NAME: Charles Perko
HOMETOWN: Pueblo, Colorado
EMPLOYER: EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel
UNION MEMBERSHIP: USW Local 3267

Tell us a little bit about your job. What sort of products do you help make, and what is your role in making them?

Our union local represents inspection and metallurgical lab staff as well as clerical and plant protection employees at a 140-year-old steel mill in Colorado. We manufacture three main product lines at the plant. These products are Head-hardened railroad rail, Wire rod and coiled reinforcing bar, and Seamless OCTG well casing. As an NDT inspector, I specialize in in-line magnetic flux leakage and ultrasonic inspection of the rail and tube products. We are looking for internal and surface manufacturing defects that could compromise the integrity of the material and cause it to fail in service.

Manufacturing industries have had a number of ups and downs over the past several years, including layoffs and plant closures, both temporary and permanent. Has this impacted you at all?

Our plant has dealt with cyclical layoffs and restarts at the seamless and rod and bar mills periodically for years, as well as pandemic-related idling of the seamless mill for approximately 11 months. Within the next few months, we are expecting to be back to full production as we come out of market disruption and orders return. As a supplier to the oil industry, I am also very aware of the future shift in energy production, and so constantly push for product diversification and a just transition framework that will make whole those affected.

President Biden is proposing a major investment in U.S. infrastructure, including everything from fixing roads and bridges to building electric vehicle charging stations. Would an investment like this mean more business for your plant?

Coiled bar is a major component in road and bridge construction, so that will no doubt mean a great deal of new business for that mill. The expected expansion of Amtrak with new high-speed lines will also open a market for a product that only three US mills currently are capable of competing for, only two of which make hardened rail. The infrastructure plan would mean a great deal to our membership.

What sorts of infrastructure improvements are needed in your community?

Colorado, like all states, has a long list of deficient structures in its highway system. As a town founded as a rail and steel hub, I would definitely like to see us become a railroad hub once again.

Do you think infrastructure investment will help manufacturing workers overall? If not, what would you rather see the government doing for workers instead?

Absolutely, the key will be to ensure that this business cannot be shuffled to suppliers outside the country through loopholes. Additionally, any project bid under the plan needs to be guaranteed union-built.

Dean Showers


NAME: Michael W. Bellmore
HOMETOWN: Iron Mountain, Michigan
EMPLOYER: Retired
UNION MEMBERSHIP: United Steelworkers

Tell us a little bit about your job. What sort of products do you help make, and what is your role in making them?

Although I am retired now, I was an International Union Representative for nearly 30 years. I represented union members in the Midwest including the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana. I also represented union members in upstate New York. I was also a founding member of the IWNA (Independent Workers of North America) UPIU, PACE, and the USW.

Manufacturing industries have had a number of ups and downs over the past several years, including layoffs and plant closures, both temporary and permanent. Has this impacted you at all?

The stress it causes employees, their families, and the communities in which they live are immeasurably harmful.

President Biden is proposing a major investment in U.S. infrastructure, including everything from fixing roads and bridges to building electric vehicle charging stations. Would an investment like this mean more business for your facility or other manufacturers in your community? 

Absolutely!

What sorts of infrastructure improvements are needed in your community?

Broadband access, roads and bridges repair and/or replacement, renewable energy projects, recycling, and reinforced climate crisis education.

Do you think infrastructure investment will help manufacturing workers overall? If not, what would you rather see the government doing for workers instead?

Infrastructure will definitely help manufacturing.

Meghan Hasse