“We Supply America” Tour Continues through West Virginia

By Matt Heller
Aug 17 2021 |
The United Steelworkers bus just before the event in Weirton, West Virginia. Photo by the USW.

The United Steelworkers continue to make the case for American-made infrastructure investment.

The United Steelworkers (USW) stopped by Weirton, West Virginia on Tuesday — the third stop along their “We Supply America” bus tour that’s been barnstorming the country to support infrastructure investment.

The stop today in Weirton followed the tour’s kickoff on Monday in Northwest Indiana, and has been impeccably timed to follow the Senate’s passage of a $1.3 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. The bus tour helps to drive one point home: The infrastructure bill, despite winning a resounding majority of Senators’ support last week, is not yet law. Instead, it faces a series of hurdles in the House of Representatives where it’s been caught up in some partisan disagreements, and while I’d still bet on it passing, now is the time for folks all over the country to get behind it and urge Congress to make this investment now.

“We need everyone’s support in telling Congress that we need to pass this bill,” said Tom Hubbard, of USW Local LU 419M and the self-described “Fiesta guy” (his local represents workers at Fiestaware, a West Virginia business that’s one of the only potteries left in the US). Hubbard stressed the need for infrastructure investment, particularly in roads and bridges, because American manufacturers need reliable transportation to get their products to their destinations. 

“You know who doesn’t care about this infrastructure bill — the people who don’t have to drive up the back roads here,” added West Virginia State Delegate Phil Diserio. “But we’ve got folks here that worry about driving to work and blowing out a tire.”

The speakers at the rally also got at the urgency surrounding the infrastructure investment: We need it in order to keep our manufacturers competitive on a global stage. After all, if our roads are worn down and our bridges in disrepair, the trade of goods and services in our country and around the world will come to a crashing halt. We’ll be forced to depend on foreign imports if we don’t have the base infrastructure needed to make goods here; our economy and national security will be crippled without strong, US-based supply chains.

“For far too long our infrastructure has been ignored. It’s aging. That strong foundation that our parents and many of our grandparents built needs to be maintained – and upgraded for our kids and our grandkids.”

USW International Vice President Dave McCall

“America does not know how critical steelworker members are to their everyday lives,” said Roxanne Brown, a USW vice president, as she discussed the importance of keeping America’s supply chains flowing with strong infrastructure. “This ‘we supply America’…This is what [steelworkers] do every single day. Not just for [their] livelihood or a paycheck — [they] supply Americans.”

This singular importance of infrastructure for our nation’s supply chains rings true for both employees and employers in manufacturing. For Patrick Bloom, vice president for government affairs at Cleveland Cliffs, a steelmaker with facilities in Weirton, this is certainly true. “The ‘We Supply America’ bus tour comes at a critical time…passage of this legislation is a down payment on the competitiveness of the United States as countries around the world continue to industrialize,” he said.

“For far too long our infrastructure has been ignored,” added USW International Vice President Dave McCall. “It’s aging. That strong foundation that our parents and many of our grandparents built needs to be maintained – and upgraded for our kids and our grandkids.”

Fortunately, we now have our chance to act on it through the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which includes $110 billion for roads and bridges, $66 billion for rail, $17 billion for ports, $65 billion for broadband and much more. While it may not be a silver bullet to fixing all this country’s infrastructure woes, it’s certainly the bold step forward that we’ve been desperately waiting for.

“And it’s not a Republican or a Democratic bill: it’s an American bill,” McCall stressed. “It’s what our future is about. So let’s get to work and make sure that everyone understands this is about building a strong future for America.”

Watch the whole thing here: