Special Metals steelworkers on strike react to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ letter of support

Politics

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Strikers at Special Metals in Huntington remain out of a paycheck this holiday season.

They’ve been on strike since Oct. 1 and now an out-of-state senator is publicly showing his support for the striking workers.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote a letter earlier this week to Warren Buffet, president of Berkshire Hathaway which owns Precision Castparts, the parent company of Special Metals, asking for him to come to a resolution soon.

Buffet responded Wednesday to Sen. Sanders writing “I’m passing along your letter to the CEO of Precision Castparts but making no recommendation to him as to any action. He is responsible for his business.”

On Thursday, Sen. Sanders took to Twitter with his indignation.

“Mr. Buffet is one of the wealthiest guys on the planet. There is no reason that steelworkers at Special Metals, a VW company that made $1.5 billion in profits last year, should accept an insulting contract that includes significant pay cuts and major cuts to their health care,” he tweeted.

Chad Thompson, union president for Steelworkers United Local 40 told 13 News that whatever your politics are, it was nice that Senator Sanders at least tried to help.

“Whether it was send a letter make a phone call , whatever, to try to say ‘look, let’s try to be fair, you know?

Let’s treat people with respect and let’s not try to take everything they worked all their life for.”

Thompson says it was Sanders’s team who contacted him.

When asked if he’d been contacted by West Virginia’s own senators, Republican Shelley Moore Capito and Democrat Joe Manchin, he said no.

“I’m absolutely not saying ‘they haven’t done anything and that’s bullcrap’ — I’m not saying that at all, but I don’t think it would hurt,” he said.

Thompson also thinks Warren Buffet could’ve had more of a response for Sanders.

“Mr. Buffet saying ‘I’m going to leave this to the CEO, it’s his company, let him call the shots, he knows more than I do’ — is probably true, but I still think that if I was in Warren Buffet’s shoes and Senator Sanders or a senator called me and said, ‘look…’, I think I’d at the very least want to pick up the phone and call Mark Donegan.”

Thompson says the 450 steelworkers on strike at Special Metals won’t be at the picket line over the New Year.

They are taking a break from the picket line.

However, he says they are happy to go back into negotiations with a federal mediator starting next week and says they hope to head back to work next year, and not back to the picket line.

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