Members of the Local Steelworkers 8-719 in Ashland recently conducted an in-house fundraiser to help their brothers and sisters of the Steelworkers Local 40 in Huntington, who are currently on strike at Special Metals.
Ashland Steelworkers President Jeremy Clayborne said 8-719 was able to raise around $15,500 for the families of striking workers, resulting in the purchase of 400 hams and a cash donation of $4,000.
“It was our goal to help them through the Thanksgiving season,” Clayborne said.
And in a letter shared through social media, Clayborne wrote, “… United Steelworkers Local 8-00719 supports your cause, admires your passion, and is in awe of your community involvement. We hope, in spite of the current situation, all our Brothers and Sisters are able to gather around a table with loved ones on Thursday and give thanks for all their lifetime of hard work has provided. Our local wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving. May God Bless you, and God Bless United Steelworkers Local 40.”
Clayborne said the Special Metals strike has been ongoing for about 60 days, and that the striking workers could use all of the community support they can get.
“We would like to convey that there are working people in our area who are having a hard time,” Clayborne said. “And we would also like to let those people know that there are other people out there who are looking out for them.”
Clayborne said everyone has been through a lot during the pandemic and beyond, and that it is easy for people to lose hope.
The recent donation, Clayborne said, is also a way to return previous support. When Steelworkers Local 8-719 was on strike in 2015, members of Local 40 came to their aid.
“There were numerous members of Local 40 who supplied firewood (for the burn barrels), food and time to help us,” he said. “The members of our local were happy that they could be of help during this difficult time.”
Currently there is not a plan in place for a Christmas donation, Clayborne said, but they are discussing how they might go about contributing again if the strike is still ongoing at that time.
Clayborne said anyone in the community who would like to donate to help members of the Steelworkers Local 40 can do so by mailing their donations to United Steelworkers Local 40, 712 Buffington Street, Huntington, WV 25702. The Local 40 has also set up a food pantry and are accepting food donations beginning on Monday at that location as well. Clayborne said he encourages everyone who is able to help to do so, whether that donation is in the form of money, food or firewood for the burn barrels used to keep striking workers warm in the increasingly colder temperatures. “Even a small donation helps, much more than you know,” he said.
Steelworkers Union Local 8-719 in Ashland represents workers in the oil, chemical and plastics industries as well, Clayborne said. The workers at local unions are involved in the communities where they live, and are concerned with the community at large as well as their own members and members of other local unions.
Clayborne said he wanted to thank all who contributed, and it is his sincerest hope that the donation will help to ease some burdens of the season and allow those affected to enjoy the season with family and friends.