Midland Labor Leader Offended by Trump’s Attack on United Steelworkers

Tepsic speaking at ATI strike rally in Midland

By Jared Stonesifer

Beaver County Times

MIDLAND. Dec 9. 2016 –  — Tony Tepsic doesn’t have a Twitter account but, if he did, he would tell Donald Trump just when and where to find him.

Tepsic, president of the United Steelworkers Local 1212 in Midland, took offense to the fact that the president-elect earlier this week attacked a fellow United Steelworkers local president in Indiana.

The feud started when Trump claimed he helped save 1,100 jobs from leaving Indiana. Chuck Jones, president of United Steelworkers Local 1999 based in Indianapolis, called Trump a liar and said the real number of jobs saved was around 800.

Trump took to Twitter to fire back, saying Jones has done a “terrible job representing workers” while adding “no wonder companies flee (our) country!”

For Trump, it was just another 15 seconds on Twitter. Jones, however, started receiving anonymous phone calls that threatened his children.

“Nothing that says they’re going to kill me, but, you know, you better keep your eye on your kids,” Jones told MSNBC, according to the Associated Press. “I’ve been doing this job for 30 years, and I’ve heard everything from people who want to burn my house down or shoot me … I can deal with people that make stupid statements and move on.”

But for Tepsic, the argument was more personal. The local union leader could only watch as Allegheny Technologies earlier this year permanently closed its Midland plant, in part because of illegal steel dumping from China.

Tepsic worked at the site for 42 years and still, even today, is working to ensure his 200 members receive assistance as they try to find new jobs.

Union leaders have previously blasted Trump for repeatedly buying cheap Chinese steel for his hotels and other business ventures, and Tepsic said Thursday that Trump should focus on more important issues than engaging in arguments with labor leaders.

“I don’t have a Twitter account but, if I did, I’d give him my number and address,” Tepsic said. “If he wants to boast about saving jobs, I got a plant in Midland we can talk about.”

Tepsic said he’s still perplexed as to why so many union members voted for Trump, and said the president-elect does not have labor’s best interests in mind.

Leo Gerard, who serves as the president of the entire United Steelworkers, spoke on MSNBC on Wednesday and said he was amazed Trump would attack a local union leader in such a public way.

“We’ve got someone who is just about to become the president of the United States, (the) most important job on the planet,” Gerard said. “And he is busy tweeting about a local union president who is in fact a hero.”

Gerard, in an interview with The Times in October, backed up Tepsic’s claim that Trump isn’t on the side of labor, calling him a “phony.”

Nearly 20,000 members of the United Steelworkers have lost their jobs in the last two years “as a result of Chinese dumping and flooding the market,” Gerard previously said, and added Trump has never stood with American labor and has frequently purchased illegally imported steel and aluminum from China.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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