United Steelworkers in Coatesville Ready to Celebrate 75th Anniversary

Vonie Long and Sheldon Gregg admire a wall mural at the West End Union Hall in Coatesville. Image via Pete Bannan, Digital First Media.

Members of the United Steelworkers in Coatesville are preparing to celebrate 75 years of Local 1165, writes Brian McCullough for the Daily Local News.

The local chapter of the national union now represents close to 600 workers at ArcelorMittal’s plant in Coatesville. Four decades ago, it had nearly 8,000 members.

Chapter president Vonie Long said he is proud of the part his chapter has played in its members’ lives.

“Overall, the perception of unions is negative,” he said. “But if you talk to someone at a lunch counter or get to speak to them individually, it’s a different story.”

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According to Long, the change is evident even compared to 20 years ago, when the factory had 1,200 workers. Since then, a lot of people have retired, and their positions haven’t been replaced.

Despite its shrinking membership, the union is still an important factor in preserving many family-sustaining jobs in the area.

“We’re pretty proud of the pay and lifestyles we’ve managed to get for our members, so they could send their kids to college and they could live in the suburbs,” said Long.

Read more about the local chapter of the United Steelworkers in the Daily Local News here.

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