It's hard to realize that over a year has passed since the closing of the once-proud Bethlehem Steel plant at Sparrows Point.
Opened over 100 years ago as Bethlehem Steel, the plant along with Western Electric, General Motors, Lever Brothers to name a few, provided job opportunities and training for the future of youngsters out of high school and also provided decent wages and benefits to its workers. In addition, it provided a source of revenue to our community, and they were businesses of which we could all be proud.
Today, the plant's closing has left a financial strain on our community. However, most significantly, its departure has ruined the lives of many hard-working Americans who created a top quality product at that plant. Not only did Bethlehem Steel provide for the basic needs of Americans but it was first and foremost a product for the defense of our country.
During World Wars I and II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, steel produced at the Sparrows Point plant flourished across our country and around the world helping to defend us in those times of struggle and strife.
The manufacturing base and standard of living continues to dwindle in the United States. Over 11 million Americans are out of work.
Steel products and employment opportunities have fallen to an all time low as foreign steel floods our shores. In New York and New Jersey, $255 million worth of steel from China for bridge restoration has been ordered. The recently-rebuilt Golden Gate Bridge was rebuilt with steel purchased from China.
The political wizards in our state and federal government fail to apply measures to protect our jobs.
Plans are being discussed to build an "auto park" on the peninsula of Sparrows Point which would create thousands of low-paying jobs and continue to ruin the lives of our workers helping to flood the U.S. with even more foreign cars and thereby doing further harm to the American steel and auto industries.
The one and only solution for our country is to manufacture products in America and buy American.
The writer is president of United Steelworkers Local 9477 retirees.