The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

No money for Bethlehem retirees' medical care?
Take it from the people who stole it

Mar 31, 2003

After getting the green light from a bankruptcy judge, Bethlehem Steel Corporation has ended all company-paid health insurance for its 95,000 retired workers. Bethlehem is about to sell itself to ISG (International Steel Group) which will make ISG the largest producer of steel from raw materials in the country. But before it does so, it's dumping retiree costs in the bankruptcy court, so ISG won't have to take them over.

While the company's official books may make it appear that Bethlehem Steel is now bankrupt, over the years, Bethlehem's owners have made many billions of dollars from the wealth Bethlehem workers created. In 1973, when Bethlehem's production reached its height, workers produced about 24 million tons of raw steel and ships, over 16 million tons of it in the form of finished steel products – everything from pipe, to wire, to nails, to tin-plated steel, to steel with special coatings for automobiles and appliances, to rails, to structural steel for skyscrapers and bridges.

Titans of banking and industry, such as the Morgan interests and the Mellon family, enriched themselves by owning and controlling Bethlehem Steel – pocketing the profits made off the labor of Bethlehem workers, putting the money into other companies.

But now they want to tell the Bethlehem workers there's not enough money to pay for their medical care in retirement.

That's an outright lie. The Morgan and Mellon financial interests stole the money. Take it back from them.