HAVERHILL — It is not a bird. It is not a plane, but it is the ‘Women of Steel’ (WOS) of the local United Steel Workers (USW) Union #2116 of Suncoke Company in Haverhill. WOS of USW #2116 is an extension of the national USW WOS Union.
Tanika Lewis, who is employed as a machine operator at Suncoke Company in Haverhill, is a member of USW #2116, and is also a member of the newly formed, WOS of the USW Union #2116. There are currently six members from USW #2116 WOS, according to Lewis.
‘Women of Steel’ is a branch of the United Steel Workers Union, and right now we have six members. What we do basically, is outreach, to find ways to help throughout the community and to encourage women in the Union to be active,” Lewis said.
WOS of USW #2116, held a food drive during the Thanksgiving holiday this year.
“The only thing that we have done so far is a food drive, and we did that for Thanksgiving. We were able to help three families. Our main goal for this effort was to help out working people. A lot of times when people are working minimum wage jobs, it can be harder for them, so those are the families that we targeted,” Lewis said. “Two of the families were people that once lived at the Domestic Violence Shelter, and moved on from there. The other lady worked at a local gas station. So we wanted to help families who work hard, but yet still have challenges making ends meet.”
WOS of USW 2116 also attended the first of five training sessions held in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania this past June.
“We attended leadership training for Women of Steel in Pittsburgh that was held in June, me and Christy Collins attended that training,” Lewis said. “All local unions have a Women of Steel, and we have been working there for 11 years, but never had one at our local plant. So we started asking about the classes, from the information that we were receiving on an international level. So we were able to get up to the training which is a five-year course, in which we will go back every year for five years.”
Christy Collins, a machine operator at Suncoke in Haverhill, member of USW #2116 and the WOS, said she enjoyed being a part of the food drive during the Thanksgiving season.
“We just want to be more involved, and to try to help people,” Collins said. “It was a really nice training, and I am looking forward to the next one. There are four of them that we have to attend. We have the opportunity to get to meet other Women of Steel that are from all over Ohio. Helping the families during Thanksgiving was amazing. I really liked being a part of that.”
The next venture for WOS of USW #2116 will be a trip to Washington D.C. January of 2017.
“In January there will be a Women’s March, and we are going to that march, which will be held in Washington D.C., and we are looking forward to that,” Lewis said. “It is just like anything else, it takes time to really get started and get people engaged, and active. We are really doing this to help the women become more active, and to take part in what is going on in the Union.”
For more information regarding WOS, visit: www.usw.org/act/activism/women-of-steel
Reach Portia Williams at 740-464-3862, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.