Midwest Continental Steel

Midwest Continental Steel

Details

Located:
Hopewell

See Also:
Employees

Known As:
MidCon

Books

Appeared In:
Running with the Demon

Mentioned In:
Angel Fire East

Midwest Continental Steel was a steel mill in Hopewell.

History

Lay along the north bank of the Rock River.1Running with the Demon – p 53 It was formerly the country’s largest independently owned steel mill and employed around 25% of Hopewell’s working population.2Running with the Demon – p 35

After the death of the founder’s son the mill was sold to a consortium; a move which produced some bad feelings, despite one of the heirs staying on as a nominal part of the company. The late seventies and early eighties saw the bottom fall out of the steel market due to the boom in foreign steel, causing the bad feelings to grow. The consortium underwent some major changes leading to the shutting down of part of the mill and the loss of hundreds of jobs. Eventually some workers were brought back and the mill became fully operational again, but by that stage the management and union were at such loggerheads that neither would trust the other.3Running with the Demon – p 35

Six months prior to Running with the Demon the union attempted to negotiate a new contract for the workers. Management came back with their own list of counter-demands. Both sides refused to budge and a deadlock was quickly reached. About two and a half months of deadlines being issued by both sides and negotiators going public with each side’s grievances was to follow.4Running with the Demon – pp 35-36

Then, one hundred and seven days before Running with the Demon5Running with the Demon – pp 35-36, the union called a strike on the fourteen inch and wire mill. The strike soon escalated to include the twenty four and twelve inch, and then all of MidCon was shut down.6Running with the Demon – p 36

A mediator was called in but he failed to make any headway. It was not long before everyone was feeling the effects of the strike, including the smaller companies that did business with the mill, or used their products, the retailers who relied on the income from the mill’s employees and professional people whose clientele was composed of management and union alike.7Running with the Demon – pp 35-36

After two months the company announced it would no longer recognise the union, it would accept back any workers that wished to return to their jobs and that if anyone failed to return within seven days they would be replaced by new workers. They started up the fourteen inch using company supervisors, leading to fresh arguments between the two parties. There were reports of sabotage and injuries, and fights broke out on the picket lines. The mill eventually shut down again for good, and it was put up for sale. All negotiations broke down and no one bothered to pretend that they were making any effort. The months passed and nothing more happened and the community of Hopewell and its citizens grew steadily more depressed.8Running with the Demon – pp 36-37

By July some of the men were considering crossing the picket lines, if they could get their jobs back. The company was planning on restarting the fourteen inch over the July 4th weekend and have it up and running by Tuesday.9Running with the Demon – pp 43-44