LORDSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – During his visit on Wednesday to Lordstown, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke promised nothing.
He spent most of his time listening to people vent their frustrations over losing a job, having to move or both.
O’Rourke left with a good idea of the frustrations that many people have around Youngstown.
His first stop was Lordstown High School for a meeting with people associated with unions. One of those people was Jeremy Ladd, a former GM Lordstown worker now working in Fort Wayne who remembers the steel mills as a young boy.
“It’s like a bad nightmare that’s reoccurring because over the past few decades, industry is leaving this area, jobs are leaving. There’s really nothing much left here,” Ladd said.
Tiffany Davis teaches in Lordstown. Her GM-working husband now works in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and comes home every weekend.
“We’ve sold our home and I, in two weeks, am moving into my mother-in-law’s attic so that we can make ends meet,” Davis said.
Gary Steinbeck of the United Steelworkers union has a suggestion.
“But I’ll tell you, whoever’s going to be this next president, they better do something about labor reform. We need strong labor laws,” Steinbeck said.
“States like mine in Texas, where it’s a right-to-work state, which is this strange George Orwell invention because it makes it obviously much harder for people to work and earn a living wage,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke’s second stop was the picket line outside the GM Lordstown plant. He brought along five pizzas from Bruno Brothers. He walked from person to person, again, listening and occasionally interjecting some thoughts.
“GM makes $8 billion in profits last year, pays zero in taxes, is rewarded for sending jobs overseas. The people who built the greatness of GM here in Lordstown are left out,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke posed for a picture with strike signs and the now closed plant as a backdrop. He spent two hours in Lordstown, and every story he heard had sad overtones.
“If ever we needed to be there for a community it is now and it is Lordstown,” O’Rourke said.
During his meeting with the union people, Jose Arroyo of the United Steelworkers union told O’Rourke to forget about the minimum wage and get back to collective bargaining. That, Arroyo said, was the best way to help the middle class.