YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – New Middletown’s Chris McDonald spent over 40 years working in and around the largest steel mills in Campbell and Warren. He helped build them up and tear them down, then he wrote a book about it all.
“Everybody here tried to do what they could,” McDonald said.
It was at Youngstown Sheet and Tube’s Campbell Works, in 1974, that McDonald started what would be a 43-year career in steel, which he details in a book titled “Steeltown Down.”
His father and grandfather worked in the mills. McDonald though graduated from Youngstown State and spent his career in management. He was never in the union, though you can still call him a steelworker.
“Oh, yeah. I like that name. I’m not ashamed of that name,” McDonald said.
In 1987, he was among the last three men to leave what was Sheet and Tube. But he transferred to the Warren mill owned at the time LTV, where in 1995 he crossed the picket line during a 54-day strike.
“None of us wanted to go through the picket lines but we were told we would be fired in supervision if you didn’t cross. So we did, but it’s not an experience I really cherish too well,” McDonald said.
He also touches on the dangers in a steel mill and the people he knew who died.
“The one that really got to me, the guy was getting ready to retire, and two weeks before, he died. He got killed and it’s gruesome. I don’t really want to talk about it on the air, but if you do read the book, I do talk about it,” McDonald said.
In 2012, McDonald thought he was done when what had become RG Steel announced the Warren plant was closing. But he came back to help the demolition company tear the place down — a decision that doesn’t bother him.
“The reason it didn’t bother me… When I worked there, the other people that worked there, if we didn’t do the best we could do to keep that place running, it would have bothered me, but it was out of our hands,” McDonald said.
McDonald’s book “Steeltown Down” is available on Amazon.