Steelworker

Date: 
1992
Location: 
Oakmont, Pennsylvania
Running time: 
19 minutes
Subjects: 
Iron and steel workers --Pennsylvania
Steel industry and trade -- Pennsylvania
Teaching Notes: 

Ted worked at Edgewater Steel (Oakmont, PA), a plant producing railroad train wheels, for 30 years. His father and grandfather, both steelworkers, worked at Edgewater before him. At the time of the interview, Edgewater Steel was undergoing bankruptcy. The facility, which survived another bout of bankruptcy in 1997, eventually closed down in 2001.

In this video, Ted starts by describing his job as a millwright, repairing the plant’s machinery, which he enjoys for its variety and the “great camaraderie” existing amongst workers. The main part of the interview is devoted to the industrial transition and how it has affected Ted’s life. Ted talks about the bad wages and retirement, and gives his views on the uncertain future, on the role of unions in a depressed economic situation, and on the reasons for the company’s problems.

“The Steelworker" can be used to illustrate the problems associated with organizational change. Career developments issues also arise in this film, as the model of a one-company career is being replaced by an emphasis on personal career management. Another issue is managing people and sustaining their motivation in a declining economic environment.