By Amy Wadas

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CLAIRTON (KDKA) — Steelworkers at the Clairton Coke Works voted unanimously Wednesday night to give the green light to strike if contract talks with U.S. Steel continue to falter.

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If a strike does happen, this will be the first time U.S. Steelworkers will strike in three decades.

“We’re gonna stand up, we’re gonna fight back and if we don’t get it, we’re gonna shut it down,” said President of Local 2227 Irvin Works Ryan Kieffer.

U.S. Steelworkers mean business when it comes to negotiating a new contract. Thursday morning, steelworkers with Irvin Works in West Mifflin went inside their union office to make a vote. Steelworkers at the Edgar Thomson plant in Braddock also voted Thursday and the president of that chapter Local 1219 said they also made a unanimous vote to go on strike.

“We need to authorize a strike to fight for better wages and ultimately better healthcare,” said President of Local 1557 Clairton Works Don Furko.

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“We’ve had no raises over four years. Our members have taken it on the chin when U.S. Steel was making no money. When they made no money, we took sacrifice and we took no raises,” said Kieffer.

“They’re profiting so much money right now. I mean, this is a very good time for them. I just don’t really see why they’re going down this path,” said President of Local 1219 Edgar Thompson John Gornall.

Across the country, 16,000 U.S. steelworkers are making their vote. Furko said a decision to go on strike should be made by Friday night. Workers said they don’t see any way around this.

“Nobody wants to strike,” said Kim Beveridge with Clairton Coke Works. “We are the ones that gotta come into this plant every single day and put our lives on the line.”

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A spokesperson with U.S. Steel responded by stating: “We do not anticipate a strike. Our plants continue to operate in a safe and orderly fashion. Talks are ongoing, and we continue to work diligently to reach a mutually agreeable conclusion.”