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United States Steelworkers of America v. U.S. Steel is a case which fought to keep steel plants open in Youngstown, Ohio. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed an amicus curiae brief.
Between 1977 and 1980, U.S. Steel and the companies that took over Youngstown Sheet and Tube closed four large steel mills in Youngstown, Ohio. More than 10,000 steelworkers lost their jobs, and the area’s unemployment rate soared to more than 13 percent. Local 1330 of the United States Steelworkers filed a lawsuit in federal court to save 3,500 jeopardized jobs by keeping the plant open. The district court denied relief, holding that the refusal to sell the plant to the workers did not constitute an antitrust violation, that the workers could not assert a property interest in their jobs, and that U.S. Steel’s promises to keep the plant open did not constitute an oral contract with the workers.
The Steelworkers appealed the decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals; attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) aided in writing the appeal brief and wrote an amicus brief which was joined by a wide range of labor, legal, and civil rights groups, including the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union, the International Chemical Workers Union, the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the National Lawyers Guild, and the United Farm Workers. The CCR amicus focused on the argument that corporations with enormous economic power that receive substantial benefits from federal, state and local government sources must act in a manner consistent with the best interests of the community. CCR argued that such institutions become public in nature and should be subject to judicial control when they act detrimentally to the interests of the community.
Arthur Kinoy argued for the amici before the appeals court, while Staughton Lynd argued for the workers. The amicus argument was deliberately educational and political in nature and framed the societal issues involved. The Court ruled for the appellants, finding that the workers’ anti-trust claim was substantial enough to defeat the district court’s summary judgment for U.S. Steel and ordered a new trial on that issue.
U.S. Steel entered into a settlement agreement with the workers. However, the settlement agreement ultimately failed, as the plan, which called for purchase and operation of the plant by the workers, depended upon financial support from the Federal Economic Development Administration, which was withheld.