CHARLESTON, WV — In a coordinated dump of press releases by West Virginia Governor Jim Justice on the day of his State of the State message, it was announced that non-union steel manufacturer Nucor would be making a large “investment” into the state’s economy. The Governor’s statement is (at best) misleading.
The state will be giving Nucor over $1.3 billion for relocation to West Virginia, an outrageous expense to supposedly create several hundred well-paying jobs. The actual number of jobs and the pay tossed around by Justice and Nucor representatives are palpably exaggerated. Such obvious doubt is reinforced by Nucor’s mischievous past.
Nucor has a long history of blatant pollution. In 2000, the largest environmental settlement with a steel manufacturer involved Nucor agreeing with the DOJ and EPA to pay $98 million for its polluting of air, water, and soil. In 2016, Nucor had the audacity to try and stop the EPA from controlling visible pollution from its steel mills in Arkansas.
Along with Nucor’s cavalier mishandling of the environment, the company continues to have serious issues both internally and externally with racism. The following is an excerpt published by Reuters:
“The nonprofit, As You Sow, collected and analyzed data from S&P 500 companies showing what it says is the environmental impact of operations on communities of color… Nucor was among the worst offenders… In 2018 the company paid $22.5 million to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit that claimed Nucor subjected Black workers to a hostile work environment, and it has also faced air and water quality violations.”
Not only is Nucor bad for humanity and the environment, but the manufacturer is a contributing catalyst in the race to the bottom by state economies to pay a fortune for a trickling of jobs, even if it means local communities are destroyed. These subsidized jobs are completely void from workers having any collective ownership, financial profit, or a real say in working conditions, let alone having a union.
The best Nucor has to offer is its practice of recycling steel. While recycling metals is always a benefit for the environment, it needs to be done using the most sustainable practices and the cleanest technology. Even recycled steel is detrimental to the environment if it’s produced using dirty power sources and there remains pollution.
West Virginia has untapped potential in fields such as commercial hemp, in addition to industries in clean energy, green manufacturing, and regenerative agriculture.
Public dollars would be better invested in democratized enterprises in which workers have direct control over their workplaces, as outlined in the Mountain Party’s eco-socialist platform.