Life Insurance and Annuities Martin Elfant, CLU 4223 Richmond, Suite 213, Houston, TX 77027 Sutife OFCANADA support the Daingerfield Opportunity or Daingerfield Industrial Endeavor, for which Do or Die is an acronym. Merchants, usually closed on Saturdays, opened their stores and offered special savings. Many citizens, including Walker felt that “die” was perhaps going a bit too far. “My point is, we have a question about the ‘die,’ ” said Herschel Maupin, the owner of Maupin’s Auto Store which offered a 10 % discount on all merchandise on “Do or Die Day.” “We will overcome these problems and perhaps reach a higher economic plateau. We didn’t come here by accident. We came here on the basis that the economic resources, the water, power and human resources and many other things should make this area [an economic success],” said Maupin, who has been in Daingerfield for eighteen years. Maupin’s business is down because of the layoffs. He saw an 18% decrease in the last four months of 1982, and as much as a 22 % decrease in March and April of this year. Like others in the town, Maupin believes firmly in the “Do” of Do or Die Day. He said though, that it wasn’t surprising that it took something like the Lone Star Steel layoffs to get the town to diversify. “I think our people are like typical Americans everywhere: we take the course of least resistance. People here were enjoying the affluence of a lucrative payroll. They had a discretionary income of thousands. It was difficult [for other businesses to attract workers] when Lone Star was bidding for every working pulse.” Those more closely tied to Lone Star Steel are less positive. Nancy Crossland, a teller in the National Bank of Daingerfield, came back from a family vacation in October to find that her husband had been laid off. Erbie Crossland, who had worked more than 25 years in the electrical department of the plant, thought his seniority would protect him. “He didn’t think it was that bad, but when we got back from vacation, he was laid off,” his wife recalls. “We didn’t know for how long. Until then, it had been going all right for him because he has seniority. It can’t be anything but scary.” The Crosslands found they had to tighten belts. “We just dropped the unnecessary things. It was a shock to us,” Nancy Crossland says. She says other families dealt with the situation with the wife going back to work. Crossland said that the six tellers who worked with her in the bank all had husbands who worked at Lone Star. “Seems like everybody works anymore. Most of my people here, my girls, [have] husbands [who] work at the plant in one way or another,” Walker says. Erbie Crossland is now back on at the plant, but his work week has been reduced to 32 hours, a 20% cut in pay. He stays because he is 52 and has a heart condition and would not be able to find another job very easily. Charles McCray is another victim of the layoffs. “Everything looks pretty dark to me,” ie says. McCray is 56 and divorced, with one child in college and another in high school. He worked for 25 years in the maintenance division of the plant and can remember exactly the day the lights went out. “August 22, 1982,” he says slowly, and a little tiredly. “You can’t keep up with bills. Every day, somebody calling.” McCray, who has gotten by shooting rabbit, squirrels, and deer, will start back at Lone Star cleaning the blast furnace, which the company hopes to have back in operation by the end of the year. No one can say how long he’ll be back. “If I’ll be there a week, I don’t know. If I’ll be there two weeks, I don’t know. Just work until they tell me to go home. I hope it picks up for everybody. It’s not only tough on me, it’s tough on everybody. You take the people in town. They can’t raise anything. Can’t even shoot a rabbit. Sometimes they don’t even know where their next meal is coming from.” AS YOU DRIVE through Lone Star and down the highway, there’s a bend in the road and suddenly, the Lone Star Steel plant looms ahead. Despite its size, the plant seems diminished by the huge pile of unused coal in front of it and the fact that there are no visible signs of operation. It is operating, plant spokesman Mayo Lanagan says, but at a reduced capacity. The entire primary unit ‘ ore mines, blast furnace, and coke oven have shut down. “Flossie Belle,” the blast furnace which can produce more than 2,000 net tons of metal a day, is quiet. The five open-hearth furnaces, which in the past were responsible for 1,300,000 ingot tons a year, are not running. The two electric furnaces, which produce 350,000 ingot tons a year, are. Lanagan said there are three main reasons behind the problems at Lone Star. One is very simply the reduced need for pipe. “Another factor,” he says, “is the massive amount of foreign pipe shipped in in 1982. Particularly in lower carbon grades of pipe, a lot of the socalled third-world countries have emerged into the steel business.” Foreign producers are government subsidized, can rely on government loans, have less taxes and a lower cost of doing business. The third problem is the failure of the Penn Square Bank in Oklahoma. “It was primarily into energy loans and financing oil wells and things like that,” Lanagan says. “When that happened, it just kind of sent shock waves through the industry.” After that, he says, banks began reviewing their energy loan policies, and things began changing in the steel industry. As of June 28, there were 1,256 hourly people and more than 1,200 salaried people employed at Lone Star Steel. Before the layoffs, there were 4,000 hourly and 1,500 salaried. According to Lanagan, the number continues to fluctuate since some employees, particularly in maintenance, are periodically called back to work. Lanagan says that these employees maintain the equipment and many are currently cleaning the blast furnace which Lone Star hopes to have back in operation by the end of the year. The people who are rehired, however, are never certain how long they’ll be there, and those who haven’t yet lost their jobs have lost any conception of job security. Lanagan says the company is trying to diversify and is exploring new areas, though it will probably always have something to do with tubing. To the right of the entrance of Lone Star Steel is the Chapel of the Pines, a small wooded chapel that was built in 1954 by then Lone Star Steel president E. B. Germany who noticed a worker saying grace before a meal. When he questioned the worker, he discovered that the man taught a Sunday religion class to other plant workers. Germany, a religious man, had the chapel built for other workers as a place for fellowship and prayer. With maybe ten pews, it’s certainly not big enough for the thousands of workers just now beginning to realize that whatever future Lone Star Steel has, it probably doesn’t include them. O THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17
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