ICD Benefit Boosts Laid-Off Steelworker

Rashon Davis knows the day well. November 8, 2019. After 18 years at U.S. Steel-East Chicago Tin he was laid off. The USW Local 5133 member is still waiting for a call back to be transferred to Gary Works or Midwest Steel.

Some people would feel sorry for themselves. But not Davis. He got busy trying to put food on the table for his family in other ways – and thanks to utilizing the ICD benefit he created his own pen business.

“Let’s just say it was a good Christmas for us -- because I took my talent and craft using the woodworking classes (at USW Local 6787 in Burns Harbor, Indiana) and started my own business,” Davis explained. “When you’re selling pens for $50-$60 each the money comes in pretty handy.”

The business – From the Heart Woodworking – is keeping Davis and his family afloat while he waits on a call back to the steel mill.

The name “From the Heart Woodworking” comes from his son, Graham, who was born with a heart defect and died at 2 years old.

“We were in Chicago every day dealing with heart doctors, so the name just made sense to me,” Davis explained. “We gave out a lot of pens as gifts and it just seemed right because all the work is coming from the heart. Making pens was great therapy for me during a really hard time.”

Davis, a Gary, Indiana native, credits ICD instructor John Malyj for motivating him to take his craft to another level and start up his own business. He started by buying a “cheap” lathe for his garage and then began to accumulate more tools for the job.

“Sell a pen, buy a tool, sell a pen buy another tool,” Davis explained. “We sort of got into business by accident. I had to justify spending the money for tools and equipment with my wife (Quiana) because she was very supportive, but it was getting to be an expensive hobby.”

Davis has become so busy with his Etsy business he’s recruited Quiana to help. She’s just as involved with the pen making as he is. They now have their own Facebook page and have a vast customer and client base.

Davis is definitely an advocate of the ICD program. He used the tuition assistance program to earn his bachelor’s degree in human resources from Purdue University and also picked up a Real Estate license with the help of the ICD benefit.

“I can’t tell you enough about what a wonderful program ICD is,” Davis said. “I wouldn’t be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for the knowledge I acquired through the benefit.

“I think a lot of people lose sight of the fact they can make money outside of their jobs and be productive. This was supposed to be a hobby and something fun for me to do, but I’ve made this work for me and my family.”

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  • Posted by bwaddle / Posted on 28 January / 2 Comments
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ICD Means Success for this Steelworker

USW Local 979 member Angie Lee talks about her success with ICD. The Cleveland Steelworker has used the ICD benefit to better herself at work and at home. She’s taken advantage of classes to pass the Ramsey test, get into the MTE program, and learn HVAC skills. Lee is living proof that anything is possible by utilizing the ICD benefit.

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  • Posted by bwaddle / Posted on 21 January / 0 Comments
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Duct (Work) Dynasty

Mike McLure thought he knew plenty about installing duct work. Then he took an ICD sheet metal class with Fran Arabia, the USW/ATI Safety, Health & Environmental Coordinator, and really learned something.

“I told Fran I wish I had taken the class years ago,” said McLure, an electric tech at ATI Local 1196 in Brackenridge, Pa. “I had to go back in my basement and fix all kinds of stuff. Maybe it wasn’t stuff the normal eye could see, but I knew it wasn’t right.

“It just made me so much more confident in what I was doing.”

McLure, who has worked at ATI for 13 years, said after gaining knowledge in the seven-session ICD customized class, he went back into his basement and couldn’t believe the things that needed fixed.

“I fixed corners after Fran showed me how,” McLure said. “Duct work is different – it’s definitely a different beast – and I struggled. After the classes I was like, ‘Wow, this job could have went so much smoother.’”

The funny thing is, McLure never really took advantage of the ICD benefit and fell into the class by accident.

“I happened to run into Fran and we got to talking about his sheet metal class and I said, ‘You’re doing what? Put me down for it,’” McLure explained. “It was just great timing and a little luck.

“I still can’t believe how valuable the class was.”

Arabia is passionate about HVAC training and believes strongly in the ICD program.

“I take the students through my 35 years of knowledge in residential, commercial and steel mill industrial experiences,” he said. “By the end of the class they are marketable in the trades, if ever needed.

“And most importantly, they are able to work in their home for themselves, or to give a hand to family and friends.”

McLure’s success story didn’t just start at the mill, either. He actually was a former NBC union cameraman who specialized in aerial footage. He also did work for the Golf Channel in helicopters and blimps, but his claim to fame is the work he did for NBC Sports at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece where his crew won an Emmy for the opening ceremonies.

“We spent 31 days there,” McLure said. “Definitely great memories.”

McLure said the wear and tear of travel – and the influx of drones – really made him start thinking about changing careers. He said he saw the writing on the wall around 2006 and ended up landing a job at ATI. He’s also turned his basement – with the duct work he’s now proud of – into a recording studio where he plays guitar and enjoys time with his wife of 10 years, Laura.

“I’m new to ICD, but I’ll tell you when you look at the cost of education and the benefit, it’s so valuable,” he said. “I just told Fran I wish I took advantage of it 10 years ago. Now I see what you can get out of it.”

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  • Posted by bwaddle / Posted on 12 December / 0 Comments
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All Hands on Deck for this Steelworker

Retired Steelworker William “Chip” Ostenberg was docked on his boat in sunny San Diego, drinking coffee with his wife of 47 years when he saw the “Bill of Rights” schooner at a nearby dock.

He saw people working on the ship, so the former USW Local 1010 member went over and asked how he could get involved in the restoration project for the enormous sailing vessel originally built in 1971.

The rest is history. Literally.

“When we first started there had to be 1,000 things to fix after the Insurance inspection. There were tasks the crew had to complete before the Coast Guard would approve it as a commercial vessel,” Ostenberg said. “Since then, we've passed all the inspections and are operating."

Ostenberg, an Army veteran who spent 33 years in the steel mills of Northwest Indiana, grew up on a ranch in Colorado. He says his dad had a woodshop where he “played around with the tools.”

However, it wasn’t until he became a Steelworker that his craftsmanship took off.

“I honed my (woodworking) skills at (ICD’s) JobLink (Learning Center) in East Chicago, Indiana,” Ostenberg said. “(Instructor) Dale Meiners was a huge part of it and what I’m doing now.”

Ostenberg, a Vietnam veteran, and his wife, Rae Ann, reside in Kenosha, Wis., and spend part of their winters in San Diego to help with the renovation of the mighty “Bill of Rights”, which is going on seven-plus years. The entire project is based on volunteers and donations. Ostenberg said it takes between $5,000-$6,000 a month just to keep the project going.

When he was still a Steelworker he utilized the ICD benefit not only for woodworking skills, but small engine repair, motorcycle repair, computer repair, and even took a machinist course at Ivy Tech before retirement.

All acquired skills, he gained using his ICD benefit, helped him on the renovation project.

Right now, thanks to knowledge obtained from JobLink instructor Bill Needles, Ostenberg was able to laser engrave an image on wood so he could recarve it on the Bill of Rights. The image is of painted leaves, vines and acorns – all in gold paint (see images below).

The Bill of Rights, which was originally built in Maine in 1971, has traveled the Atlantic, Pacific and Panama Canal, among other waterways.

Today, it’s used by the South Bayfront Sailing Association for cruises, whale watching tours, weddings, funerals, corporate outings, and even fireworks on the 4th of July. It is the Tall Sailing ship for the Navy's Sea Cadet Training program. 

“When you have your fingerprints on a boat – it just feels awesome,” Ostenberg said.

“When you see the fruition of labor ending up being so important, especially when you get to the later years in life like me, you know you’ve made a difference.”


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  • Posted by bwaddle / Posted on 21 November / 0 Comments
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Learning Summit Highlights

Wow! 2019 is just flying by. ICD had two Learning Summits this year. One was in Pittsburgh, the other in Des Moines.

Maybe you missed one? No sweat. Just click the link below and check out the highlights.

And always remember ... learning, it's your benefit for life.



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  • Posted by bwaddle / Posted on 13 November / 0 Comments
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Steel's in his heart and his art

You can call Tom Furey a steelworking artist, or an Artistic Steelworker.

Either way, he’s a Steelworker turned Fine Art Painter these days.

“I started in the mill (at U.S. Steel Fairless Works) for college money and thought I’d quit for good after I graduated,” the former Local 4889 member said. “But two weeks after graduation my mom said the mill called. ‘They want you back.’ I couldn’t refuse. It was such good money.”

After 42 years as a third-generation Steelworker, Furey has hung up his steel-toe boots for a painting brush.

“It’s not a hobby, I’m a Professional Fine Art Oil Painter,” Furey said. “I waited 42 years to paint full-time.”

Furey’s not kidding, either. He has an impressive gallery on his own personal website () and his painting “Safety Huddle,” an oil painting on canvas, depicts Steelworkers on the job. It was accepted into the Art of the State exhibit in Harrisburg, Pa., this year. Only 104 works from nearly 1,800 entries were picked.

Furey paints images that reflect moments of time in his life and cover a wide variety of subject matter.

“Safety Huddle” Oil Painting on Canvas is actually from his days at U.S. Steel Gary Works where he traveled back and forth for two years when he was helping with training for the No. 14 Blast Furnace build. Furey also has a painting titled “Cold Train,” which depicts a setting outside the U.S. Steel Fairless plant as well as "Team Work", which shows a group of Steelworkers slinging a Gantry Crane part that has been unloaded from the large green ship in the background.

“It is a typical scene in the steel industry and part of everyday work for these men to work together to get the job accomplished,” Furey said. “Just the physical size and weight of everything they are handling makes this job dangerous. Together they get it done.”

Furey is a father of four and grandfather to five and both his father and grandfather, also named Tom, were Steelworkers.  He has a son-in-law working at the U.S. Steel Fairless plant.

Furey, who is also a fully crafted goldsmith, started as a laborer and worked everywhere from the blast furnace to the open hearth before getting an electrical apprenticeship in Fairless. He said he taught himself computers on the job at the mill and got into the graphic illustration side as well. He helped set up the computer network for the ICD program in Fairless Hills before leaving the steel industry in 2013.

“I could pick a Steelworker out of a crowd,” Furey said. “We’re all old-school kind of people.

“We’re tough as nails, but I’ve always found that we’re good people.”

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  • Posted by bwaddle / Posted on 5 November / 0 Comments
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Announcing the 2019 Tino Fulimeni Scholarship Winners

Tino Fulimeni was an advocate for education.

He would have loved Karlie Hill.

Hill, one of the Institute for Career Development’s eight recipients of the memorial scholarship named in honor of former Steelworker Tino Fulimeni, continues to pursue further education.

The daughter of USW Local 1196 member and contract coordinator Walt Hill, Karlie is currently working on her master’s degree at Penn State University.

A recent graduate of Jacksonville University, Karlie Hill is also working at nearby Penn State-Altoona as an assistant coordinator in the Residence Life Office.

“My career goals are to make an impact in college students’ lives, empower student leaders, and to hopefully one day become a Dean of Students at an institution,” Karlie said.


Tuscaloosa lands a Tino

Matthew Landon Jones couldn’t be more proud of Local 351L in Tuscaloosa.

“The union has helped my family out a lot and been a big part of our lives,” said Jones, one of eight winners of the Tino Fulimeni Memorial Scholarship.

“I appreciate everything the union has and continues to do for me.”

The younger Jones, whose father Matt has worked at BF Goodrich in Tuscaloosa for 20 years, is a freshman majoring in Family and Consumer Sciences with a concentration in education at the University of Montevallo (Ala.).


Two Tickets to Paradise at Local 9231-01

Blake Lewis and Rebecca White are both recipients of the Tino Fulimeni Memorial Scholarship. Both their fathers work for ArcelorMittal-I/N Tek & I/N Kote in New Carlisle, Indiana.

Lewis, the son of Kent Lewis, attends Purdue University Northwest and is majoring in Organizational Leadership and Supervision with a concentration in Environmental Health and Safety.

Blake served five years as a construction mechanic in the Navy before being honorably discharged in 2016. His younger brother, Collin, is a senior at Ball State University.

White, the daughter of Jeffrey White, is a freshman at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Rebecca was a member of the National Honor Society and lettered in cross country and track in high school. She’s majoring in biology and is a member of the IU rowing team. Her father, Jeff, is a Computer Technician at I/N-Kote/Tek and has been a Union Steelworker for more than 30 years.


Local 979 in Cleveland earns a Tino

Owen Davis is a Tino Fulimeni Memorial Scholarship recipient.

Davis attends the prestigious Dana School of Music at Youngstown State. He’s the son of James M. Davis.

Davis, a National Honor Society member all of high school, is on the Dean’s List at Youngstown State where he plays in the YSU Youth Orchestra and Percussion Ensemble. He’s earned several honors, including Instrumental List Magazine Musicianship Award in 2016 and the Academic Excellence Award (British Literature). He’s helping as a drum teacher for Music 101 and is a pit percussion instructor for two local high schools in Ohio.


 Local 5133 member’s daughter awarded a Tino

With the talk of layoffs at U.S. Steel-East Chicago Tin, Andy Govert was happy to hear some good news: His daughter, Anna, was one of ICD’s eight recipients of a Tino Fulimeni Memorial Scholarship.

“I’ve got 20 years here,” Andy said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen, but this made my day.”

Anna Govert is a TV major with a focus on camera operation at Columbia College in Chicago.

“I’ve loved TV for as long as I can remember and after watching the BBC show ‘Merlin’ I decided I had to be a part of it,” Anna Govert said. “I just have a love for TV and want to pursue a career in it.”


Local 1010 awarded a Tino

How ironic that Art Holmes has used the ICD tuition assistance program to earn two degrees. He truly believes in education.

His daughter, Rhianna Holmes, was a winner of the Tino Fulimeni Memorial Scholarship.

Rhianna is currently working on her associate’s degree in aviation maintenance technology at Vincennes University.

“One of my favorite quotes is from (Greek writer) Nikos Kazantzakis: ‘In order to succeed, we must first believe we can,’” Rhianna said.


Local 6103 parents have been Steelworkers for 55 years

Melanie Massey has worked at U.S. Steel-Midwest Steel for 25 years; her husband, Lee, has been at the plant in Portage, Indiana, for 30 years.

Their daughter, Valerie, is a winner of a Tino Fulimeni Memorial Scholarship.

Valerie, a sophomore at Purdue University, is studying Actuarial Science and Applied Statistics with a business minor. In addition, she’s pursuing a degree in English education, educational philosophy, and creative writing.

“We are very grateful for the Career Development program,” Melanie Massey said. “It’s a great benefit for the Union.”

Mom and dad have both utilized the ICD benefit as well.

Melanie, who works on the galvanize line as a production employee, obtained an associate’s degree from Ivy Tech, a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, a master’s degree from IU, and a master’s certificate in English Composition, while being a dues-paying member.

Lee, a millwright and planner in tin products, has received certifications in computer information systems as well as college credit from Ivy Tech.

“This was made possible largely by the Career Development Program negotiated by the Union,” Melanie said.


2019 Tino Fulimeni Scholarship Winners


District 1

* Owen Davis of Vienna, OH. Owen is the son of USW Local 979 member, James M. Davis, USW/ArcelorMittal-Cleveland.


District 7

* Anna Govert, Crown Point, IN. Anna is the daughter of USW Local 5133 member, Andrew Govert, USW/U.S. Steel-Gary/East Chicago Tin.

* Rhianna Holmes, LaPorte, IN. Rhianna is the daughter of USW Local 1010 member, Arthur Holmes, USW/ArcelorMittal-Indiana Harbor West.

* Blake Lewis, Westville, IN. Blake is the son of USW Local 9231-01 member, Kent Lewis, USW/ArcelorMittal-I/N Tek & I/N Kote.

* Valerie Christine Massey, Valparaiso, IN. Valerie is the daughter of USW Local 6103 members, Melanie Jean Masseyand Lee Massey, USW/U.S. Steel-Midwest Plant.

* Rebecca White, Chesterton, IN. Rebecca is the daughter of USW Local 9231-01 member, Jeffrey White, USW/ArcelorMittal-I/N Tek & I/N Kote.


District 9

* Matthew Landon Jones, Cottondale, Ala. Matthew Landon is the son of USW Local 351L member, Matt Jones, USW/BF Goodrich-Tuscaloosa.


District 10

* Karlie Hill, Freeport, PA. Karlie is the daughter of USW Local 1196 member, Walter Hill, USW/ATI-Brackenridge.

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  • Posted by bwaddle / Posted on 11 October / 0 Comments
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Learning is cool, and knowledge warms you up

The Institute for Career Development continues its national video series showcasing the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) program in Burns Harbor, Indiana at USW Local 6787.

Retired Steelworker Dennis Matney, a member of both USW Locals 6787 and 1010, is the instructor of the HVAC program. Ironically, Matney utilized the ICD benefit during his steelworking days and then took over the program once he retired. The HVAC class is so popular that it has a waiting list; however, it fits the needs of all Steelworkers with numerous classes offered each day to accommodate shifts at the mill.

Please enjoy our latest video from one of the USW’s greatest benefits.


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  • Posted by bwaddle / Posted on 30 July / 0 Comments
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Luis Aguilar's family, including his wife Cynthia, sitting at one of the benches made by the Joblink program through ICD and USW Local 1010.

Former Steelworker gone, but never forgotten

Luis Aguilar is gone, but will never be forgotten.

That was evident by the turnout at his dedication at USW Local 1010 on Tuesday.

The veteran Steelworker passed away suddenly on October 7, 2018. Aguilar spent 48 years and 41 days in the steel mills of East Chicago, Indiana.

The USW Local 1010 members, through the ICD program at Joblink, built two benches and planters in honor of Aguilar, a friend of the ICD program, and hundreds of others.

“He made a lot of sacrifices to be a leader in this local, and he was a darn good one,” USW 1010 President Steve Wagner said. “He pushed our young workers to be the next generation of Steelworkers, and he mentored us old representatives as well.”

Aguilar served many roles and wore many hats over his career. Over the years he was a contract coordinator, dealt with civils rights and training, was a grievance officer, and was an advocate for Women of Steel.

“We are so, so grateful to (Local) 1010 and the Steelworkers,” Aguilar’s wife, Cynthia said. “1010 was there to support our family through it all. They would visit and really gave us strength. Without them we would have been lost.”

The engraved benches and planters will be a part of the Local 1010 headquarters for years to come. The strong turnout, which included co-workers, friends, and family, showed what an impact Aguilar had on anybody he met.

Aguilar’s daughter, Adrianna Gonzalez, as well as Arthur Delgado, Bill and Carol Gnerlich, Dorine Godinez, Julie Mathews, Larry Miles, Mike Misiukiewicz, Jeff Noel, Jose Pabey, Gail Richardson, Rosa Maria Rodriguez, and Don Seifert all participated in the making of the benches and planters for Aguilar in woodshop classes taught by ICD instructor Nick Nash.

Away from the mill, Aguilar was known around the area for coaching baseball. He spent decades as an assistant high school coach at Lake Central and Griffith, even coaching his son, Sal, back in the day.

“We coached for many, many years together,” said former Lake Central and Griffith head coach Todd Iwema. “He is one of the best people I’ve met through baseball in my 40 years in the sport.

“The players absolutely loved him. The players, coaches, and myself were fortunate to be around him. I wish I could share one great memory, but there’s too many to talk about. He was a great man.”


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  • Posted by bwaddle / Posted on 10 July / 1 Comments
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Save the Date: ICD National Conference coming to Nashville in 2020

We’re heading back to one of our favorite cities for the 2020 ICD National Conference.

We hope everyone will join us April 30-May 1, 2020, for a good ole time in Nashville. We are fixin’ to have plenty of opportunities for learning, networking, and educating about the wonderful benefits of the ICD program.

Pre-conference activities, including a Coordinators’ Meeting, Union-Only Meeting, and ICD Reception will take place on April 29.

Conference registration and hotel reservation information will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead, so be on the lookout.

So save the date. We’ll pitch a fit if we don’t see you there!

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  • Posted by bwaddle / Posted on 1 July / 5 Comments
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