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 / 0 Comments
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Hola! She loves to learn

Some people have a passion for learning.

Then there’s Roxanne Romero.

The Local 9231 member at ArcelorMittal I/N Tek & I/N Kote in New Carlisle, Indiana, has taken learning a second language to another level.

The 29-year steel veteran has completed an eye-popping 210 hours of Spanish with Rosetta Stone.

“That is just fantastic,” Rosetta Stone account manager Martha Teu said of Romero.

Romero is no stranger to the ICD program. Over her career as a Steelworker, she’s taken everything from cooking to finance to bicycle maintenance to sign language.

“I just love the ICD program,” Romero said. “I utilized the program from the get-go.”

Romero, who also completed seven Spanish tutoring sessions with Rosetta Stone, said she did it all for personal reasons. She has a thirst for learning new things, but her youngest daughter is a licensed Spanish teacher and her son-in-law is also fluent in Spanish.

“I just thought it would be cool to communicate with them,” Romero said. “I just love to learn and I love to read. There was the opportunity through ICD with Rosetta Stone and I just jumped on it.”

Romero spent so many hours on Rosetta Stone that she started writing everything down in notebooks. She said it was challenging, to say the least, starting with words, building to sentences, to translating from English to Spanish, and back from Spanish to English. According to Rosetta Stone’s growth report, Romero made significant gains in her proficiency level of the Spanish language – going from A1/true beginner to B1/beginning intermediate.

“I have tons of notebooks laying around the house,” Romero said.

Besides a knack for learning, Romero has steel in her blood. Her dad and uncle both worked at Bethlehem Steel, while her husband, Rick, was an employee at Bethlehem Steel in Buffalo before the plant closed down. That’s when the family relocated to Northwest Indiana. Rick is currently a welder in the fab shop at the Burns Harbor plant. Their son, Joseph, also works for ArcelorMittal as an electrical engineer.

Roxanne and Rick have three children and nine grandchildren.

“I tell everybody to take advantage of the (ICD) program,” Romero said. “I know some people work 12-hour shifts and are tired, but there comes a point where you’ve got to make time for yourself.

“Our ICD building is so close to the plant, and (ICD coordinator) Jen (Kuzdas) is so wonderful and makes everything exciting.”

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  • Posted by bwaddle / Posted on 23 May / 1 Comments
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A ‘cut’ above the rest

Michael Pugh doesn’t work 365 days a year. It just seems like it.

Pugh, 33, works on the cast house floor in iron producing at USW/ArcelorMittal in Cleveland. He’s also a carpenter, handy man, and operates his own chainsaw business.

He credits a lot of his knowledge to the Institute for Career Development.

“ICD has been a life changer for me, and I mean that wholeheartedly,” said Pugh, an LJC member for USW Local 979 in Cleveland. “I initially started out with a beginner’s wood-working class with aspirations of fulfilling my wife’s Pinterest addiction. But it grew from there. I saw how much things were costing. Items my wife and I would normally buy, I decided to make.

“It got to the point where it wasn’t just about saving money, but the satisfaction to saying, ‘I made that!’ With each wood-working class I took through ICD the more confident I got.”

Pugh made everything from Adirondack chairs to corn hole boards to storage benches for his deck. Pugh’s thirst for more knowledge came by utilizing his ICD benefit and taking as many woodshop classes with instructor Tim Smrekar as he could, so he could help remodel his own home.

“We started getting estimates for the kitchen and they were well over $16,000,” Pugh said. “It took my wife (Tara) and me about a year to do the custom kitchen cabinets, cupboards, hidden pull out drawers, two-way island openings and other stuff, but when it was all said and done it cost us about $3,000 in wood, hardware, and paint.”

Even though a general contractor did some work at his house, Pugh put up almost half of the new interior walls, did the roofing, drywall, some electrical tasks, and put in a new stairway.

“I didn’t necessarily save a lot of time, but I know we saved north of $30,000,” Pugh said.

Pugh’s love for ICD classes didn’t stop with woodworking, either. The next phase of home repair came with the knowledge he acquired in the small engine repair classes. He needed seven trees removed from his property, and after receiving a few outrageous quotes decided he was buying the chainsaw and doing it himself. Some neighbors saw him doing the work and that rang up some outside business. Word spread fast through social media and networking to where he’s doing it as a lucrative side job.

“I ended up cutting down 817 trees in 2017 and followed that up by cutting down 807 in 2018,” Pugh said. “During that time I was still working at the steel mill full-time.”

In mid-February, Pugh cut down 59 trees in three days when high winds hammered the Cleveland area.

The power of learning is something Pugh doesn’t take lightly. He continues to be an advocate for the ICD program and looks forward to teaching his two sons, Trace and Caleb, some skills.

“The skills I’ve learned through ICD mean so much; I can’t wait to start projects with them,” Pugh said. “We can build a tree house, a sand box, a bird house, even change spark plugs – the possibilities are endless all thanks to the ICD program.”

Pugh also has advice for Steelworkers who say they don’t have time for classes.

“Make time! I promise you it will be a smart decision,” he said. “Whether it’s gardening 101, your home will look amazing. With the small engine repair classes I’ll be teaching my sons how to clean a carburetor, change spark plugs, or swap out fuel lines.”

The ICD classes fit the needs and interests of any steelworker.

“I don’t care if it’s cooking or carving, take some time out for yourself, your life,” Pugh said.

“Plus, it’s part of your benefit. And it really is a benefit for life.”


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  • Posted by bwaddle / Posted on 28 February / 0 Comments
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Learning's his benefit for life

Matt McIntyre is a go-getter. That’s simply the only way to put it.

A true example of using the ICD program to its full potential, McIntyre hasn’t stopped hitting the knowledge button.

“I used to hound the ICD people (at USW/ATI Metals in Brackenridge, Pennsylvania),” McIntyre recalled. “I recruited guys and told (ICD coordinator) Joe (McAninch) about the classes we needed to have. He finally said, ‘You should get involved with this program.’”

Now an LJC co-chair at USW/ATI Metals in Brackenridge, McIntyre continues to promote the program and spread the word about its benefits.

Fast-forward 10 years and McIntyre is a jack of all trades -- literally. He has used the ICD program as a catalyst in climbing the career ladder at the plant. He spent two years in production, worked another eight in maintenance, and with the help of attending ICD classes on his own time moved into his current position as an electrician at the ATI plant in Brackenridge.

“I’ve taken everything from welding, plumbing, and hydraulic classes to small engine repair, computer, and electrical classes,” McIntyre said. “I don’t like to pay for anything (to get worked on) so I’m always wanting to learn new things.”

One thing on McIntyre’s agenda is trying to book a well water treatment class. He’s already been talking to fellow co-workers about it.

“Calling the Culligan man is expensive,” McIntyre said. “It’s really not that hard to do and it can save you a lot of money.”

McIntyre’s passion for learning also helped him tackle the challenge of building his own garage. He said he and his wife, Leigh Ann, did the entire project except for finishing the concrete.

Despite working full-time and taking as many ICD classes as possible, McIntyre still maintains time for his family, which includes son, Peyton, 10, and daughter, Dakota, 9.

“I tell the guys all the time to make time for (ICD) classes,” McIntyre said. “If you’re working and you miss something it’s better to take four of the six classes than none at all. The instructors are great about going over things you’ve missed. They do a good job.”

This coming from a man who knows all about it.

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  • Posted by bwaddle / Posted on 16 January / 2 Comments
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Beth Harrigan -- ICD "Glass Lady"

ICD’s ‘Glass Lady’ shining bright

Beth Harrigan is a teacher these days, but don’t call her that.
“I’m not a teacher, I’m a Steelworker,” the ICD instructor and former USW Local 1066 member said. “I’m still learning. I took over 20 years of ICD classes and turned it into a dream job.”

Harrigan, who worked at USW/U.S. Steel-Gary Works for 37 ½ years, practically fell into the job of a being the “Glass Lady” for ICD.

Harrigan was one of the instructors showcased at the USW/ArcelorMittal-I/N Tek & I/N Kote Learning Center Open House on November 30 in New Carlisle, Indiana.

ICD coordinator Jen Kuzdas spearheaded an impressive Open House for the USW Local 9231 members with instructors, vendors, food, and creative ideas to showcase the ICD program. Harrigan, aka “The Lady of Glass” and pictured above, was one of the several instructors on hand.

“I retired from U.S. Steel in 2015 and I was bored to death for six months. I heard they needed a glass teacher at Gary. Next thing I know I’m teaching classes there and then at Midwest and Burns Harbor.

“It’s a dream job, it’s so enjoyable,” Harrigan continued. “I love to see the students’ faces when they have their project in their hands and a big smile to go with it. It’s so rewarding.”

Harrigan, who said she was the first female roll grinder at the 84-inch hot strip in Gary, took 19 years of ICD glass classes and also dabbled in Pinterest-themed courses to learn her niche. She’s now teaching “Mosaic Epoxy Art,” “Gabbling in Glass,” and “Reuse & Repurpose Mosaic Tables,” among other courses for the ICD programs in Northwest Indiana.

“There’s never anything wrong with art,” Harrigan said. “You have a bad day at the mill and you come to an ICD class and art makes everything better.

“It takes your mind off of work and helps you relax.”

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  • Posted by bwaddle / Posted on 4 December / 0 Comments
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Goodyear Gadsden ICD coordinator Jackie Crowe

Sweet home, Alabama for ICD

It was sweet home Alabama for ICD in mid-November.

ICD visited three of its sites in Alabama prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. USW/Goodyear-Gadsden, USW/U.S. Steel-Fairfield, and USW/BF Goodrich-Tuscaloosa were all part of the tour.

The USW Local 351L site in Tuscaloosa is in the process of building a new Learning Center. Our tour included a visit of the new facility with ICD coordinator Jeff Hewitt, Local 351L President Brandon Hamner, 351L Vice President Jim Knox II, and Local Joint Committee member Bruce Wright.

At the Local 12L facility in Gadsden, ICD went and visited with coordinator Jackie Crowe (pictured above) and talked with Local 12L President Mickey Williams and Vice President Lloyd Cuskaden.

At Fairfield, coordinator Kelli Garvin gave us a tour of the wonderful Learning Center. We were able to catch an HVAC class in session as well as see some of the new additions to the center.

ICD couldn’t be prouder of our hard-working family.

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  • Posted by bwaddle / Posted on 20 November / 0 Comments
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ICD adds to its team

Welcome aboard.

A couple of new faces to ICD made the trek to Northwest Indiana in late September for our New Member Training as well as one other to Cleveland in late October.

ICD welcomes Kevin Mahoney, Robert Havens, and Donna Permigiani to the team.

Mahoney is the new ICD coordinator at USW/U.S. Steel Great Lakes in Ecorse, Michigan, while Havens is the coordinator at USW/Goodyear in Topeka, Kansas. Permigiani started as the ICD coordinator at USW/U.S. Steel Mon Valley on October 1.

Mahoney comes to ICD after 27 years-plus at General Motors and over a decade consulting for GM and the UAW.

“The hardest part is walking into a new position and the expectations,” Mahoney said. “But I hit the ground running and I’m trying to find a comfort zone with so many new things to learn.”

Havens knows the pressure of a new position as well. He spent 13 years in the military – both the Marines and the Army – while serving his country for three different presidents. He even did a tour in Iraq while with the Marines.

Havens spent over nine years working at the Goodyear tire plant in Topeka before taking over the position as ICD coordinator.

“I think having somebody from the plant has been beneficial because I know the various shifts and what it takes to balance school and work,” said Havens, a Topeka native. “It’s like a first-hand perspective.”

As if Havens wasn’t busy enough learning a new craft, he and his wife, Katie, welcomed a baby boy, Jameson Wayne Havens, on October 1.

“As a Marine, your biggest fear is not being prepared so I’ve done a lot of research and homework with the (ICD) program to make sure I’m prepared as much as possible,” Havens said.

“It’s going great. There’s a lot of good people around me.”

Additionally, ICD welcomed Donna Permigiani on October 1. She is in charge of the program at USW/U.S. Steel Mon Valley in Duquesne, Pennsylvania after 18 years in Human Resources Administration. The Pittsburgh native hit the ground running with database training her first week on the job. She also attended the New Member Training in Cleveland October 23-24.

“I’m learning something new every day,” Permigiani said. “The training with ICD (in Cleveland) brought everything together and provided me with a better understanding of the job and the organization.”

Permigiani is no stranger to the steel industry, either. Her father was a steelworker and retired after 37 years from U.S. Steel Irvin Works.

ICD is extremely proud to have added three more incredible people to our team.

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  • Posted by bwaddle / Posted on 6 November / 1 Comments
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Cleveland Rocks -- with ICD

Cleveland Rocks.

Especially when the Institute for Career Development is in town.

Twelve Local Career Development Programs recently attended a New Member Training held October 23-24 at USW Local 979 Dave McCall Hall in Cleveland.

“There was so much to absorb in just a couple of days, but I feel so much better about being able to fulfill my role here,” USW/ArcelorMittal Warren Coke ICD coordinator Jason Prater said.

“There was certainly a friendly and open atmosphere that made it an awesome event.”

In all, ICD had Local Joint Committee members or coordinators from USW/BF Goodrich, USW/U.S. Steel, USW/ATI Metals, USW/Goodyear, USW/Liberty Steel and USW/ArcelorMittal at the event.

ICD couldn’t have done it without the hospitality and generosity of the fine folks at the ArcelorMittal Cleveland Plant, especially ICD coordinator Shirley Pasholk and USW Local 979 Vice President Sam Moyer.

The event gave members a chance to network, learn, and trade ideas with fellow ICD leaders.

Donna Permigiani, the new ICD coordinator at USW/U.S. Steel — Mon Valley, just started her new job on October 1 and felt relieved after being a part of the training.

“The ICD team is incredibly knowledgeable and a great resource,” Permigiani said. “I learned so much and it got my mind racing with some ideas for our spring courses.

“It was great to meet some other members and coordinators from other sites and to have those resources.”


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  • Posted by bwaddle / Posted on 30 October / 0 Comments
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