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Sen. McLeod’s Statement on the Liberty Steel Mill and the Port of Georgetown

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State Senator Mia McLeod held a press conference today with the United Steelworkers of Local 7898 calling for the protection of the Liberty Steel Mill and the dredging of the Port of Georgetown. Below are her remarks.

“Good morning, I am State Senator and Gubernatorial candidate Mia McLeod. I’m here today because I care about working people, their families, and the future prosperity of our state. That’s why I stand in solidarity with the United Steelworkers of Local 7898 and the broader Georgetown community. We’re calling for the protection of the Liberty Steel Mill and the dredging of the Port of Georgetown.

This morning I toured the site and spoke with workers who are members of this community – from the West End to Pawley’s Island, and beyond. Their love for this community and concern for the future of our state is undeniable. They understand that high-quality jobs that pay living wages are vital to the health of our state’s economy, and the upward mobility of our rural communities. We have to keep this steel mill open for business.

Currently, a small group of local officials are attempting to execute a Red Ordinance that would shut down the Liberty Steel Mill because operations have ceased for one year. But, the time in question was a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Liberty Steel has since met all of the requirements to stay open. That’s why we’re calling on the citizen-led committees to do the right thing, and we’re calling on the City’s mayor to stop trying to bust our jobs.

Unlike most jobs in South Carolina, these Liberty Steel jobs are good-paying union jobs. While the average non-union worker in Georgetown is making $22,000 per year, workers at Liberty Steel average $87,520 per year. That’s the difference between working families struggling to make it to the end of the month or thriving with the ability to save and invest in their family’s future.

Liberty Steel currently employs around sixty-five workers, but with an investment in dredging the Port of Georgetown to its “project depth” of twenty-seven feet, Liberty Steel would be able to expand its operations. Because the Port’s depth is currently only 18 feet, there are restrictions on what types of vessels may utilize it. Instead of turning away business, we need to send the message that this port is open for business. With that, the Port of Georgetown would be able to relieve the Port of Charleston of some record-level demand while increasing our South Carolina Ports Authority’s opportunities to increase revenue for our state. We must not forget that South Carolina has more than one port and these ports are not in competition with each other. I want to leave you with these 3 things to consider:

1.  The city’s efforts to close this mill are wrong for Georgetown and wrong for the hard-working people of this area who will be impacted.

2. I fully support a living wage of $15.00/hour because that’s what the people of Georgetown and all working people across SC need and deserve.

3. Ideally, a team of leaders representing local business, government, and labor should be formed to meet with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to discuss the importance of dredging the port and the logistics of making that happen here in Georgetown.”

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