WEIRTON - A lifetime of service to West Virginia and its people was honored in Weirton Monday as people from up and down the Ohio Valley gathered to pay tribute to U.S. Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV.
A crowd of steelworkers, mine workers, public officials and everyday citizens filled the ballroom of the Serbian-American Cultural Center to thank Rockefeller, D-W.Va., for his decades of service to West Virginia and its people.
As part of the afternoon's honors, Rockefeller received the United Steelworkers' Lifetime Achievement Award and the "Man of Steel" award from the Cold Finished Steel Bar Institute.
U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller greets well-wishers in Weirton Monday as he was honored by the United Steelworkers Union and the Cold Finished Steel Bar Institute for his decades of service to the steel industry. -- Craig Howell
USW President Leo Gerard noted Rockefeller's work over the years fighting on behalf of the steel industry, even in the face of numerous difficulties and obstacles.
"I don't know that there isn't a steelworker in American that doesn't owe their job to Jay Rockefeller," Gerard said.
Michael Salamon, executive vice president of the Cold Finished Steel Bar Institute, noted many of those battles would not have been possible without Rockefeller's leadership and the formation of the Steel Caucus in Congress.
In the face of unfair trade dealings from other nations, he said, Rockefeller stuck with the domestic steel industry and stood side-by-side with steel workers.
"Few members of Congress have been as tenacious on their behalf as Senator Rockefeller," Salamon said.
Rockefeller recognized many of those who have fought those battles by his side, including Mark Glyptis, president of the USW Local 2911, Jim Bowen and others who he said have never backed down from fighting on behalf of the steel industry, whether it be in Weirton or Washington, D.C.
"That's what this is all about," Rockefeller said. "We've always been a ferocious team. We do not mess around. We step on people who get in our way."