Due to Covid-19, Allegheny Technologies Inc, formerly Allegheny Ludlum, grieves the loss of four historic cars. The company produced the stainless steel vehicles in partnership with Ford. Employees insist the cars serve as a reminder of the company’s rich legacy. Three of the cars will face auction as a single lot in Indiana. The 1930 Ford sedan, 1960 Ford Thunderbird, and 1967 Lincoln Continental convertible will all be sold off come September. No one has collected the 1967 Lincoln. There is no information on its future.
As for the reason for selling? Natalia Gillespie (ATI spokeswoman), cites the financial hit of the coronavirus. “This is not a decision we made lightly,” she said. “Our goal is to protect our business for the benefit of the entire team. We are taking necessary actions so we can emerge stronger and ready to serve our customers as the markets return.”
Covid-19 vs. Community Pride
Of eleven stainless steel cars in the mill’s collection, seven remain. Six of the eleven helped reform the auto industry by using steel. Todd Barbiaux, president of the United Steelworkers Union Local 1196, has worked at ATI for over 32 years. He now coordinates crane operators but used to work as a janitor. He recalls cleaning the stainless steel cars early on in his career.
Barbiaux isn’t alone in his nostalgia. The community respects the mill’s history. Thus the cars made appearances at local events ranging from weddings to graduations. Event-goers often lined up to have their picture taken with them. Last September, the company displayed the 1936 Ford at a family fun day. Community members continue to add their voices in support of the cars’ return.
United Steelworkers International VP David McCall says, “We view the cars as important assets. They symbolize the dedication and sacrifices of generations of steelworkers…ATI should reconsider its actions and return the cars to their rightful place in Brackenridge.”
Employees’ concerns that the profit made will do very little to bolster the company’s finances add to the conflict. Even if the cars sell at $1 million each, it will barely dent the $956 million ATI gained in its first quarter of 2020 sales. The effects of Covid-19 reach further than this one act. And the impact of the sale feels personal to many. They take pride in their history.
All hope is not lost, though. The Allegheny-Ludlum legacy lives on locally. In 1999, ATI donated a 1936 Ford to the Heinz History Center. It is one of only four still known to be in existence. It is also part of a permanent collection. Thus, in some way, the Allegheny-Ludlum legacy remains in Pittsburgh.
The loss of these timeless pieces inspired some good, as well. Barbiaux recently created t-shirts with the cars on them. He plans to donate all proceeds to Project SEED, a local charity feeding hungry children. Barbiaux says that his protest isn’t meant to be an attack on the company. The community just wants to see the collection returned to its full glory.