“There was us. We were steelworkers. We were a culture on our own.”
Troy Pritt worked at Sparrows Point Steel Mill for 15 years, starting in 1997. He worked in the Coated Products Division on the Galvanizing Line. He enjoyed running the crane the most out of the various jobs he did at the Mill. Pritt talked about the friendships he made at the Mill as being like a family. He still keeps in contact with some of his co-workers and they miss the camaraderie they had working at Sparrows Point. Pritt notes that working at Sparrows Point was a big part of one’s identity; it was more of a home than a job and its closing was a devastating loss. Pritt is currently going back to school; he has realized that his job at Sparrows Point has helped him to understand the realities of the business world. He currently attends the University of Baltimore where he plans on earning a business degree. (Written by Monica Cunanan, Dustin Roddy, Chris Cormier, Kristen MacAleese and Susan Lee, UMBC students)
My name is Troy Pritt. I am a former worker, RG Steel, Sparrows Point plant.
I’ve always lived within five miles of the mill. As a kid growing up it was very much like having this big huge train garden with all this stuff going on. At night you could hear it and it was cool, and then to be there and be a part of that and see all these weird machine move around all these weird equipment and all it was it was like actually going into a train garden.
It was a family and that’s what I don’t have people really get that about what we did. It was such a part of our identity. It wasn’t a job, it was who you were.
The furnace is cold
And the steel no longer flows
Silence had enveloped the land that hadn’t heard silence in over a hundred years
He stood in the parking lot not knowing what to do next
Four generations of his family had given their life to the mill.
The boss passed in in the parking lot he hollered out “where do I go.”
The boss replied “you go home.”
He nodded in recognition, however he didn’t understand.
I am home he thought.
We were almost like soldiers that we depended on one another we supported one another. That was our battlefield, you know we marched in every day and it wasn’t about the money, it wasn’t about the benefits as much as it was who we were as a people. It went past gender and it went past nationality. There was no man and woman in the mill. There was no black or white. There was us. We were steelworkers. We were a culture on our own.
I don’t necessarily think it’ll be bad and that it would have a negative effect. I just think that it will be different now. I’m going for my business degree. This is nothing that my family’s ever done, you know I’m the first one to go to college. I think that working at the mill has given me a better understanding of what I’m learning. I can relate to why things are being outsourced and how our country is changing to where it’s real abstract to a lot of the younger students. And the teacher understands that and he’ll say can you explain that better than I can. Can you explain this from your perspective of coming from the mill. I had a very narrow view of wow this happen to me and it’s like now i understand why this happened. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, that this is just really just a natural selection when it comes to marketing and it comes to global business. Businesses are going to go overseas and newer businesses will happen here and there should be this rollover and businesses and marketing and so just given me a broader view of it.
You know I never thought of a million years ago ever be at the university level or even consider a bachelors. I’ve got to go back down the path and start another one. Not everybody gets that chance, so you know I may never be able to go home again but i can find a path to a new home.