Steel Producer Earns Honor for Reserve Employee Support
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2007 The Defense Department is recognizing a Charlotte, N.C.-based steel producer with plants all over the United States for its exemplary support of an employee who serves in the National Guard.
Nucor Corp. is one of 15 businesses and organizations selected to receive this year’s Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, which honors businesses and organizations that provide support for their employees in the Guard or reserves.
Steven Garrett, who works for Nucor Steel Jackson in Flowood, Miss., nominated the company for the award. Garrett is a sergeant in the Mississippi National Guard, and when he was deployed for Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Nucor stepped up to support him and his family.
While Garrett was deployed, Nucor paid the difference between his military salary and Nucor salary, factoring in bonuses and other financial rewards. The company also provided full benefits to Garrett and his family, including life insurance.
Garrett’s fellow employees in Flowood checked in regularly on his family while he was gone, he said, offering to help mow the lawn, pay bills, or do anything else they needed. “They always made it known that I didn’t have anything to worry about, that if I needed anything, they would pretty much be there,” said Garrett, who has worked for Nucor for three years.
Nucor’s 45 plants, which employ about 14,000 people in all, tend to be located in small, rural communities, said Jim Coblin of Nucor Corp. The small-town atmosphere lends to the family environment that’s fostered within the plants, he said.
Coblin said Nucor values its employees with military experience, because they bring discipline and special skills to the job. “We found that people coming out of the military are well-disciplined, they’re motivated, they’re highly trained in their skill, they know how to get along on teams,” he said. “They tend to work out very well for Nucor.”
Garrett said Nucor made his military service easier, because he didn’t have to worry about his job security or whether his family was taken care of. “You focus more on the mission instead of worrying about things going on back home,” he said.
Taking care of employees in the military stems not only from a patriotic foundation as an American company, but also from a desire to keep valuable employees, Coblin said. “We need to take care of the employee while they’re off serving in the military so that they will come back to us gladly and happily and want to come back to us, because we have a lot invested in them, in their training and background,” he said.
The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award recognizes U.S. employers that rise above the requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Defense Department agency, manages the award process. ESGR assists Guard and Reserve members and their employers understand employee eligibility and job entitlements, employer obligations, benefits and remedies under the act.
The Freedom awards will be presented Sept. 12 in a ceremony here.