For more info go to the Wheeling-Pitt strikers home page: http://www.ovnet.com/~kap/union/ __________________________________________________________ News About Proposed Shutdowns
PITTSBURGH, March 27 (Reuter) - United Steelworkers union officials said Thursday WHX Corp's plan to shut down facilities was announced when "substantial progress" had been made toward ending the strike at the steelmaker, now in its sixth month.
"The company's actions are some of the most brutal, unforgivable acts of corporate blackmail in labor history," Jim Bowen, the union's chief negotiator, said at a news conference. "There had been substantial progress made toward reaching a settlement."
WHX officials were not available for comment.
WHX said earlier Thursday that it intends to shut a plant in Beech Bottom, W.Va., a steel corrugating facility that employs about 170 people. It also plans to shut the steel roofing portion of an Ohio facility, affecting 21 jobs.
WHX also plans to sell or shut down a nail making facility in Wheeling, W.Va., a plant that employs 38 people.
Those facilities are included in the eight plants that have been idle since October 1, when some 4,500 steelworkers went on strike against WHX.
The company said it also plans to shut a culvert plant in Colorado, a facility not affected by the strike.
Bowen said company and union negotiators met last week in Washington with U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D., W.Va.) and then again earlier this week in Pittsburgh. He said "substantial progress" was made toward resolving a number of differences including pensions, the issue that is at the heart of the strike.
Thursday March 27 4:16 PM EDT
Steelworkers Condemn WHX Plant-Closing As `Unforgivable Act of Corporate Blackmail'
PITTSBURGH, March 27 /PRNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers of America (USWA) today accused the Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. of engaging in a "brutal and unforgivable act of corporate blackmail" when it announced "its intentions" to close or sell two plants and a division involved in a lengthy strike.
The action was announced by the company's parent, WHX Corp., following a meeting of its board in New York.
Some 4,500 USWA members employed at eight Wheeling-Pitt locations in Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio struck the company Oct. 1 when their old contract expired. Among the issues was the union's demand for a defined benefit pension.
Jim Bowen, chairman of the union's negotiating committee with Wheeling- Pitt, said at a news conference:
"The company's actions are among the most brutal and unforgivable acts of corporate blackmail in labor history.
"Closing and selling these facilities during a legitimate strike is more than just another instance in a long pattern of bad faith bargaining by the company. It is a violation of the most basic code of human conduct because, for the past week, we have been making progress towards a settlement of the strike through private initiatives undertaken by Sen. Jay Rockefeller.
"Sen. Rockefeller was about to call the parties (back) to Washington for round-the-clock negotiations when WHX took its action and effectively torpedoed the Senator's efforts, and set the stage for a long and bitter battle that will impact WHX stockholders just as surely as it will continue hurting the strikers and their families and the communities affected by the strike.
"Neither the strikers, nor their local unions, nor the USWA will submit to such company tactics. If anything, the actions taken by WHX will bring us all closer together."
The union and company met in Rockefeller's Washington office on March 19 and in Pittsburgh on March 25. Rockefeller, in a news release today, said he was "puzzled" by the company's decision to get rid of the operations.
"I'm not in a position to dispute the economics of the decision," Rockefeller said, "but I do fear that the timing of the announcement, in light of the progress of the past six days, could make reaching an agreement more difficult. I pray that will not be the case."
Rockefeller said he would attempt to reconvene the talks. Bowen said the union was ready to resume negotiations at any time, anywhere.
The facilities involved in the company's announcement that are on strike are located in Beech Bottom and Wheeling, W.Va., and Martins Ferry, Ohio. Together they employ about 230 workers.
"The company's action is a clear example of why we need guaranteed pension and shutdown benefits," Bowen said, referring to the major issue in the strike. "Without guaranteed shutdown benefits, these employees would be out in the cold." SOURCE United Steelworkers of America.
Thursday March 27 2:11 PM EST
Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp to close plants!
WHEELING, W.Va., March 27 (Reuter) - WHX Corp unit Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp said Thursday it plans to permanently shut its Beech Bottom, W.VA., facility and to permanently discontinue all operations at the roof shop located in its Martins Ferry, Ohio, facility.
The company also intends to sell or permanently shut down its LaBelle nail making facility in Wheeling, W.Va., and its culvert plant located in Grand Junction, Colo.
Wheeling-Pittsburgh said it scheduled meetings with the United Steelworkers of America to discuss these shutdowns and their effects.
The shutdowns at Beech Bottom and Martins Ferry are the result of a management analysis that demonstrates these Ohio Valley facilities are operating at a competitive disadvantage and are unable to satisfy the service and product demands of existing and emerging markets, the company said.
It will sell LaBelle because nail production is no longer a part of its core business.
Grand Junction is the last of a series of culvert plants to be sold or closed by the company.
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