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Pact OK will allow plant improvements



Published: Fri, June 22, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



A new contract gives workers improved benefits and lump sum payments.

By DON SHILLING

VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR

YOUNGSTOWN -- Cold Metal Products said it's on the verge of upgrading its Youngstown plant after workers approved a three-year labor contract.

The overwhelming approval this week by members of United Steelworkers of America Local 3047 will enable Cold Metal to add equipment and jobs, said Bob Boak, union president.

"The company made it clear they are willing to invest in our plant and bring it into the 21st Century if we are willing to be partners and not adversaries," he said.

Plan being developed: Duane Wykoff, vice president of human resources and communications, said plans for a plant upgrade are still being developed so he couldn't comment on specifics. He said he expected something to happen soon, however. The plant has about 100 hourly workers.

The contract doesn't provide increases in base pay rates but gives a signing bonus of $1,250 in the first year and $1,000 lump sum payments in each of the other two years.

The contract also has improvements in pensions and benefits, including increases in vision care, life insurance and the company's match to the 401(k) savings plan.

Wykoff said work rules are changed to make the plant easier to operate. The changes include making it easier to assign workers to various jobs, he said.

The steel processor has been in a difficult financial position recently, but Wykoff said he is optimistic about the future of the plant and the company.

Analysis for success: Officials have completed an analysis of the company and what it will take to be successful, he said. Steps include looking for new customers, adjusting the product line and realigning plants, he said.

The Youngstown plant now is called the specialty products division, with Drew Munera as general manager.

"We are in a tough, globally competitive business, but this agreement is a powerful sign of our commitment to become the most productive and profitable division in our company," Munera said.

The plant processes high-quality steel for uses such as automotive bearings and cutting tools.

Cold Metal recently said it was closing a steel service center in New Britain, Conn., and a stainless steel processing line at the Youngstown plant. The closing of the Connecticut center will leave 81 workers without jobs, but no job cutbacks in Youngstown.

For its fiscal year that ended March 31, Cold Metal lost $5.8 million on sales of $214.5 million.

Cold Metal, which is based in Sewickley, Pa., has six plants in the United States and Canada.

shilling@vindy.com




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