THE VINDICATOR, YOUNGSTOWN
The delegation will push for a presidential investigation of foreign steel dumping.
By CYNTHIA VINARSKY
VINDICATOR BUSINESS WRITER
WARREN -- A union official representing laid-off CSC Ltd. Steelworkers and staff members of a Niles consulting firm are heading back to Washington, D.C., May 17 to call attention to the Mahoning Valley's ailing steel industry.
Deborah Christ, president of Employees in Action in Niles, said she has arranged meetings with Commerce Department officials and with Abel Guerra, labor liaison for President George W. Bush.
Christ and several members of her staff will be part of the Mahoning Valley delegation, along with John Kubilis, president of United Steelworkers of America Local 2243, which represents 1,200 hourly employees at CSC. The trip will be the group's second lobbying visit to the capital.
Christ said the group will call for a presidential investigation of foreign-steel "dumping," a practice which has driven the price of steel to rock-bottom levels.
"We keep losing more and more businesses every day," she said. "We want a presidential investigation of this illegal dumping. We want to know who's behind it, and we want it stopped."
Local impact: CSC, a Warren steel-bar plant, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, and the mill ha ceased operations while company officials seek a buyer. Managers have said that competition from cut-price foreign steel contributed to the company's financial woes.
Christ noted that WCI Steel in Warren also announced plans recently to idle its Youngstown Sinter Co. in July as a cost-cutting measure. That closing will leave 58 workers jobless, although WCI will try to find places for some at its Warren plant.
The United Steelworkers, in a report on the steel crisis released in March, reported that nine U.S. steel companies have filed for bankruptcy since last November, including CSC, LTV Steel in Cleveland and Wheeling-Pittsburgh Corp. of Wheeling, Va. All have cited foreign-steel dumping as a factor.
Consultants: Employees In Action, a business information consulting group, has been working with CSC and Local 2243 since early February. She said she has a personal interest in the plight of laid-off workers there because her brother-in-law is a CSC employee.
The company conducted a survey in February of the furloughed workers' needs for health insurance, education, job training and job-placement services, and has been using statistics from the survey to "put a face" on the area's steel-related layoffs.
"We've got a critical situation here," Christ said. "My company has volunteered its services because somebody has to step up to the plate."