STEEL INDUSTRY LTV gives warning on risk of closing

LTV is sending workers a letter that warns of a shutdown risk.
YOUNGSTOWN -- LTV Corp. is warning workers that it could shut down steel-making operations without major concessions from the union.
"I take it seriously when a company says it may go," said Mike Rubicz, president of United Steelworkers of America Local 1375, which represents workers at LTV's coke plant in Warren.
Letters going to workers' homes this week say that concessions must happen quickly, The Plain Dealer reported. Rubicz said he doesn't know of any local workers who have received the letter, but other union officials said Cleveland-area workers have received them.
Letter excerpts: "The jobs will be gone, the medical benefits will disappear, and -- for many active employees and retirees -- pension benefits will be substantially reduced," the company said in the letter. The letter, from Chairman William H. Bricker and Chief Operating Officer John D. Turner, said concessions were necessary for the company's survival. "If we do not act quickly, LTV Steel will shut down," they said.
LTV, its creditors and union officials have been meeting for weeks in Pittsburgh on a revised labor contract.
"They want a fairly large concession package," Rubicz said.
He said he thought the talks would be wrapped up this week, but now it appears they won't be. There is a sense of urgency, however, so they may be concluded next week, he said.
Creditors' input: The talks are unlike traditional negotiations because of the input of the company's creditors. They are involved because the company is operating under bankruptcy-court protection, and their opinion will be considered by Judge William Bodoh of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Youngstown.
Rubicz said he couldn't comment on details of the negotiations because they are constantly changing.
The Plain Dealer reported that LTV said its current offer is the best it can make. It calls for no changes in wage rates now, but future increases are dropped, the newspaper said.
Health-care premiums: The offer has no changes in vacations or holidays, but employees would contribute toward premiums for health-care coverage for the first time, the newspaper said. Pensions would stay at current levels, but scheduled increases would be eliminated.
LTV employs about 200 at a coke mill in Warren, 80 at a pipe mill in Youngstown and 40 at an office in Youngstown.

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