Christmas looks bleak for LTV Warren coke plant workers.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
WARREN -- Production will be rapidly reduced at the LTV coke plant here, and the plant is expected to be cold idled Dec. 5 if U.S. Bankruptcy Judge William Bodoh in Youngstown approves LTV's shutdown plans in a Dec. 4 hearing, a company spokesman confirmed.
Most of the plant's work force of about 200 would be laid off when the plant is cold idled, with some security and maintenance workers remaining for an uncertain period thereafter, said Mark Tomasch, LTV's senior director of corporate communications.
"We don't believe there's a market for these coke plants, and we cannot afford the additional cost of hot idle," Tomasch said, referring to the company's coke plants in Warren and Chicago. "We are shutting down because we don't have cash," Tomasch said, adding that the fuel required to hot idle the plants would be "very expensive."
Although the coke plants would be cold idled, the company said Tuesday that it plans to hot idle its Cleveland and Indiana Harbor steel mills for about 60 days to allow potential buyers to acquire those plants in working condition. LTV said it plans to cease steelmaking in Cleveland and Indiana Harbor as soon as it gets court approval to do so.
Timetable: Tomasch confirmed the closing timetable that Bob Thompson, United Steelworkers Union Local 1375 Warren coke plant unit secretary, said he had been given Wednesday by Bill Sullivan, coke plant manager. Tomasch also confirmed Thompson's statement that it would cost millions of dollars to restart a coke plant after a cold shutdown.
Would affect WCI: Thompson said, and Tomasch confirmed, that the shutdown of LTV's Warren coke plant would adversely affect WCI Steel because of the direct business relationship the companies have. "That's part of the tragic circumstances of the shutdown," Tomasch said.
LTV sells coke oven gas to WCI, which uses it in WCI ovens, and LTV buys more than $1 million a month worth of steam from WCI to operate turbines and other equipment in the coke plant. If the coke plant closes, WCI stands to lose the steam sales revenues and will have to replace the coke oven gas with more expensive natural gas, Thompson said.