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COLD METAL PRODUCTS Union official probes reasons for plant closings



Published: Tue, August 20, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



A union leader is suspicious that Cold Metal kept open a nonunion plant in Ohio.

THE VINDICATOR, YOUNGSTOWN

By DON SHILLING

VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR

YOUNGSTOWN -- A union official said he's investigating to determine if Cold Metal Products closed its Youngstown plant last week for business reasons or if it is moving operations to a nonunion plant.

"Was it the victim of the economy and imports or are they avoiding contractual obligations and obligations to the community?" asked Kirk Davies, staff representative with the United Steelworkers of America.

He said he is suspicious because the steel processor shut down union plants in Youngstown and Indianapolis and kept open a nonunion plant in Ottawa, Ohio. It also is keeping plants in Michigan and Canada.

Davies said he intends to meet with company officials to collect more information on the closings.

If the union thinks the company is moving work to avoid the union, it can challenge the closings through bankruptcy court, state or federal court or through arbitration provided in the union contract, he said.

Company's announcement

Company officials could not be reached, but Raymond Torok, Cold Metal president, said last week that the two plants were closed because they were unprofitable.

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Friday, but Torok said he intends to restructure the company and continue operations at some plants.

The filing covers only the company's assets in the United States and doesn't affect its two plants in Canada.

Davies said he also intends to meet with company officials over money the union thinks is owed employees.

Employees are owed money for unused vacation time, and the contract provides for severance pay and health-care coverage for a limited time, he said.

They also should be compensated under federal law, which says companies must provide 60 days' notice before closing plants, he said.

The company issued a news release that said employees will be able to pick up their personal belongings by scheduling an appointment. They are asked to call (330) 742-1256 or (330) 742-1225.

The Youngstown plant employed 116, and the Indianapolis plant employed 68.

shilling@vindy.com




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