Coke plant workers roll with punches

They are shutting down their own jobs.
WARREN -- A millwright at the LTV Warren coke plant slated for shutdown this week says the ordeal is putting him through an emotional roller coaster.
"One day we're excited that we might have a buyer and the next day we're let down that there's no buyer. One day we're trying to work and then the next day, they say we might be shut down," said Wayne Cline of Niles, a 30-year employee.
"It is a yo-yo, up and down every day. You try to tell your family, 'I might be working. I might not be working,' and then your family worries about you, so it's tough."
Cline went back to work in the maintenance shop Monday after a four-week layoff. "Part of my job is to help shut the coke plant down and that's what we started doing today. It's like actually shutting your own job down. It's not a good feeling," he said following a Monday afternoon union meeting.
Cline said he's scheduled to work through Saturday. "There will be jobs that have to be done after Wednesday when the gas goes off to secure the plant," he explained. "I think what we're looking at is: When the gas is shut off, we're done as far as being a viable plant."
"We have buyers that are backing out because they don't have any place to sell the coke," said William Huntington of Austintown, another millwright and a 21-year employee, who has been laid off since Jan. 5.
Storage: Space to store coke here is limited. "If you're going to sell it, you've got to sell it to a buyer that's going to ship it in trucks or train cars right to a plant that's going to use it and that takes a blast furnace.
"Now, all that ground area where we could have stored coke belongs to WCI, and WCI will not allow us to dump it on the ground," he said, adding that WCI is under contract to buy coke from other sources.
The Warren coke plant used to ship coke to LTV's Cleveland blast furnace, which is now idle.
Huntington said LTV called him back to work Sunday, but called him again on Monday, telling him not to return to work.
"I'm a very optimistic kind of guy so, emotionally, I don't take it as a big setback. I've got applications everywhere," said Huntington, who previously worked in LTV's Brier Hill Works, which closed in 1979.
"Ironically, the Brier Hill closing was Dec. 29, and ironically, they went bankrupt last Dec. 29," he said.

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