WCI rules out purchase of LTV coke plant

WARREN -- WCI Steel president Ed Caine said the steelmaker has ruled out the prospect of buying the LTV coke plant next door to its Pine Avenue property.
He said WCI isn't interested in buying mainly because of the liabilities associated with coke plants. WCI uses coke in its blast furnaces to make molten iron but already has contractual obligations to buy its coke from other suppliers, Caine said.
LTV has idled the coke plant, which employs about 200 workers, and plans to close it for good unless a buyer is found by the end of the month.
Company officials said WCI is struggling financially, too, and has suspended a guaranteed employment clause for its hourly workers, members of United Steelworkers of America Local 1375, to reduce costs. The clause banned layoffs for employees with more than two years seniority and guaranteed workers 40 hours pay each week.
Tim Roberts, a WCI spokesman, said the union contract allows the company to suspend the benefit under certain economic conditions. He said 42 workers were furloughed this week, and some workers are being scheduled for 32-hour work weeks.

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