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WARREN LTV agrees to sell plant



Published: Fri, January 25, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



LTV intends to shut down the coke plant's furnaces next Friday if it isn't sold.

By DON SHILLING

VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR

CLEVELAND -- LTV Steel Co. has agreed to sell its Warren Coke Plant to a New York company, although a union official said the offer could spark other bidding.

LTV said Thursday that it has a sale agreement with Warren Coke Corp., an affiliate of Tonawanda Coke Corp. of Tonawanda, N.Y. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

The sale must be approved by Judge William Bodoh of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Youngstown, who will conduct a hearing Wednesday.

"I'm hoping this is the first of several bids that will come through," said Mike Rubicz, president of United Steelworkers of America Local 1375.

Other companies have toured the plant.

LTV said the sale must be completed by Thursday. LTV is idling the plant until then by keeping its furnaces warm.

LTV said if there is no sale by Thursday, it will shut down the furnaces completely. Once the furnaces are shut down, they would need expensive repairs to restart, making it unlikely the plant could be sold.

The plant has 185 hourly workers and 30 salaried workers.

Union issues: At the company's request, Judge Bodoh has removed a requirement that any new owners of LTV plants bargain with the Steelworkers. Rubicz said the union thinks its workers should have first crack at jobs with a new owner and it will ask for that at the appropriate time.

Right now, it's too early to talk about issues such as the new contract that would be needed to hire union workers, he said.

"You're guessing, you're projecting, there's too many unanswered questions," he said.

The company that made the bid has a union plant in New York, he said.

Hopes to save jobs: Glenn Moran, LTV's chairman and chief executive, said the company hopes the sale will help its laid-off workers get back on the job.

The Warren plant's 122 ovens can produce 500,000 tons of coke a year. Coke is a coal-based fuel used in blast furnaces to make molten iron, which in turn is made into steel.

LTV said it will continue to look for a buyer for its coke plant in Chicago. That plant also is to be shut down Thursday if it isn't sold.

Cleveland-based LTV has shut down its steelmaking operations because it said it was out of customers and nearly out of cash. It also is trying to sell its steel mills. More than 7,000 workers have been laid off.

Other facilities, such as its tubular plants, are operating but the company is trying to find buyers for them as well.

shilling@vindy.com




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