CLEVELAND Steelworkers OK contract at ISG

New steel labor contract sets hourly wages from $15 to $20.50.
CLEVELAND (AP) -- International Steel Group, the new company that restarted former LTV Steel mills, has won rank-and-file approval of a six-year labor contract.
In mail balloting, Steelworkers employed by ISG voted 2,058-107, with nine voided ballots, to approve the contract, said Steelworkers spokesman Gerald Dickey. A total of 2,645 ballots were sent to ISG workers.
Steelworkers President Leo W. Gerard had recommended members approve the deal, saying it would provide secure jobs at plants that were idled after LTV Corp.'s bankruptcy.
"It's been a long and difficult process," Gerard said Tuesday. "We've resurrected these mills and restored security to our members, their families and communities."
In announcing the agreement in December, Gerard said it had been "refreshing for our members to work with a management that actually listens to the views of experienced workers on how to improve the production process."
The contract, retroactive to Dec. 15, sets hourly wages ranging from $15 to $20.50, according to David McCall, the union's district director for Ohio. It links job security to expanded training so workers can do various jobs as needed to avert layoffs if steel demand slows.
LTV Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection in December 2000. Last February, Judge William Bodoh of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Youngstown approved New York-based WL Ross & amp; Co. LLC's purchase of LTV steel assets for $127 million, plus the unspecified cost of assuming environmental liabilities.
The private investment firm, under the direction of turnaround specialist Wilbur Ross Jr., then created ISG as a new steel company.
ISG operates integrated flat-rolled steel plants in Cleveland and Indiana Harbor in East Chicago, Ind., and a finishing plant in Hennepin, Ill. ISG also runs a coke plant in Warren and in September acquired Riverdale, Ill.-based Acme Steel's caster and hot strip mill.
After establishing ISG, Ross turned his attention to bankrupt Bethlehem Steel. Its board voted Feb. 8 to accept ISG's $1.5 billion offer.
The Bethlehem, Pa.-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2001. The sale could be complete by the second quarter.
Adding Bethlehem Steel's plants would make ISG the largest U.S. steelmaker with an annual production capacity of 16 million tons.
The ISG contract "serves as a guideline for the Bethlehem workers, although with each corporation we try to do agreements on the merits of each situation," Dickey said.
Bethlehem Steel has about 11,000 active employees. Last week Robert S. Miller, Bethlehem's chief executive and chairman, said 3,000 to 4,000 employees could lose their jobs once ISG takes over.

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