CHICAGO Members of United
Steelworkers union Local 7054 have ratified a new labor
contract with Kentucky Electric Steel LLC (KES) in Ashland,
The seven-year-plus agreement,
which covers 117 hourly workers at the mini-mill, replaces a
contract that was set to expire May 3, 2013. The deal includes
pay increases, the company said.
"It is very popular these days
to use labor unions as scapegoats for deficiencies in U.S.
manufacturing. Witness the many right-to-work
efforts underway. It has also become popular for the parties on
opposite sides of issues to take extreme and unyielding
positions and then to doggedly hold to them, thereby fostering
gridlock. All of this is wrong and counter-productive," plant
manager John Scheel said in a statement.
Instead, the company and the
union recognized "that we must work together to continue to
support a business that is focused on customer service," he
said. "At the same time, we realize that superior customer care
and manufacturing productivity are the drivers that allow
sustainability and growth of employment security, wages and
Scheel termed the length of the
agreement "unprecedented," noting that it will give the
steelmakers customers a very long period "of stable
supply, as well as security and support for our employees."
News of the labor deal comes
less than a week after parent company ALJ Regional Holdings
Inc. said shareholders had approved the steelmakers
proposed sale to Optima Specialty Steel Inc. for $112.5
million, although the fate of the deal still depends on other
closing conditions, including Miami-based Optimas ability
to secure financing for the transaction. The company said it
could not estimate when Optima would secure financing.
If Optima does not obtain
financing by Feb. 28, it must pay ALJ a termination fee of
nearly $3.38 million (
amm.com, Dec. 17).
Optima has said it plans to
modify Kentucky Electric Steels special bar quality (SBQ)
and merchant bar quality flats mill to make SBQ rounds, the
feedstock for seamless tubular products manufactured by
Michigan Seamless Tube LLC and the cold-finished bar products
made by Niagara LaSalle Corp. (
amm.com, Nov. 26), the two companies that were
brought together to form Optima (
amm.com, Dec. 13, 2011).
Michael Cowden, Chicago, contributed to this