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GOV. CASEY ANNOUNCES GRANT TO STUDY FEASIBILITY OF EMPLOYEE-OWNED OPERATION AT BETHLEHEM'S STEELTON PLANT

 GOV. CASEY ANNOUNCES GRANT TO STUDY FEASIBILITY OF
 EMPLOYEE-OWNED OPERATION AT BETHLEHEM'S STEELTON PLANT
 STEELTON, Pa., April 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Gov. Robert P. Casey today announced the award of a $24,432 state grant to the United Steelworkers of America and its Local Union 1688 to study the feasibility of an employee purchase of Bethlehem Steel's Trackwork Fabrications Operation here.
 "When Bethlehem Steel announced it was going to scale back its Steelton operation, hundreds of jobs were put on the line," Casey said.
 "I pledged that my administration would muster all its resources to help find new owners and operators so we can keep those jobs going and help keep Steelton itself going in the process. Today, I'm taking a major step in delivering on that promise.
 "Of course here's the big question: Is an employee buyout the answer? Is that what is needed to keep the trackworks up and running? Coming together in partnership with the steelworkers themselves, we're about to find out."
 Casey made the grant announcement at a news conference at the I.W. Abel Union Hall, located near the plant.
 The grant was awarded through the Department of Commerce's Employee Ownership Assistance Program (EOAP). It will be matched by a grant from the United Steelworkers of America.
 "It's important that the union and its members -- as well as the management of Bethlehem Steel itself -- realize that they're not in this alone," Casey said.
 "The company obviously made a national market decision, and we can't do anything about that. But we can help what goes on right here in Steelton -- where the plant is located, where the jobs are."
 In January, as part of a company-wide restructuring, Bethlehem Steel announced plans to sell or close the trackwork operation in Steelton. The trackwork facility, which manufactures railroad switching devices and other fabricated rail products, employs 425 workers.
 The study will be used by Local 1688's Trackwork Operation Buyout Committee to examine the plant's present and future market value, its operating and manufacturing processes, management and workforce structure and determine possible sources of financing.
 "Just like your hometown basketball team, the steelworkers of Steelton are real champions," Casey said. "Your skilled workmanship and high-quality products are too valuable for us to lose.
 "This is but one step on what may well be a long journey. Working together, however, I'm confident we'll find the answers we need to determine what our next step should be."
 Steelton-Highspire High School recently won the scholastic basketball champion in the boys' AAAA class.
 The state's Employee Ownership Assistance Program is used to examine the possible employee purchase of new, expanding or troubled businesses interested in sharing ownership with employees.
 Since 1987, EOAP has provided nearly $1 million for 21 projects that could create and retain nearly 18,000 jobs.
 /delval/
 -0- 4/15/92
 /CONTACT: Ron Jury of the Department of Commerce, 717-783-1132, or Jon Harwood of the Commonwealth News Bureau, 717-783-1116/ CO: Pennsylvania Department of Commerce; United Steelworkers of
 America; Bethlehem Steel ST: Pennsylvania IN: MNG SU:


MK -- PH016 -- 8640 04/15/92 11:31 EDT
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Date:Apr 15, 1992
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