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MASSIVE SAFETY VIOLATIONS AT RAVENSWOOD ALUMINUM CORP SHOWS WHY SAFETY IS A KEY USW BARGAINING CONCERN

 MASSIVE SAFETY VIOLATIONS AT RAVENSWOOD ALUMINIM CORP
 SHOWS WHY SAFETY IS A KEY USW BARGAINING CONCERN
 CHARLESTON, W.Va., Dec. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- "OSHA's penalties and citations are the largest ever proposed for any single aluminum production plant in the United States," said United Steelworkers of America (USW) Vice President George Becker today. "And they should be," he said.
 Becker made his charge in response to the issuance today by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of citations against RAC for 231 safety and health violations. OSHA proposed total penalties of $604,500 for the alleged violations.
 "Union workers died at Ravenswood, scabs were injured and the public was treated to a pack of lies about how good conditions were at RAC," Becker charged. "This management ought to be held fully responsible and accountable for their illegal actions," Becker said.
 Becker noted that the amount of fines proposed by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration -- $604,500 -- "prove the union was right in standing up for the safety of its members" during contract talks before the company imposed its lock-out on Nov. 1, 1990.
 "This just goes to show our guys had their priorities straight," said Steelworkers District 23 Director Jim Bowen. "RAC had already been fined $51,000 by OSHA, five of our members had been killed on the job there, safety had to be the cornerstone of those negotiations," he added.
 After the 1989 management buy-out of Ravenswood, the Steelworkers were frequently forced to cite RAC for refusal to provide safety reports to union representatives and for ignoring union warnings about unsafe practices. The company had unilaterally disbanded a joint union-company safety committee.
 "So this company, instead of discussing safety issues during contract talks, chose to fire an experienced workforce which averaged 52 years of age, 24 years of service and knew what it was doing," Bowen said. "The crime of it is, an OSHA inspection and fines can't bring back the five good men who died during the first 18 months of RAC's reign of terror at that plant."
 According to Bill Doyle, vice president and Safety Committee chair of the USW's LU 5668 at Ravenswood, the local union first filed for a comprehensive OSHA inspection at the plant on June 16, 1990, when USW member Jimmy Lee Rider was killed.
 "We asked for a 'wall-to-wall' OSHA inspection right away," Doyle said, "but that didn't happen. I think the union's persistence and the tragic 14-month lock-out is making people focus on safety conditions at RAC -- and they're as terrible now as they ever were," he said.
 "Just look at the citations and the fines proposed," Doyle continued, "they speak volumes about how little management has done for the safety of the workers."
 Doyle noted that the citations and fines show:
 1) Two willful citations on record-keeping and not securing
 loads on tractor trailers -- Fine totals of $24,500;
 2) 176 serious citations -- Fine totals of $440,000;
 3) 8 repeat violations -- Fine totals of $130,000;
 4) 45 "other-than-serious" violations -- Fines of $10,000.
 "These huge fines aren't for minor 'parking-ticket' violations," Doyle said, "these are for very, very serious unsafe, life-threatening conditions RAC has been hiding."
 Doyle pointed out that the willful citation for not securing loads on tractor trailers touched on the same unsafe condition that killed a driver in a passenger car on an interstate highway this past summer, when a RAC coil fell off a tractor trailer.
 The union said RAC had barred federal safety inspectors from the aluminum plant on May 23, 1991, defying the federal warrant the officials had been issued. Pressure from the U.S. Department of Labor, the Steelworkers' union and the federal courts finally forced RAC management to back down.
 The union said OSHA began a limited inspection on June 23, 1991, but then after its preliminary review, the federal safety agency expanded its investigation into a "wall-to-wall" inspection of RAC's reduction facility and finishing department of its fabrication plant.
 The 231 alleged violations -- which cover more than 700 individual items -- are the result of OSHA's comprehensive inspection.
 The union said RAC had locked-out 1700 USWA members of LU 5668 which represents the workers at the Ravenswood, West Virginia, facility on Nov. 1, 1990. The workers have been sustained in the 14 months since the lock-out began by support from the Steelworkers union and affiliated unions of the AFL-CIO from around the country.
 /delval/
 -0- 12/20/91
 /CONTACT: Joe Chapman of the USW, 304-768-7395, or USW Communications Department, in Pittsburgh, 412-562-2442/ CO: United Steelworkers of America; Ravenswood Aluminum Corporation ST: West Virginia IN: MNG SU: CON


CD -- PG010 -- 4523 12/20/91 16:41 EST
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Date:Dec 20, 1991
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