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STEELWORKERS RAP BETHLEHEM CLOSING AS PREMATURE

 STEELWORKERS RAP BETHLEHEM CLOSING AS PREMATURE
 PITTSBURGH, May 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers of


America (USW) said today the decision of Bethlehem Steel Corp. (NYSE: BS) to close its bar, rod and wire division is premature and inconsiderate of the workers and communities involved.
 "The union and the citizens of Johnstown, Lackawanna and Sparrows Point, are disappointed that the company has taken this action without the fullest exploration of potential buyers," said Andrew V. Palm, director of USW District 15.
 "The union knows but is not at liberty to publicly identify parties who have expressed interest in this division," Palm said. "If we know who they are, the company certainly knows also. So why not give the process a little more time?"
 Palm said the union has demonstrated to Bethlehem time and again a willingness to work with it to find a buyer. "All we're asking for now is another month or two," he said.
 "The danger of selling off the division in pieces is that once that process starts, it eliminates the prospect of saving the entire division, and the jobs that go with it.
 "It seems," Palm added, "that only the union is concerned about the effect the shutdown will have on employment and on the communities."
 Palm pointed out that the union had made significant cost-reduction proposals to Bethlehem over the past several years in attempts to save the division, including proposed revisions in work practices and manning requirements as recently as last winter.
 "We are also prepared to discuss these changes with any potential buyer," Palm said. "We don't want to lose this division, and we don't want to lose these jobs. If our members are willing to take these steps, the company should be willing to give them the opportunity to succeed."
 In addition to its recent proposals, the union had reached a "handshake agreement" with the company last year for a series of cost-saving measures as part of a $140 million to $180 million modernization program by the company, including installation of a continuous caster. But Bethlehem's board of directors failed to approve the proposals.
 During the last decade, USW members made many major manning and wage concessions corporate-wide that saved Bethlehem hundreds of millions of dollars. The BRW employees agreed to even further concessions, on top of those made corporate-wide, before the most recent talks.
 -0- 5/15/92
 /CONTACT: Andrew V. Palm, director, USW District 15, 412-824-8140, or USW Communications Department, 412-562-2442/
 (BS) CO: United Steelworkers of America; Bethlehem Steel Corp. ST: Pennsylvania IN: MNG SU: CON


CD -- PG007 -- 0817 05/15/92 14:24 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 15, 1992
Words:434
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