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ISPAT REJECTS STEELWORKERS 'DEAL-MAKER' OFFER; UNION SAYS NEXT MOVE IS UP TO COMPANY

 PITTSBURGH, Feb. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The Ispat Group has rejected out of hand a proposal by the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) that would have led to the reopening of the former Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s bar, rod and wire division and protected the Indonesian conglomerate's investment in the facility, the union said today.
 "We gave them a real deal-maker and they shot it down without blinking an eye," said Andrew V. Palm, director of USWA District 15 and the union's chief negotiator. "They said their offer would not change and no amount of negotiating would alter their position. Their final offer, they said, was their final offer."
 As a result, members of the full union negotiating committee voted unanimously to reject the Ispat proposal, saying they could not recommend that it be approved by the membership and, therefore, would not submit it for a vote.
 "We've gone as far as we could possibly go," Palm said. "We're willing to listen to anything reasonable the company has to say. The ball is in their court. We'll wait to hear from them."
 The core of the union offer was a five-year contract with the BRW-Ispat Group that would have accepted the company's economic concessions in the first three years on condition that wages and benefits be subject to review in the final two years -- based upon the profitability of the company. The union's offer would have assured Ispat that there would be no work stoppage during the next five years. The company said "no."
 In addition, the union said it would insist on hiring by seniority and on its historical language governing seniority and contracting out, but would negotiate changes in other provisions where the company showed a need. Again, the company said "no."
 The union, as an alternative, proposed a three-year agreement based on the economics of the first, second and fifth years of Ispat's proposal. Once more, the company said "no."
 The USWA said that either union alternative would have met Ispat's economic and market requirements for the start-up and investment in necessary equipment. Moreover, the union's proposals would have assured Ispat a competitive advantage for years to come and would have provided Ispat the opportunity to reap enormous profits, the union said.
 "We went more than halfway in trying to help this company get into operation," Palm said. "We were willing to make these enormous wage and benefit concessions -- as much as $170 million over five years -- but it's only fair that our members be given a chance to recoup a small portion of their sacrifices in the event Ispat profits are as large as they anticipate. And Ispat is projecting profits in excess of $250 million over the five years.
 "As the union pointed out, Ispat is not saying it cannot afford to pay more. It is saying it won't pay more.
 "The astonishing aspect of their rejection is that any increases would depend entirely on the company's profitability. Furthermore, we guaranteed them that in any case -- regardless of how many hundreds of millions of dollars they might earn -- total labor costs would not be any higher than those paid by their competitors in the bar and wire industry. How could they say no to that? How can they justify their position? There is no justification for their position and their representatives did not even try to justify it."
 As Ispat has done throughout the negotiations, it refused to provide the union any documentation that would prove the need for the kind of concessions it asked for.
 "Notwithstanding their stubborn refusal to show us justification, we made a good faith offer in the hope of returning our members to work," Palm said. "What our members got in return was a slap in the face."
 The USWA represents some 1,900 workers at the Bethlehem Bar and Wire Division plants in Johnstown, Pa.; Sparrows Point, Md.; and Lackawanna, N.Y. Ispat had said it would reopen the division if it could reach agreement on a new contract with the union.
 /delval/
 -0- 2/18/93
 /EDITORS: The following fact sheet, issued by the USWA, details the union proposals./
 USWA FACT SHEET
 Feb. 18, 1993
 TWO UNION COUNTERPROPOSALS
 The union made two alternative economic counterproposals, one based on a five-year agreement, the other on a three-year agreement. Here are the essential points in the five-year agreement.
 THE FIVE-YEAR PROPOSAL --
 -- For the first three years (and because of start-up
 considerations), we would look at wages and benefits
 comparable to those contained in Ispat's last proposal
 (with an upward modification for the lowest paid group), if:
 -- The company would agree to a reopener to set the economic
 terms for the fourth and fifth years.
 No Strike -- Use Impartial Arbitrator
 -- But, there could be no strike. Instead, if the
 parties couldn't agree, we would submit the dispute
 to an impartial arbitrator, and he would resolve it
 based on the company's profitability ("a reasonable
 rate of return on Ispat's investment").
 Cap On Arbitrator
 -- What's more, there is an upper limit on the
 arbitrator. Labor costs couldn't exceed the
 average of Ispat's domestic competitors in the bar
 and rod business, no matter what.
 Ispat Guaranteed An Advantage
 -- Under this proposal, the company is guaranteed a
 continuous labor cost advantage over some of its
 competitors even if it is making billions.
 -- No plant shutdowns during the life of the agreement.
 -- Safeguards against funneling profits to Ispat's overseas
 corporations.
 THE THREE-YEAR PROPOSAL --
 The union's three-year alternative is simply this. We would look at the company's economic proposal for years one and two, but move the wages and benefits from the fifth year to the third year.
 ISPAT SAID "NO" -- "ABLE TO PAY, UNWILLING TO PAY"
 Ispat flatly rejected both alternatives. It continues to stand on its original position. "We're able to pay more, but we're not willing to do so."
 ISPAT ALSO REJECTS PROTECTIONS, SECURITY FOR WORKERS
 The company also rejected the following points in the union's language proposal:
 -- Hiring by seniority.
 -- Working out productivity and flexibility changes before
 an agreement is signed.
 -- Enforceable modernization commitment.
 -- Ways to verify company profits and resolve disputes under
 the profit sharing plan.
 -- Equality of sacrifice for management.
 -- Total agreement on contracting out.
 -- Inclusion of all office and technical jobs under the contract.
 /CONTACT: USWA Communications Department, 412-562-2442/


CO: United Steelworkers of America; Ipsat ST: Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland IN: MNG SU:

DM -- PG006 -- 7923 02/18/93 13:13 EST
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