STEELWORKERS CHALLENGE LUKENS STEEL'S
STATEMENTS ON PRODUCTION SINCE STRIKE
COATESVILLE, Pa., Nov. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Ray MacDonald, the director of the Pension, Insurance and Research Department for the United Steelworkers of America, (USW) challenged claims this afternoon by Lukens Steel that it has continued to produce, finish and roll steel at its Coatesville Pa., plant since Oct. 1, when 1,300 members of USW Local 1165 went on strike, the union said today.
"The company has been making claims about all the steel it's shipped since the strike began," said MacDonald, who is also the chief union negotiator in the talks with Lukens. "But what the company is really doing is holding up a mirror with one hand and blowing smoke with the other.
"Lukens is expecting its shareholders and customers to believe that a large quantity of high-quality, specialty steel products have been produced by unskilled, untrained workers and salaried employees who are unfamiliar with the sophisticated jobs that need to be done to make steel," MacDonald said.
"Lukens itself says that only 2,000 to 5,000 tons of steel per week are being shipped from the Coatesville plant, compared to normal shipments of about 7,000 tons per week when our members are at work. That's a far cry from the rosy picture the company is trying to paint to the outside world," MacDonald said.
"But what's more important, the shipments the company is crowing about have been from inventory, not from new production," MacDonald continued. "The salaried employees and scabs' have figured out how to load trucks, but what they're loading is steel produced by our members before the strike. That's why the shipments from Coatesville have declined since the third week of the strike -- they're running out of steel to load."
Harry Haines, president of United Steelworkers of America Local 1165 said that he doubted the company's shipping reports. "For the company to be shipping 2,000 to 5,000 tons of steel per week from our plant, it would have to have 20 to 50 trucks going through the plant gates per day.
"It's pretty tough to miss a semi-truck with 20 tons of steel," Haines said. "We have had pickets at the plant gates almost 24 hours per day since the strike began, and I can tell you there is no way that many trucks have come in and out," Haines said.
Lukens Steel Group has two plants. The facility in Coatesville makes carbon and alloy steel, from which is produced steel plate, military armor plate, and "clad" plate, a specialty product made by bonding two or more layers of steel together during the rolling process. The plant has the capacity to make these products in special gauges (or thickness) and widths unavailable from any steelmakers in the United States.
The company's facility in Conshohocken, Pa., makes light gauge plate, generally under 0.75 inch or less in thickness. It has no steelmaking capacity of its own, and must receive slabs from Coatesville. The Conshohocken plant cannot produce "clad" plate, and cannot produce military armor plate or products in the same gauges or widths as the Coatesville plant.
"The company's saying that it's shipping 70 percent of pre-strike levels," MacDonald said. "We don't buy that, but lets say it's possible, company-wide. First of all, those figures include the Conshohocken plant, which isn't on strike.
"Second, Lukens is not shipping 70 percent of pre-strike levels from the Coatesville plant," MacDonald added, "and as soon as it runs out of inventory our members produced there before the strike, it won't be shipping at that level company-wide either.
"These statements are designed to hide the fact the company isn't making much steel at Coatesville, but that it is losing a lot of money," MacDonald added.
Members of the USW Local have been on strike since Oct. 1, 1991, and are seeking improved job security, pensions, retiree insurance and profit sharing, a union spokesman said.
/CONTACT: Harry Haines, president of USW Local 1165, 215-384-9180; Ray MacDonald of USW, 215-363-1100, ext. 218, or, 412-562-2352; Phil Smith, 202-331-3700, of Fingerhut Powers & Associates, for USW; or USW Communications Department, in Pittsburgh, 412-562-2442/ CO: United Steelworkers of America; Lukens Steel Group ST: Pennsylvania IN: MNG SU: CON CD -- PG010 -- 2762 11/08/91 17:36 EST