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STEELWORKERS RATIFY NEW CONTRACT WITH NORTHWESTERN STEEL & WIRE

 STEELWORKERS RATIFY NEW CONTRACT WITH NORTHWESTERN STEEL & WIRE
 STERLING, Ill., July 8 /PRNewswire/ -- United Steelworkers of America (USWA) members at Northwestern Steel & Wire have ratified a new labor agreement that clears the way for new capital investment needed to secure the future of the company and the jobs of more than 2,000 Steelworkers, the union said today.
 Members of two USWA local unions cast their ballots on Tuesday, July 7. The combined vote count was 1,295-591 in favor of the agreement.
 The New York investment banking firm of Kohlberg & Co. has said it will invest $35 million in Northwestern, subject to ratification of the new agreement by the workers.
 Previously, on June 25, members of the two USWA locals had rejected a proposed agreement by a 934-737 vote. The July 7 vote was set after the union and the company negotiated some improvements in the rejected agreement.
 About 1,800 Northwestern workers are represented by USWA Local 63. Another 220 workers are represented by USWA Local 3720.
 USWA President Lynn Williams and USWA District 32 Director Obert J. Vattendahl praised the members for their approval of the agreement.
 Williams and Vattendahl said in a joint statement: "In voting to ratify the agreement, the members made a statesmanlike decision to put the long-term interests of themselves, their families and their company ahead of shorter-term gains to which, in better circumstances, they clearly would have been entitled.
 "The financial problems of Northwestern underscore the serious plight of America's industry, and particularly the steel industry," the USWA leaders added. "Our union will continue to do everything it can to achieve sensible national policies that can arrest our industrial decline and enable companies like Northwestern to prosper. We will also bend every effort to win a fair share of that prosperity for our members, including the members of Locals 63 and 3720."
 The new agreement has a four-year term and replaces the current contract with Northwestern, which was due to expire in August 1993.
 The agreement provides wage increases totaling $2.05 per hour over the four years -- the first increases the members have received in more than 10 years. Also, the existing pension plan is supplemented by a 401-K plan that requires the company to make a weekly deposit to the account of each subscriber.
 Reflecting the escalating cost of health care insurance, the contract provides for limited cost-sharing of the health care package.
 The agreement affirms a restructuring plan that would give Kohlberg 51 percent of Northwestern's stock in return for its $35 million investment. A majority of the company's stock had been controlled by the employees under an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) created in 1988.
 -0- 7/8/92
 /CONTACT: Obert J. Vattendahl, director of USWA District 32, 414-789-5032; William Warmbier, USWA staff representative, 815-625-3465; or USWA Communications Department, in Pittsburgh, 412-562-2442/ CO: United Steelworkers of America; Northwestern Steel & Wire ST: Illinois IN: MNG SU: CON


DM -- PG008 -- 7574 07/08/92 16:38 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 8, 1992
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