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USWA MADE SIGNIFICANT OFFERS TO KEEP BETHLEHEM'S JOHNSTOWN PLANT ALIVE, BUT COMPANY'S BOARD FAILED TO ACT ON HANDSHAKE UNDERSTANDING

 USWA MADE SIGNIFICANT OFFERS TO KEEP BETHLEHEM'S JOHNSTOWN PLANT


ALIVE, BUT COMPANY'S BOARD FAILED TO ACT ON HANDSHAKE UNDERSTANDING
 PITTSBURGH, Jan. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers of America (USW) said today it had made significant cost-reduction proposals to Bethelehem Steel Corp. (NYSE: BS) over the past several years in attempts to save the company's bar, rod and wire division.
 Those proposals led to an agreement in principle requiring approval of the Bethlehem board of directors and union members. The union was prepared to recommend to its members that they approve the agreement, but the union never received the go-ahead from the Bethlehem board.
 The union made the statement after Bethlehem's board announced that it planned to sell the division, which is headquartered in Johnstown, Pa., or failing that, to sell off the equipment.
 "This decision was driven solely by the company's board and national economic conditions," said Andrew V. "Lefty" Palm, director of USW District 15, in which the Johnstown facility is located. "The union did everything it could to keep the division alive."
 Palm was joined in the statement by Lou Thomas, director of USW District 4 (New York), and David Wilson, director of USW District 8 (Maryland), both of whom represent workers affected by the Bethlehem announcement.
 "We believed we had a handshake deal last summer," Palm said. "We told the company we would make changes in our labor agreement to keep the division viable. The company in turn said it would invest $140 to $180 million for a new continuous caster and other productivity improvements. But the Bethlehem board refused to authorize the investment.
 "We still want to keep the division alive and we hope to be involved in the process of finding a buyer. We owe that to our members and to the communities, all of whom will suffer if the division closes. Beyond that, BRW makes world-class product, and the company acknowledges this is so. And, it has excellent employees who have demonstrated their loyalty to this company by their willingness to sacrifice for its success."
 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, the union said.
 In addition, the BRW employees actively worked to make the joint Labor Management Participation Team (LMPT) as successful as any the union has in existence in the industry. LMPT's are joint problem-solving committees aimed at reducing confrontation and improving working conditions, safety and health practices, productivity and efficiency.
 -0- 1/29/92
 /CONTACT: USW Communications Department, 412-562-2442/
 (BS) CO: United Steelworkers of America; Bethlehem Steel Corp. ST: Pennsylvania IN: MNG SU:


CD -- PG015 -- 4872 01/29/92 15:56 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 29, 1992
Words:465
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