USWA OFFERS SIGNIFICANTLY REVISED FRAMEWORK
FOR SETTLEMENT OF LUKENS STRIKE, COMPANY WALKS OUT
LIONVILLE, Pa., Nov. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Negotiators for the United Steelworkers of America presented the Lukens Steel Company with a significantly revised seven-point framework for settlement at a negotiations session here today, but instead of continuing with negotiations, the company's negotiators left the room.
"We offered the company a clear framework for a settlement of this dispute," said Ray MacDonald, USWA chief negotiator. "We made movement in areas all across the board, including the contracting out language.
"But instead of talking with us and working to reach an agreement, the company walked out of the room," MacDonald said. "Quite frankly, I'm outraged that the company is more interested in continuing to play with the lives of 1,330 members of this union and their families.
"We walked into that room ready to settle a contract, and we told them that," MacDonald said. "We offered them a seven-point proposal for settlement that addressed all our mutual concerns, and they walked out."
The USWA's seven-point framework for settlement includes proposals based on the company's offer of Sept. 30, 1991, with significant movement from the union's position at that time in the areas of pensions, retiree insurance, profit sharing, inflation protection, successorship language and the contracting out language.
"Ever since this dispute began," MacDonald said, "Lukens has been saying that the only issue separating us has been contracting out. Bob Schaal has been saying that, Evelyn Walker has been saying that, everyone has.
"Early in these negotiations, the company expressed serious concerns with the boilerplate language we've negotiated with other steel companies," MacDonald said. "They had a problem regarding the scrap yards -- we told them we could solve their problem. They had a problem with capital investments -- we told them we could solve that too.
"We've recently heard that they've been telling people they had a problem with the boilerplate language in relation to their Conshohocken plant," MacDonald said. "We can solve that problem for them, too.
"But since they said the boilerplate language was so onerous, we said OK, let's look at the existing language and go from there,'" MacDonald said.
"On Oct. 24, we sent a letter to William Sant, chief negotiator for Lukens," MacDonald said, "telling him that we were willing to talk about the contracting out issue and work to meet their problems with it, based on the language that was in the 1988 contract.
"The company never even acknowledged that they got that letter. They've said nothing to us at all about it.
"Today, we again told them that we're ready to talk about this issue based on the current language, make modifications if necessary, and work to meet their problems," MacDonald said. "We came to the meeting today ready and willing to sit down and put this behind us.
"But now, the company's negotiators are telling us that contracting out isn't the only issue," MacDonald said. "Not only did they not respond to our revised contracting out offer, they didn't respond to any of the many other revisions we made in our offer.
"As I was talking to the company about the process we could follow to solve this problem," MacDonald said, "they got up while I was in mid-sentence and started to walk out. Getting up from the table and walking out is not the way we're going to solve anybody's problems."
The USWA had asked Lukens to provide answers to several questions in today's session, which the company did. The company had been publicly pressing the Union to present a written proposal, which the Union did in today's session.
"It's frustrating," MacDonald said. "I've never seen a company presented with a clear framework for settlement like this one and just walk out without saying anything about it.
"Maybe they need time to look it over," MacDonald said. "We told the mediator we're ready to meet anytime. I hope we'll hear from the mediator soon that the company is too."
/CONTACT: Harry Haines, president, USWA Local Union 1165, 215-384-9180; Phil Smith for USWA, 215-363-1100; USWA Communications, 412-562-2445/ CO: United Steelworkers of America; Lukens Steel Company ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU: DC -- PG019 -- 6140 11/21/91 18:12 EST