LTV Talks Push Past Friday Deadline
CLEVELAND – LTV Corp. and the United Steelworkers of America failed to reach an agreement on a new labor contract by a Friday deadline, but continued to talk to avoid a shutdown.
Creditors were leading talks with union representatives and LTV management in Pittsburgh. They had hoped to have a labor agreement by 5 p.m., but worked into the night when that didn't happen, union spokesman Marco Trbovich said.
Unsecured creditors for the bankrupt steelmaker had initially set a Tuesday deadline for an agreement. That deadline also was extended.
LTV officials say they are trying to implement a restructuring plan to will save $800 million annually, and that one-third of those savings must come from labor costs. Without a new contract in place, LTV will run out of money and be forced to liquidate by September, the company has said.
The contract dispute covers 9,000 nationwide workers of the corporation's LTV Steel subsidiary, including 3,200 in northeast Ohio.
Some of those workers gathered for a picnic in a water park Friday, awaiting word on their jobs, pensions and health plans.
LTV's West Side mill, where 800 Steelworkers have been laid off, remained on idled status Friday. The smaller of the two Cleveland LTV plants had been set to go dark at 5 p.m., but workers told Trbovich that had not happened, he said.
The bankrupt company wants to shut down the aging plant, which stopped producing steel ingots two weeks ago. A skeleton crew is keeping the furnaces warm to make restarting easier, though LTV says it has no intention of reopening the mill.
Creditors have said the money to keep the mill idle could instead go to pay bills. Company spokesman Mark Tomasch has said it would be too expensive to refurbish the mill.
The committee of unsecured creditors consists of 15 members appointed by the U.S. trustee in LTV Corp.'s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. LTV, the parent company of LTV Steel, filed to reorganize last December.
LTV is the country's third-largest integrated steelmaker, meaning it takes the metal from ore to scrap. It operates in 17 states, Canada and Britain. Its primary assets are in Cleveland, Warren and Youngstown; East Chicago, Ind.; Aliquippa, Pa.; and Chicago and Hennepin, Ill.
LTV reported $719 million in losses on $4.9 billion in sales in 2000, more than tripling 1999 losses of $212 million. The company blames competition from cheap imported steel.