Crisis at LTV

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Once again, the owners and managers of the LTV steel corporation are jeopardizing the jobs, pensions and health care of 100,000 Northeast Ohio residents.

On Nov. 20 the company filed a petition in the Northeast Ohio Federal Bankruptcy Court to “cease operations and abrogate worker and retiree agreements.”

In an Amicus brief filed with the court Nov. 21, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) asked that the LTV petition be rejected. His brief states that LTV “walked away from negotiations with the USWA without notice.”

In a membership update, the USWA cited LTV’s move to shut down the steel plants as “the latest betrayal in management’s Mission of Greed.”

Previous actions by Ohio’s steel summit – led by Kucinich and including other area Congressmen, county and city officials, the USWA and Cleveland’s labor movement – had slowed if not halted, LTV’s actions to close the plants. Community pressure won loan commitments from local banks and the USWA bypassed management and negotiated directly with a creditors’ committee.

The company agreed to go back to the bargaining table.

Suddenly, according to the USWA, “management literally filed its shut-down petition with the bankruptcy court while our negotiators were engaged in constructive talks with the Creditors Committee ... this latest action leaves no question that their motives all along have been to destroy our union.”

The Kucinich brief asks the court to reject the company attempt to close the mills, and to “appoint a trustee to take over the operations of LTV.” A hearing has been set for Dec. 4.

However, the Cleveland community and labor movement are not sitting idly by awaiting the judge’s decision, holding rallies Nov. 29 and Dec. 1.

Cleveland City Council President Mike Polensek, at a Nov. 27 press conference, announced the council had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in bankruptcy court, supporting Kucinich’s brief, to set aside LTV’s request to shut down the plant and to appoint a trustee to take over plant operations.

Polensek referred, as other officials have done, to a successful campaign to keep neighborhood hospitals open. Possible use of eminent domain action was discussed in the course of that campaign.

“We are not going to allow this steel mill to shut down,” Polensek said, “We are going to do everything legally possible to keep this plant open.”