AK Steel News: Jul - Dec 2003

Dec 30, 2003: Report predicts steel buyout

WHEELING, WV -- "Wheeling-Pitt's common stock closed at $26.47 on Monday, a more than 400 percent increase since Dec. 5. Prices began to climb on Dec. 8, when an article published in Barron's predicted a rosy future for U.S. steelmakers in 2004. The trend accelerated when International Steel Group Inc.'s initial public offering on Dec. 12 garnered that company $530 million. Wheeling-Pitt's stock rose again dramatically on Tuesday, hitting the $26 mark, and has remained relatively level since. American Metal Market has reported the recent increase is likely due to interest expressed by potential buyers. ISG has reported it will use the profits from its IPO to pay off a loan and for 'other purposes.' Many industry experts predict the success of the IPO will prompt ISG to acquire more ailing steelmakers. American Metal Market singled out Wheeling-Pitt, Weirton Steel and AK Steel Corp. of Middletown, Ohio, as the most likely targets," Bob Thomas, Wheeling Intelligencer/News-Register.
Dec 4:  CEO: AK Steel rebuilding customer base

MIDDLETOWN -- "[James] Wainscott, who became the Middletown-based company’s permanent CEO in October, told workers that AK’s largest customer, General Motors, 'has awarded AK Steel a significant amount of new business for the coming year,'" Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.
Dec 2:  Wainscott open to keeping hot end

MIDDLETOWN -- "James Wainscott, AK Steel Corp.’s president and chief executive, has told members of Armco Employees Independent Federation that he wants to keep the hot end of AK’s Middletown Works open. . . .'You can control your own chemistry, your own schedules,' [Alan McCoy, AK’s vice president of public affairs] said, pointing out that making steel domestically also shields AK from shipping and foreign currency fluctuations out of the company’s control. On Monday, McCoy put the cost of new air pollution controls at close to $65 million, not the $80 million price tag AK officials previously have said the company could face. 'The scope — as we refine the project — it looks like it can be accomplished for less than $80 (million), perhaps $65 (million),' McCoy said," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.
Nov 15:  Richard Wardrop, John Hritz deal may reach $63 million

MIDDLETOWN -- "'That's just nothing short of astonishing,' said Leo Larkin, a New York City-based metals analyst with Standard & Poor’s. . . Such payouts cannot help AK as the company tries to negotiate leaner labor agreements to become more competitive, Larkin said. 'I would fly off the handle if I were either an employee or someone involved in trying to save the company,' he said," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

MIDDLETOWN -- Severance weighing on AK Steel; It wants to rethink former execs' $63M packages, Mike Boyer, Cincinnati Enquirer.
Nov 14:  AK Steel faces $51.7 million payout for Richard Wardrop

MIDDLETOWN -- "AK Steel could pay as much as $51.7 million in severance to Richard Wardrop Jr., the company's former chairman and chief executive officer, according to a filing Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Additionally, former President John Hritz could receive more than $11 million in compensation from AK Steel, the filing stated. In the filing, AK Steel said it's "evaluating its obligations" to pay the remainder to both men. . . . AK Steel said it has set aside $51.3 million in a "rabbi trust" account to pay for the men's retirement benefits," Dennis Hoerig, Dayton Business Journal.

The term "rabbi trust," or "grantor trust," refers generically to a trust created to support the non-qualified benefit obligations of employers to their employees. Called a 'rabbi trust' due to the first initial IRS ruling made in the early 1980s on behalf of a synagogue, these forms of trusts create security for employees because the assets within the trust are typically outside the control of the employers and irrevocable.

MIDDLETOWN -- AK Steel discloses severance for former leaders, Associated Press.

MIDDLETOWN -- AK Steel severance, Dayton WHIO TV 7 News.
Nov 11:  AK Steel continues slide

NEW YORK -- "AK Steel shares traded down 10 percent Tuesday, the second day traders have spanked the Middletown company's stock. AK Steel closed at $2.69 per share, down 31 cents on nearly 2 million shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange. . . . AK Steel stock also lost 22 cents per share in Monday trading," Dayton Business Journal.
Nov 10:  Shareholder dumps AK Steel shares

MIDDLETOWN -- "On Jan. 31, Franklin Resources stood as the largest shareholder in Middletown-based AK Steel. Franklin Resources then owned more than 11.5 million, or 10.7 percent, of company shares. In the SEC filing Monday, Franklin Resources' ownership now stands at 2.8 percent, or just less than 3.1 million shares," Dayton Business Journal.
Oct 29:  AK Steel, Richard Wardrop talking severance

MIDDLETOWN -- "AK Steel Corp. is negotiating with Richard Wardrop, its former chairman and chief executive officer, and John Hritz, its former president, on severance packages, current CEO James Wainscott said last week. Details will be public when the company files a document on the matter with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on or before Nov. 14, Wainscott said last week. . . .A report in American Metal Market, a trade publication and price sheet, that Wardrop could receive up to $50 million has fueled some of the speculation," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

Dick's CreekMonday's setting sun lights a southern Ohio stream: PCB-contaminated Dick's Creek near AK Steel. This photo was taken only a few yards from the playing fields behind Amanda Elementary School, and there is nothing to keep children away from the water. AK Steel could and should build a protective fence, but it hasn't. The City of Middletown or Butler County or the Miami Conservancy District could also do it, but so far none have done anything.
Oct 26:  Official: Loss of 200 AK Steel jobs 'not devastating'

MIDDLETOWN -- "Alan McCoy, AK’s vice president of public affairs. . . said the company has relied on attrition and other cuts in the past, noting that when AK acquired Armco in the fall of 1999, the combined workforce of the two companies was about 11,500 workers. Today, AK has just under 10,000 workers. McCoy could not say how much of the reduction of about 1,500 workers was due solely to attrition. But, he said, 'Unfortunately, attrition (alone) is not going to keep us competitive,'" Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

MIDDLETOWN -- Officials: Cuts key to AK's long-term survival, Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.
Oct 25:  AK slashes salaried jobs

MIDDLETOWN -- "AK Steel Corp.'s financial struggles continue, as third-quarter losses were released Friday -- and with it, an announcement that the company is cutting its salaried workforce by 20 percent, or a loss of 475 jobs across the corporation. The portion of that loss in Middletown, where AK Steel is based, will be about 200 jobs, said Alan McCoy, the company’s vice president of public affairs. . . AK Steel is looking anew at an offer of $65 million from Ohio to help Middletown Works meet air pollution control costs, [James Wainscott, AK Steel’s president and chief executive] said Friday," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

MIDDLETOWN -- AK Steel cuts 475 salaried positions; Steelmaker also to open talks with unions, Mike Boyer, Cincinnati Enquirer.
Oct 24:  AK Steel loss widens as costs rise; job cuts set

NEW YORK -- "Labor issues have taken center stage in an industry in which more than 30 steelmakers have filed for bankruptcy protection since 1997. Many of AK's competitors, including International Steel Group and United States Steel Corp., have secured new contracts with unions, lowering labor costs and retiree benefits. Integral to the agreements have been significant numbers of non-union job cuts," Reuters.

MIDDLETOWN -- AK Steel lost $277.5 million; eliminates 475 salaried jobs, Associated Press.

MIDDLETOWN -- AK Steel reports 3rd quarter results; Company announces 20% reduction in salaried workforce, release, AK Steel.
Oct 17:  Officials welcome Wainscott news

MIDDLETOWN -- "Wainscott has even won the cautious praise of an environmental activist, Rachael Belz, a Cincinnati-based staffer with Ohio Citizen Action, an organization that has been critical of what it contends has been AK’s impact on neighborhoods near Middletown Works. Wainscott met with Belz recently. 'It’s good that the door that has been opened will likely stay open with the same person,' Belz said. But she also struck a note of caution, adding: 'No changes have been made with the environment yet,'" Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

MIDDLETOWN -- Wainscott new AK boss, Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

MIDDLETOWN -- AK Steel will keep Wainscott; After 29 days, interim CEO wins job, James McNair, Cincinnati Enquirer.
Oct 16:   AK Steel's interim CEO gets job permanently

MIDDLETOWN -- "AK Steel's board of directors elected James L. Wainscott, 46, as president and CEO, as well as a member of the board. Robert H. Jenkins, a member of AK Steel's board since 1996, became the board's chairman on Thursday. Jenkins is the first non-executive chairman of AK Steel in its history. . . Since Sept. 18, Wainscott has met with labor leaders and environmentalists in efforts to improve communication with those groups," Associated Press.
Oct 13:   AK Steel better off
Analysts say other steel firms in worse shape

MIDDLETOWN -- "[Alan McCoy, AK’s vice president of public affairs] would not say when or if [James Wainscott, AK’s acting AK chief executive] -- or perhaps AK’s more permanent CEO, when that person is named -- will publicly unveil the company’s planned path to profitability. 'For the time being -- and there’s no ending time frame on this time being -- he’s not granting interviews,' McCoy said Friday," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.
Oct 12:   AK Steel retools image in a bid for survival

CLEVELAND -- "Steel analyst Chuck Bradford gives AK Steel a 50-50 chance of remaining independent and outside of bankruptcy court. He figures there's a 25 percent chance the company will be sold. The remaining alternative: Chapter 11. The company says bankruptcy is not an option it's considering. AK has said it may close its Middletown blast furnace and basic oxygen furnaces, which would affect about 1,000 workers. That would leave the company with about 9,000 workers - and would mean it would need even more foreign slabs. A Brazilian slab maker is one of several companies, foreign and domestic, that are considered potential buyers. [Richfield-based International Steel Group CEO Rodney] Mott has said ISG has not talked with AK about acquiring any of its operations," Peter Krouse, Cleveland Plain Dealer.

MIDDLETOWN -- Wainscott has taken necessary first steps, editorial, Middletown Journal.
Oct 11:  Activists: PCBs in creek still not fixed
AK Steel says it's monitoring property's groundwater

Dick's Creek snakes by Amanda Elementary School underneath the trees, from the middle left of this photo to the lower right.
Amanda Elementary School
MIDDLETOWN -- "AK Steel Corp. found and reported groundwater seeping to Dicks Creek on company property that contained elevated levels of hazardous PCBs, an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency official said. After AK reported its July discovery, the state agency issued a 'notice of violation' to the steelmaker last month. 'We don’t want PCBs going to Dicks Creek, and anything beyond detection is not good,' said Mary Osika, a Dayton-based surface water specialist working for the agency’s Division of Surface Water. . . .In a Sept. 12 response from the company, [AK environmental engineer Kurt] Hileman told Osika that the discovered seepage does not violate the law. State standards are used to define limits in environmental permits, Hileman argued. And 'naturally occurring' groundwater seepage is not considered governable sources under Ohio law, he said. But the company will deal with the seep anyway, Hileman wrote," Thomas Gnau, Cox News Service.
Oct 10: Gallery of kids' drawings  
Dicks Creek Fence


MIDDLETOWN -- Neighbors have sent handwritten letters and signed petitions pressing Middletown's Mayor and City Manager to get a safety fence built around Dick's Creek. These children illustrate how it can be done, Ohio Citizen Action.
Oct 9: AK Steel reports seepage of PCBs into Dicks Creek

MIDDLETOWN -- "Nearly three months after being called an '800-pound PCB-releasing gorilla,' AK Steel Corp. found and reported a groundwater seep to Dicks Creek on company property that contained elevated levels of PCBs, an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency official said Wednesday. After AK reported its July discovery, the agency issued a 'notice of violation' to the steelmaker last month. . . .The finding occurred weeks after Cincinnati-based environmental activists said AK was the source of what they claimed were high amounts of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, found at two spots on the creek. . . 'This is an ongoing problem,' Rachael Belz, a Cincinnati-based Ohio Citizen Action staffer, said Wednesday. 'It isn’t fixed,'" Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

MIDDLETOWN -- Under new management, AK Steel takes more conciliatory tack. "'I think the new management is working hard to create partnerships on all fronts. We definitely want to have a partnership,' said Rachael Belz of Ohio Citizen Action. Belz's group is part of an environmental coalition that teamed with some Middletown residents in recent years to accuse AK Steel of contaminating a creek and showering neighbors' homes with dust from the Middletown Works mill. Belz met with Wainscott at AK Steel's headquarters on Oct. 2. She wouldn't say what was discussed, but said there was a mutual agreement to keep talking," John Nolan, Associated Press.
Oct 8: Middletown City Council must ask Schools for fence

MIDDLETOWN -- "City officials have no authority to put up a fence behind Amanda School to keep children out of Dicks Creek, Mayor David Schiavone said. The Middletown City School District owns the property, Schiavone said, thus all City Council or other city officials can do is request that such a fence be constructed. Schiavone’s comments followed a request by Kimberley Combs, a member of United Neighbors Against Dirty Air (UNADA), Tuesday night during council’s meeting that a fence be built to keep kids out of the creek, which she says is dangerously polluted. 'Basically, we’re focusing on the most traveled area of the creek,' Combs said. 'We need to keep these children out of these creeks,'" Craig J. Heimbuch, Middletown Journal.

As of October 7, 2003, 3,182 neighbors have sent handwritten letters and petitions pressing Middletown's Mayor and City Manager to get a safety fence built around Dick's Creek immediately.
Oct 7: AK Steel rejoins Chamber

MIDDLETOWN -- "As part of its ongoing efforts to revitalize its image and repair damaged relationships, AK Steel Corp. announced Monday it is re-joining the Mid-Miami Valley Chamber of Commerce. . . .The company left the chamber in early April, after chamber officials invited Cincinnati attorney Stan Chesley to speak at one of its monthly business luncheons. Chesley had litigated against AK in 1990s, but he didn’t mention AK during his business luncheon address, according to those who heard him speak. AK’s leaders, however, never publicly explained the decision to leave the chamber, beyond saying simply that the organization wasn’t meeting the company’s needs," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.
Oct 6: Former AK Steel chief could get millions

MIDDLETOWN -- ". . . the company's proxy statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reveals general provisions of the severance agreements it offers to its top executives. According to those provisions, Wardrop might end up walking away from AK Steel with as much as $11 million in cash, as well as medical benefits paid for up to two years and immediate vesting of all stock options and restricted stock awards. The $11 million figure includes salary and bonuses for up to two years. Wardrop also beneficially owns 2.2 million shares of AK Steel stock, according to the proxy, but some of those are stock options that may be worthless now that the company's stock has dropped to about $2 per share. If Wardrop was fired and did not voluntarily resign, the filing also indicates he could receive some $2.6 million in retirement benefits," Melissa Fowler, Dayton Business Journal.

DAYTON -- More change needed at AK Steel, editorial, Dayton Business Journal.

MIDDLETOWN -- AK's woes seem miles away; At Middletown festival, people say some jobs may be lost, town will survive, Janice Morse, Cincinnati Enquirer.
Oct 5: AK Steel tackles problems in a new manner

MIDDLETOWN -- "There's little doubt that AK Steel Corp. faces the same problems it faced the day before the resignation of Richard Wardrop, AK's former chairman and chief executive. But there's also little doubt that AK's acting CEO, James Wainscott, is grappling with those problems in a new way. . . .Wainscott isn't reaching out only to unions. In the three weeks he has been on the job, the acting CEO has reassured governors from Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Pennsylvania of AK's commitment to its plants there. He's visited with vendors and customers, met with local politicians and union leaders and a leading environmental activist. He even met with Rachael Belz, a Cincinnati-based staff member with Ohio Citizen Action, a group that has been persistently critical of AK and what members charge is its impact on the environment. Since 2001, Wardrop just as persistently has brushed aside requests from the group and its allies for a personal meeting," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.
Oct 4: AK Steel reopens union talks

MIDDLETOWN -- "AK Steel, struggling to restore profitability, has reopened discussions with the United Steelworkers of America, a move that could lead to a labor agreement, which, analysts say, is necessary for the company's survival. In the latest in a series of about-faces by the Middletown steel maker, acting CEO James L. Wainscott met with Steelworkers president Leo W. Gerard in the last week and agreed to continue high-level talks on issues of mutual interest. . . Since taking over, Wainscott also has met with officials of the independent union representing hourly workers at the Middletown Works and Ohio Citizen Action, one of the environmental groups at odds with the company over pollution from the Middletown plant," Mike Boyer, Cincinnati Enquirer.
Oct 3: AK Steel's CEO, critic talk

MIDDLETOWN -- "AK Steel Corp.’s acting chief executive sat down with an environmental activist Thursday — a first for both sides. The scheduled meeting between acting CEO James Wainscott and Ohio Citizen Action’s Rachael Belz lasted for about an hour at AK’s Curtis Street headquarters. It has long been a goal of Ohio Citizen Action and allied groups, such as the Ohio chapter of the Sierra Club, to have AK’s top managers meet with residents of Oneida and elsewhere in Middletown — a goal that remains, Belz said Thursday. Belz would not say whether a meeting between Wainscott and Middletown residents is more likely now, although that remains her goal. “We’re going to keep talking,” she said,' Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

MIDDLETOWN -- Crunch time for AK Steel?, Speculation increases that company might go into Chapter 11, Mike Boyer, Cincinnati Enquirer.
Oct 2: AK Steel to meet environmentalist

MIDDLETOWN -- "[Rachael Belz, Ohio Citizen Action's director in Southwest Ohio] said she called Wainscott as soon as he was named. AK is under siege on the environmental, workplace and business fronts, and Wainscott is establishing himself as a leader willing to listen. He returned Belz's call immediately. . . .'It's what I see will be the beginning of a series of discussions,' Belz said. AK Steel spokesman Alan McCoy likewise gave no hint of today's agenda. 'We have scheduled a meeting with Rachael Belz,' he said. 'The reason is very simply that Mr. Wainscott has been spending a lot of time listening, talking and making acquaintance with a number of folks that have an interest in our business. There are no promises, no guarantees, simply a little bit of dialogue,' James McNair, Cincinnati Enquirer.
Oct 1: AK Steel says loss will be wider

MIDDLETOWN -- "[James Wainscott, acting chief executive officer] said: 'In short order, we will outline an approach designed to return us to a sustainable level of profitability. Importantly, and contrary to published speculation, that approach will not include any plan to seek bankruptcy protection,'" Dayton Business Journal.
Sep 30: Wainscott, critic to meet

MIDDLETOWN -- "AK Steel Corp. acting Chief Executive Officer James Wainscott will meet with a representative of Ohio Citizen Action, a persistent critic of the steelmaker and its actions in the environmental arena, an AK spokesman said Monday. No meeting has been scheduled, but Rachael Belz, a Cincinnati-area program director with Ohio Citizen Action, hopes one will happen late this week or perhaps next week. . . . 'It’s time for a new perspective,' [Alan McCoy, AK vice president of public affairs] said," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

MIDDLETOWN -- AK Steel's new CEO agrees to meet with environmental activist, Associated Press.
Sep 29: Area civic leaders pulling for AK Steel

MIDDLETOWN -- "[Middletown council member Earl Smith] for his part, said his meeting with [newly appointed acting CEO James] Wainscott gave him new hope for the future of AK Steel in Middletown. 'I was very much impressed with him,' Smith said. 'He is the exact opposite in personality from (former CEO Richard) Wardrop.' Smith said Wainscott reassured council members of AK’s commitment to Middletown and outlined his plan to form partnerships with the governor’s office, the EPA and labor unions," Craig J. Heimbuch, Middletown Journal.
Sep 28: AK Steel trio assume larger roles
Executive committee to offer 'corporate oversight'

MIDDLETOWN -- "In the wake of sweeping leadership changes at AK Steel Corp., a trio of AK board members has taken the corporate helm in a new role -- and they bring with them a history of corporate management during times of turmoil. Directors Robert Jenkins, Lawrence Leser and Eugene Renna have formed an 'executive committee' that will offer 'corporate oversight' and deal with other executive managers, AK said last week when it announced the resignations of Richard Wardrop, AK's chairman and chief executive, and John Hritz, AK's president," Thomas Gnau, Cox News Service.
Sep 27: Former workers wary of AK Steel shakeup

MIDDLETOWN -- "AK Steel pays benefits to some 32,000 retirees that amount to $38 million a month, [former CEO Richard] Wardrop has said. That's $460 million a year. . . . One observer, Leo Larkin, a metals analyst with Standard & Poor's, thinks the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., a federal body, would 'in all likelihood' assume the pension obligation if AK were to set aside that cost through bankruptcy. Health insurance benefits are another matter, however. 'They have nothing to do with that,' Larkin said of Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which aims to protect the maintenance of defined benefit pension plans," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

MIDDLETOWN -- New AK Steel CEO to need a variety of skills to fit the bill, Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.
Sep 25: AK Steel stock plunges to new low of $1.91

NEW YORK, NY -- The price of AK Steel stock plunged by 29 cents today to a new historic low of $1.91 on volume of 3,755,500 shares. The one-day loss was 13% of the stock's value. In the last four years, the stock has lost 90% of its value.
Sep 24: AK Steel says 'profitability' its goal

MIDDLETOWN -- "Leo Larkin, a Standard & Poor’s steel analyst who follows AK Steel, doesn’t see bankruptcy as a distinct possibility — at least, not in the near future. The company’s cash flow is too good for the time being, Larkin said Tuesday. Its inventory and liquidity are solid. 'I mean, they have cash,' Larkin said. And AK could get more cash if it needed, he added. Larkin believes one possible revenue-generator -- selling Milwaukee-based Douglas Dynamics, a snow and ice control products manufacturer AK picked up in its 1999 acquisition of Armco -- could bring in at least another $200 million," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.
Sep 20: AK Steel's future clouded

MIDDLETOWN -- "'This usually doesn’t happen,' said steel union consultant Michael Locker. 'In this case, there was a totally ungraceful exit.' . . . 'It can’t be good news,' Locker said. 'It means there was a confrontation with the board (of directors) -- and he (Wardrop) lost.' Charles Bradford, an independent New York City-based steel analyst, said he discerned a worrying 'pattern,' one followed by an integrated steelmaker that no longer exists, Bethlehem Steel. That company fired its chief executive, brought in Robert 'Steve' Miller as its new CEO who, in Bradford’s words 'turned around immediately and declared bankruptcy.' The company’s assets were sold to Cleveland-based International Steel Group in May," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

MIDDLETOWN -- Wardrop’s tenure at AK Steel full of friction, Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

MIDDLETOWN -- AK Steel workers face uncertainty, Joseph Roberts, Middletown Journal.

MIDDLETOWN -- AK Steel workers fret after shake-up, James McNair, Janice Morse, Cincinnati Enquirer.

CINCINNATI -- AK Steel looks ahead; Talks with labor unions seen as critical to survival, Ken Alltucker, Cincinnati Enquirer.
Sep 19: AK Steel cans top execs
New strategy sought


CINCINNATI -- "'This needed to happen for AK Steel,' Chris Olin, an analyst with Longbow Research told Reuters News Service. 'They were trapped in a shrinking box.' . . . The company's ongoing battles with the United Steelworkers of America, contract disputes with major customers such as General Motors Corp. and pending racial and environmental lawsuits have compounded AK Steel's struggles with a shrinking steel market. 'Really all its major stakeholders were somewhat disappointed with the direction AK Steel was going,' Olin said," Mike Boyer, Cincinnati Enquirer.

MIDDLETOWN -- AK Steel management steps down; Acting CEO named to replace chairman, president, Thomas Gnau, Cox News Service.

MIDDLETOWN -- Under interim management, AK Steel at a crossroads, Associated Press.
MORE ON AK STEEL
Sep 18: AK Steel board ousts Wardrop
Neighbors and groups seek changes at AK Steel


CINCINNATI -- "'This creates an important opportunity for the new AK Steel management to work with the community to clean up its pollution violations and reinvest in Middletown,' Susan Knight, Sierra Club organizer, said. 'It is important to have new management who understands that the people and workers in Middletown made AK a leader in the steel industry. It is time for them to do what Richard Wardrop never did -- sit down with the neighbors and community groups to work together to clean up Middletown,' Rachael Belz, Southwest Ohio director, Ohio Citizen Action, said. 'Dick Wardrop cleaned house when he came in ten years ago. It upset a lot of workers. Now it’s Wardrop's turn to go and it's our turn to clean house and get rid of this pollution,' Ray Agee, head of the neighbor’s group UNADA in Middletown, said," release, Sierra Club, Ohio Citizen Action.

MIDDLETOWN -- AK Steel Holding Corporation announces changes in executive leadership:
James L. Wainscott named Acting CEO, board forms Executive Committee, release, AK Steel.

MIDDLETOWN -- Wardrop, Hritz resign from AK Steel, Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

MIDDLETOWN -- Chief Exec, President Out at AK Steel, Associated Press.

MIDDLETOWN -- Wardrop, Hritz out at AK Steel, Dayton Business Journal.

MIDDLETOWN -- AK Steel CEO, President resign, Reuters.
MORE ON AK STEEL
Sep 16:  AK Steel faces dumping tariff

NEW YORK, NY -- "AK Steel is expected to be hit with a 20.6 percent tariff on exports of automotive steel to the European Union. Bloomberg News reported Tuesday the European Commission is expected to impose the 'anti-dumping' duty for six months, beginning Wednesday, after deciding the Middletown-based steelmaker has unfairly undercut producers in the European Union market for cold-rolled ferritic stainless steel," Dayton Business Journal.

MIDDLETOWN -- AK Steel to request rehearing of European Union duty on stainless imports, AK Steel Corporation.
Sep 11:   AK Steel accused in race lawsuit
Black workers say Pennsylvania plant 'hostile'

PITTSBURGH, PA -- "A hangman's noose in a cafeteria, racial graffiti, swastikas and Ku Klux Klan videos in an employee lounge comprise a 'racially hostile' environment at AK Steel's Butler, Pa., plant, according to a federal anti-discrimination lawsuit filed in Pittsburgh. . . .AK Steel also faces a racial discrimination class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati. That case was filed last year on behalf of 16 African-Americans who unsuccessfully sought work at the steel maker's Middletown and Ashland, Ky., plants in 2001. The suit filed here, accusing AK of engaging in 'systemic racial discrimination in hiring,' is pending," Mike Boyer, Cincinnati Enquirer.
Sep 10:   AK Steel - Butler allegations don’t surprise AEIF retiree

MIDDLETOWN -- "Area African-Americans contacted Tuesday offered a measured reaction to news that a federal commission was suing AK Steel Corp. for an alleged 'racially hostile work environment' at a company plant in Butler, Pa.," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.
Sep 9:   EEOC sues AK Steel for alleged "racially hostile" Butler plant

PITTSBURGH, PA -- "AK Steel Corp. has condoned a 'racially hostile work environment' at its Butler plant for at least three years, by allowing racist language, swastikas, nooses and Ku Klux Klan videos in various areas, including the employee lounge, a federal agency charged Tuesday. . . The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in a lawsuit that the alleged problems were so bad that AK Steel management had to have known of them even before black employees, led by Gerald Patterson, 45, of Lyndora, complained. . . The Fortune 500, Middletown, Ohio-based company had no comment on the lawsuit, spokesman Alan McCoy said. . . Under federal law, AK Steel could face penalties up to $300,000," Joe Mandak, Associated Press.
Sep 8:   EPA rule cracks down on foundry pollution
New EPA rule cracks down on toxic air emissions from about 100 foundries nationwide

WASHINGTON, DC -- "New federal regulations to crack down on toxic air emissions from about 100 iron and steel foundries nationwide will take effect later this month, a spokesman for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Monday. The new rules will cut annually about 580 tons of toxic air pollution that can cause cancer or other health problems," Associated Press.
Sep 6:  AK Steel cuts jobs; may shut down temporarily

ZANESVILLE -- "AK Steel on Linden Avenue will lay off at least 10 percent of its work force in the next couple of weeks and company officials are considering "idling" the plant for several weeks," Kathy Thompson, Zanesville Times-Recorder.
Sep 5:  CEO: AK can live with tough new EPA rules

MIDDLETOWN -- "Satisfying new environmental rules — which will be effective May 2006 — forces AK to spend $80 million, the CEO said. Pollution controls aren’t the only looming cost. Re-lining the Middletown Works blast furnace would cost the company $120 million, Wardrop said. That’s a total of $200 million simply to keep making steel in Middletown. “No better quality,” Wardrop said. “No better productivity and actually higher operating costs.” And he said he can see further capital spending the plant’s hot end would need. “At some point, you’ve got to ask the business question: Does it make sense to subject ourselves to all these costs and hassles to continue making steel in Middletown?” Wardrop said," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

MIDDLETOWN -- Wardrop: AK could be takeover target, Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.
Sep 2:  Standard and Poor's dropping AK Steel from index

NEW YORK, NY -- "Standard and Poor's said it plans to drop AK Steel Holding Corp. from its MidCap 400 index. In a statement, Standard and Poor's said it was dropping AK Steel 'on account of its low market capitalization.' The company's market cap is about $274 million," Pittsburgh Business Times.
Aug 29:  U.S. integrated steelmaking could be endangered

NEW YORK -- "U.S. steel companies that make the metal the old-fashioned way -- from scratch -- could soon be an endangered species, hurt by antiquated and expensive technology, outdated labor deals and environmental regulations, industry experts say. Environmental controls have burdened the industry too. AK Steel is considering shutting down its carbon steelmaking operations because the cost of complying with new emission standards could run up to $80 million at one of its mills," Michael Erman, Reuters.

DAYTON -- Report prompts AK Steel sell-off, Dayton Business Journal.
Aug 27:  AK Steel suspends 11 workers in death

MIDDLETOWN -- "AK Steel Corp. has suspended 11 workers — including five who are subject to possible discharge — in the wake of an overhead crane accident that killed a worker last month at AK’s Middletown Works, a union chief confirmed Tuesday," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.

Aug 22:  Takeover talk picks up as AK Steel struggles

CINCINNATI -- "A New Jersey bottom fisher has his hook in AK Steel Holding Corp., perhaps betting on the company as a takeover target. Donald Smith, whose Paramus, N.J.-based money management firm manages roughly $900 million in investments, doubled his stake in the Middletown, Ohio-based steel maker during the second quarter, according to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mr. Smith now holds 5.2 million shares, or 4.75 percent of the company. But that's not all. But that's not all. Mr. Smith also serves as a subadviser for Managers Funds LLC, a Norwalk, Conn.-based mutual fund manager that acquired 1.7 million AK Steel shares in the second quarter, boosting its total holdings to 4.1 million. Managers Funds' Special Equity Fund has $2.09 billion in assets. Combined, the two entities now hold more than 8 percent of AK Steel stock," Dan Monk, Pittsburgh Business Times.

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- AK to open anti-bacteria concept home, Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.
MORE ON AK STEEL

Aug 13:  AK Steel, Ohio tangle over Middletown costs

PITTSBURGH, PA -- "The high cost of pollution controls threatens the future of the hot end of the Middletown Works of AK Steel Corp., but sources close to negotiations between the company and the state of Ohio say those costs are not hearly as high as AK purports them to be," American Metal Market, 348 KB pdf, dated August 8.
Aug 8:  "AK Steel has consistently refused to meet with neighbors"

CINCINNATI -- "You may or may not be aware that while AK Steel is "doing good" by making a large corporate contribution to the Tri-state Habitat for Humanity, AK Steel has also allowed dangerous PCBs to leak into a local creek in Middletown; allowed over 11 million pounds of metal flakes, dust, soot, black and white particles to rain down on neighbors each year with no recourse, since 1976; and consistently refused to meet with area neighbors and workers to solve, or at the very least discuss, these problems,'" Rachel Belz, Ohio Citizen Action, letter to Reverend Dean Griffith, Executive Director, Tri-State Habitat for Humanity.
Aug 6:  City: Dicks Creek is Ohio EPA’s problem

MIDDLETOWN -- "Middletown Mayor David Schiavone has been flooded with e-mails about the water in Dicks Creek. City Manager Ron Olson said the mayor has been contacted by organized groups and individuals, mostly from the area of Cincinnati, Dayton and Northern Ken.tucky, about the hazards in the water. The people asked what the city is doing about the situation. The answer is simple, according to Olson, Schiavone and Health Commissioner David Winfough. The existence of harmful PCBs in the creek is a problem for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to solve. . . 'Nothing has changed in the last five years,' Winfough said, adding that the source of the PCBs has been stopped and the levels have not risen since. 'It’s not a city issue,' said Olson. 'It’s really a state EPA issue,'" Middletown Journal.
Aug 4:  Dear Middletown Mayor David Schiavone

Drawing of proposed Dick's Creek fence

MIDDLETOWN -- "We need you to help us to keep kids safe. To help us you need to build a fence around Dick's Creek so kids don't swim in it and get sick. Please help with this problem. Thank you," Amber V., 9 years old.
Jul 30:  AK Steel moves to protect shareholders in takeover
Directors say move is defensive measure


MIDDLETOWN -- "'This action by AK Steel seems to indicate that someone may be accumulating shares and the AK management may be afraid of an unfriendly takeover,' [independent steel industry analyst Charles] Bradford said. 'Certainly the stock is cheap enough,'" Thomas Gnau, Cox News.

Full text of amendment.
Jul 28:  Ohio EPA's stance has changed

MIDDLETOWN -- "Here's a question to ponder: If the Ohio EPA is found to have violated procedures, such as manipulating sediment sample data in Dicks Creek to the detriment of the company, shouldn't the Ohio EPA pay millions in civil penalties to AK Steel? Recently this paper printed a letter from Ohio EPA director Chris Jones saying that settlement with AK Steel is 'impossible' unless AK Steel acquiesces to penalties. The Ohio EPA's official stance was quite different in the face of stinging criticism from Ohio Citizen Action and the Sierra Club about lax enforcement and lack of fines against companies a few years ago. At that time an Ohio EPA spokesperson indicated that the agency didn't see a problem in working with companies to bring about compliance instead of imposing fines and penalties," Alan McCoy, AK Steel, letter to the editor, Middletown Journal.
Jul 22:  Street Talk

NEW YORK -- "Merrill Lynch cut its investment rating from on AK Steel to 'neutral' from 'buy,' citing an outlook for continued losses based on upwards cost pressures and continued weak demand. AK Steel slipped 19 cents to $2.45 Monday," CNN.
Jul 21:  Standard & Poors cuts AK Steel Holding corporate credit rating

NEW YORK -- "Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that it has lowered its corporate credit ratings on integrated steel producer AK Steel Corp. and its parent, AK Steel Holding Corp. to 'B+' from 'BB-' based on the company's weaker than expected financial performance. The current outlook is negative. Middleton, Ohio-based AK Steel has about $1.3 billion in total debt," Reuters.
Jul 20:  AK Steel Holding is currently rated D (unattractive)

NEW YORK -- "AK Steel Holding is currently rated D (unattractive). Appreciation potential (55) is neutral; power rating (0) is very low. Relative to the S&P 500 Composite, AK Steel Holding Corporation has significant Value characteristics; appeal is likely to be to Capital Gain-oriented investors; perception is that AKS is higher risk. Current annual total return performance of -71.7% is lower quartile. Current 5-year total return performance of -25.9% is lower quartile," PriceTarget Research, Inc.; no link.

WAYNESVILLE -- Widow wants to complete AK worker's dream, Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.
Jul 19:   Slump gets worse for AK Steel

MIDDLETOWN -- "'It's too early to push any panic buttons,' chairman Richard Wardrop told investment analysts during a conference call Friday to discuss the company's second-quarter loss of $78.2 million, or 72 cents a share. . . . Since losing out to rival US Steel Corp. to acquire National Steel Corp out of bankruptcy in April, some analysts have questioned AK's viability in the wake of industry consolidation," Mike Boyer, Cincinnati Enquirer.

NEW YORK -- AK Steel Corp. suffers $78.2 second quarter loss, Craig J. Heimbuch, Middletown Journal.

Jul 18:  Please email Middletown's Mayor:
Build a fence to help keep kids safe


Drawing of a fence

A four-year-old drew this picture of a fence next to Dick's Creek
to show adults what we need to build.


MIDDLETOWN -- "Many children play in the creek which runs behind Amanda Elementary School and through other parts of the community. These types of PCBs hurt children the way lead does: weakening attention span, lowering intelligence and altering hormones. There is an easy, short term approach to keep children and animals out of Dick's Creek. We are urging Mayor David Schiavone of Middletown to get a fence built around the ten mile creek immediately. Children would be much safer in the short term while the adults negotiate the longer term issues of cleaning up the creek," Rachael Belz, Ohio Citizen Action.

NEW YORK -- AK Steel loses $78.2M in second quarter, Reuters.

NEW YORK -- AK Steel Holding Earnings Conference Call for 2003 - 2d quarter, transcript, Federal Document Clearing House.

NEW YORK -- Moody's cuts AK Steel ratings, outlook now stable; Approximately $1.3 billion of debt securities affected, Reuters.
Jul 14:  AK Steel's Wardrop not afraid to fight

PITTSBURGH, PA -- "Many analysts say Wardrop has to do something -- buy another steelmaker or merge with one -- after he lost a bidding war for bankrupt National Steel to U.S. Steel, his former employer. They believe AK's financial condition would prevent it from being an acquirer, a contention the steelmaker vigorously disputes. AK's protestations not withstanding, it's increasingly likely AK will be the acquired. Chris Olin, an analyst with Longbow Research in Cleveland, says the most likely buyer is a foreign steelmaker that could provide cheaper slabs to run through AK's finishing mills. That would spare AK the expense of investing in Middletown. 'I wouldn't be surprised to see the Brazilians move in,' Olin says," Len Boselovic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; no link.

PITTSBURGH -- AK Steel recognized by EPA for anti-pollution efforts, Associated Press.
Jul 13:  'Not singling out AK Steel'

CINCINNATI -- "We look forward to the day when AK Steel's relationship with state and federal agencies and with the Sierra Club is one of cooperation and not of contention. That is when the residents of Middletown will truly benefit," Susan Knight, Ohio Sierra Club, letter to the editor, Middletown Journal.
Jul 11:  Accident kills AK Steel worker

MIDDLETOWN -- "An employee at AK Steel Corp. was killed Thursday when a part from an overhead crane toppled onto him, causing the plant's first fatal industrial accident in seven years. A number of co-workers, including a lifelong friend, witnessed the accident that killed Ralph E. Jones, 41, of Waynesville. [The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration] AK Steel, the workers union, Middletown police and the county coroner's office are investigating Jones' death. 'There's nothing suspicious,' said Middletown Police Lt. Don Owens. 'It appears it was an unfortunate industrial accident, caused by a mechanical failure,'" Janice Morse, Cincinnati Enquirer.

MIDDLETOWN -- Worker killed at AK Steel in Middletown; Pinned under 2,000-pound crane block, Thomas Gnau, Cox News Service.

MIDDLETOWN -- Tragedy at AK Steel, Kristin McAllister, Thomas Gnau, Craig Heimbuch, Middletown Journal.
Jul 10:  Worker killed at AK Steel

MIDDLETOWN -- "A worker at AK Steel's Middletown plant was killed on the job Thursday morning. Ralph Eric Jones, 41, was operating a piece of mobile equipment when the lifting lock of a crane fell, striking the safety cage on the mobile equipment and injuring Jones around 8:30 a.m. Jones, was taken to Middletown Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead," Liz Foreman, WCPO Cincinnati Channel 9 News.

MIDDLETOWN -- AK Steel worker dies in mill today, Thomas Gnau, Cox News Service.

UPDATE 2:20 PM:
MIDDLETOWN -- Worker killed at AK Steel, Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.
Jul 6:   AK Steel, other steelmakers have differing histories with Ohio EPA

MIDDLETOWN -- "'If AK Steel is not the only company responsible, I would be in favor of finding all the parties responsible,” [Rachael Belz, Southwestern Ohio director for Ohio Citizen Action] said. Belz takes a position on the agency that she thinks may surprise people. 'The Ohio EPA typically doesn’t do a very good job enforcing just existing laws,' she said. Never mind pushing for newer, more effective laws, she added. In an 'open letter' to Taft, Belz late last month insisted that she and her allies don't want to shut down any part of AK. 'We documented many ways that AK Steel can control pollution at the Middletown plant, while remaining the most productive steel plant in the country,' Belz wrote," Thomas Gnau, Middletown Journal.
Jul 2:   Ohio tops nation in 2001 for dirty air discharges

TOLEDO -- "Ohio ranked first nationally in terms of air discharges in 2001, releasing more than 121 million pounds of pollutants into the atmosphere, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s annual Toxic Release Inventory issued Monday. The state ranked sixth overall for discharges of all pollutants, but trailed Texas and Louisiana as the third most-popular place for waste to be injected deep underground. That’s largely because nearly 32 million pounds of chemical waste were injected underground that year between Vickery Environmental, Inc.’s operation in Sandusky County and BP Chemicals, Inc.’s plant in Allen County, records show," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

EVANSVILLE, IN -- "AK Steel [Indiana's] top toxic polluter; Four area counties in top 10 for contamination," Mark Wilson, Evansville Courier and Press.