MANSFIELD -- Gov. Bob Taft lashed out at AK Steel Corp. on
Tuesday, calling the company's recent media campaign
In a strongly worded letter to AK Steel Chairman Richard Wardrop
Jr., Taft characterized the campaign as "baseless ... aggressive
The letter implied the company was trying to position the state
to take the blame for "possible impending changes in AK's operations
in Ohio," Taft said.
"Attempts to position the State of Ohio at odds with your
employees, retirees and their communities are unprofessional,
inaccurate and unwarranted," Taft wrote.
Sunday, AK Steel took out full-page ads in several newspapers,
including the News Journal, in which it accused the governor of
"waging war on the employees of AK Steel and their families in Ohio
while doling out aid to our competitors."
The letter from the governor vehemently denied it.
"I take offense at your statement," it said.
Monday, the company issued a news release that said the Ohio
Environmental Protection Agency "deliberately manipulated and
overstated the level of PCBs" it found in a creek that runs through
AK Steel property in Middletown, Ohio.
"Your interest appears ... to be ... in ignoring the law and
OEPA's responsibility for enforcement," Taft told Wardrop.
Alan McCoy, vice president of public affairs for AK Steel,
declined to comment directly on Taft's charges or the possibility of
"I can only say we will continue to disagree on a number of
issues," he said.
As for the company's dispute with the Ohio EPA, McCoy said the
agency consistently uses testing methods that are absolutely
unacceptable in an attempt to win its lawsuit against the company
for environmental contamination. He said he expects the 3-year-old
lawsuit to go to trial later this year.
Bill Cuffindaffer, vice president of United Steelworkers of
America Local 169, said he agreed with at least one part of Taft's
"Attacking employees isn't what the state has been doing. It's
what AK Steel has been doing for the last four years," he said.
Originally published Wednesday, June 18, 2003