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Posted on Fri, Jun. 27, 2003
AK Steel asking unions to help make company more competitive
Associated Press

AK Steel Corp., which has seen its stock slump and failed to buy rival National Steel, wants to talk with union workers about how the steelmaker can become more competitive.

The company wants to reduce its costs but will keep the details of its talks with employees private, spokesman Alan McCoy said Friday.

AK Steel representatives met with union leaders at its Middletown Works mill on Thursday and at its Butler (Pa.) Works on June 17. The company would like to have talks with all of its employees, he said.

AK Steel's stock traded Friday afternoon at $3.55, up 3 cents, on the New York Stock Exchange. That is near the stock's low price of $2.75 during the past year. The high during that time has been $12.81.

Leaders of the union at Middletown Works, the Armco Employees Independent Federation, said they must decide whether to start talks that could reopen the current contract, which expires on Feb. 28, 2006. The union represents more than 3,000 hourly employees at the Middletown Works.

Union president Ed Shelley wouldn't reveal what AK officials told union representatives. Company and union officials are to meet again on Thursday.

Jack Lewis, a union vice president at the Butler Works north of Pittsburgh, said his union is studying AK Steel's request.

"They asked us to consider ways to lower costs here at the Butler Works," Lewis said. No formal talks have started, and Lewis doesn't know when or if they will.

AK Steel recently lost a competition with U.S. Steel Corp. to buy National Steel out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. International Steel Group owns the former assets of LTV and Bethlehem Steel.

"What position does that leave AK in the marketplace?" Lewis said. "Our people question that. Anybody would."

The United Steelworkers union represents workers at AK Steel's Mansfield, Ohio, and Ashland, Ky., plants. The United Auto Workers union represents AK workers at a steel finishing plant near Rockport, Ind. AK has about 4,000 workers at its plant and headquarters in Middletown. It has about 10,000 employees overall.

ON THE NET

AK Steel: http://www.aksteel.com/

United Steelworkers of America: http://www.uswa.org/

United Auto Workers: http://www.uaw.org/

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