E D I T O R I A L
AK Steel Chairman Richard Wardrop accused Ohio Gov. Bob Taft of
conspiring with the Ohio EPA to damage the firm and its employees.
The company should play by the EPA's rules, like everybody else,
and can't expect much sympathy in Mansfield after locking out area
Steelworkers for more than three years.
AK Steel had a legitimate complaint against Gov. Bob Taft for
visiting an AK customer in Mexico accompanied by an AK competitor.
But AK stepped way out of bounds when company officials tried to
suggest Taft was part of a conspiracy to wage war against the firm
and its employees.
AK Chairman Richard Wardrop made these charges against Taft in an
ad last week in the News Journal and other Ohio newspapers. At issue
is a three-year-old lawsuit between AK and the Ohio Environmental
Protection Agency over pollution controls at AK's Middletown plant.
Wardrop said Taft favors other steelmakers and allows unfair
financial pressure on AK through EPA enforcement. Wardrop said AK is
losing millions of dollars while Taft helps other steelmakers, even
some in other states.
To his credit, Taft apologized for the visit to the Mexican AK
customer, saying he was not aware of the relationship. The governor
and his staff obviously need to be more careful and prepared on such
But it is difficult to be sympathetic with AK when it claims
Taft's behavior amounts to "waging war" on AK employees and their
families. That claim carries no weight in Mansfield, where
Steelworkers and their families were locked out of work for more
than three years by AK.
We agree with Taft's assessment AK appears to be positioning
itself to blame the state for layoffs or other changes the company
may be contemplating.
We don't know what all of the issues are in the EPA lawsuit, but
it doesn't seem fair to all of the Ohio manufacturers who have found
ways to comply with pollution standards for AK to get a special
The Wardrop letter is another example of the hard-nosed bullying
tactics AK seems to employ to get what it wants. The state should
give the company ample time, low-interest loans and other technical
assistance to comply with pollution standards while protecting its
But in the end, the firm must play by the rules just like
Originally published Sunday, June 22, 2003