MANSFIELD -- The United Steelworkers of America called on AK
Steel Corp. on Thursday to end its media campaign attacking Gov. Bob
The company accused the governor of "waging war on the employees
of AK Steel and their families in Ohio while doling out aid to our
competitors," in full-page ads in several newspapers Sunday.
Tuesday, Taft sent a letter to AK chairman Richard Wardrop, Jr.
calling the ad "reprehensible ... baseless ... aggressive
Bill Coffindaffer, vice president of USWA Local 169, said the
union was familiar with the steel company's media campaign tactics.
"Our members and families were similarly attacked by AK Steel's
public relations hounds during the lockout AK orchestrated,"
According to Coffindaffer, the union agreed with the governor
that AK Steel may be trying to blame the state for a possible future
shutdown of its Middletown, Ohio, facility.
"We understand Gov. Taft's concern that AK would try to shift
attention from its corporate misconduct by implying the governor
somehow is attacking Ohio workers," he said. "But AK Steel and Dick
Wardrop have been waging war against 620 of our families in
Mansfield since September 1999."
According to Taft's letter, the state has made $80 million in
low-cost financing available to help AK Steel come into compliance
with environmental regulations at the Middletown facility. The
governor also has met with Wardrop to try to resolve the conflict
between the company and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
However, the dispute is set to go to trial later this year.
That didn't surprise the USWA, either.
"AK (Steel) is not interested in compromise when it comes to
dispute resolution," Coffindaffer said. "It's modus operandi has
been to bully the other side into accepting whatever terms the
company dictates, and we applaud the Taft administration's efforts
to enforce the law fairly."
Originally published Friday, June 20, 2003