Friday, September 29, 2006
The Timken Company today announced it is taking additional actions to improve the performance of its business in the face of worsening conditions in the North American automotive industry. Declines in North American automotive production are expected to negatively impact the company's overall third- quarter and full-year 2006 results, which continue to benefit from the strength of global industrial markets.
'The widening decline in North American auto industry production has had a significant impact on our performance,' said James W. Griffith, Timken's president and chief executive officer. 'This structural auto industry shift reinforces our resolve to diversify our corporate portfolio and customer mix. In addition to our previously announced restructuring, we are taking new steps to offset the impact of the further decline in sales, including a workforce reduction of approximately 700 positions, or about 5 percent of our Automotive Group employment. Moreover, we continue to advance our strategy to expand in global industrial markets, which is contributing to the strong overall performance of the company in 2006.'
In another article from Industrial Distribution, Timken is quoted as saying
“The widening decline in North American auto industry production has had a significant impact on our performance,” said James Griffith, Timken’s president and CEO. “This structural auto industry shift reinforces our resolve to diversify our corporate portfolio and customer mix. Moreover, we continue to advance our strategy to expand in global industrial markets, which is contributing to the strong overall performance of the company in 2006.”
The vote by locked-out Middletown Works employees on AK Steel's contract proposal apparently was closer than the initial indication by a top union official, a company spokesman said on Thursday.
After hourly production and maintenance workers voted down a proposal the company had said was its final offer, union president Brian Daley said Monday night that the contract was rejected 'substantially' but he didn't release vote numbers.
If only 116 people had voted the other way, the vote would have been ratified. 116 out of 1900 eligible voters. 6%
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
The rush to retire on Sunday was to get in under the wire, because rules about benefits are changing.
The number of workers at AK Steel's Middletown Works is shrinking as more union employees retire, and that could be a key to settling the seven-month-old lockout as the steel maker pushes for a smaller work force.
More than 100 union members resigned while their colleagues were voting Monday to reject what the company labeled as its final contract offer, union spokesman Jim Tyler said Tuesday.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Another 1,400 hourly workers have decided to accept auto supplier Delphi Corp.'s buyout offers, meaning that the struggling company will lose more than 70 percent of its work force by the end of the year.
Delphi released the buyout numbers Tuesday, bringing to 20,100 the number of its production workers who have decided to leave this year either through buyout offers or early retirement packages.
The departures do not include about 5,000 other Delphi workers who will leave the company and return to GM, its former parent.
Delphi will close 21 of it's 29 US plants by the new year.
Self-help guru Phil McGraw -- better known as Dr. Phil -- has some candid advice for Michigan workers who fear being downsized: stop denying and start planning.
'Very seldom do you wind up on the street as a surprise -- unless you are in denial -- there are clear warning signs that this is coming, like in the auto industry,' McGraw said while on a stop in Detroit last week
Cincinatti.com The Enquirer
Company could impose contract terms
Locked-out workers at AK Steel Monday rejected what the company said was its final contract offer in an attempt to end the almost eight-month impasse that has ripped the economic fabric of the community.
An exact tally was not disclosed by either side, but a 'substantial margin' of the more than 1,700 total votes cast were against the five-year contract proposal, according to Brian Daley, president of the International Association of Machinists Local 1943.
The vote was announced to a crowd of more than 100 gathered outside the union's hall Monday night.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
AP via Yahoo! News
Union leaders are recommending that locked out AK Steel employees reject a final contract offer made by the company in the 7-month-long labor standoff at the Middletown Works plant, a union spokesman said.
[...]members will vote Monday on the contract, International Machinists Union spokesman Jim Tyler said.
Tyler said the committee believes the negatives in the proposal outweigh the positives [...]
And yet, just when you think you heard the answer, you have dissent.
These guys say the union is against:
Union recommends rejecting AK Steel offer
But these guys say it's not:
Tyler said the union's executive committee isn't likely to make a recommendation to accept or reject the company's proposal to end the longest lockout in the Middletown plant's history.
"There are some things in it we like and some things we don't," he said.
This guy Tyler seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth. Or at least is being quoted out of two sides of his mouth. I'm not sure what's going on here.
But perhaps the most telling article is this one:
AK workers train for new careers
"I should have done this 10 years ago," said Ryan Kraus, one of three AK workers among the 10 adults in the first class to finish the construction training program at Butler Tech.
"I've always enjoyed this kind of work, and you can make a good living at it," he said.
This one is interesting too, a few weeks back:
AK STEEL: LOCKOUT DAY 188 Finding a place during the lockout
It would be interesting to interview these guys a year down the road, after they've gotten used to the idea of being consumers of manufactured metal and other materials, caught in the middle between the ultimate consumer and the original producers, rather than being producers themselves ....
Saturday, September 23, 2006
WHIO-TV 7 Dayton
AK Steel presented their final contract proposal to the union on Friday.
The company believes the proposal is fair for both parties and that the union will accept it. At this time, there is no word on what the union thinks of the proposal.
Business First of Columbus
A Butler County judge granted a 14-day restraining order Thursday that limits picketing by union workers at AK Steel Corp.
The company asked the court to place limits on picketing outside the company's Middletown Works in southwest Ohio between Cincinnati and Dayton, blaming the union for intimidation and harassing and coercive behavior.
The union is also prohibited from threatening or intimidating people or sprinkling nails on the roadway. The union claims they weren't doing anything.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Copper fell in London to the lowest in four weeks, leading declines in other industrial metals on speculation U.S. demand may be slowing.
Just for a glance, here is 30 day copper pricing.
It was almost $4 in May, $3.65 at the start of September, and it's 3.39 right now.
U.S. steel companies have asked the Bush administration to 'get serious' about unfair Chinese trade practices they said have fueled a huge increase in China's steel exports to the United States.
However, a few paragraphs further down, hidden under an ad, is a bigger issue.
Washington also should consider launching a World Trade Organization case aimed at stopping subsidies that encourage Chinese steel production, and take "effective steps to end China's manipulation of its currency, which ... acts as a major subsidy to Chinese producers," the steel companies said.
You know, in WWII, currency manipulation was an act of war. Why is it that Bush can't see that it's happening again now?
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Electrical work has fewer options - copper is the only good option with aluminum a second choice for low duty, low power use only - but you keep reading about copper being stolen from job sites. I just had some minor electrical work done in our factory, and the electrician was telling me the price of BX cable has quadrupled in the last 2 years.
The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK
“Copper has tripled in price and its life expectancy is 40 years,” Jay Benge said.
The new plastics have longer life expectancies, can stand up to stress levels, such as cold temperatures, and allow for more flexibility, which Gearhart pointed out in an upstairs bath. They cost less, also.
And, that cost also translates into labor savings. The flex in a durable plastic pipe can save for suturing and other fitting tasks, Gearhart said.
“It’s a commodity shortage,” he said about why builders are looking at other alternative materials for copper.
Ford Motor Co., increasingly desperate to stem billion-dollar losses, accelerated job cuts and plant closings and projected that its North American auto business would remain unprofitable until at least 2009.
The second-largest U.S. automaker said it will shed an additional 10,000 salaried jobs, finish cutting 30,000 North American factory jobs by 2008, four years sooner than planned, and offer buyouts to all hourly workers. Ford suspended its quarterly dividend for the first time since 1982. The shares plunged 12 percent, wiping out most of the gains for the year. The new cuts speed up steps announced by then-Chief Executive Officer William Clay Ford Jr. in January to 'retake the American roadway.'
They come on the heels of a surprise $1.44 billion first-half loss. Two weeks ago, Ford hired former Boeing Co. executive Alan Mulally, 61, to replace Bill Ford, architect of a previous failed restructuring in 2002.
'The market has changed so much and this company has lost so much market share that it needs radical surgery,' said John Casesa, managing director with Casesa Strategic Advisors in New York. 'And that's what this announcement is.
Friday, September 15, 2006
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada joined the United States and the European Union on Friday in requesting a World Trade Organization panel to hear their complaint about China's tariff treatment of foreign auto parts."
"China continues to impose unfair tariffs on auto parts, in breach of its WTO commitments," Trade Minister David Emerson said in a statement.
"Canada, the United States and the European Union are requesting the establishment of a WTO panel to secure compliance and fair market access for our domestic auto parts producers."
Thursday, September 14, 2006
The recent contest for control of Arcelor, won by Mittal Steel, will lead to the combination of the world's two largest steel companies and, as such, represents a watershed event for the global steel industry. Many casual observers of the business assume that the race for supremacy will be run once this fusion is completed, since the new company will be the No. 1 steel producer by output in North America, Europe, and South America -- and will be more than three times larger than its next largest competitor.
But the race is far from over. In baseball terms, it's the bottom of the first inning rather than the bottom of the ninth. Consolidation has become the mantra of the steel business in recent years, as the forces of globalization sweep through the industry.
There's lots more and it's a good read.
Whether it's a good forecast of how things will go in the future, whether steel companies will be that far-sighted, remains to be seen.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
A coalition of American and Japanese automakers wants to end penalty tariffs on certain types of steel.
They say the protections make it difficult for them to remain competitive.
The group includes General Motors, Toyota, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Honda and Nissan. Industry officials say it marks the first time the six automakers have joined forces on a trade issue.
The U-S International Trade Commission will consider next month whether to end current penalty tariffs on carbon flat steel products. The orders were first put in place in 1993.
The I-T-C will decide whether they should remain for another five years.
Automakers contend the tariffs drive up the cost of steel and lead to limited supplies.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Wednesday that he will urge the Chinese to move more quickly to adopt economic reforms, including a more flexible currency.
But in his first speech on the international economy since joining the Bush Cabinet in July, Paulson stressed that the administration will oppose efforts in Congress to punish China for a soaring trade gap with the United States.
"Protectionist policies do not work and the collateral damage from these policies is high," he said. "We will not heed the siren songs of protectionism and isolationism."
Paulson sought to lower expectations that he will achieve any major breakthroughs when he visits Beijing for two days of talks with Chinese officials next week. He stressed, instead, that he would discuss economic reforms that the Chinese need to pursue that would benefit the Chinese economy.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Copper led declines on the London Metal Exchange on speculation that demand will drop because of a slowdown in the housing market in the U.S., the world's second- largest user of the metal.
On the other hand,
Chile hard-pressed to avert more copper strikes
Yahoo! Asia News
Chile's government would likely pay a high political price if negotiators fail to cut a deal with thousands of union workers at state-owned Codelco, the world's largest copper-producing company.
Codelco faces contract negotiations at three divisions before the end of the year, and must reach deals with some 7,000 workers to avert a strike.
A work stoppage by the biggest union in the country could rattle confidence in the center-left administration of Chile's first woman president, Michelle Bachelet.
The Pioneer News
Two separate accidents occurred within two hours of each other on Bullitt County roads Friday afternoon in Hillview and Lebanon Junction, respectively.
The first took place just after 2 p.m. when two people were injured in an accident after crashing into a pile of steel sheets blocking John Harper Highway.
A tractor trailer carrying 24 steel sheets weighing a total of 29,000 pounds lost its load in front of the Pilot Truck Stop on John Harper, said Zoneton Fire Chief Rob Orkies.
A silver Chrysler minivan owned by Valley Medical Transport hit the steel before law enforcement officials could reach the scene and divert traffic. Both the driver and the passenger had minor injuries and were transported to Jewish Hospital Medical Center South. Names of the victims were not yet released.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Rising zinc prices have led some people to ask what happens if the penny, comprised of about 97.5% zinc, is worth more than a cent. What would happen?
Sunday, September 03, 2006
'The mill was always in my life, even as a baby.'
That statement is as true for Ken Kobus as it was for his father -- and his father's father. In 1906, Kobus' grandfather started work at the Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp.
From 1875 to 1980, southwestern Pennsylvania was the Steel Making Capital of the World, producing the steel for some of America's greatest icons such as the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building. During World War I and II, our steel workers carried a nation's defense on their backs, producing more steel, armor and armaments in a single year than entire countries. While many of the region's legendary mill sites have been dismantled, and it has been decades since the mills belched fire and smoke over Pittsburgh's skyline, the enormity of the region's steel-making contributions and its historical significance to the nation demand its story be told and its sites be preserved.
Created by Congress in 1996, the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area is committed to preserving, interpreting, and managing the historic, cultural, and natural resources related to Big Steel and its related industries. Encompassing 3,000 square miles in the seven counties of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Westmoreland, Greene, Fayette, and Washington, Rivers of Steel is building on this area's remarkable transition from heavy industry to high technology and diversified services as well as bolstering the new regional economy by promoting tourism and economic development based on this region's historic industrial saga.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
A few of the words in the article need explanation. This article is written for a local audeince in Indiana. People who live in Indiana are called Hoosiers.
The Indianapolis Star
Indiana manufacturers are getting pinched as the cost of the basic ingredients of their products -- steel, aluminum, nickel, copper and other commodities -- have soared.
Auto supplier BorgWarner spent an extra $12 million in the first half of the year because of higher commodity prices, with aluminum contributing the biggest increases. Spot prices for aluminum, which BorgWarner uses to cast transmission parts, have shot up 32 percent in the last year.
So far, Hoosier consumers haven't taken a big hit from these higher commodity prices yet. That's because manufacturers have been able to offset some of the three-year price run-up with cuts elsewhere.
But such cuts often translate to fewer jobs and sometimes lower wages for Hoosier laborers.
Higher commodity prices are hitting the auto industry particularly hard. Because sales competition is so fierce between automakers, they will brook no price increases from their suppliers. So as commodity costs rise, the 90,000 Hoosiers employed at auto companies are under increasing pressure.
Among employees, BorgWarner has cut out overtime for some, asked for wage concessions from others, left vacant spots open and even laid off some workers. In Muncie, BorgWarner announced 76 layoffs last week. It employs more than 800 there making transfer cases.
Friday, September 01, 2006
Chilean miners voted to end their 25-day-old strike for higher pay at La Escondida, the world's largest copper mine, a top union official announced.
In a secret ballot that lasted more than six hours, the workers accepted the union leaders' contract agreement with the executives of the mine[...].
On a 1,607-121 vote, with one blank ballot, workers agreed to return to work, Pedro Marin, the union secretary and spokesman, said.
The new contract will be signed Friday and provides for a five percent wage increase and a 16,600-dollar signing bonus for the 2,052 miners.
Financial News - Yahoo! Finance
Citing a supply and demand imbalance, dangerously high U.S. inventories and falling scrap prices, a Credit Suisse analyst on Thursday downgraded the global steel sector.
Analyst Michael Shillaker brought the sector down a notch to 'Market Weight' from 'Overweight.'