I know for most of you, Stelco is just another minor steel company. But for us in the Greater Toronto Area, Stelco is that minor steel company just down the highway an hour or so in smelly Hamilton.
Well, OK, it’s hard to separate that from the other smelly place just a little furthur down the road in Buffalo. They smell the same way and for the same reason – blast furnaces.
But for the last year or so, a court and media battle rivaling, in it’s own way (considering it’s “just” steel and not murder), O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson has been going on here. I mean, how often do you hear of a bankrupcy court judge criticizing both parties and saying there seemed to be ‘a complete lack of communication, co-operation and common sense by everyone? For that matter, how often does a bankrupcy court judge say anything worthy of media attention?
So a year ago, the judge appointed a mediator. He did some mediation, left, came back for some more. This week, he quit. The impasse at Stelco Inc. appears too thorny to resolve — even for a former Ontario court judge hailed as a “genius” at mediation. He “threw up his hands in the mediation talks between the fractious Stelco stakeholders”. Today the judge extended bankruptcy protection by a mere 10 days, ordering the stakeholders to “cool off until July 4 and then resume talks”
“We have been in this process 17 months; we don’t need a cooling-off period,” Steelworkers lawyer Ken Rosenberg argued in Farley’s packed, stifling courtroom.
“We need to be put in a room and the door has to be locked.”
The judge added that “the idea of a locked room is very appealing,”
What will happen next? Both sides are happy to tell their side of it to the media, stock holders and anyone else who has a web browser. Check out the Stelco Corporate media releases. Looks like one every couple of days. The steel workers are also at it.
But who can sort out all the conflicting claims? Not me. Nor, it seems, can the mediator. Or the judge.
Stay tuned for the next episode of … as the steel turns.