Bleak anniversary for AK Steel

The Cincinnati Enquirer
A year ago today, AK Steel, the city’s largest employer, locked out hourly employees at its Middletown Works when it couldn’t reach agreement with the union on a new contract and began operating the plant with about 1,800 replacement workers.
The company and the International Association of Machinists Local 1943 are still no closer to agreement.

And this interesting quote, later on. I’m not sure what to make of it.

In the more than 100 years the Middletown Works has been in operation, there’s been only one other brief, four-day company lockout of the workers in 1986.

In the year since the Middletown lockout began, the company has reached new agreements with unions at four other plants. The most recent was last week in Coshocton, Ohio, where 380 members of United Autoworkers Local 3462 overwhelmingly approved a new three-year agreement. Since 2003, McCoy said, AK has negotiated 10 new labor agreements with its unions without a strike or lockout.

Large Alabama steel plant in planning

The Clarion-Ledger
Six U.S. senators representing Alabama, Florida and Mississippi have endorsed Alabama’s bid for a proposed 2,700-worker steel plant.
The German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp AG is evaluating whether to build the $2.9 billion plant in north Mobile County, Ala. or St. James Parish in southeast Louisiana.

A decision is expected by May.

Workforce Development in the Manufacutirng Sector in Minnesota ‘s Twin Cities Area

Derek Karchner from Rosenberg Communications pointed out this interesting program that I hadn’t been aware of before. All the more amazing, because one of the sponsoring organizations is a professional organization I am a member of. I guess it just goes to show that you can’t know everything your organization is doing.

‘We are in the race of our lives for talent right now as manufacturers,’ says Erick Ajax, owner of E.J. Ajax & Sons, one of this country’s leading metal stamping companies. Finding, training, and retaining people to fill skilled manufacturing jobs is much more than a vexing problem to men and women like Ajax, it’s literally a matter of business survival. Figuring out the solution is crucial, not only for helping businesses succeed, but also understanding how low-income workers can get and stay on a career path that leads to higher incomes and, at least as important, building assets.

The article goes on to talk about how metal stampers are facing challenges, with (mostly) an aging workforce and no one in the public school system training younger workers (or retraining middle aged ones in new skills).

So a group of manufacturers got together with the PMA, NAM and a local technical college to do skills improvement courses.

Here’s what
another blogger had to say about it.

And here’s a link to the PMA Educational Foundation, a part of the PMA I vaguely knew about but clearly not enough.

Paulson: China must speed money reform

Actually, the best line is not the subject line but this one:

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told Congress on Wednesday that the Bush administration was doing all it could to get China to move more quickly on currency reform in the face of a soaring U.S. trade deficit.

But clearly it’s not. The administration could label China a currency manipulator, which it clearly is.


World crude steel production will show an increase of almost 10 percent in 2006 year on year. In 2007 a further 5.4 percent growth rate is anticipated. The past seven years of this millennium have been the most productive in the history of the steel industry – rising by more than 450 million tonnes over the period. This equates to 57 percent growth in output over the figure recorded in 1999.
MEPS is now forecasting world wide crude steel making in 2007 at in excess of 1.3 billion tonnes (1307 million tonnes). The oxygen/blast furnace process will continue to lift its share of manufacturing – rising by 11 percent in 2006 and almost 7 percent in 2007 to 873 and 932.5 million tonnes, respectively. We predict substantial growth in the supply of direct reduced iron in 2007 as demand continues to expand.
In 2006, most steel producing nations benefitted from the surge in consumption. Those in Asia, however, took the lion’s share, with 75 percent of the increase. This figure is expected to rise to around 90 percent in 2007.

Governor coming to talk with AK Steel, locked-out workers
Gov. Ted Strickland is coming here Saturday to discuss the ongoing labor dispute between AK Steel and its labor union, city and county leaders confirmed today.
Representatives from Strickland’s office could not be reached for comment.

And yet, later, it seems the meeting didn’t occur.

Strickland cancels visit to Middletown to discuss lockout
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland has cancelled his visit to Middletown, where he, City Council members, county officials and representatives from AK Steel Corp. and its hourly work force union were scheduled to discuss the nearly yearlong labor dispute.

Councilmen Anthony “Tony” Marconi, David Schiavone and Jim Armbruster, each of whom were planning to attend the Saturday morning meeting, received calls this morning from Strickland’s office that said they intended to reschedule the discussion.

And I don’t understand this double-talk:
Officials from AK Steel Corp. on Thursday said they would refuse to meet with Ohio’s new governor under the setting initially planned for Saturday, saying the meeting would not help end the ongoing labor dispute, and that it could be counterproductive to negotiations.

Alan McCoy, the company’s vice president of government and public relations, said AK Steel officials told representatives from the governor’s office they would be willing to meet with them privately “about this or any other issue.”

AK officials snub meeting

Officials from AK Steel Corp. have refused to meet with Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, union representatives, and city and county leaders to discuss the nearly 11-month labor dispute at Middletown’s largest employer.

Tough talks expected for new car


In a time of wrenching area job losses, the General Motors Corp. Lordstown Complex has been one of the few rocks on which the local economy rests.

That rock could start cracking if workers and company fail to reach a new labor agreement quickly, a labor official said Friday during an 2007 outlook interview with the complex’s top leadership.

‘‘It won’t be an easy year,’’ said Jim Graham, president of United Auto Workers Local 1112, which represents workers at the East assembly plant. ‘‘We have to get a new contract, and get it soon. Things are starting to snowball in Detroit. It’s critical to get it done.’’

This was a little unclear to me at first, but the article goes on to explain that a long-running car is due to end at that facility in 2009. Typically, car companies decide 2 years in advance which cars are going to be built at which facilities, making performance in 2007 crucial to the future after 2009.

Auto-parts maker files for receivership

JS Online

A central city company owned by two of Milwaukee’s prominent African-American leaders filed for receivership this week and told the state it might have to close its factory in the Riverwest neighborhood.
The company filed for receivership this week and told the state it might have to close its factory in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood.
Virgis and Angela Colbert’s Production Stamping Corp. said it is not able to meet its financial obligations

More layoffs expected at Arvin Meritor

Another wave of layoffs at a Heartland plant; this time dozens in Dexter prepare to hit the unemployment line. The auto industry slump begins to wear thin on Southeast Missouri plant workers.
This is actually the third round of cuts at Arvin Meritor; a company that makes auto parts. The first round hit in November last year. Then in December, plant managers gave more people pink slips. This latest round, set to happen Friday will take about 45 more jobs.