Union accord stabilizes Armco operations here Biddle Street plant linked with Pa. mill in new division.

May 27, 1992|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Staff Writer

With the approval of new concessionary union contracts, Armco Inc. said yesterday that it will combine the operations of nTC its Baltimore stainless-steel plant with a mill in Bridgeville, Pa., to create a division called Armco Stainless & Alloy Products.

Under the plan, effective Monday, raw stainless steel will be produced at the Bridgeville mill and shipped to the Baltimore plant on East Biddle Street. There it will be finished into ingots, billets, wire, rod, reinforcement bars and other products.

"As stand-alone units, Baltimore and Bridgeville were unprofitable and their survival was in question," said James F. Will, Armco president and chief operating officer. He said the Bridgeville operation was officially shut and almost half of the Baltimore workers were on layoff.

"Working with the union, we jointly developed a survival plan that not only allows us to reopen Bridgeville, but gives job stability to our remaining work force at Baltimore," Mr. Will said.

Despite contract concession, an official of the United Steelworkers of America said the new arrangement was necessary. "Our goal throughout was to save the plants and the jobs while reaching an agreement that was consistent with the specialty steel industry," said James English, the chief negotiator for the union representing the workers.

Armco had been seeking a buyer for the Baltimore operation, which has operated as a separate subsidiary called Baltimore Specialty Steels Corp. for three years. Besides converting that subsidiary to an operating division, the company has taken the Baltimore operation off the market, said spokesman Lee Bland.

The Baltimore plant's melt shop, which had produced raw stainless steel, is to be closed under the new plan.

The Baltimore plant had about 350 workers before the new arrangement. With the closing of the melt shop, about 100 workers will be laid off, according to Raymond E. Hein, the president of the new division. The plant in Bridgeville, outside Pittsburgh, had about 60 workers and about 40 laid-off workers will be recalled, Mr. Hein said.

Workers in Baltimore and Bridgeville ratified a five-year contract Sunday by votes of 158-145 and 119-53, respectively. Workers at an Armco plant in Titusville, Pa., approved a two-year contract by a 295-134 vote.

The Titusville operation is not part of the new division, but its operation will be under the direction of Mr. Hein, former president of Baltimore Specialty and now president of the new Armco Stainless & Alloy division.

The Bridgeville and the Titusville plants were part of Cyclops Industries Inc., bought by Armco in April.

The agreement will freeze union wages at Baltimore and Bridgeville until Aug. 1, 1995, or until the new operation shows a profit, whichever comes first. Then, pay will increase 35 cents an hour. Workers now receive an average of $12.47 an hour. The agreement also calls for profit-sharing and gain-sharing plans.

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