This is the full text of a United Steelworkers union statement about the 8/21/12 Baltimore Brew article “Union lawyer seeks tardy entry into Sparrows bankruptcy case.“
From: Jim Strong, Sub-District Director, USW District 8
Frank Rossi, Staff Representative, USW District 8
The Baltimore Brew published an article on August 21, written by Mark Reutter, which claims that the USW’s lawyer has made a “tardy entry into Sparrows bankruptcy case.” The headline and the article are unfortunate because it reveals how little the author understands about both the bankruptcy process and what has actually occurred in the RG Steel bankruptcy case.
Lawyers for the USW entered appearances on the first day of the bankruptcy case on May 31, and since then, USW lawyers in Pittsburgh, New York and Wilmington have been involved from the beginning of the case. The USW serves on the Creditors’ Committee, which is a key player in the bankruptcy case. The USW has had counsel present at every important hearing in the case, including the hearing that was held to consider the sale of the Sparrow Point mill. Perhaps the Brew expected some dramatic flourish from the Union’s attorneys, but, regrettably, there was nothing that could have been said. Sparrows Point, like most of the rest of RG’s mills, will be sold to a party whose business generally is liquidating businesses. If a potential operator had actually appeared at the auction, the USW certainly would have stood up to support the operator. But, only liquidators showed up for the auctions of Sparrows Point and the other RG mills.
Given the current realities, the USW intends to work with the buyer in an effort to find other parties that would buy Sparrows Point and pursue a reopening. No one can guarantee what will happen next, but the USW will work with any party that will work with it to pursue the restart of operations at Sparrows Point and the other mills.
Now, back to the comments about the motion filed to admit the USW lawyer. There is a hearing scheduled for August 23 to consider a modified labor agreement. RG’s banks had been pressing RG to terminate all benefit programs, and the USW has been able to negotiate a modified agreement with RG that provides the workers and retirees with somewhat better treatment than what RG’s banks otherwise would have given to them. USW members and retirees should expect to hear more from the union about the developments in this fast-moving case.
When writing about matters that affect the lives of thousands of working men and women, context is important. The August 21 article in the Brew is shamefully devoid of any context and instead appears designed merely to serve the Brew’s stated desire of “stirring up news and views.” That is unfortunate.