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Steel mill’s fate: sealed in May, delivered this week

After months of union-fed false hopes, it can no longer be denied that Sparrows Point steelmaking is over.

BETH OBIT B

The 4 p.m. shift leaves No. 1 clockhouse at Sparrows Point in 1956.

Photo by: Edward Nolan, Mark Reutter collection

Some in the Baltimore area are finally coming to grips with the idea that the end has come for the iconic Sparrows Point steel mill – for decades the engine for the region’s economy as well as its cultural identity.

(Think where most of the paychecks came from to support the households presided over by those beehive-hairdo-ed “hons” who have become our city boosters’ favorite kitsch marketing meme. )

But while acceptance is healthy, the mill obituaries published in the media over the last two days are a bit out-of-date.

Events reported back in May made plain that, after years of exhibiting signs of serious institutional malaise, the steel mill had only a miniscule hope of rescue and recovery.

Many months before Wednesday’s disclosure that Nucor Corp. had purchased the only viable part of the mill and would bundle the equipment off to the South, it was evident that Sparrows Point was past the point of no return.

The Brew’s Mark Reutter – who wrote the definitive history of the mill (Making Steel: Sparrows Point and the Rise and Ruin of American Industrial Might) in 2004 – reported that this stage had been reached on May 25, shortly before parent company RG Steel declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Reporting the Facts

In June, further nails were pounded into the coffin, he reported, when the bank lenders of the bankrupt company filed court papers outlining their plans to liquidate Sparrows Point.

Among the telling – and exclusive – details to emerge from Reutter’s reporting: the steel company hadn’t paid either its Baltimore County property taxes or its mammoth ($5.4 million) Baltimore City water bill, and a top Steelworkers Union official had signed papers ending all benefits and unemployment (SUB) pay for the workforce.
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MARK REUTTER’s WEBSITE has fascinating material on steel and other industries written over his long journalistic career – plus a link to his award-winning book.
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By September, the 2,500-acre facility was a ghost town and the liquidator, Hillco Industrial, was marketing the mill (or its component parts) on a kind of post-industrial Craigslist auction site, which we described in “Psst, wanna buy a steel mill?

“Rip saws, table saws, vertical bandsaws, jointer, planers, routers, drill presses, over 400 lots of of brand new and used power/hand/air tools,” it advertised. Also tendered: “Independent production lines and components.” (Actually all of this is still listed.)

Mill’s Decline Deconstructed

Perhaps the clearest explanation of what went wrong for the facility that once churned out the steel for America’s battleships, bridges and buildings can be found in Reutter’s now-seven-month-old “Six reasons why the Sparrows Point steel mill collapsed.”

In the opening paragraph, he wrote: “Barring a last-minute infusion of cash by bankers or owner Ira Rennert – or an improbable sale to a new company – RG Steel and its flagship plant, Sparrows Point, seem fated for a sad ending.”

And here’s his last sentence: “Either now or in the foreseeable future, economics will win out, and southeast Baltimore County will have to adjust to a brave new world without Sparrows.”

That analysis was occasioned by a notice issued to workers by RG Steel (the 4th ownership group since Bethlehem) that the company’s operations in Baltimore, Ohio and West Virginia would be closing, and that 2,200 employees here and 2,000 in the Midwest would be out of a job.

More than just the prelude to another ownership group stepping in, the layoffs heralded the end of steelmaking.

Still denial was widespread.

Nursing False Hopes

It was striking to hear Joe Rosel, head of Steelworkers Local 9477, tell his membership repeatedly that secret talks with buyers were – or at least could be! – taking place. (In fact, the union virtually disappeared during the bankruptcy proceedings.)

Still, Rosel’s pronouncements were echoed without question by local media outlets and nursed false hopes among workers that a white knight would ride in at the 11th hour.

It was a fallacy that we tried to counteract – here and here – all of which got us into hot water with Steelworker officialdom and its affiliated “Deniers Club.”

So the game played out for months until the grim reaper finally arrived on Wednesday, two weeks before Christmas.

 

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/P3YLBSQBDTONN5NF2YVOXIQWOU Dr. Raymond B

    Sparrow Pont’s demise was certainly the result of a very long slide from the end of Bethlehem Steel until the insane management of RG Steel. The mill never had a chance under Rennert, Goodwin, the union and their gang of incompetent idiots. We all knew that they all would rape the mill of every last cent in her and leave the workers holding the bag. I have yet seen the U.S. Government or the State of Maryland step in and investigate these criminals and their deliberate actions to delibertly drive SP into the ground. Were is the justice in this country? Where was the union? Why did the union members keep electing overpaid officials just to see their livlihood sink further and further down?

    Bethlehem did not help the situation by building an unbalanced plant with one huge blast furnace and not enough BOF vessels to carry the load. They closed down the plate mill, the coke batteries and the other profit making sections of the plant and ended up with a run down hot mill, pig machine and a cold mill in an attempt to make a profit. They sold off all of their raw material resources. There was really nothing left to sell. The companies that owned her spent little or nothing to improve the plant’s lot after the construction of the cold mill. At the end there was nothing left to sell of value except the cold mill, and it was sold piecemill.

    Over the years, the Point has dumped millions of tons of pollutants in the water, air and ground. Even when they knew these pollutants were dangerous they continued to do so.
    Now, the entire property is contaminated and anybody who wants to buy in will be responsible for the cleanup. A sad state of affairs, no steel company would ever look at the Point with any serious idea of running it. Too many years of bad engineering, bad planning and pollutants galore. All of these plus more were piled on the Point and broke its back.

    A gigantic crime that is so huge that it will never be investigated. I guess the Baltimore Police have better things to do.

    • Walter

      Dr. Boothe I am sad to say that you and Mark were right after all. Now the tears are flowing down Dundalk Avenue because Fat Lady Singing and her followers’ desire to turn our Steel Factory into the Cheesecake Factory, Container & Cruise Ship terminal, Casinos, NASCAR venue, Windmill & Solar panel greenie businesses is more real than what we once had.  The Port of Baltimore, the Yuppies, and tree huggers did us in and no one came to fight for us or bail us out this time around, only hot air and false promises -  WHY?????

      Dr. Walter   Phd. BS 

      • Fat_Lady_Singing

        Walter I had resolved not to write anything else here and just be satisfied
        with the outcome but since you want to blame me and people like me for your
        problems I’ll respond.  Your perspective will never cease to amaze me.  By this time I would have thought you would have a better grasp on what actually happened but you still have a complete misunderstanding of the whole situation.  You want to place blame on people like me when in reality you guys rode the gravy train right off of the tracks until you could go no farther.  The mill did not close because of people like me it closed because of people like you!  The mill was already on life support when Bethlehem went bankrupt after nearly two decades of bad business decisions and for all intents and purposes it should have been shut down at that time.  Somehow it managed to struggle on but it was obvious to anyone looking in from the outside that the days were numbered.  The mill was obsolete and the labor and operational costs were far too high.  You’re lucky you got the additional time out of it that you got and that’s only because of the relationship that the mill and the union had with the the local government.  But that relationship was based on the glory days and it was easy to see that whatever hold there might have been was quickly slipping away.  Even the politicians could no longer justify supporting such an obsolete, money losing facility.  The mill did not close as a result of environmentalists or greenies or nimbys or The Port Authority or master plans from the 70′s or real estate developers or for any reason other than the fact that it could not sustain itself as a profitable business.  If it had been able to there would still be an orange cloud over the neighborhood.  Businesses of all kinds go under every day for this reason and a steel mill is not immune.  Frankly I find the pious attitude you exhibit toward the mill as if it should somehow be above this basic economic reality to be pretty sickening. 

        As for me, all I did was state my opinions about the whole situation and my opinions, which are obviously different than yours, were from the perspective of an outsider looking in.  Your problem is you were too close to the whole thing and you had too much of an emotional attachment to it.  You couldn’t see the reality of the situation.  You couldn’t see the forest for the trees.  Your views were tainted by a view of the mill as it was in it’s hey-day and you could not see the reality of the way things are today.  The bubble you live in was just too small and you couldn’t see the big picture.  The image of self-importance that you presented here was a joke and I knew it.  All your talk about the union controlling the politicians and how you’re able to break any environmental law you want to because you are so viable and important was laughable at best.  And so yes I called you out on it and told you how things really are.  You and a few others here said I was crazy, called me a nimbe and a greenie and a few other choice names but obviously I was right.  I called this inevidable conclusion from the very beginning and I called almost every step of it along the way.  But neither myself or people similar to me had anything to do with it.  Ultimately it was the culmination of a lot of bad decisions, mistakes and market conditions over the years that led to where we are today and it was just time for it to end.  Everything eventually dies and it was the mills’ time to go.  As it will be for me one day and as it will be for you.  We are born, we have our glory days and then we fizzle out.  If we’re lucky that is.  In some strange way the mill completed that circle of life.  But the bottom line here is that to say, “The Port of Baltimore, the Yuppies, and tree huggers did us in,” is just completely wrong.  You’re placing blame where it doesn’t belong. 

        On a final note I’d also like to say best of luck to you Walter.  I did enjoy our lively debates and in a way I hate to see them end.  But end they must as there’s really no longer any point, (no pun intended.)  I hope things work out for you and I also hope that everyone affected by this closing manages to make a transition into something else.  Something better.  Whatever you may think of me I want you to know that I find no joy in seeing men and women losing their jobs and possibly falling on hard times.  I really do wish all of you the best and hope the future brings you opportunities for brighter times.

      • alleah51

        hey walter. what do you think about your first class owner now.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/P3YLBSQBDTONN5NF2YVOXIQWOU Dr. Raymond B

      I was really praying that something good would come out of all this destruction. Many families were hurt at the Point along with many in the Ohio Valley. Some of the facilities at the Point were quite operable under the right management and it is quite sad that some quality steel company did not bid on these particular facilities at the auction. Certainly with an electric furnace and some other equipment, the cold mill could have been turned into an nice mini mill operation. They could have sold off other parts of the plant and still invested in a decent electric furnace operation and pulled off a profit one way or another. Then the other possibilities could still be included such as a deeper port, lighter support industries and ship repair facilities. Even wthout operating the L and the other losing parts of the plant
      steel could have existed in harmony with the “new” Point. It would have been in a different form, yet it would be steel.

      The same is true at Mingo Junction. Hopefully (and with some luck), steel will return but in a wholly different form. Currently the owners are not interested in the blast furnace which was one of the most efficient in the United States. This  is quite sad, due to the fact that it was totally modernized before the Bouchard’s sold it to Severstal. Severstal and Goodwin just did not understand the hot end of the Consteel EAF process. Then he did the same thing under RG Steel-avoided it altogether.

      Such are the failures of stupid men with lots of money and no ethics whatsoever.

      Dr. Boothe  

      • PittOsu

        Dr. Boothe, I hope that the Mingo Plant will find financing.The only other good paying jobs are in the gas industry but there slow to come. Also they may only hire a few per year. They operate a very lean ship. They would rather pay just a few people and work them many hours of overtime as opposed to hiring. They are non union with very little safety. I have seen posts of how the non union mills of the south operate, well the gas industry here operates a little worse as far as manpower, expectations and safety. Continue to inform us of any new developments with the steel industry.

        • Dr. Raymond Boothe

          You are certainly right about the safety standards in the Southern mills. I am hoping that the history of unions in the North will give any new restart at Mingo a little edge in that area. They were successful keeping the majority of them as far as I know at Yorkville. A lot of this is due to stronger worker laws in the State of Ohio and more inspections. The Ohio Governor is still not strong enough to overturn and make another attempt to overturn union and enviromental laws in that state.

          We have also seen that the new gas industry in Ohio will be coming slower than expected, and that is why we need the  restart of Mingo and other former WPSC properties. West Virginia is so hung up on the failing coal industry that most of its former WPSC properties went to hades. Follansbee still has not started up fully because of Severstal’s foot dragging concerning the co-gen plant at Mingo. Nobody in West Virginia has been kicking their butt to finish the deal and start operating the other 3 coke batteries. This causes job stress in both states. Governor Tomblin and Senator Manchin of W.VA are nothing but Republicans dressed in Democratic clothing. They sold out the industrial side of the State in the last election to promote coal for Romney. In doing this they cut their own throats in relation to the aid they will get from the Federal Government.So much for party loyality.

  • ZacharyMurray

    Time for some Pittsburgh style redevelopment.

  • unioncaught

    The next question is who will get the money from the halls being sold. The money made from the sale should go to the members and not the international union. Unfortunately the union leaders are more greedy than the corporations. This money will not go to the membership which is sad. 

  • unioncaught

    The reason the point is closed is due to greedy union leaders. Severstal tried to negotiate with the union and were chased away. The leaders of the Steelworkers union are only worried about themselves. Some 2000 union members lost their jobs in Sparrows Point. There isn’t any union official at the international that has lost theirs. I wouldn’t be surprised if they hire the 6 paid union reps of Sparrows Point. 

    • chrisober

      I just like to inform you that the first union officals to go were the Railroad, and guess what the Railroad is still working. Union free and Your great leader Joe has done nothing about it but sent on his ass and suck up everyones money. 

      • IronworkerSP

        True Chris that the railroad at the Point has plenty of work. Looks like they will be working for years because this is how long they told us it will take to dismantle the Point.
        Dr. Ray would get a kick out of seeing PBRR rail cars loaded with what looks like pieces other rail cars. The burners did not even cut them up into small pieces, just big chunks of old rail cars being shipped out to our old competitor’s EAF.  Once they ramp up the razing, the railroad should be working 24/7 just to keep up with the burners.    

        • George Lopez

          I have worked on a bunch of steel mill demolition projects. First they pick the low lying fruit to start cash flow on the project (it’s probably what you are seeing in the RR Cars) The rest will be cut to fire box length by shears mounted on excavators. The stuff too big to be sheared will be cut up by contract burners who get paid daily by the ton of how much steel they can burn. They are sort of like burning hobos.They travel all over the country. They are based out of Texas and work for a middleman who gets a cut.

          • IronworkerSP

            George we are seeing rail passenger style Pullman cars lined up on the rail sidings leading into the Point. The cars were recently moved down into the secured and off limits interior of the Point. We were told that the professional demolition teams are housed in these self-contained rail Pullman cars. So what you are saying about professional contract burners being rail hobos is now all coming together. Thanks for helping us put two and two together. This looks serious and Walter’s and the leadership’s wishing for a turn around do not look so good with these teams of burners and shear operators camped out all over the rail sidings. You say they are working piece rate by the ton so I am guessing now that they are staged we are going to see buildings dropping like gang busters. You are right about the low lying fruit because it seems they are scraping ground level and loose stuff around the property making room for the big demo work that cannot be too far off. It must cost a lot of money to bring this traveling demo caravan into the Point, so we can expect them not to waste time and start razing the mills soon.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QSCFKMWJZVA6NUNVGV34KPEHTA Robert

    adios everybody, i guess its time for me to call in my rule 85 and hope i dont get penilized by unemployment like they say we would. if barbra mikulski and all the politicos want to help they would c that we could get both monies wich would help big time!!! both us n the local community.well the train ride is over,merry xmas everyone and to everyone goodnite!!!!

  • unioncaught

    What many people who never belonged in a union don’t understand is how much of dues we pay out of our checks. This money could be used for conventions in Las Vegas for union reps. The reps are usually in a nice office never working inside the mill like everyone else that pays high union dues. The founders of the unions are rolling in their graves on what the union has become.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/LY4TKK4LYMACSOMMHHHVYA533A birdbiz2003

    someone with access to the Baltimore County and state economic development offices needs to get them to talk HILCO and ELT into marketing Penwood Power Station intact. Penwood is a 130 mw station that can be converted to run fully on natural gas like the 60 mw one at the former U.S. Steel one at Fairless Works in Pennsyvania was  with its original turbines. Penwood is only 3 years older. I do not want to  see those turbines go to power a factory in India going off the grid for power supply problems there. With a seawall and converted to natural gas and some pollution equipment upgrades as it will not fall under the lower serving an industrial site rules  Penwood can provide good paying jobs again  An investor group .Keeping and upgrading Penwood eould be cheaper than building a new station somewhere

    • OxygenMaskedMan

      Only a birdbrain would consider starting back up that industrial antique at Penwood Power. The electric plant is so old it looks like its out a Frankenstein movie. Maybe if Thomas Edison was still alive and could personally run the contraption?  Other than that is time for Hilco to start making some real money scrapping out the tons of copper windings and wire. The powerhouse bricks will make nice landfill material for the new Cruise Ship dock they have planned out at the end of Penwood Wharf.  Do not worry about generating 130 MW as the proposed SP wind turbines will easily do that with all of those sea breezes blowing up the Bay.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/LY4TKK4LYMACSOMMHHHVYA533A birdbiz2003

        See the magazine article about the former USX  Fairless Works electricty and steam plant only 3 years newer than Penwood
        http://www.powermag.com/issues/features/Burning-landfill-gas-has-environmental-and-economic-benefits_269.html

        • Nashorn

          This plant had ready access to gas from nearby landfills, in effect switching from one source of “free” energy (BF gas from the steel mill) to another (methane from landfills).

          Without such source of free energy these plants cannot burn commercial fuels (natural gas, oil, coal) and be cost competitive.

  • unioncaught

    There is much clatter from the union members 9477 Facebook page about filing a lawsuit against the international union. People are upset that our benefits were signed away by a union rep. These benefits alone would have kept Steelworkers with Health Care and a severance package.  The union rep who done this makes around $150,000 a year. The union wants their members to move on and forget a lawsuit. There is hope that the right lawyer can fight for the workers like the union should have done.

    • Hot Metal Guru ( Jack Rose )

      There is one person that deserves the blame for the situation that we all find ourselves in today. One man who manipulated 3 independent steel mills and destroyed every one of them. That man is none other than the USW’s man of the year, Dimebag Dave McCall.

      • alleah51

        that’s dime bag dave in his finest hour. the internationals finest.

      • bocephusjr

        Amen Brother… Now what do we do about it?  Thousands of people have lost their jobs with NO help from the International union.  NOT ONE BEEP.  No wonder unions continue to decline in numbers.

  • Closedbusinessowner

    This was Ira Rennert’s plan from the beginning. I pray our elected officials will step in and prosecute Ira Rennert. He is a criminal. I know the judge in Peru is not finished with him. I hope and pray that all the companies and Steelworkers that were affected by this stand up and continue to fight. I would like a list all the companies that were not paid. If anyone has information on how I can obtain this, please let me know. It will not change the fate of Sparrows Point, but hopefully he will never be able to run another business into the ground. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself. Our bankruptcy laws need to change. I will only be able to heal if I can help start this change.

  • unioncaught

    There is a website to report union corruption that successfully prosecutes offenders.  Their website is http://nlpc.org/report-corruption There is many cases against the steelworkers union leaders in the last year.

  • Hot Metal Guru ( Jack Rose )

    Sure we can blame Ira Rennert for being a no good, ruthless, cheap ass billionaire that could care less about the working people that made him one.But McCall knew that before he gave Ira the keys to the car and let him drive anyway. While we are at it we could blame Alexei Mordashov, the clueless Bouchard’s,John Goodwrench, the economy, and the list goes on and on. But the fact remains that were it not for McCall’s idiotic tunnel vision and inability to recognize his limitations( stupidity and ego) and correct the course, most, if not all, of what has transpired in the last 4 years most likely would not have occurred.Let us not forget that Dimebag McCall hand picked every owner ! And once again, he is conspicuously absent after all of the destruction of steelworker lives he has wrought ! Is there not one USW member whose life has been touched by this carnage that does not believe that McCall should have enough intestinal fortitude to explain to all of the ex-steelworkers that he represented why, after giving these mills the best years of our lives the reason that we now find ourselves on the outside looking in ??? McCall’s style is to tell his local minions what to say to the membership while he stays safely insulated and continues to accept 150 grand a year from the members he has not had an opportunity to hose yet !God only knows how much Rennert kicked back to him for selling everybody down the river? This is beyond corruption.I want somebody from the USW upper echelon hierarchy to explain to all of us why a union that is charged solely with protecting the rights,safety, and livelihoods of it’s members has failed us so miserably ????Was there a master plan hatched behind closed doors??? Follow the money trail and therein most likely lies the answer.

    • bocephusjr

      I think you hit the nail on the head!! McCall wanted Warren, wheeling and Sparrows to be taken out of the steelmaking process. Both him and Conway…

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/P3YLBSQBDTONN5NF2YVOXIQWOU Dr. Raymond B

        The situation was worse than that. The union heads wanted to develop a new large steel company to use as another bargaining chip in the upcoming national contract negotiations. They wanted RG Steel to be used along with the unions at US Steel and ArcelorMittal to create a stonger barganing position with the Northern steel companies. 

        RG Steel was created as cannon fodder for the USW. When will the workers ever learn.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/P3YLBSQBDTONN5NF2YVOXIQWOU Dr. Raymond B

    Platts Steel Newslettler formally announced early this morning that Sparrows Point will be raised. This was Hilco’s desire all along and they should be condemmed for misleading the workers and the City of Baltimore. Although it was a forgone conclusion, this deliberate dance with the public was just as immoral than the actual destruction of the plant itself.

    It will left up to the local power company how to replace the power generated by the Penwood Generating Plant. I suspect Hilco is operating on purchased power right now and the local electric company is just holding pat waiting to see if the Penwood Generating Plant will even be necessary. The bigger question is who actually owns it in the first place? If it is owned by the power company it can actually be ordered off the property. In that case the power company would just abandon it and let Hilco do the demo. It would be cheaper for the power company because they are not in the demo business in the first place. 

    • Nashorn

      Hillco owns Pennwood.

      The locate electric utility BGE doesn’t have a replacement issue, all of the power generated by Pennwood was consumed at Sparrows Point, little or none was put on the public grid, rather the public grid sold power to SP to top up its needs.

      Without an operating mill there is no need for Pennwood’s power. 

      Pennwood’s assets are part of the overall SP property and will scrapped like everything else.

      • OxygenMaskedMan

        Thanks Nash for setting the record straight. Now that Hilco has turned off all of the unnecessary lights BG &E has ample capacity to run the proposed marine terminal cranes, the millions of LED lights for the casinos, and still fulfill the needs of any light modern industrial use. Modern equipment does not waste or consume anywhere near the amount our old 1920′s to 1960′s vintage motors and machinery does.

        The only way to save Penwood Power Plant is to turn it into something like the Pratt Street Power Plant Live. Both plants have 4 big smokestacks that make the plants look like the Titanic sailing up the Patapsco River. The Pratt Street Power Plant has the Cordish Company to look after it. Can Penwood Power find the ESPN Zone, Barnes & Noble, Phillips Seafood, Hard Rock Cafe, or a Hooters as tenants too?  

        Maybe, but for Hilco all of Penwood’s pure copper is just as mouth watering as a steak from Ruth Chris or a cute Hooter’s server. Just like the Titanic-the old Penwood Power Plant is about to sink into the history books too and Nash explained why. 

  • FormerBethSteelEmp

    A bit more information about Pennwood power…

    Pennwood is a 4 boiler, 4 turbine operation. Three of the turbines are condensing units and one is produces some electricity but also steam for the plant. The boilers are multi-fired and at one time burned blast furnace gas, coke oven gas, natural gas and Bunker “C” oil, a heavy oil that is extremely viscous. The Combustion Engineering -designed boilers are tangentially fired with large fireboxes and were designed to burn blast furnace gas — a low BTU gas  ( approximately 80-90 BTU/ cu.ft. ) which will not support its own combustion. Natural gas was used as a pilot fuel.

    The power house did not produce enough electricity to power the entire steel plant. It was however on the PJM grid and could be asked to produce at its maximum rated capacity of about 150-160 MW when peak demand was very high. The plant contract w/ BGE made this profitable at times, particularly during the 100+ degree summer days. Some plant operations would be curtailed to shed load during these peak periods.

    Utilities, like most businesses operate their most efficient units first. Nuclear units, geothermal  and hydroelectric units are the most efficient. Some fossil fuel-fired units are kept on standby and are only operated during periods of peak demand. Pennwood would most likely be in this category.

    Steelmaking is a big user of electricity. With the cessation of the steel business, BGE most likely is able to reallocate 200 MW or so that was used at “the Point”. It is doubtful that Pennwood’s generating capacity, which may be economic to operate only a few hours a day during very hot summer days can be justified. BGE would be most knowledgeable about these matters.

    Also, as a point of clarifiaction, blast furnaces do not produce steam. They produce blast furnace gas; a byproduct that can be burned to heat steel or in a boiler to make steam.

  • unioncaught

    There are many workers at Sparrows Point that are banding together to sue the international union. They are currently looking for the right lawyer for the class action suit. This is being done without the local union due to their conflict of interest. Let’s hope the workers at Sparrows Point win this lawsuit to teach all other unions a lesson that they can’t throw their members in the streets with no repercussions.

    • alleah51

      sue the international. they should be put away for life.

  • unioncaught

    Everyone who went at the last union meeting was disgusted. The international union rep Jim Strong was blaming Kevin Kamenetz.Many members reminded him that he endorsed Kamenetz even though Kamenetz didn’t want Sparrows Point to be a steel mill. The lawsuit against the international my draw major media attention. The public has to know what really happens to union members behind closed doors.

  • bubobotha

    The nonpractical, ivory tower, corrupt, good old boy, bubble culture of the old Bethlehem Steel management coupled with old school, hard headed, union entitlement mindset ultimately killed Sparrows Point.  Its been a long time coming.  I was talking with an engineer in my office about Sparrows Point just last week.   His old company partnered to run Sparrows Point’s machine shop years back.  His old company also supplied the new cold mill and did maintenance on the caster.  Apparently the Sparrows Point machine shop was a disfunctional P.O.S.  The hard headed union fought tooth and nail to keep management from contracting out anything and everything to protect those jobs.    It didn’t matter if the shop was timely or cost competative.  ”We would rather you shut the plant down than contract out our work”.  Does Nucor Berkeley have these problems?  This engineer’s stories of kick backs and corruption involving that Sparrows Point are mind blowing.  Like I’ve said before, the chickens have all come home to roost.  He also said he never saw corruption at Nucor Berkeley and they are still running.   Maybe someone can point out to Barbara Mikulski that Nucor Berkeley can and will supply the steel that Sparrows Point once did here in the good old USA.

    • IronworkerSP

      Maybe Barb needs to look across the river from SP over to the ghost town that she allowed the Fort Howard VA hospital to become. Soon it will be 20 years and no new medical center and veteran housing as was promised our Vets. So if the Vets who gave so much are forgotten does anyone really think she will jump in at this late hour to bail out SP?  Like you say, NUCOR can help supply domestic steel needs, but who is going to look after our Veterans at Fort Howard?  

      • exspworker

         Developers and politicians go hand in hand.

  • unioncaught

    The founders of the union are rolling in their graves on what the Steelworkers union has become. The union reps never had an answer on why they never held a protest.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/P3YLBSQBDTONN5NF2YVOXIQWOU Dr. Raymond B

    Remember, historically this all began with the 1959 strike. At the end Bethlehem owed more in retirement and benefits than they could possibly pay back. There was no way they could afford their obligations to their employees, let alone profitably operate a steel company. Years of giveaways destroyed their ability to function.

  • FormerBethSteelEmp

    just some comments…

    It is true that the the post-employment benefits, specifically healthcare and pensions promised by Beth Steel drove the company into bankruptcy. Beth Steel poured money into these unfundable obligations that could have been spent to make plants more competitive.
    These obligations were wiped out by the bankruptcy filing and are not quite so relevant today.  Some posts claimed that “L” furnace drove RG out of business. “L” was in need of an eventual reline and suffered from underinvestment like some other parts of the plant but the operation of “L” was a cash drain for two reasons:
    The furnace is the largest or second largest in N.A. depending on which metric is used.
    Blast furnaces do not have a large operating range in which they can produce efficiently si in order for “L” to run efficiently it needed to run at a level that steel demand at RG would not support. The BOF/caster shop struggled to keep up with the production when “L” produced at capacity. Years ago, Sparrows Point produced plate, blooms and had soaking pits, this was not a problem. The small blast furnaces, specifically “H” was late 1940′s technology and last ran in the 1980′s or 1990′s.
    Sparrows Point did not have its own supply of iron ore so when iron ore prices spiked, slab costs were driven higher than slab costs at competing mills. The plant was left at a huge competitive disadvantage.

    The behavior of the USW during the last decade makes one wonder if the “Union” was trying to save the plant or destroy it. As mentioned , the plant was in desperate need of cheap iron ore and CSN was an owner of lots of high quality ore. The USW refused to support a bid from them when Mittal was forced to sell. After Severstal bought the mill, the USW could not reach a contract agreement with them. It denied its own workers a chance to vote on a contract that would have provided greater economic benefit and job security and instead recommended a contract with Ira Rennert, an investor who had leveraged up the Warren plant years ago and then took it into bankruptcy. As an owner, Rennert was absent from the day-day situations. His Operations management team ran out of money and took the company into bankruptcy in only 14 months. As noted in the Brew, the Union did not appear involved in partnering with an established operator until after the plant was purchased by a liquidator. Once the plant became owned by someone who had no interest in operating it, the “Union”really lost any influence.

    Of course the old culture as mentioned by bob… was a problem. The USW always took the stance that it was management’s job to manage but whenever proposals were made to
    touch the sacred cows of seniority, contracting out or sticking up for the small percentage of workers who did not want to contribute to success, then Union fought back. In all fairness, there were mangers who also resisted change.

    Someone spoke about Union dues. When one thinks of the decades and decades that the tens of thousands of men and women labored at Sparrows Point, the Union dues alone would have been sufficient to buy the plant and keep hope alive. For 100 million the Union could have owned some prime real estate and called the shots. Where were they during the bankruptcy process?

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/P3YLBSQBDTONN5NF2YVOXIQWOU Dr. Raymond B

      FormerBethSteelEmp is certainly correct about the operation of L furnace. It certainly was what broke the camels back at SP. When it was built Bethlehem still had enough operating mills to cover the most of the steel it produced, but after shutting down the plate mill, etc., there was way too much iron produced to make a profit. Bethlehem would have been far better off rebuilding and remodeling two existing blast furnaces, adding an additional BOF vessel and investing the extra money into the hot mill. The two blast furnace and three BOF vessel arrangement would have gave them far more flexibility. This is how they built Burns Harbor and this arrangement proved successful.

      No doubt selling off all their iron ore properties and closing the SP coke plant was a real killer. The cost of high priced ore and coke drove up the cost of L operations beyond their ability to make a profit. The two larger furnaces than L
      (No. 7 at AM Indiana Harbor and the rebuilt No. 13 at USS Gary) both own their own iron ore resources and have coke produced nearby. In addition they both make their own electricity and have back-up blast furnaces. It seems that the leadership in Bethlehem lost their total mind. Even Burns Harbor has an operating coke plant on site.

      There are so many reasons nobody would bother to even look at SP. The CSN bid was SP’s last chance to survive and it was nixed by the USW. Why the union members went along with the USW in this case God only knows.

    • IronworkerSP

      You sum it up very well that there were many straws that broke the back of Sparrows. I do believe that if CSN would have bought Sparrows they too would be bled dry by the grossly inefficient L blast furnace and mismatched BOF and finishing lines.

       CSN would only have dragged out the death process and in the end would have hurt themselves as well the work force and vendors hanging on to another false hope and dead end.  Yes, the union should have been more flexible, but remember if the union would give an inch the SOB owners would still want more and we would end up giving them all that we fought for over the years. The union took a gamble, the vendors and outside contractors took a gamble, as well as a half dozen steel companies investors took a gamble on Sparrows Point and it always proved impossible to keep the rotten white elephant alive. We all knew that the SP bubble would burst and the smoke and mirror game could not go on forever. Last week, the media and politicians confirmed what we all knew was overdue. I feel a relief that I can finally move on just like you did. The only winners are Hilco and ELT and I wish them good luck in that cursed track of real estate.

  • FormerBethSteelEmp

    The one thing that CSN brought to the table that former owners did not was a desire to invest money in the plant. Those planned investments included an upgrade to the hot side of the plant. Bethlehem invested more money in its pension and benefit plans for retirees than in its steel operations. BethSteel’s new cold investment was undertaken only after the existing cold mill began to fall apart. It actually turned out to be a good investment and was the last Beth made in the plant. ISG, like most private equity owners was looking for an exit strategy and sold out to Mittal without meaningful investment in the plant. After Mittal bought the plant, he indicated that priorities for investment would be growth markets overseas. When the Bush DOJ indicated that Sparrows Point needed to be sold, Mittal spent only the absolute minimum at Sparrows Point to preserve the asset. CSN stepped in but was turned away by the USW. It is tough to predict the future, but with a revamped hot side and an owner who wanted to be in the steel business, the plant could have been profitable.

    Everyone knows how the saga played out after CSN was turned away. The USW supported the Bouchard brothers who couldn’t arrange financing to buy the plant from Mittal let alone invest in the facilities. The plant languished awhile longer until Severstal stepped in. Severstal was unable to reach a labor agreement with the USW and had indicated that they were reluctant to undertake major investments until the labor situation was resolved. Severstal was aware of the high cost of running the hot side and attempted to bring in slabs to prevent the huge cash drain. Again the Union stepped in to prevent this. Faced with an inflexible and unsettled labor situation, and a Union who refused to allow plant workers vote on a contract, Severstal abandoned all hope of salvaging their investment.   

  • ClevelandMill

    I’m here at the Cleveland plant now and all I keep hearing
    is if Sparrows Point would have been shut down from the beginning for 6 month
    to a 1 year we would have been forced feed an dose of reality, just like this
    Cleveland facility was, we ALL would have been begging for CSN to take us over.
    It’s this crazy fear that some corporation is not union friendly that killed
    SPPT, grow up ALL corporations are not union friendly any longer. Because of the
    union and others made concessions here this plant is still running, and guess
    what, we must make more production changes to keep on going. So it’s all dead
    and buried now, move on and let this go. STOP the insanity.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/P3YLBSQBDTONN5NF2YVOXIQWOU Dr. Raymond B

      The Cleveland Mill of ArcelorMittal is completely different than the situation at SP.
      It has two fine blast furnaces where you can control the production of iron, a 2 vessel BOP Shop, and EAF furnace, a well kept railroad and the best mills from both Republic and J&L Steel. In addition it has access to Great Lakes ore (owned by ArcelorMittal) and its own coke supply from Warren. It also has a better union contract than Burns Harbor and Indiana Harbor. Its location is best suited to manufacturers in the Midwest and it has an outlet for tin production at its Weirton Tin Facility. 

      Cleveland is just more balanced and a far more economic plant to operate. Comparing it to SP is like comparing apples to oranges. The facilities at SP are badly in need of repair or replacement. Their operating costs (ore, coke, labor) are just plain out of sight. This is what hurts SP. The Cleveland Plant is built for survivability, where SP was not.

      • IronworkerSP

        Dr. Ray we at SP were always on an endless loop treadmill to outdo US Steel. This is why they bought the Old Bay Shore Amusement Park and built a rail right of way (now called the haul-road) down to the park. John Colbert told us they never had any intentions building another steel mill at Bay Shore and the only reason they built the rail line and bought all of that property was to keep USS out and to bluff them that the world’s tidewater largest steel mill had the land to double in size!

        Building the L furnace was another attempt by the Beth Steel culture at “bigger was always better”. It is now coming out that Beth Steel management’s ”size counts” mentality, in regard to the “L”, was a blunder that even using resources ($$$) from their other mills (Burns Harbor and the PA mills) and selling off ore mines to cover their costly mistake from the stockholders in the end was not enough to keep Sparrows from sinking and taking many other mills in PA and Ohio with it.

        They were so confident that the L was the biggest in the best they even had plans for a twin of the L to be built even thought they (as you pointed out) did not even have enough capacity to handle all of the hot metal the L was supposed to put out! They were so sure and full of themselves that they knocked down two very workable BFs just to show to the stockholders and USS that were not looking back and burned those bridges as to confirm their commitment and faith the monster BF that was all the rage at the time. Now we all know that is was keeping the L cover up going all these decades was the first domino to fall over and taking all of Beth Steel, many PA mills, and a big part of the Ohio Valley with it. Now this would make a good book or movie for you or Mark to write a screenplay for. 

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/P3YLBSQBDTONN5NF2YVOXIQWOU Dr. Raymond B

          You are quite correct. The American steel industry went through a period that “bigger was better.” It killed Bethlehem and almost damn near killed USS and made it an oil company.

          USS invested in big blast furnaces at Duquesne, Fairfield and the ill-fated Gary No. 13 that was so bad it had to be rebuilt from the ground up. The most modern and largest in the Mon Valley (Dorothy at Duquesne) only lived a very short time before it was demolished-what a waste. Fairfield wiped out all of the old TC&I RR blast furnaces, Fairless demolished all three and just became a finished mill and USS spent millions down the rabbit hole rebuilding their huge No. 13. These are just a few of USS’s grand blast furnace disasters in the giant blast furnace race.
          Inland Steel’s grand plan of building the largest blast furnace in North America and demolishing 6 blast furnaces eventually worked out after years of problems solving all the problems in the Japanese designed BF (No. 7). They finally got it running but after a gigantic cost.

          As I said earlier Burns Harbor was the only plant Bethlehem ever came close to building a perfect mill. Two large blast furnaces, 3 BOF vessels, coke plant and ore dock all on the same site. Unlike SP, iron and steel production could be adjusted according to the markets. 

          Some of the biggest hits in the history of BS management 1. Building the EAF at Johnstown where they should have just closed the entire plant down and left the coke ovens operating. 2. Closing down the losing Lackawanna hot end sooner and making it just a finishing plant. 3. Building a new EAF Shop at Bethlehem and closing the existing blast furnace and BOF operation.

          These are just a few matters to consider. And you are totally right, Bethlehem wasted way too much money on L furnace, were the money could have been spent better at SP and at the other plants. We we all know BS made gigantic mistakes at SP when they should have rebuilt two existing blast furnaces, added an additional BOF vessel (or possibly an EAF), rebuilt the hot mill and repaired the coke batteries. Its too bad the SP employees had to suffer for the bubble-headed management of a formally fine company.

          • PittOsu

            Dr., Any new news on wheeling-Pitts mingo plt. Seems like things are moving slow. If they do start up, what nitch market can they sell to? The EAF alone cant keep the caster running at capacity nor the Hot Mill. How will they operate this mill differtently?

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/P3YLBSQBDTONN5NF2YVOXIQWOU Dr. Raymond B

            Things are moving slowly at Mingo. To get ahold of these people is difficult and I don’t really see any movement until after the first of the year. They claim that they need 80 million dollars and they are currently working to get that settled. I personally think they need about 40-50 million to start operations.

            The EAF is rather large, and on pure scrap it would just make enough to make the operation profitable. I have been trying to convince Frontier that running the blast furnace and running the EAF with molten metal would create a better quality and increased variety of steel. An operation like this has proven successful at ArcelorMittal. This would expand their marketability. The blast furnace could also make pig iron for their own EAF and sell the rest on the open market to other EAF steel companies.

            Their market looks like it could be specialized steel for wide coils (like the automotive, farming and large equipment manufacturing industries), small batches of special order custom hot bands and substrate coils for tin and other thin metals (like Yorkville and Ohio Coatings). Their nitch would be varied amounts, produced quickly with a variety of chemistries. Making their own pig iron and possibily selling the rest on the open market would be a super plus.Their blast furnace is capabile of working at a variety of volumes with coke available right accross the river. Also a competitive labor contract would be necessary to run the plant. A similar contract like the USW negotiated at Yorkville might start as a model.

            Hopefully Frontier will work toward that direction. There are a lot of good possiblities at Mingo.

          • 22222aaaaaa

            You know what is puzzling me? is the fact that when Yorkville opens back up they will still have the same asshole management that shut them down twice before.  whats wrong with this picture?

          • Dr. Raymond Boothe

            There are a number of reasons, some of them known-some unknown. One most certainly is that Brochard has a heavy investment in the Ohio Coatings Company which is next door to Yorkville. He needs the preparred coils from Yorkville to keep Ohio Coatings operating.

            Secondly, it is better to hire experienced people at a lower rate if you can. With the jobs situation quite poor in the Ohio Valley, the ability to get these experienced workers at a lower price was a certainty. Even with their hourly rate reduced, workers at Yorkville retained the majority of their USW working rights and a halfway decent hourly wage. The plant kept almost all of the employees it had before. In addition the State of Ohio gave them certain wavers to correct the EPA problems that it was experiencing.

            Operating Yorkville is quite different than operating all of WPSC. It is far more focused and more in line with their successful finishing plants in the Chicago area. When RG Steel’s SP Tin Plant was failing, Yorkville was still operating at a small profit even with the lack of proper raw materials and repairs. The Yorkville Plant is just as old as any building standing on SP property, but its advantage was always its employees, equipment and its ability to innovate when it needed to. It was the home of the first continuous mill for tin coils in the United States along with the first electrolytic coating lines.

            Brochard’s timing and location in this case was the selling point. Lets hope his processing and mill experience in the Chicago area helps him at Yorkville.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/LY4TKK4LYMACSOMMHHHVYA533A birdbiz2003

          In one of retired Special Agent Willie Parker of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ‘s books he talks about issuing Federal   duck hunting violation tickets to Steve Takos and Beth Steel executives at what is now North Point State Park. Bay Shore Park was bought at end of the Summer of 1946 or 1947. I was a volunteer at the state  park from 2000 to 2002. Steve is the man the visitor center is named after . He worked for Bay Shore and was the caretaker of the land for Beth Steel and then the chief of volunteers at the park and might still be if he is living  starting in the 1930s as a middle school student age employee .  He did not mind telling me about getting caught  Part of the seeds of the demise of the mill started right after World War II then. All that money wasted on taxes local , state , and Federal  for 40 years till the land became the state park . Money  that could have been used for keeping the mill more up to date or safe for workers

          • OxygenMaskedMan

            Yes the park was the private hunting and drinking playground of the Bethlehem Steel and Langenfelder VIPs. The General Managers at SP always ordered the “hunting guides” to shoot all birds of prey, then they had the dozers pile up brush for the rabbits and other small animals to live in. The open fields baited with corn and grain “they called it sugar” brought in the ducks, geese, doves and quail. By killing all the falcons, owls, and eagles the small animals and game birds multiplied and it was easy pickings for the SP VIPs and their guests to bag plenty of hunting trophy even if they were bad shots and always drunk.

            Takos was the only one of the Bay Shore guides to protest and have them (the SP Vip’s) stop ordering the knocking off of the birds of prey to make hunting easier. He would be no part of this immoral and illegal practice that the Bethlehem upper management just laughed about. Takos also arranged the deal to save the park as a protected wild lands State Park when SP management was shopping it around to the developers. Without Takos the park and its wildlife would have ended up townhouses and most of the wildlife dead just like Bethlehem management destroyed SP!

  • 8line

    Does anyone know what is happening with the  proof of claims from the unsecured creditors. The deadline to file a claim  was Nov 27. Whats suppose to happen next? Hey Mark can you shed some light on this process.    Ps Dr B. I must apologize to you.For months now I’ve resented your commentary of Sp.Every quote from you felt  like a personal attack on us. However, you were just being honest and the harsh reality was the truth hurts.The end of steelmaking at Sparrows Point. Happy Holidays Dr Boothe

    • alleah51

      this was nothing but a sham from day one.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/P3YLBSQBDTONN5NF2YVOXIQWOU Dr. Raymond B

      Thanks 8Line. I have been watching these idiots since they were at Esmark (WPSC). Since the beginning of RG Steel I have followed the misorganization of the company along with the terrible leadership of Goodwin and Ira Rennert. I realized when the union went along with these wing nuts the company would fail quickly. Ira Rennert is a criminal in the first degree and he has proved it many times over. Goodwin and his cronies were a failure at WPSC and how he became a CEO of a large steel company God himself only knows. Maybe if I am good I will finally find out.

      Standing back it wasn’t the workers who failed SP. They had never seen the disasters of Goodwin at WPSC and Ira Rennert at Warren. The workers did not realize what lie before them. The union lied constantly to the SP workers and did not really lift a finger to support the Western Plants. While SP was getting money to operate, Mingo was shut down, Warren blew up its blast furnace (with no help for repairs), Yorkville was barely running on reduced parts, oil and other necessities and the list goes on and on. Slowly but surely the problems became so great that it started to appear at SP. Loss of orders, the tin mill closing, lack of investment in the plant and a gigantic debt created by L furnace and its hunger for high priced coke and ore from overseas. This tremendous debt was not addressed properly and eventually crushed the entire company.

      The company would have been operating today with better owners and planners. The operators (workers) were not the issue. As I have said many times the company should have started in a different direction to assure sales, avoid huge debt and assure profitability. On the steel manufacturing end Mingo and Warren should have started first and the L furnace and BOF should have not started until the need was found necessary. During that period the hot end workers should have been employeed to help repair the hot end. Warren would supply SP with HC for its cold mill and tin mill.The L furnace should have been put on reserve until the market was better. At that time Warren BF should have shut down for repairs.

      Mingo should have supplied Yorkville, Martins Ferry and Wheeling Corrugating.
      This would have made a nice niche for these items. Warren should have continued in the manufacture of specialized steel and sent HC to SP for further processing. Eventually SP would need to work for a coke manufacturing contract in the United States. If not in Maryland, in West Virginia or Pennsylvania where you could keep rail costs down and assure quality control. L furnace would never operate all the time, but again when their was a large call for carbon coils. Then working full out you could then profit from that asset. The pig iron operation at SP was a loser and should have been moved to a smaller BF like the one at Mingo.

      I wish everyone at SP well and I hope you are not angry at me. I just try to post some of the realities I have learned from other plants who have been murdered by terrible management and under the table deals by certain unions. The union problem in this case came from the USW National and the SP local. I truely believe you should look at these two very carefully and see what a horrible disservice they committed at SP. They threw SP and all in workers in the west
      overboard for plain greed. I personally would fight against Goodwin, Rennert and the SP USW clowns the rest of my life to regain the integrity of the USW and its workers.

      • OxygenMaskedMan

        True Dr. Ray that Tang’s Maryland Pig Plant cost the workers at SP lost wages because in my opinion each pig ingot that fell into the pig pen was one less slab or hotband/coil down the line that the finishing side could have turned into a money maker for the company and provided job security and paychecks. This is why I am so down on the L because all the money and resources went to making iron or pig and the hell with the finishing side? We even made money running the Russian’s slabs, but the 700 on the hotside were afraid that they would lose their jobs with the outside slabs coming in.
        Now 2,000, plus all the outside contractors must find find new jobs. They were going to open up more finishing lines and in the end all of the hotside could have transferred over to the finishing side. Like you and the others have pointed out that it is the inflexibility and hardheadedness of the American workers that is driving our manufacturing overseas. The CEOs shipping manufacturing overseas is just a knee-jerk reaction to many of our workers being spoiled and taking things for granted.

        • George

          Karl (H2O man) just a word about iron pigging and future trash recycling and energy producing landfill centers at the new Sparrows Point. 

          Looking towards the future — I would like to see a consortium of ore mine owners and maybe an energy producer like Sun Coke and national trash recycling companies set up to keep iron and some finishing  production running, along with making 21219 the recycling/energy center of the East Coast.  Trash can now be recycled into clean and renewable energy so way not at Sparrows Point?After all, the elected politicians have promised clean Energy Production in Sparrows Point, so making Coke and burning recycled trash can generate much of our manufacturing energy needs. Baltimore County is running out of landfill options, Days Cove landfill’s days are numbered, so 21219 is the only place to locate the next generation of modern energy and job producing landfills!  What better place then Sparrows Point to build the next Resco type of trash incineration to recycle the region’s trash and make electrical energy to run heavy manufacturing – this is a Win Win for the region!   Most of us knew that having National Materials brought into the Point was a double-edged sword. To keep the Beast running full out at her optimum designed output percentages we needed to divert extra hot metal to pigging or beach it. The Port was mad at us because of all the Kish this beach dumping generates and it was blowing over to the Dundalk Marine Terminal and the new car importers (Jag) were just too lazy to wash it off the cars before they shipped the cars out to the dealers. The Senator was also getting calls from Lodge Forest, Fort Howard, Dundalk and Turners about the Kish. We even tried dumping the hot excess hot metal in the cover of an old building, but the fugitive crap still made its way out into the sky.   
          The pig plant used all excess metal and many problems went away. The side effect was it made Sparrows Point one of the largest pig producers in the world, took care of the L furnace output issues and cleaned up the environment. After the pig plant was built back in the early 1990′s no more Kish or orange discharges were witnessed emitting from Sparrows. The Maryland Pig workers were in the union too and we all can be proud of them. Now its time to solve our recycling needs and create jobs down at Sparrows Point again!Capt. Georgie

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/P3YLBSQBDTONN5NF2YVOXIQWOU Dr. Raymond B

            First of all Sun Energy would never come to Sparrows Point. Even when the plant was operating the State of Maryland and the EPA blocked Bethlehem’s attempt to secure Sun’s service for coke. Sun Energy only builds where there is opportunity for coke sales. They are not going to build on one of the most polluted industrial sites in the western hemisphere.

            Secondly nobody has the money to rebuild the L furnace to run at a level to strictly be a cheap pig iron producer. The market is simply not there. The market for cheap pig iron has crashed, let alone producing pig iron with high priced imported ore and coke.The largest (and cheapest) pig iron producing area in the entire world (the Minas Gerias area in Southern Brazil) has only 44 out of 63 pig iron plants now operating. And they have the advantage of sitting right on top of their own iron ore and millions of trees to provide charcoal for fuel. All their raw materials are obtained dirt cheap. If they can’t make a buck producing pig iron, Sparrows Point certainly cannot.

            Finally two items, Sparrows Point is too valuable to use as a dump. It will be reused for more valuable job producing industries. That’s just common sense. And finally there is no longer any mill standing on the SP property that can be operated profitably and find a spot in the steel market. The hot mill is too small and too old and the cold mill has been sold. The tin mill is done and the rest will most likely be sold for parts or scrap. Thats the terrible and unfortunate truth. The mistakes of the past have finally caught up with the Point. Realistically the sun has set on the steel industry at SP. This could have been avoided, but it was not. It had a great run.

            But the sun will rise on the Point again just as it did just the steel industry did almost 100 years ago. New opportunities and jobs will come forth to the people who have faith in the Point and faith in a future yet to come. 

            Remember, the Myans were misunderstood. A new era is now upon us.

          • IronworkerSP

            George,  Doc is right on this one too. The only reason they made all that pig was because they were already dumping the excess and screwed-up iron on the ground in the first place.The pigs had only a little more value than the scrap we were buying. How can you keep running an operation like that when your overhead is several times what you can sell the iron for? You need to sign up for the free training O’Malley is offering and take a course in common sense and basic arithmetic. The only reason we could hang on as long as we did was because the company and investors were robbing Peter to pay Paul. Doc says that the South Americans are not making a killing in pig iron even though the pigging operations are sitting on top of the ore mines, so how can you make any profit on pig iron if you have to ship the ore over 2,000 miles?  And how are you going melt the ore with the Beast scheduled to be cut up for scrap any day now?

        • FormerBethSteelEmp

          You are correct that the slabs imported into Sparrows Point from Russia would have provided a lifeline to Sparrows Point. These slabs allowed the hot mill, cold mill and tin mill to operate and solved the cash drain problem caused by the purchase of ore on the spot market. Unfortunately, fear mongering by the Union ( They’re gonna ship your jobs overseas!!) and the narrow view of some ( I won’t support anything unless it benefits me personally, right now. ) caused the Union to rise up against the plan. In the longer term, everyone would have benefited. Severstal was committed to keeping the furnace operational and it would have restarted under appropriate market conditions. As employees atritted on the finishing side of the plant, opportunities would have been available for hot side employees to transfer.
          It’s my understanding that the slabs from Russia ran very well in the hot mill and cold mill. That is, of course, until the Union put a stop to the practice.

          • IronworkerSP

            Agreed that if the hot side guys and union would have shut their traps the hot side would have all been transferred over to the finishing side as we now speak. Agreed that the Russian metallurgy was good on all the slabs Alexis M. send over to us and everything was running great. The rumors that the slabs were low quality imports was just more fear mongering. Then the inflexible loud mouths had their way and Seversteal tossed in the towel on the Point.This setback was another nail in the coffin to no return at the Point. With every step forward at the Point there were two steps backwards. Rennert bought a rotting dead horse and you have to feel kind of sorry for him too because he was used and sucker punched just as much as everyone else was by the Point’s bull sh!tter$.

          • WarpigOne

            Thats some good stuff you are smoking if you fell sorry for Ira. he lost nothing we lost it all

          • WarpigOne

            Severstal had mines to support the point they didnt have to buy on the spot market, The union never explained to us why they didnt get a contract with Severstal in the two and a half years.Have you ever wondered what the hold up was? What was severstal asking for that RG wasnt .

            I believe that Severstal was ready to invest in Sparrows Point but with the union playing hardball for what ever reason and not coming to  terms to a contract they tried what they could and things didnt work. As i recall it was not but maybe a month that severstal went and invested almost a billion in the dearborn plant after selling to RG.

            I find it hard to believe that anything that the hot side said made the union do what they did.think about it .When the rumors were they were going to make only slabs you heard all kinds of stuff from the union leadership but when they said ship slabs in the hot side didnt hear nothing .
             ,
            Does not matter now it was all a comedy of errors , lies, deception and greed that killed the point.I guess we all did something to contribute to this.Where ever there is money you will have the greedy, corrupt and self serving people.

            We need to move on but things must change in this country we are becoming a third world country all that will be left are the very rich and the very poor and most will be the very poor.

            Good luck to everyone and i hope things get better for all the people of the United States

          • FormerBethSteelEmp

             Warpig,
            just a few comments…

            It is true that Severstal owns iron ore. The mines are located in Russia, half-a-world away from the Point.

            There are two issues with importing this ore:
            1. Severstal steel and Severstal mining are operated as two different companies. Severstal mining could sell the ore more profitably to other steel plants rather than to Sparrows Point. Although some would shout “greed”, let’s remember that businesses prefer to sell to the customers that pay the most or to those that earn the most profit for the seller.

            2. The most important reason for importing slabs rather than ore has been mentioned indirectly several times. Slabs can be imported to fill orders as necessary. The issue with importing ore is that “L” furnace needed to produce at a level of 8000-10000 tons /day of hot metal to operate efficiently. When sales do not support this level of operation, excess slabs need to be sold below cost or iron need to be beached or pigged. These money-losing options drain cash.

            As far as the contract negotiations between Severstal and Sparrows Point, lets look at how the USW bargains and at the four largest US producers.

            US Steel — all plants USW represented
            Mittal USA — all plants USW represented
            Nucor — all plants non-Union
            Severstal — WP,Warren, Sp.Pt USW-represented, Columbus non-Union, Dearborn UAW-represented.

            The USW has leverage at USS and Mittal USA because a shutdown of all USW plants would have a significant financial impact on the companies. The USW is able to use its leverage to extort more from these companies. Bethlehem Steel was in a similar situation; a strike would have shut down all Beth’s large plants. Beth could not afford a strike so they caved in to almost all USW demands. The USW wanted Severstal to grant retroactive pay increases to the workers for a period of about 16 months and also provide a signing bonus. With Sparrows Point burning through about 250 million/year while operating “L” furnace, Severstal felt that they could not afford to continue to subsidize the Point without some changes. Severstal countered with a contract proposal with a pay raise going forward and a smaller signing bonus. The Union would not support the deal; workers were denied a vote and Severstal eventually put the USW-represented plants up for sale. They continue to operate Columbus and Dearborn.
            The workers got less, not more from RG Steel.
            Sadly, the USW might have been willing to let Sparrows Point, Warren and WP close rather than strike a deal with Severstal that was different than the deals they hoped to get with Mittal USA and USSteel.

          • WarpigOne

             am i wrong saying that when the mittal put the plant up for sale the new contract was in place ? if i am right though then if Severstal was not willing to abide by that contract the union should have told Mittal that they could not sell to Severstal and should have looked for another buyer.

          • FormerBethSteelEmp

             Some key dates in response to your question:

            2/ 7/2007– Bush DOJ orders Mittal to sell Sparrows Point.

            12/ 17 2007 — USW-supported Bouchard bros. E2  Holdings fails to come up with financing and deal to purchase Sp.Pt falls apart. New owners are again needed.

            5/ 8 / 2008 Severstal buys Sparrows Point. Severstal expects to realize “significant business
            improvements and synergies” at Sparrows Point through a five-
            year investment program, it said.

            8/31/2008 USW signs 4 year contract with Mittal and USSteel. Severstal continues to operate Sparrows Point under the previous contract.

            8/13/2010 Severstal, unable to reach agreement with the USW over a new contract announces desire to sell Sparrows Point, WP and Warren. Severstal continues to operate plants under Union contract signed before 8/31/2008. Severstal vows to maintain operations in North America in Dearborn,MI and Columbus, Miss.

            3/31/ 2011 Severstal sells WP, Warren and Sp.Pt to Renco.

            5/31/2012 Renco files for bankruptcy after only 14 months of ownership

          • WarpigOne

             so when the usw came up with a contract and severstal refused that is when the usw should have went on strike. there should not have been separate .that divides the membership not bringing them closer .Hence the word Union the coming together.

          • FormerBethSteelEmp

             A strike by the USW would have saved Severstal a lot of money. They lost hundreds of millions trying to keep Sparrows Point afloat. A strike by the USW would have hurt the workers more than Severstal.

          • WarpigOne

             my point was that if severstal didnt want to get on board with the contract then the other steel companies would not be operating either. the usw represents the other plants also. so they are negotiating a contract for all the steel workers at once. untied we stand divided we fell

          • Walter

             Warpig its time to forget the past and plan for the future. With Dr. Boothe’s news of steel companies moving back to Sparrows Point, the investors need a unified and positive voice from all of us. There is much vacant industrial land available all over the Rustbelt and Detroit, so we must convince the investors that Sparrows Point is the only venue for them to consider for heavy manufacturing.

             Baltimore County and the State should give all of the investors grant money and tax breaks to lure them to SP. We must all fight to keep out the Cheesecake Factory and Starbucks crowd down in Sparrows Point.  The new metals company gives us all hope that we can hold off the Casinos, Cruise & Container Ships, and Yuppie invasion! 

  • unioncaught

    The members have a great case for misrepresentation against the union. The union will use the best attorneys to fight the membership. It won’t be surprising to anyone if they use the RG Steel attorneys. The union should stop being greedy and return all the dues they took from the workers. There is no reason why a union official should make nearly $200,000 a year while the members are in welfare lines.

  • BillatSP

    I think sp, and all industry is dead in the great usa. And the last thing ill say, this country has changed so much, not because of a big L-furnace but because of national pride. Damm we don’t even have NASA anymore. This country better wake up. I forgot not even a Twinkie, the Mexicans bought that, I think. DR. R you gave use good info, Thank You. Walter you give me hope, or a positive outlook, nothing wrong with that. O2 man, I hope you live another 20 years, if not you…. mybe me. Merry Christmas, ill find work and now mybe my wife well have to too.

  • dickatwarren

    Dr. Ray
    Is there any interest by anyone to buy and operate the Warren mill. Its a shame that this mill has not been bought and repaired. This mill has always made a profit and has always produced a quality product and had loyal customers. This mill should not be allowed to be torn down.

    • alleah51

      a dam good mill and management ruined it.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/P3YLBSQBDTONN5NF2YVOXIQWOU Dr. Raymond B

      I always regarded Warren (Started as Trumbull Steel 1912) as one of the most attractive compact integrated mills in the United States. It really took off after Republic Steel purchased it in 1928 and incorporated it as part of Republic’s Mahoning Valley District. It was constantly modernized, upgraded and became the best of the Mahoning and Ohio Alloy District plants. Even toward the end of the Republic Steel Corporation, the Corporation completely rebuilt the Trumbull blast furnace into one of the most modern blast furnaces for its size in the country. It used the best of European design and added the first dust collection system for a cast house in the United States.

      The plant was in good shape when LTV got ahold of it in 1984. But with the financial and other problems of LTV less and less was invested in the plant. The slide began when Rennert bought it first in 1988 and finally drove it into bankruptcy by 2003. Three years later and group of bondholders bought the plant and by 2008 Severstal aquired the plant. 

      When Rennert picked it up with WPSC in the deal with SP, it was well in need of major repairs. Although it had a modern walking beam furnace, the blast furnace and BOF needed major repairs. There were also many general repairs that were being let go. Rennert refused to make the major repairs essential to the operation of the hot end. The blast furnace lost an entire stove, top and tuyere explosions plus it needed a complete reline. The BOF needed similar repairs and with no help from Rennert, the hot end was demolished.

      In my opinion there are three options to put this plant into profitable operation. The first is the hot end. Due to the damage to the blast furnace and BOF, repairing them the way they need to is a financial impossibility. Warren needs to be changed from an integrated plant to an EAF operation. A medium to large EAF needs to built next to the caster to replace all of the existing hot end. This would help the company from buying iron ore and coke on the open market. The feed would be scrap, pig iron or HBI. Also,some repairs will be needed to be made to the existing mills.

      The second option would to change the entire plant to a processing plant and purchase coils and slabs (of a certain chemistry) to make custom orders. This would totally eliminate the need for a hot end but cut the profit because Warren would to have to buy its basic material. However, the economics might work themselves out.

      The third option (and the one I lean to) is to incorporate Mingo and Warren into one operation. Mingo has a new EAF, a rebuildable BOF and completely rebuilt blast furnace. They can immediately supply Warren with any chemistry of slabs or coils they need to process. Mingo can use the best of scrap and molten iron techniques. The trip from Mingo to Warren is not that far by rail and the custom steel reputation that Warren has would benefit sales for both. Mingo still can produce steel for substrate (for tin and other thin metals) while Warren can concentrate on speciality steels with the proper chemistry. Basically Mingo can be Warren’s primary slab and coil supplier.

      Both of these companies can supply what each other needs almost immediately.
      Both had great reputations-what I say is “why not?”

  • unioncaught

    The union reps were able to buy any gifts they wanted for their families this year. Their members are facing foreclosures and long welfare lines. The union should give the members their dues back to help with their finances. The union is still getting money from the hall rentals so this can be done.

  • OxygenMaskedMan

    I copied this quote from the Baltimore Sun article by Jamie Hopkins about our Christmas Star. A very well-written story about the Star of Bethlehem on top of the L. We all know that this is the last Christmas season that we will ever see the star because the L is most likely to be one of the first of the larger structures to be razed. The quicker the L is razed, the quicker we can all move on to a brighter and better future for Sparrows Point and Eastern Baltimore County, sort of a closure for us old timers and a bright new beginning for our younger people.

    from the Hopkins’ story: — (“We felt it was important to continue to illuminate the Star of Bethlehem at Sparrows Point as a sign of respect for the great community and the rich history at the Mill as well as a symbol of hope for a bright future in this location in the years to come,” wrote Gary Epstein, chief marketing officer for Hilco, in an email. “We believe this will be a new and economically viable community again.”)

    Many thanks to Mr. Epstein and the entire Hilco Corporate family, and we all encourage Hilco to make the “L” the first on it’s razing list to affirm that our new economically stronger and greener 21219 community is now on its way!  2013 is going to be a New Year of hope, positive change, and rebirth for Sparrows and the entire North Point Peninsula.  I wish all of the former SP employees good luck and good health in their new careers.

  • tablecolcks

    o me   o my…so  the  state  got  what  they  want….no more steel mill…its  all about  the  money..money..money   to  be  made  by  the  people  that  run  the  state  n county n  city….wish  i  had  the  power  n  knowage  to  get  to  the  bottom  of  all  this  bs…then  again…they  may  be  able  to  buy  me  to…lol….

    • IronworkerSP

      I heard that the demo contractor is the same one used to level and clear out the old GM plant. So once they remove every last structure on the Point and level out the slag piles, they will have thousands of cleared acres for the the next waterfront Gold Coast. Yes, its all about big money and it will happen if we can hang in for the next several years?

  • My2Cents69

    I dont claim to know a whole hell of a lot but… maybe the union stopped the russians from bringing slabs over because this would have lowered the bottom line cost of steel of the whole market and continued the trend of outsourcing a product to get a higher profit margin. I just want so see what is said about that. I’m not like others on here that claim to know all there is to know. I just do know that the union’s moves on this plant may have been larger than just this plant. Maybe it was in the interest of all the other plants in the whole USA.
    Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you.

  • unioncaught

    The majority of the union members are in agreement with the pending lawsuit against the international union for misrepresentation. The union reps are hoping this lawsuit go away and be disappear. If the union leaders weren’t hiding anything they would show how much they made this year in their tax returns.

    • alleah51

      i hope they sue them so bad that they would never see the light of day again. you can throw in dime bag dave in there to.

  • Walter

    Warpig, We could have all helped Mr. Ira make a go of it, so lets not put all the blame for the collapse of Sparrows Point on one man’s conscience. Too many coffee breaks and filing silly grievances with the shop steward while thinking that the easy ride would go on for another 125 years.  

    Why no taxpayer bailout money for Sparrows Point when they have plenty free taxpayer cash for the automakers and Wall Street Stock Brokers?  What about the billions lost on the Solar Panel  company Uncle Sam bankrolled with our money?  Looks like Barbie is only hot wind with thespian tears when she cries over the demise of Iron making at Sparrows.  Should the steelworkers be shocked that the politicians did not order a taxpayer bailout for the world’s largest steel mill, just ask the old and disabled Vets when they can move into the new veterans housing at Fort Howard VA Hospital.  Maybe Barbie should have Hilco take a look at the VA hospital too?  Uncle Sam put the Point in the grave, not Mr. Ira or the excellent and hardworking  leadership and fine workforce.  

    If Uncle Sam can pay the dairy and soybean farmers billions with our tax money why not bailout a defense plant like the Point with government money too?  When the next war comes we will need Sparrows Point to supply the iron and steel because the USA is still the arsenal of freedom. The Point supplied the steel used to win two World Wars and win the Cold  War too, this is no time to tear down the world’s largest iron and steel production complex and leave America without one of its most proven defense plants. If Uncle Sam can mothball battleships, cargo vessels, and B-52 bombers, its time to preserve our key defense plants with taxpayer money too! Its time to march to Washington and demand that our defense plants must be preserved for some future calamity. 

    Dr. Walter      Phd. BS

    • formermtm

      Put down the crack pipe Walter. You don’t have a clue.

    • Dr. Raymond Boothe

      Unlike General Motors and Chrysler, Sparrows Point never had a chance in hades of getting bailout money from the US Government. It had too many problems and was way too old to even have a chance. Todays military does not need the tonnage of steel SP produces anway. Advanced plastics, multiple combination materials, high and light strength alloys and rare earth metals with be the war materials of the future, not old carbon slabs and shapes. The next major war will be over in a matter of days, not in years.

      There is no reason the Government should spend millions of dollars a year paying a skeleton crew to guard an antique steel plant. The money will be spent on the defense plants and war machines of the future.

  • unioncaught

    Why won’t the union reps show their tax returns compared to their members. Their lies about potential buyers to justify their high salaries has come to an end.

  • Dr. Raymond Boothe

    It was announced today (Jan. 2,13) that RG Steel’s former Sparrows Point supply chain and logistics manager has co-launched a new transloading and logistical company called Move Tran, LLC. The new company will be located in the former 206,700 square foot former Heidtman Steel Distribution facility near the former Sparrows Point Plant. Move Tran LLC will be moving and distributing steel coils, aluminum, pipe and tube products in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

    The new company will be using local rail and interstate access as well as transatlantic shipments via the Port of Baltimore.

    • Walter

      Dr. Boothe, It looks like this is just the beginning of putting iron and steel making back on the map at Sparrows Point!  Local rail means that the PBRR is now safe and secure and I am happy for all of our railroad guys because the railroad is here to stay for another 100 years!

       The next good news is they are going to need to heat up parts of the mill to provide coils (true some may be brought in from outside vendors), so SP is in the driver’s seat to supply these coils!Very interesting that this announcement comes within the six month asset protection grace period. Now its time to rethink moving the NCM, we still have the hot mill and all of the other coating and finishing lines that can be started up at a moment’s notice. Will the Beast be started back up (I certainly hope so), or will they bring in an EAF?May as well start up the Sinter plant, the L, BOF, Pigging and Coking operations and do it right this time around. Spring is just right around the corner and this is when demand for steel making it at its highest, so I am hopeful that more investors will come forward to partake in this once in a lifetime Golden Opportunity here in Sparrows Point.Lou Dobbs and Neil Cavuto are predicting a strong outlook for the second quarter, so now is the time to make our move!  Watch for movement by the International investors. We wish Move Tran a hearty welcome and much success.  Dr. Walter   Phd. BS

      • formermtm

        Walter you are either retarded or a Sh!t stirrer. Which is it ??? It’s over. Move on.

      • Fat_Lady_Singing

        This is my first time checking in since last year and I’m happy to find that the Walter/George Show is still going on.  Restart the “L”….start up the sinter plant…..pigging and coking……six month asset protection agreement….Don’t burn bridges……AH HA HA HA HA Funny stuff guy!!  I needed a good laugh today!!  Thank you! 

  • FormerBethSteelEmp

    Contract negotiations between the USW and represented steel companies usually begin months before a final agreement is signed. Given the timeline, the USW was likely negotiating with US Steel and Mittal USA before Severstal owned Sparrows Point. I doubt if Severstal had much influence on the contract. The contract with US Steel and Mittal was signed less than one month before the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. The steel industry which was running almost flat out saw capacity utilization drop to 40%. When the USW tried to get Severstal to sign the contract the economics had changed dramatically.

  • IronworkerSP

    George I agree they did a good job at the Baltimore GM plant. They are real pros at demo, the best in the business, the reinforced concrete GM plant went down so fast most people did not even notice it was gone until they built the new logistic business park. Since there is no turning back having Hilco, ELT, and their demo teams get it over quickly at Sparrows is the best we can hope for. Many people I spoke too feel good that they are the ones to put SP down, sort of like the family vet putting your old dog or cat out of its pain, you are not happy about it but someone has to do it.

    On another note, they turned off the Star on top of the L. God is it dark over there without the Star. 

    There is a good article in the Dundalk Eagle Newspaper about the Star and inspiring comments by Dave P. about how we all need to let go and move on to the next stage of our lives and how everything will turn out for the best in the long run. We are hoping that they will save the Star and put in on a building in Dundalk, maybe a church, bank,  or the local volunteer fire department, or business can mount it on their roof?  Maybe the county can put it on a school or the senior center?

  • Dr. Raymond Boothe

    It was announced yesterday by Director Pat Ford of the BDC (Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle) that they are having a very high number of offers for the former RG Steel Beech Bottom Plant in Beech Bottom, West Virginia. Ford stated that most of these offers are coming from gas drilling and processing companies who are interested in the enormous warehouse building (480,000 square feet) and the attached 120 acres of flat land.

    BDC, a private economic development company, is encouraged by the interest and the initial offers. The biggest plus to the property is that all the legacy costs (EPA) are eligable for Federal Redevelopment Funds. Unlike other RG Steel Properties, anyone who buys Beech Bottom can have the majority of its EPA legacy problems paid for by the Federal Government.

    Currently BDC is working to to make a complete redevelopment plan. 

  • exspworker

     I an definitely going to miss Sparrows Point. I lost a very well paying job and at an age where I should be preparing to retire soon I am forced by necessity to train for a new position somewhere else for the last few years of my working career.
    But what I will not miss is having to go to work every day, as we all have had to do the last few years, with the eventual shut down of the plant hanging over our heads. Knowing it was going to close but not sure when. Not able to plan vacations or make large purchase’s etc…
    Anybody that thought that this would end differently was certainly not reading the writing on the wall.
    I have moved on and hope that you all do the same.

  • roberth1

    has any sp worker started to collect their steelworkers pension yet! i hear different things about how it affects unemployment if u r getting rule 85, some say they take 1 for 1 and now i hear they only deduct about 200 a month! also will it affect the hctc if ur getting that! hard to get any real answers, if anyone out there has any stait dope on this i would like to no

  • Dr. Raymond Boothe

    According to USW 1223 President Jerry Conners, The Ohio Cold Rolling Mill Compan (Esmark’s Yorkville Plant) is currently being winterized and having equipment being repaired and readied for a possible restart sometime this spring.

    Tom Modrowski, Chief executive of the Esmark Steel Group, said “the company will focus on being a premier supplier of both cold-rolled and tin plate products.” Such products such as food cans, trays and oil filters will be part of the company’s focus.

    Athough the union was dissappointed to “go backwards on its wages,” Jerry Conners stated that most employees realized this was essential to a successful start-up of the new company.

    The former WPSC plant is located on the Ohio River in Jefferson County, Ohio. The original Yorkville Plant was started in September 1912 and was completed in December of 1913. Built by the Wheeling Steet and Tinplate Company, it was purchased on July 14,1914 by the Wheeling Steel and Iron Company which became the Wheeling Steel Corporation on June 21, 1920. 

    • PittOsu

      Dr. Is there anything confirmed with Mingo Plt or is its future still hanging in limbo? If that machine could be ran correctly it could make a profit . It with the modern EAF mature caster and hotmill could be a world class operation. Just think of what it could be if they put #5 BFC. in operation with a pig machine. i’ll bet it could compete with most southern minimills…. whats the holdup!

  • unioncaught

    There is still around $500,000 left in the union local treasury. Why isn’t this money being used to help the Steelworkers who lost their jobs. It should not go to the union reps who go to Las Vegas conventions. 

    • bocephusjr

      give up ciiri or josh! You a beating a dead horse. You got a political appointed job with the county! God knows you didn’t have the credentials or background to get the job.  A little under the desk job again! When will this STOP!! 

      • George

        Against all odds our Dear Leadership kept Sparrows running in spite of the Global collapse in the steel industry and the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930′s.

        This time we did not have Franklin Roosevelt to get us a government bailout, or have WW II jump start us.  Add to that our owners not willing to spend a billion dollars for basic upgrades and to keep the lights on and you have a recipe for failure. The union did its best to keep us going all these years. Next, you will even try to blame the union leadership for the raising the toll next month on the Key Bridge to 8 dollars for a round trip. 

        If you want to raise hell about something, raise hell about 8 bucks for the trip to Glen Burnie and back!  It took labor hundreds of years to get a union as good as the USW, so think twice before you show them the door. If you loose them, you may not have the chance to get them back when the work returns to Sparrows again. Its our mission now to see to it that all the new jobs at Sparrows are UNION jobs! All the Port jobs are big paying Union jobs, so when they bring container ships in we are still working with union brothers. We need to demand that when the casinos go in at the Point, the service workers have union representation too.  

  • Bruce Brown

    What are our options for a lawsuit against the union?
    Can we force a sale of all property held by the union?
    The $$$ should be distributed equally to all members.

    • My2Cents69

      What’s with all these people wanting to sue the union. You do realize that this union is bigger than just Sparrows Point… Right? 

      If you sued the union, WHO WINS THE MONEY?  Lawyers would take their share and whatever was left, I’d hope, most would go to the retired workers FIRST. Throughout the years, they were the ones that got screwed the most. How far would this go back? In other words, there are many people that would have their hands in the pot that you wouldn’t get anything but a piece of paper stating that you won.

      • George

        Thank you My2Cents69 because the lawyers would do to the union as they always do and that is take union money, give us a song and dance and never get us anywhere. In the end was only the leadership that got us we what got. Like you say its better to keep the lawyers out of this or they will suck up all the money for the thousands of other brothers and sisters all over America still working because of good representation. 

        Most of us older guys have our houses paid for so I would like any money left to go to the younger guys that still have small children to look after. On the other hand the younger guys are in a better position and more adaptable to learn new job skills and trades and at the same time employers prefer younger guys to employ. 

        We old guys are like those old MESTA machines we still use at the Point – No one wants us even for spare parts because we are obsolete and worn out!!!!The union did the best it could, just look how our government is ready to go over the CLIFF, as they say, because the United States Treasury is out of money and owes Trillions of dollars. Europe is broke and out of money too, so how do expect the local to find close to a Billion dollars for modern upgrades at Sparrows Point?  For Sparrows Point to make it in today’s steel markets I am now convinced that we will need more state of art equipment than just our NCM. We need a modern EAF, 3 to 4 vessel BOF and a complete reworking of the L Furnace, new Coke ovens, the hot mill needs to be wider with better gauging tolerances. The Tin Mill needs modern equipment which some of which goes back to the Roaring 1920′s and made us do twice the work just to get the same results the newer mills are getting with less fussing around. We new to rip out the Sintering Plant’s screwed-up design and redo it right just like I told them to do 40 years ago. Do not get me wrong, Sparrows Point can start back up in a heartbeat, but its coming out more and more that most departments were only making a small profit at best because we had those bean counters in the Main Office robbing Peter to pay Paul just to make them look good and keep the stockholders (Beth Steel), and new billionaire owners in the dark for as long as they could. This is why we never go any new upgrades to help us compete on a level playing field with the other domestic mills and left us at a greater disadvantage with the Japs, Chinese, Indians, and South Americans. Our local and all of the guys did the best job to be expected with all the cards NOT stacked in our favor.  Every steelworker did more then expected of hem and so did the union leadership.

        They have articles in all the Maryland newspapers that elected Baltimore County government officials are proposing to build a big statue of the iron and steelworkers.

         They are talking about locating the statue, and I hope a small park, at the entrance to Sparrows Point maybe at the Wharf Road cloverleaf entrance? There is a nice level area before you head down to the Yacht Clubs and Pig Plant/LeFarge, so they could maybe even have a Fishing Pier and Boat Ramp and make it a waterside park too.  I hope that they put in plenty of benches for us old guys to sit on and tell our grandchildren about how we were once the largest steel mill in the world.  Yes, a waterfront park with Statues of steelworkers, and a nice fishing pier and boat ramp would be a fitting monument park to those that made the steel Golden Gate Bridge, Empire State Building, and all those Liberty Ships that helped us defeat the Nazis and Japs!

        • alleah51

          that way you can have a place to sit while you spread all your b.s.

        • alleah51

          yeah george you put all your faith in the union just like you put all your faith in dime bag dave. what did dime bag dave say. there not flippers there long term players. yeah you put all your faith in them and where did that get you.

      • FormerBethSteelEmp

         With regards to filing a lawsuit against the USW, I’d agree that this may not give the displaced workers much satisfaction. While I would agree that much of what the USW did was unethical, it may be difficult to prove it was illegal. Whenever, a person or group hires someone or an organization to advocate on their behalf, that person or organization has a moral obligation to at the very least present options in an honest, forthright way. For example, a lawyer may not be able to get you a deal you want ( for instance in a divorce or sale of a business ) but they have an obligation to explain to you the deal they could get and the pros and cons of accepting or rejecting the deal. It is evident from some postings that the workers were kept in the dark about contract negotiations and discussions with Severstal.  Proposals were made but the USW denied the workers information about these proposals and refused to allow the workers to make a decision about their own future. Wasn’t it odd that Severstal was able to reach an agreement at Dearborn with the UAW, but that nothing came out of over one year of negotiations with the USW.

        In a strange twist of justice, a lawsuit filed against the USW would result in the USW hiring high-powered and expensive lawyers with the dues money paid by the very members who would bring the lawsuit. The poor working stiffs would need to come up with money to pay lawyers to advocate on their behalf. The end result would most likely be that the USW would bleed its own former members until they could not afford to continue the legal battle. As one poster noted, even if the plaintiffs were to win, the amount received would be miniscule.

  • George

    This is no time to give up or rush to judgement.  As was pointed out ++ no core iron or steel making assets have met the grime reaper. Many of our outside contractors have not packed up. WHY???  LaFarge is still using our slag to make cement, Air Products is lighted up like a Christmas tree, Mr. Tang has not packed-up the his pigging equipment, DTE is still standing, Siemens caster shop has plenty of cars going in and out, and are dancing the night away at the Point’s private North Point and Pleasant Yacht clubs on the Point property without a care in the world. The Patapsco Railroad is running 24/7. This is not the time to sell the hall, as it will be needed for future operations of some sort or another. NEVER burn your bridges! Whatever takes place next in Sparrows Point will need union leadership to see it through!

    • BillatSP

            George, there was about 800 steel workers tonight, at our union hall. We all had a great time but are dismayed but understand what has happened. , in the same token we know it will never, ever be the same.
      Even if it was to turn around, the people that made sparrows point have all retired, it will never be the same. even if it had a chance to come back, at’s a real sad story. Im sure a move will be out of the destruction of sparrows point that should have never happened.

      George, there was about 800 steel workers tonight, at our union hall. We all had a great time but are dismayed but understand what has happened. , in the same token we know it will never, ever be the same.

      Even if it was to turn around, the people that made sparrows point have all retired, it will never be the same. even if it had a chance to come back, at’s a real sad story. Im sure a move will be out of the destruction of sparrows point that should have never happened.

  • My2Cents69

    You can’t blame George for what happend. Don’t be immature. Stop pointing fingers and move on already. There is nothing a union can do if the company shuts the doors.

    By the way, should there be some type of factory of some sort placed on the property, the same union would fight to get ITS WORKERS, you guys, a job there. 

    • IronworkerSP

      Thanks My2Cents for a little common sense on this unnecessary Union bashing. Some of the brothers are making demands like the Point is still running at full capacity and the workers are still in the driver’s seat. 

      Boys there is nothing left of Sparrows Point to fight over, they already brought in large scales to sell off the place pound by pound for $cash$; and the teams of professional burners and shear operators already are camped out in special trains with living quarters. An entire village like the circus came to    As we all know the plant and dozens more out in Ohio, Illinois, and West VA are shuttered too. Only the dimwits would blame the union for lack of action. How the hell can you negotiate and stage a strike when the companies resented by the USW have been sold off to the developers for marine terminals, logistic campuses, and as future sites for Cheesecake Factories and Yuppie playgrounds? 

  • fukthis

    Rumor has it, Yorkville Mill won’t be starting back up . It appears the Bachards dont have the money after all.  Imagine that  More Info at the union meeting….

  • roberth1

    i wrote the other day about our steelworkers pension n how it would affect our unemployment and or our hctc! anybody have some dope on this subject for sure, i called for mine n they said i have till sept. but i dont want to wait and forget cause then u have to wait till ur 65 to get it !! if anybody is collecting drop a line

  • FormerBethSteelEmp

    I would agree with IronworkerSP that the time for action has long since passed. The USW could have stepped up to support a bid from CSN years ago or  reached an agreement with Severstal. These industrialists were in the steel business and wanted to make a long-term commitment to the Sparrows Point mill. Instead they supported a private equity deal from a man who had already taken the Warren plant into bankruptcy years ago. Despite years of rhetoric like “The Union runs this plant” and “We’re not going to let management get away with this or that.” they were quiet as a mouse when it came to putting their money behind the rhetoric. It’s not surprising that no bidder emerged who had a desire to run the plant given the history of uncooperative behavior from the USW.

    I’ve spoken to employees at other USW-represented plants (not steel plants) who demanded that contracts that were not recommended by the International be brought to a vote. These workers had the foresight to see that the plants where they worked were in danger of closing. The workers at Sparrows Point drank the USW Kool Aid. The time for outrage has long since passed. The game was over when Hilco bought the plant. McCall and his cronies have moved on. The men and women who worked at the Point need to learn the lessons from this tragedy and move on as well.

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  • March 24, 2014

    • Last Thursday, I sent an email to the Mayor’s Office of Communications asking for some basic responsiveness: Please return our emailed queries and phone calls about stories. Please send us the same routine emails you send to other members of the media. Lately, more so than usual, they haven’t been. It’s a shame because, even [...]

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