Monday, June 18, 2001 at 8:50 AM
For the first time in 90 years, LTV Steel's West Side Mill lies dormant. Early Saturday morning, workers produced what may be the very last slab of steel to ever come out of the plant. The company closed the operation as part of its restructuring plan, leaving 900 steelworkers without jobs. But still, the future of the workers is not certain. While LTV, its creditors and the union continue negotiations today involving pensions and health benefits for its workers and retirees, there's a new twist to the talks. A deal was struck the night before the plant's shutdown that will keep the furnaces on, allowing for a possible revitalization of the mill. During a rally that was meant for saying good-bye, the news of the deal was cause for celebration. 90.3's Janet Babin and Renita Jablonski captured the stories and sounds as workers gathered in the mill's old parking lot on a day full of mixed emotions.
Scot Reppa- Our last heat was at 3:51 and 58 seconds, we poured the last heat, as a matter of fact I worked that last heat.
It was a little sad, a little somber. The devastation part is pretty well gone from all of us, we knew something was going to happen. Ever since I've been hired 25 years ago, they said that LTV West Side was going to go down so it just took them 25 years to make that decision. My name is Scot Reppa and I'm a trustee in Local 185.
Lucy Rodriguez- I don't have a title, honey. I'm just a worker. My name is Lucy Rodriguez. It's very sad to be in the building and see you know, everything is just all strewn all over the place. The warehouse where I usually worked is all dark and all the lockers are open.
Mark Shaw- What this was originally planned for was to have some sort of funeral for the closing of this West Side but we're not going to let that happen - and this is not a funeral.
Train Conductor- When steam comes out of the top, the furnace is down. She's still hot but it's down right now. It's like, in a banked mode.
Dave Zipay- The creditors and the company, and the international came to an agreement to make it from a hot shut down to a hot idle for the next two weeks. That's the same time frame for us to come to a new contract agreement on the contract.
Carol Zipay- It's a double whammy for us. Besides my husband losing his job, he is the president of 185 and that's the union going down, and almost 900 workers, and so his heart is breaking, he's just torn. It's just so much, it's just like I said before, a double whammy. It's hard and he just... it's a hard time for us.
DZ- Well, there's a glimmer of hope - we're still alive. The creditors are running the bargaining table, we'll be bargaining with them. I think they have a common interest as far as wanting the mills to stay open. That's the best way to get their money back so certainly I believe we're on the same page there.
CZ- I'm concerned about healthcare... yeah. And I have a heart condition, I have had cancer and I'm constantly monitored and I'm very concerned for the pensioners and what it's going to cost and if they're going to have healthcare, it's a scary thing.
LR- You really can't move on, you know. Like right now, I just found out on the news that they idled it so you really can't move on. Where you going to go? You know, after all this?
SR- I think that's the thing we really need to remember that there's life after LTV be it good or bad. God's got another plan for some of us I do believe and it'll be okay, it'll be okay, one way or another.