Congressman Asks Court To Replace LTV Management

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) - U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich went to bankruptcy court in Youngstown on Wednesday and asked a judge to fire the top management of LTV Steel.

This comes one day after the company filed a motion seeking permission to close its steel division, which would cost 3,500 people in northeast Ohio their jobs.

Kucinich said that LTV could still be saved, if the court would appoint new managers who are willing to work for a solution.

The congressman is offering to work with union officials and LTV's creditors to come up with a new cost-saving plan that would keep the company's mills operating.

LTV Corp. asked a U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Tuesday for

permission to halt its integrated steel operations and prepare them
for sale. LTV also said it wanted permission to abandon its
previous labor agreement. LTV filed for bankruptcy court protection
from creditors
on
Dec. 29.

"LTV no longer has sufficient liquidity or sources of other

capital to operate the integrated steel facilities," the company
said in a statement.

Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers of America,

blasted the company for asking to shut down. Gerard said he and LTV
Chairman William H. Bricker were in the middle of a telephone
conversation about possible cost-saving amendments to the company's
labor deal when the liquidation petition was filed in a Youngstown bankruptcy court.

"I have never before been lied to in that fashion," Gerard

said.

But company spokesman Mike LaWell told a union gathering late

Tuesday, "The negotiations process remains open. The negotiations
remain active."

LTV was obligated to file the petition because under current

financial constraints, the company will never be profitable, LaWell
said. But if the company can reach a new contract with its workers
to save money, LTV may survive.

"We are in complete agreement that all hope is not lost,"

LaWell said.

Meanwhile,

Kucinich
and other local
leaders are pushing other solutions to the problem.

K

ucinich said he plans to ask the bankruptcy court to let him
negotiate a new restructuring plan that would keep LTV solvent.

"

We are not going to stand idly by and watch Cleveland lose its
steel business, and watch Cleveland lose its steel jobs," said
Kucinich, who played host on Tuesday night to a gathering of
several dozen workers and politicians in his district office.

U.S.

Rep. Sherrod Brown said he believes
that
there is still hope
the company and union can work out a deal to keep LTV afloat.

"

Tonight's meeting may begin to bring them back together to make
one more attempt at really working this out so that most of these
jobs are saved," Brown said.

In August, the Steelworkers approved a new contract with LTV

that cut labor costs in an attempt to save the company. The
agreement covered 9,000 LTV Steel employees, including 3,200 in
northeast Ohio.

That deal allowed LTV, the nation's third-largest integrated

steel maker, to reduce its work force by 1,300 "full-time
equivalents" but required the company to rely on attrition, overtime reduction and cuts in contractor labor before laying off
employees. LTV originally asked for 500 job cuts, but the union
agreed to more to save health benefits and pensions.

LTV said that deal saved the company more than $250 million a

year, but Gerard said company executives are now asking labor to
trim another $140 million a year from wages and benefits.

LTV workers say

that
the company executives never intended to save
the mills or the jobs that go with them.

Jim Crupper, 47, a 27-year LTV veteran who lives in North

Ridgeville, said corporate leaders will have big bonuses waiting
for them when the company shuts down.

"Their corporate people have taken millions of dollars in

benefits, but they've done little to trim costs," said Crupper, a
vice president of the 800-member steelworkers Local 1157.

"

They've basically sat on the sidelines and raped the city, the
state, the county, the federal government for everything they could
get out of them. They're going to get their shutdown benefits,"
Crupper said.

LaWell of LTV said he would not respond to workers' personal

attacks on management. He said he felt the corporate executives
were negotiating in good faith.

LTV is the nation's third-largest integrated steel maker,

meaning it takes the metal from ore to scrap. The company has a
work force of about 17,000 and has operations in 17 states, Canada
and the United Kingdom.

The proposal to halt operations would affect LTV's steel mills

in Cleveland and Indiana Harbor in East Chicago. It would exclude
the company's LTV Copperweld unit, which includes Copperweld Corp.,
Welded Tube Co. of America and the LTV Steel Tubular Division.

(Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)