LTV Workers Opt For Early Retirement

CLEVELAND - There wasn't much going on at the LTV mill on Cleveland's east side on Monday, except for one place -- the employee benefits office. A steady stream of employees stopped in to fill out their early retirement papers, in anticipation the company being allowed to shut down its integrated steel operations, 19/43 News' Bill Younkin reported.

Carl Nix, a 25-year LTV employee, said that he isn't happy about having to file for early retirement.

"It wasn't like I wanted to do this, you know," Nix said. "It's the best way out. It's better getting something, rather than nothing."

Most of the workers filing for early retirement aren't exactly sure how much they'll be getting, and they won't see their first check until February, but the workers, who are mostly from LTV's already closed west-side mill, feel that they had no choice.

"I'm not going back to work," 28-year LTV employee Arthur Collins said. "We've been off almost six months. It's just better for me to go now.

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

Many workers who decided to take early retirement said that it was a no-brainer. They said that if the judge in Youngstown grants LTV's request to shut everything down on Tuesday, there's a chance that those still working might not be given an early retirement option.

"Unless they come to some kind of agreement after the fact, east-siders would have to wait until they're 62 if they don't have 30 years," United Steelworkers of America local 185 president David Zipay said.

Brian Slanker was just laid off from the east-side mill on Friday, but he isn't as lucky as some because he doesn't qualify for early retirement.

"I'm still praying and hoping, but it doesn't look good," Slanker said.

Most of the workers who filed for early retirement made comments about the company's management that were too harsh for 19 News to broadcast, but all of them echoed fellow worker John Uridel, a 34-year LTV employee.

"I might have had to wait until I'm 62, now at least I get something coming in," Uridel said. "I never thought it would come to this."