Union Buys Time By Making Deal With LTV

CLEVELAND – The deal that LTV Corp. and the United Steelworkers of America reached on Thursday that would stop the production of new LTV steel was approved by a federal bannkruptcy court judge on Friday, 19/43 News reported.

The deal will leave the door open for workers to return to the business of steel-making should certain things fall into place.

Union leaders said that workers on Thursday night's midnight shift at Cleveland's east-side mill would start shutting down operations, but LTV would keep the blast furnaces hot, so workers could make steel again.

LTV promises it would not go ahead with its plans to shut down its integrated steel operations completely. The company won't be making steel, but it would keep the furnaces hot and ready through February 2002.

That would give the union more time to get a federal loan to keep the company running, or more time to find someone to buy LTV.

"Obviously, I think it's better than the alternative," local union leader Mark Granakis said. "That would've destroyed the company and its assets. This at least gives us something we can come back to."

The deal will come at a cost to workers, however. There will be hundreds more layoffs starting on Friday, possibly including someone like Tony Mrozek -- a husband, father, grandfather and LTV veteran who's been to rally after rally to save his job.

"I want the company to survive," Mrozek said. "If I have to pay a price for a short period of time to be able to come back to something, come back to a job, I'll take that."

Local union leader Tony Staltari said that the union is counting on a $250 million federal loan to begin the process of saving LTV Steel.

"The government has to kick in, and I don't know if they're going to be able to do that," Staltari said. "That's why we're going to have to go to Washington to find out."

After so many rallies and court fights already, most of the workers with whom 19/43 News talked said, "What's one more battle?"