Ormet rally will be held on Tuesday

As United Steelworkers officials ask Gov. John Kasich to help hundreds of displaced Ormet Corp. employees get back to work, they are now asking the public to join them for a “Save Ohio Jobs” rally.

The rally is set for 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Ormet Local No. 5724 office in Clarington. Displaced employees, retirees, union leaders and public officials are expected to attend.

The event will feature the unveiling of a video and website the USW will use to help convince Kasich to act, while those who attend also will have the opportunity to sign a statement the USW plans to mail to the governor.

Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols continues to emphasize the governor’s office is working with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, as well as the Monroe County Department of Job and Family Services, to help displaced Ormet workers receive new job training and benefits.

He also is not sure exactly what the administration could have done to prevent Ormet’s shutdown.

“To this point, the only thing (USW officials) have suggested to us is that we should lean on the (Public Utilities Commission of Ohio). That is a violation of Ohio law,” Nichols said.

Nevertheless, Ormet workers remain very critical of Kasich for, in their opinions, not taking action to try to help Ormet avoid a shutdown.

Ormet CEO Mike Tanchuk announced the full shutdown of Ormet on Oct. 4, after the PUCO refused to lower Ormet’s American Electric Power costs from $60 down to $45.89 per megawatt-hour as Ormet requested. This leaves hundreds of employees wondering if they have worked their last shifts at the bankrupt Monroe County plant.

Last week, AEP wanted to shut off all electricity to the Hannibal plant because of Ormet’s inability to pay its bills, but the PUCO ordered AEP to keep the lights on during Ormet’s bankruptcy proceedings. Officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection agency were concerned that shutting off all power to the facility would release harmful chemicals such as cyanide and arsenic into the Ohio groundwater.

In announcing the planned Tuesday rally, USW spokesman Tony Montana confirmed the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware will allow Ormet’s Burnside, La., alumina refinery to be sold to Almatis Inc.

“The transaction included, among other things, the assumption of the existing collective bargaining agreement and benefit liabilities,” Montana said.