STEUBENVILLE - United Steelworkers' leaders locally aren't commenting on reports that RG Steel is teetering near bankruptcy and looking to sell its steelmaking operations.
The story, reported this week in the Baltimore Brew, a daily online newspaper, suggests workers at RG's Sparrows Point, Md., operation were told by union leaders that the situation is dire and that management had asked the USW for permission to sell the company, including its Steubenville plant.
While RG can negotiate a sale, under the terms of its contract the USW has the power to nix any deal it doesn't like. The USW has exercised that option in the past, backing the ill-fated Esmark over a bid from a Brazilian steelmaker in 2006, and Russia's Severstal Steel over a bid for Esmark by India's Essar in 2008, and Renco Group, RG Steel's parent company, over bids from two other companies in 2011.
USW District Director Dave McCall could not be reached for comment
But one USW official, who asked not to be identified, said the Ohio Valley has "just got to wait and see what's going to happen," though adding that it's "hard to believe other steel companies are doing well and we" are in trouble.
About 700 RG Steel workers are on the job in the Ohio Valley, less than a third of the local work force.