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Esmark, USW have tentative four-year agreement

December 1, 2012
From staff reports , The Herald-Star

YORKVILLE - Esmark Inc. and United Steelworkers of America Local 1223 say they've reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract for workers at the newly acquired Ohio Cold Rolling Co. in Yorkville.

Local 1223's executive committee said it will submit the agreement to its members for a ratification vote this week.

Esmark Chairman and CEO James P. Bouchard called the agreement "an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to restart operations at Ohio Cold rolling Co."

"We could not have achieved this agreement without the support and collaboration of the USW, District 1 Director Dave McCall and Local 1223 President Jerry Conners," he said. "We look forward to the membership's vote next week and focusing on restarting operations early next year."

Tom Modrowski, chief executive officer of Esmark Steel Group, said key economic provisions in the tentative agreement include wage increases over the life of the agreement, comprehensive healthcare for workers and their families, financial contributions to the Steelworker Pension Fund, and participation in a Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association Trust providing healthcare benefits for retired union workers.

Modrowski said the expected restart of the Yorkville facility will contribute to Esmark's long-term strategy to offer its U.S. customers a broader range of steel products and value-added services.

"Ohio Cold Rolling Company's focus will be on serving the light gauge and narrow width coil niche in the marketplace, and together with our Ohio Coatings Company subsidiary we expect to be a premier supplier of both cold-rolled and tin plate products," he said. "We're excited about rolling our first coils and better serving our growing customer base."

USW District 1 Director Dave McCall said the tentative agreement paves the way to put steelworkers back to work in the Ohio Valley and revive the historic Yorkville cold-rolled finishing mill.

"This agreement is the culmination of months of hard work and signals a brighter future for our members, the steel industry and the Ohio Valley's economic engine," he said.

Esmark acquired the former RG Steel Yorkville cold-rolled finishing mill in a bankruptcy court-supervised auction in August of this year, as well as RG Steel's 50 percent interest in Ohio Coatings Company's tin plate production facility.

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