Steel Exec: Consolidation Depends on Government Benefits

December 4, 2001 ( - The federal government would take over pensions and retiree health care programs for the steel industry under a three-pronged industry consolidation plan now under discussion.

Such a move would take away “the most significant barrier to consolidation of a highly fragmented industry,” US Steel executives said in a statement. The top five steel producers account for more than $10 billion in unfunded pension and health care obligations.

The US Steel executives said industry consolidation also depended on implementing President Bush’s program announced June 5 to deal with excessive steel imports and an agreement with the United Steelworkers of America that would help companies cut operating costs.

“US Steel believes that consolidation of the industry under the right circumstances will be a positive step toward restoring the health of this vital part of the American economy,” said USX Corporation Board Chairman Thomas Usher.

Usher said he has held preliminary discussions about the consolidation plan with executives of other steel companies and union leaders.