Steelmaker Reaches Labor Accord, Will Seek Pension Help

January 25, 2002 ( - Fairlawn, Ohio-based Republic Technologies International (RTI) has ratified a new labor contract that will cut wages and benefits.

The steelmaker, trying to emerge from Chapter 11, also plans to seek a federal loan and will ask the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) to restructure its pension obligations. 

Many of the nation’s steelmakers have been struggling financially – leading to talks about an industry consolidation, with the federal government taking over pensions and retiree health care programs for the steel industry under a three-pronged industry consolidation plan.

RTI’s contract with the United Steelworkers union will last through April 2006 and reduce union employees’ wages and benefits by 15% for a five- month period, according to the company.

In conjunction with the contract, Republic has imposed comparable five-month compensation reductions on its salaried employees.

The new labor agreement also includes:
– preservation of holiday, vacation and retirement benefits
– a new profit-sharing plan tied to company performance
– an employee stock ownership plan.

Republic Technologies International, the nation’s largest producer of high-quality steel bars, currently employs 4,300 employees.

The firms presenting the ten largest claims have accounted for more than half of all claims against the nation’s pension insurance system over its 25-year life, according to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).