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USW strikes Lukens

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COATESVILLE, Pa. -- Steelworkers at Lukens Steel Co. went on strike Tuesday after talks stalled on a new three-year agreement.

Some 1,350 members of Local 1165 of the United Steelworkers of America set up picket lines just after midnight at the mill and workers said Lukens refused to cut them in on the prosperity it is enjoying.

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Rich McPeak, a trustee of the union, said, 'Lukens doesn't want to give us our fair share.'

'They are a Fortune 500 company,' McPeak said. 'They made a statement they were going to the be a billion dollar-a-year company and we figure we're helping them make a lot of that.'

McPeak said the steelworkers were seeking a contract similar to the Pattern Plus contract signed with USX Corp., the nation's No. 1 steelmaker.

The USX contract halted the practice of contracting out labor, 'which is costing us jobs, McPeak said.

Robert Schaal, president and chief operating officer of Lukens Steel, said in a statement the company's 'final contract offer' Monday night included a wage increase, a signing bonus and improvements in pensions and insurance benefits.

But, he said, 'instead of focusing on wages and benefits, the key issue seems to be the union's insistence on contracting out boilerplate language.'

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'The acceptance of this language would reduce our ability to effectively manage the company,' Schaal said.

Lukens Steel is the largest subsidiary of Lukens Inc. and produces carbon, alloy and clad steel plate primarily for capital equipment and defense uses. It also produces highway and industrial safety products, corrosion protection services and materials handling products.

Only steelmaking operations were affected by the strike.

In 1988 the union narrowly accepted a three-year agreement that gave them members no increase in pay but did improve medical and insurance benefits and provided a lump sum bonus.

At that time, union members had been working nearly two years under a contract extension.

In the second quarter of 1991 Lukens shipped 168,000 tons of plate steel, a 6 percent decline from the year-earlier period.

The company reported net earnings of $12.96 million for the second quarter, up from $11.7 million for the previous second quarter. The steel division accounted for $116.3 million of Lukens' $178 million second-quarter sales.

For the first six months the company earned $21.8 million, down from $22.6 million in the first two months of 1990.

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