LOCAL STEELWORKERS have had a rough go of it for much too long. The last thing they need now is a “slap in the face.”
That is exactly what they got from bankrupt RG Steel. It was delivered in the form of a request to pay 21 “key employees” nearly $800,000 to stay on the job for the remainder of this year. RG’s unveiled the plan in bankruptcy court.
We view such a move as inappropriate and shows a lack of respect for union members.
RG is hoping to pay a $2,000 monthly stipend for each individual to allow them to purchase health insurance, along with bonus payments of three months’ salary if the individual stays through Dec. 31.
Making the steel firm’s request even tougher to swallow is its refusal to release the names of those 21 individuals. RG officials claim that these employees perform “essential functions” relating to sales, accounting, treasury, IT and other unidentified “administrative’ functions.”
RG’s proposal comes despite owing steelworkers and retirees money for unpaid vacation, severance and medical claims, all adding up to $600 million. Such being the case, it is astonishing that the steelmaker could make such a request.
The union workers have always been the backbone of the steel industry. They have sacrificed greatly the last several decades as jobs and wages dwindled, while their collective futures remain in doubt.
We strongly take exception to RG Steel’s sweet deal for 21 undisclosed individuals. Preferential treatment only creates more problems for a beleaguered industry.