Tentative agreement struck

Details of a tentative four- year agreement reached Wednesday between Esmark Inc. and its wholly owned steel services subsidiary, Esmark Steel Group and the United Steelworkers of America Local 1223 will be shared during an informational meeting Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. at the Yorkville Fire Department.

Members of the local union will have the chance to cast a secret ballot vote on the tentative agreement Thursday at USW Local 1223’s union hall from 7a.m. until 5 p.m.

A joint statement was released to the public Friday announcing a tentative agreement had been reached.

A simple majority of the total votes cast Thursday will drive the outcome of the process, according to Jerry Conners, president of USW Local 1223 Yorkville.

“The tentative agreement was reached with Esmark on Wednesday. Thursday we took it to our local’s executive board and grievance committee; they voted in the affirmative to put the proposal in front of our members,” explained Conners.

The local has a regular monthly meeting scheduled for Monday afternoon and Conners has said details of the tentative agreement will not be discussed until the meeting Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. at the Yorkville fire hall.

“This is an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to restart operations at Ohio Cold Rolling Company, and 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. We look forward to the membership’s vote next week and focusing on restarting operations early next year,” said James P. Bouchard, chairman and chief executive officer of Esmark Inc., applauding the tentative agreement.

USW District 1 Director Dave McCall added that the tentative agreement paves the way to bring back sorely need jobs to 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,” said McCall.

Tom Modrowski, Chief Executive Officer of Esmark Steel Group, said a ratified collective bargaining agreement and 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. We’re excited about rolling our first coils and better serving our growing customer base,” said Modrowski.

He noted that some of the key economic provisions of the tentative collective bargaining agreement call for wage increases over the term of the four-year agreement, comprehensive healthcare for workers and their families, financial contributions to the Steelworker Pension Fund, and participation in a Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) Trust providing healthcare benefits for retired union workers.

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. Esmark Inc. is a diversified, privately-held family company with a portfolio of industrial companies with strong roots in the steel industry.