Fighting for Ormet

STATE REP Jack Cera may have said it best, “There’s a time to be nice and there’s a time to fight for what you believe in.”

The Bellaire Democrat made the statement during Saturday’s rally at the Ormet plant in Hannibal. Cera said he was done being nice about the situation and that Gov. John Kasich and other state officials need to realize what they are doing to the Ohio Valley by not intervening.

Cera is right on with his comments.

Ormet is definitely worth fighting for while state officials, the Public Utility Commission of Ohio and American Electric Power stubbornness may result in the closing of the Monroe County aluminum plant. Ormet is in need of emergency rate relief from AEP or closure appears inevitable.

Saturday’s rally attracted a passionate crowd, stocked with current Ormet workers, retirees, elected officials and those who just wanted to lend support. It was an impressive outpouring of support.

Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, said, “I spent a lot of time talking to the families. This is not just about numbers on a spreadsheet, this is about people’s lives.”

And many lives are involved.

If Ormet shuts down, some 1,000 workers will go on the unemployment line.

The Switzerland of Ohio School District would lose $110,000 in property tax revenue given to the school. That’s equal to two teachers’ salaries.

Tom Byers, USW Local 5724 president, said Ormet is the third largest aluminum smelter in the country and the plant has a $238 million economic impact.

It’s obvious that Ormet is vital to Ohio Valley economy.

Unfortunately, Kasich, PUCO and AEP have their collective heads buried in the sand, refusing to discuss potential remedies.

PUCO’s next meeting is slated for Aug. 27. AEP could raise Ormet’s bill to $62.83 per megawatt hour. In its 2009 power agreement, the cost was $39.66 per megawatt hour which one union official said “is about the current market price.”

With that being the case, we do not understand why Kasich will not go to bat for the aluminum maker. Having Ormet pay a fair price for electricity while saving a 1,000 jobs is a no-brainer.

Kasich promotes himself as a job creator. He needs to become a job saver.

Cera is right, it is time to fight.