STEUBENVILLE - With only 200 dues-paying workers still on the job, a temporary administrator has been appointed to oversee the affairs and property of United Steelworkers Local 1190.
A letter from USW International President Leo Gerard and District Director Dave McCall, posted on Local 1190's website and dated Nov. 13 described it as "standard procedure" to designate an administrator for locals dealing with work place closings "and the associated rapid loss of membership."
Mark Shaw, a member of McCall's district staff, will serve as administrator for Local 1190. All of Local 1190's records, property and effects are to be turned over to Shaw, the letter said.
TEMPORARY CHANGE — United Steelworkers Local 1190 in Steubenville has been placed under temporary administratorship, a protective measure union leaders say is standard operating procedure after work place closings. With only a fraction of its membership base still on the job, union officials say the future depends in large part on finding a buyer for the idled Mingo Junction works. -- Linda Harris
McCall himself declined comment Wednesday, and USW Staff Representative Santo Santoro could not be reached for comment.
Local 1190 President Ernie Gambellin, however, characterized it as a temporary measure.
"We'll still be a union, we still have a union representing the (Follansbee) coke plant," he said. "I look at it as a reorganization of what we already have. We will not be able to continue doing business the way we did before, with the amount of people we have working."
Gambellin said much will depend on whether the company that owns the idled RG Steel property in Mingo Junction can find a buyer for all or part of the operation.
"How we land is going to depend on (what happens in) the future," Gambellin said.
"When you don't have any (operations) running, when you've been told like RG told us that they're no longer a company and at this time don't have a purchaser, no one is paying union dues and some kind of move has to be made," he added. "We're not dissolved, it's more like a temporary administratorship. We'll still be a union, we'll still have a union representing workers at the coke plant. I look at it as a reorganizaiton of what we already have. The way we did business before, with the amount people we have working now, we'll not be able to continue."
Gambellin, though, concedes it's a sad day for the local nonetheless.
"But it's the reality of the situation we're in," he said. "And we have to act accordingly to preserve our union. But this union is not going away, we're not losing our USW status."
(Harris can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)