STEUBENVILLE - Plagued by declining membership, United Steelworkers Union Local 1190 officially will close its doors Friday.
The move comes four months after USW International President Leo Gerard and District Director Dave McCall appointed a temporary administrator to oversee Local 1190's business, a move they described as standard procedure for locals dealing with workplace closings "and the associated rapid loss of membership."
"They're going to have to close their doors until we can get a contract at Mountain State Carbon, and we're hoping (Frontier) comes through with a buyer for the Mingo Junction plant," USW staff representative Santo Santoro said. "If that occurs, we'll go ahead and return 1190 to 1190."
Santoro said Local 1190 President Ernie Gambellin will be posting contact information for union members needing help with pension or insurance questions.
"It's frustrating, just to see this local union hall shut down," he added. "We're trying to build it again, but it's tougher and tougher."
Santoro said it's "very sad" to see what's happened to the American steel industry in general, and the former RG Steel in particular, a reference to the 2012 bankruptcy court auctions that saw the bankrupt company's business sold piecemeal to various buyers. New York based Frontier Industrial, which purchased the Mingo Junction plant for $20 million, is working with potential buyers. The Yorkville operation was sold to Esmark Steel and has yet to reopen, while the Steubenville plant was sold to River Rail Development, which is showing its 200-acre riverfront property to potential tenants, while the former Wheeling-Corrugating was sold to the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle and Los Angeles-based Hackman Capital.
"It's a shame it ended like this, with everybody buying mills" at bargain-basement prices, he said. "Justice wasn't served, believe me. Why would a bankruptcy judge allow something like that to occur? It's a shame what they've done."
Santoro said they're still trying to work out a contract for workers at Mountain State Carbon, a joint venture between Russia's Severstal and the bankrupt RG Steel.