WARREN - Union workers met Tuesday night, possibly to hear the fate of RG Steel, a longtime employer in the city that is idled while awaiting a buyer.
However, as of early this morning, there was still no word on the results of an auction of the plant that began Tuesday morning. Any sale must have the approval of Delaware's Bankruptcy court, which is scheduled to hold a hearing at 1 p.m. today on sales.
Repeated attempts to reach local representatives and union leaders by telephone for updates were unsuccessful, as were attempts to reach national sources.
Tribune Chronicle / Bob Coupland
Union workers gather outside the United Steel Workers Local 1375 Hall on North Park Avenue, Warren, Tuesday evening for their monthly meeting.
The sale of the operations was originally slated for last week but postponed until Tuesday due to the involvement of a "stalking horse," or primary bidder. Sparrows Point mill in Baltimore and RG Steel were being auctioned at the law offices of Willkie Farr and Gallagher in Manhattan.
Mayor Doug Franklin said Tuesday night that he was unable to attend the meeting and was waiting for an update himself.
Previously, Franklin said he would like to see RG Steel continue to produce at this location and to have a long-term plan for production. He said he remained hopeful any company buying the plant would commit to keep it operating.
Mingo Junction - Sold to Frontier Industrial of Buffalo, N.Y., for $20 million.
Martins Ferry - Sold to Wheeling, W.Va., businessman Quay Mull and attorney Joseph Gompers for $2 million.
Yorkville - Sold to Pittsburgh-based Esmark Inc. and South Korea's TCC Steel for $4.7 million.
Note: A hearing is scheduled for today to finalize the sales.
Source: The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register
"I would like them to be able to take pressure off the people who worked at the company that they will have jobs to return to," Franklin said.
He said the administration would be willing to work with any company that comes in to ease the creation of jobs through avenues that it has available to it.
Union workers who gathered outside United Steel Workers Local 1375 Hall in Warren Tuesday evening said before the meeting that they were expecting to hear an update about the auction of their mill and another plant in Maryland, and what the future may hold. Workers also said that this was a regularly scheduled monthly meeting and not called specifically about the auction.
RG, which owns the 1,235-worker Warren mill and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 31, stated it could not overcome the deterioration of the steel market and would sell off the three plants it bought last year from Russian steelmaker Severstal for $1.2 billion.
Three other sites were auctioned last week.
Wheeling businessman Quay Mull and attorney Joseph Gompers are the apparent new owners of RG's Martins Ferry plant, at a reported cost of $2 million. Esmark and South Korea's TCC Steel were the successful bidders for the purchase of RG's Yorkville plant, which sold for a reported $4.7 million.
Frontier Steel bought RG's Mingo Junction facility for $20 million and Nucor Steel purchased equipment only from RG's Wheeling Corrugating.
There were no bids for RG's Wheeling headquarters or the remaining 50 percent of the Follansbee coke plant, according to reports.
None of the sales are deemed final until approved in federal bankruptcy court by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Carey.
A hearing on the RG sales resulting from last week's auction is set for today in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware.
"It's very frustrating not knowing," Franklin said.
Besides the 1,000 jobs directly impacted by the now-closed plant, the company is a huge revenue source for the city.
"It represents approximately $250,000 to $300,000 to our general fund. It's our largest water customer at the tune of about $1.3 million annually," Franklin said.
Just more than a year after purchasing the Warren plant and two others from Severstal, owners, led by billionaire investor Ira Rennert, filed for bankruptcy May 31 and began closing the mill. A planned auction was delayed last week, giving owners more time to come up with a so-called "stalking horse" that would set a baseline bid amount for sale.
Although there are rumors about potential bidders, no one from the company or the union are talking.
These days, there's little activity at the Warren plant and weeds have overtaken parking lots. Last week, a company out of Buffalo, N.Y., that specializes in demolishing old factories made a bid for an RG facility in southern Ohio.
The mayor is hoping a different fate is in store for the Warren site.
"I'm always going to be optimistic about it because it is a valuable plant in their whole arsenal of plants," Franklin said.
Tribune Chronicle partner WYTV 33 News contributed to this story.