Nucor: No Federal Bailout Of 'Failing Steel Companies'

By Jill Jusko One day after the U.S. Steel unit of USX Corp. called for government help in consolidating the domestic integrated steel industry, Nucor Corp. President and CEO Dan DiMicco issued a statement vigorously opposing the U.S. Steel plan. "The industry needs comprehensive import relief from the president. Import relief . . . is the key to a strong U.S. industry, not a bailout of failing steel companies," said the head of the Charlotte, N.C., steel producer in a statement issued Dec. 5. "The proposal by [U.S. Steel] is nothing more than an attempt to get the federal government to help a couple of companies at the expense of the rest of the U.S. steel industry and the taxpayers." On Dec. 4 U.S. Steel Corp., Pittsburgh, said it was developing a comprehensive plan for consolidation of the domestic integrated steel industry, a move it said would "be a positive step toward restoring the health of this vital part of the American economy," according to USX Corp. Board Chairman Thomas J. Usher. Bethlehem Steel Corp., which is operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, acknowledged that it is one of the steel companies in talks with U.S. Steel about consolidation. A major component of U.S. Steel's plan includes the creation of a government-sponsored program that would provide relief from retiree legacy costs -- primarily pension and health-care costs -- which U.S. Steel identified as the most significant barrier to industry consolidation. Other elements of the U.S. Steel plan are implementation of President George Bush's program to address foreign imports, particularly Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974, and "a progressive new labor agreement that would provide for meaningful reductions in operating costs." Comprehensive import relief is enough government intervention, claims DiMicco. He stated, "A real solution to foreign subsidized imports is finally within reach. If the impending Section 201 remedy is effective, it will bring our trading partners to the table to negotiate reductions in excess global steel capacity and foreign government subsidies." The United Steelworkers of America said it welcomes government action to relieve retiree legacy costs.

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