Rocky Mountain Steel Mills issued a statement saying that the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) has again resorted to extreme distortions and lies about Rocky Mountain Steel Mills'' safety record in an effort to damage the company''s reputation.
"A news release issued by the Steelworkers May 10 greatly exaggerated an incident at our mill," said Vicki Tagliafico, director of communications and planning for Rocky Mountain Steel Mills.
In the May 10 news release, the union claimed that a mid-April crane malfunction caused thousands of tons of molten steel to spill into the mill, causing several injuries.
"The truth, as the Union knows full well," said Tagliafico, "is that the ladle in question holds 150 tons of steel and a small amount sloshed into a spill pit, which is specifically designed for that purpose. No one was injured."
"In addition to the news being old, it also is inaccurate," she said. "For the union to reach back to something six weeks old shows that they have nothing else to use to try to gain media attention."
She suggested that the union is grasping at straws because their legal and financial problems continue to climb in the wake of several lengthy labor disputes involving numerous U.S. metal manufacturers.
Rocky Mountain Steel Mills also has separately filed more than 100 complaints against USWA for threats, intimidation and harassment against current employees and damage to personal and company property.
Tagliafico said that Rocky Mountain Steel Mills has made efforts to solicit safety suggestions from the union.
The company''s inquiries were met with a lack of interest and no helpful input from the union.
The union was also asked to provide the company with any information regarding specific hazards they may be aware of and provided none.
Tagliafico pointed out that the union is also a co-chair of the joint health and safety committee and bears equal responsibility for safety.
Futhermore, she said, when a full union workforce was in place, the union''s representatives failed to attend 70 percent of the safety committee meetings.
"It is our belief that the union has only become vitally interested in safety since they began a corporate campaign against our company over two years ago," said Tagliafico. "It now serves their purposes to dredge up and exaggerate every incident they hear about, fact or fiction, whether it''s safety, the environment or product quality."
She said the company takes safety very seriously and the fact that injuries and even fatalities do sometimes occur in this industry is a cause for concern for the entire company.
Tagliafico gave examples of how Rocky Mountain Steel has long backed up its commitment to safety with actions and dollars.
For example, Rocky Mountain Steel Mills has spent more than $200 million to improve and modernize the aging Pueblo mill, and it has spent more than $4 million in other safety improvements, according to Tagliafico.
by Virginia Sutcliffe