An independent arbitrator ordered AK Steel to cancel plans to shut down its Ashland, Ky., plant and lay off approximately 750 workers. The company must instead look at other ways of cutting production because the union contract contains a provision to prevent its members from being laid off while other AK Steel plants are operating. According to the USW, it will continue to enforce its contractual protections no matter what market conditions are or how difficult economic times become. The USW represents about 1.2 million active and retired members in the U.S. and Canada.
In his final decision, arbitrator Raymond F. Sekula said that "the failure of the company to temper its 'full-capacity' commitment to the Ashland bargaining unit, except in cases in which there is no demand at all for Ashland products, acts as a restriction on the company in that if there is customer demand for products which can be produced at Ashland, that work must contractually be assigned to it."