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Local union workers complain about N.C. company to dispose of coke plant

Apr. 08, 2013 @ 11:30 PM

ASHLAND -- About 30 union members picketed Monday outside the closed AK Steel coke plant in Ashland, complaining the contract to demolish the plant should have gone to local workers instead of a North Carolina firm.

The company closed the coke plant along Winchester Avenue (U.S. 23 and U.S. 60) in 2011, putting about 350 people out of work including full-time and contract employees. AK Steel signed a contract last October with NCM Demolition and Redemption of Charlotte, N.C.

The work started last year and could last through the middle of 2013, according to a company spokesman. The North Carolina company specialized in industrial demolition.

"We could do that work," said Dale Tabor, business representative of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 181 in Russell, Ky. "They kept saying they would meet with us but they never did. This work could be done by local people."

NCM brought in people from North Carolina and California to do the work, said Johnny "Bill" Oney, business manager of Laborer's International Union of North America Local 1445 in Catlettsburg, Ky. "It makes no sense at all to me that in these troubled times of our economy why can we not work local people here at home."

"They admitted they were wrong, but they won't meet with us anymore or return our phone calls," Oney said.

"We're building trades people," he said. "Work is starting to pick up, but it's been slow the past couple of years. We could have used the work."

One of the buildings at the plant caught fire late last year when NCM employees were cutting it open to get it ready for demolition, according to Ashland fire officials.

An AK Steel spokesman couldn't be reached Monday for comment.

Tabor said the pickets would return Tuesday and Wednesday to continue their pickets.

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