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Armco Will Close Pipe Plant; Imports Blamed

September 28, 1985|Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — Declaring that President Reagan's steel trade bpolicy has failed to improve the market for seamless pipe, Armco Inc. said Friday that it would close its plant in nearby Ambridge, eliminating about 1,200 jobs by year-end.

The loss of the 72-year-old pipe facility is another blow to the steelmaking community 20 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

LTV Steel said last February that it was closing all but small portions of its sprawling Aliquippa Works, located a mile from Ambridge across the Ohio River in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The LTV shutdown left about 700 workers at a facility that employed about 9,300 people in February, 1982. About 1,800 were on the job when the Aliquippa Works was cut back.

Trade Policy Rapped

"We thought we'd reached rock bottom here, but I guess we were wrong. And there are still questions about a couple other facilities around here," said William George, assistant director of the United Steelworkers District 20.

District 20 Director Anthony Rinaldi called the announcement "the end result of five years of disastrous free-trade policy of the Reagan Administration."

Imports accounted for 26% of domestic sales in the first half of the year, and industry analysts say import penetration should drop sharply in the coming months.

Armco, the nation's fifth-largest steelmaker based on 1984 sales of 4.5 million tons of steel, employed 1,800 USW members at its Ambridge plant only two years ago. USW members numbered 500 when the closing was announced. The remainder of the 1,200 Ambridge positions were office workers, George said.

$110-Million Charge

The Middletown, Ohio-based steelmaker said it would take a $110-million write-down against third-quarter earnings. Earlier, Armco said it anticipated a $130-million one-time gain in the same quarter on the sale of its aerospace and strategic materials group.

The Ambridge plant, which largely serves the oil industry with high-strength pipe and well casing, has been losing more than $2 million per month since last year. There were no prospects for a turnaround, Armco said.

"For years we've been warning our representatives in Congress . . . that more and more job losses would result unless foreign steel imports are curtailed," said Rinaldi, who worked for Armco at Ambridge for 25 years and headed USW Local 1360 for two terms.

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