Bill Bensie has seen the good times and the bad times during his 38 years with the company that is now RG Steel.
Bensie, president of United Steelworkers Local 1190, and his fellow union members have endured labor lock-outs, bankruptcies and multiple sales of the 110-year-old steelmaker.
Now, after nearly three years of waiting and hoping for jobs or activity at the shuttered steel facilities in Mingo Junction and Steubenville, union leaders and members will hear the latest news from the top two executives of the latest company to own the local plants.
Employee meetings are scheduled for 7:30 a.m. today at the McLure Hotel in Wheeling and at 3:30 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Mingo Junction to introduce John Goodwin, RG Steel's president and chief executive officer, and Mark Whalen, chief operating officer, as well as other members of the corporate executive team.
"I believe John Goodwin will talk to us about the company's finances, how the company is doing since it was formed earlier this year and bought several of the facilities owned by Severstal, and what the business strategy is for the future," Bensie said. "This will be a good chance for our union members to ask questions about the future of our local plant.
"It would be nice to hear some good news for a change, but I don't think that is going to happen," he added. "RG Steel is a relatively new company that started earlier this year. They had to obtain raw material contracts and are still working to build up their orders. I know their Sparrows Point facilities in Baltimore are still not at 100 percent.
"It is very frustrating for us," he continued. "People are still hanging on and hoping. I am telling the members who ask they should take advantage of any chance to go to school, get some new training and look for another job until we turn things around. I just don't see anything starting up this year because the orders are not there."
Carmen DeStefano, Local 1190 financial secretary and grievanceman, said about 1,100 union members are on layoff status.
"When RG Steel came in and bought the local plants, we were promised updates, so this is a good chance to hear information and ask questions. The executives had a meeting with employees in Warren last week and on Monday they will be meeting with us. I am telling everyone to try to attend one of the two meetings," said DeStefano.