By John Kiesewetter
Enquirer staff writer
MIDDLETOWN - AK Steel workers - and the rest of the community - won't be celebrating this Labor Day with free concerts or fireworks outside company headquarters.
The city's biggest employer has canceled its annual free party because of a budget cut. A celebration had been held every year since the plant's centennial in 2000.
"Clearly, the key component of our road to sustained profitability is reducing discretionary spending," said Alan McCoy, AK vice president for government and public relations.
Four years ago, AK threw a huge celebration between Verity Parkway (Ohio 4) and Curtis Street, site of the original American Rolling Mill Co. mill. Thousands of residents toured the plant and watched free concerts and fireworks.
In 2001, the company sponsored a classic car show, concert and fireworks.
The Oak Ridge Boys played a free concert last year, followed by the Middletown Symphony Orchestra and fireworks. McCoy declined to say how much the Labor Day festivities cost.
"They were really nice celebrations enjoyed by a lot of people," said Carl Wiese, retired from AK after 32 years. "But I can't blame them for canceling it because of the money situation. They're like everybody else: You've got to cut back someplace."
Although AK posted its largest operating profit - $56.4 million - in nearly two years in July, the steel maker had lost about $1 billion in the three previous years.
Labor Day also will arrive with fewer area residents employed at AK, which announced 69 layoffs in August after cutting 200 jobs last fall. AK now has about 3,500 workers in Middletown, McCoy said.
CEO James Wainscott said in July the company needs to reduce its hourly work force by 20 percent to stay competitive. The union representing about 3,000 hourly employees at Middletown has refused to re-open contract talks.
"Job No. 1 is to get the company back to sustained levels of profitability. It makes all other things possible," McCoy said.
Bronson: School taxes ignite fracas in Fairfield
Crowley: Auditor one to watch in '07 governor race
Things Happening: Psych
grad tries hand at business
TOP LOCAL HEADLINES
Accuser says Allen advised 'lie and deny'
While admired by some at Enquirer, Collins no stranger to office gossip
GOP leaders to meet with Allen, discuss future
Warren Co. judge accused
Report counts labor losses
Fernald contractor not ready
Tougher penalties discussed
Sluggish Frances prolongs tense vigil
How to prepare for a pleasant Riverfest visit
Ohio hotly contested
Local focus group disparaged by media figures
Celebrities urge people to vote
Registered to vote? If not, here's what you do
2 GOP justices pass $1M in election funds
KY Candidate turns table
Shirts show where wearer draws line
Louisville jail on lockdown expecting influx
State drops fight against Sunday 'package' sales
Northern Kentucky review
Teachers fear health proposal
Fairfield may revise cell-phone policy
Student eyes politics
Campbell students to attend inaugural
Prepaid tuition plan resumes enrollment
In the arms of a robot
Robots in space?
Howard Walter Rhein, 90, fought at Normandy in WWII
Lawrence Geis, 85, had worked at CG&E
E. Audell Greiner, 94, was pioneer as female pharmacist
MORE FROM THE REGION
AK Steel cancels weekend festivities
Ohio fights to keep records open to public, but secure
Problems at girls prison
Woman killed in motorcycle accident
Public safety briefs