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We want to make steel, and we want you to help us,' Surma says

September 9 2009

U.S. Steel Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Surma told more than 250 TAUC contractors, labor representatives and other industry leaders at Pennsylvania Powers Union Construction on Sept. 9 that the road forward for the domestic steel industry and its union contractors will be difficult. However, he reaffirmed his commitment to a partnership with TAUC contractors.

“Let me be clear: I look forward to the day when many more of you are working in our facilities than are today,” Surma told the crowd.

He noted the mission of TAUC contractors and the mission of U.S. Steel are complimentary.

“Just as it is your goal to demonstrate union construction is the best option because it is safer and more productive, it is our goal to be the most efficient, effective and safe steel producer,” Surma said.

He went on to describe continually dire circumstances for the steel industry and his company.

U.S. Steel dropped from a 90 percent capacity utilization rate in January 2008 to a 33.5 percent rate in January 2009, according to Surma. The rate has bounced back to about 50 percent as of August 2009.

“Most steel companies in the world have been in survival mode since last September,” Surma told the crowd.

He went on to describe ways TAUC contractors can improve their chances of securing future work with U.S. Steel:

  • Take an active role in project planning;

  • Thoroughly understand and commit to U.S. Steel’s requirements for safety and quality; and,

  • Ensure that all projects are quickly staffed with sufficiently trained, qualified and committed people.

    Surma said his forecasters cannot see very far out, and said they will not commit to much beyond November 2009. But, he assured the crowd of mutual goals.

    “We want the same things you want. We want to make steel, and we want you to help us do it,” Surma said.

    Domestic steel industry represented 10 percent of NMAPC work hours in 2008.

    Pennsylvania Powers Union Construction was generously sponsored by:

    Aramark Uniform Services;
    Boilermakers Local 154;
    Blue Mountain Equipment Rental Corporation;
    the Ironworker Employers Association of Western Pennsylvania;
    Manning & Napier;
    the Mechanical Contractors Association of Western Pennsylvania;
    Mobile Medical Corporation; and,
    the National Maintenance Agreements Policy Committee, Inc.

    The Association of Union Constructors will be holding another industry-wide event on Dec. 9, 2009, in Washington, D.C., called State of the Union Construction Industry 2009. Advance registration is required. Questions can be referred to Todd Mustard at 703.524.3336 x 112.


    The Association of Union Constructors is the premier national trade association representing the 21st Century union construction industry. TAUC consists of more than 2,500 union contractors, local union contractor associations and vendors in the industrial maintenance and construction field. We demonstrate union construction is the best option because it is safer and more productive, and it provides a higher-quality and cost-competitive product.

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