Worker Buy-Out Movement
Interest Spurred by Weirton Steel Action
Last year, national steel Corp., the fourth largest steelmaker in the United States, announced its intention to gradually pull out of its Weirton, W.Va., plant. Though the plant was “marginally profitable,” company officials said it was “not economically feasible” to modernize the 60-year-old facility, which produces tin plate for cans and sheet metal for automobiles. Like other steel manufacturers, National was finding it increasingly difficult to compete with cheaper imports from Japan and Europe and was diversifying into other sectors of the economy.1 On March 2, 1982, company executives delivered an ultimatum to Weirton's 7,000 employees: either buy the plant or face eventual layoffs.
For this West Virgina community of 26,000 inhabitants, most of whose livelihoods depended directly ...