‘We’re booming’: AK Steel union leader says business, hiring up since 2020 purchase by Cleveland company

AK Steel will change its name, possibly to match owner Cleveland-Cliffs, according to Neil Douglas, president of IAM Local 1943.

He said Cleveland-Cliffs, which purchased AK Steel for $1.1 billion in 2020, sent out an internal email Friday announcing the name change.

Also last year, Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. bought the U.S. assets of ArcelorMittal for $1.4 billion. The deal made Cleveland-Cliffs the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America, officials said.

Douglas said the name change “makes sense” since Cleveland-Cliffs has acquired so many companies. He doesn’t believe the name change will impact operations at the Middletown Works.

“Nothing major,” he said when asked about the name change.

Several messages for officials at Cleveland-Cliffs were not returned to the Journal-News.

AK Steel has 2,421 employees and trails Cincinnati Financial Corporation and GE Aviation in West Chester as the largest private employers in the county. Douglas said AK Steel has about 1,850 hourly union employees.

Douglas said he has seen an increase in business at AK Steel since the purchase.

“We’re booming,” said Douglas, who added AK is hiring.

Late last week, Cleveland-Cliffs announced its plans to contribute $202 million to its global pension plans this year.

About $118 million had been deferred from 2020 as part of the provisions of the CARES Act, according to the company’s 10-K filing Friday with the SEC. That contribution was completed on Jan. 4, according to the filing.

The amount of the contribution reflects the addition of the pension plans of AK Steel Corp. and ArcelorMittal USA.

AK Steel started operations in 1901 in Middletown and always has been a major contributor to the community. The company opened its $36 million AK Steel Research and Innovation Center off Interstate 75 in 2017, 10 years after the headquarters were moved out of Middletown to West Chester.

There are soccer fields and a band shelter named after AK Steel in Middletown and the company is a major supporter of Light Up Middletown, a holiday lights display; and employees serve on numerous boards and employees volunteer on countless projects.


Dec. 27, 1899: Company was incorporated as the American Rolling Mill Co.

April 7, 1994: The name Armco was replaced by AK Steel.

April 7, 2017: The company celebrated the grand opening of its new Research and Innovation Center in Middletown.

March 13, 2020: Cleveland-Cliffs announced it had purchased AK Steel for $1.1 billion.

Feb. 26, 2021: Cleveland-Cliffs sent out an email announcing it was changing name of AK Steel.

SOURCE: Journal-News archives

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