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BETHLEHEM IS BETTER OFF WITHOUT CRANE

J. Don Crane wrote that he wanted to set the record straight about his deal in trying to purchase the Bethlehem Coke Plant. Some of his records were not so straight. Crane seems to be blaming the union for closing the plant because they would not agree to his terms.

Let me take you back to the Semet Solvay Coke plant that Crane claims he put back into production in 1978. I also have a little background in the Semet Solvay Coke plant. I worked there before Crane purchased it. The Semet solvay coke plant was damaged by fire, but never out of production as Crane claims. The Semet Solvay workers kept that plant in production through some very difficult conditions. When Crane purchased that plant he let most of the Semet solvay workers go and hired new employees at close to half the pay and very little benefits. If Crane follows in his footsteps, that is exactly what he would do to the Bethlehem workers.

My hat is off to the steel workers for not agreeing to Crane's terms. In this case, no loaf is better than half. Most people could never imagine the conditions working in a coke plant. They are similar to a coal mine but above ground. Respirators must be worn to keep from inhaling gas, sulfur, smoke, etc. The heat is so intense on those coke ovens that one must wear thick wooden shoes, thermal insulated outer wear to keep from burning up. One must take salt tablets to keep from dehydrating in the summer time. If one is not careful he may be pushed into an oven, which has happened. I've seen loss of life, loss of limbs and many other injuries in the coke plant. Hearing loss, emphysema, cancer are common. And Crane wants to cut their wages. Crane claims he would doubt that the union has the ability to provide good paying jobs for the 225 coke oven workers.

There is no doubt about one thing, Crane would not give those workers a good-paying job.

DAVID HIGGINS
Gowanda

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