The United Steelworkers just got bit by a barracuda. AK Steel Chairman Thomas Graham, known as the "Smiling Barracuda" for his cost-cutting, has won a major victory over the USW. Workers at the nation's No.6 steelmaker voted 54% to 46% to support management by sticking with AK's accommodating independent union.
Graham, 67, loathes the pacts guaranteeing jobs that most of Big Steel last year signed with the USW. AK (formerly Armco Steel) ran ads warning workers of higher dues and strikes if the USW won. It was, says the USW's Randy McKay, "the biggest union-busting dog and pony show I've ever seen." AK workers, facing a critical fight with new minimills, also supported Graham because, in his two years at AK, black ink has returned.