United States Steel Corporation

From Academic Kids

The United States Steel Corporation Template:Nyse is an integrated steel producer with major production operations in the United States and Central Europe. The company is the world's 9th largest steel producer ranked by sales. They were renamed USX Corporation in 1991 and subsequently United States Steel Corporation again in 2001 when the shareholders of USX spun off its steelmaking assets following the acquisition of Marathon Oil in 1982. It is still the largest integrated steel producer in the United States, although it produces only slightly more steel than it did in 1902.

J. P. Morgan and Elbert H. Gary founded U.S. Steel in 1901 (incorporated on February 25) by combining the steel operations owned by Andrew Carnegie with their holdings in the Federal Steel Company. At one time U.S. Steel was the largest steel producer and largest corporation in the world. The federal government attempted to use federal anti-trust laws to break up U.S. Steel in 1911. That effort ultimately failed. Time and competitors have, however, accomplished nearly the same thing. In its first full year of operation, U.S. Steel made 67 percent of all the steel produced in the United States. It now produces less than ten percent.

The Corporation, as it was known on Wall Street, always distinguished itself to investors by virtue of its size rather than for its efficiency or creativeness during its heyday. Because of heavy debts taken on at the company's formation (Carnegie insisted on being paid in cash for his stake) U.S. Steel found itself surpassed by its competitors. Bethlehem Steel Company, taken over by Charles M. Schwab the first president of U.S. Steel, after he left U.S. Steel in 1903 took much of this business, driving U.S. Steel's share of the market to roughly 50 percent by 1911.

U.S. Steel's production peaked at more than 35 million tons in 1953. Its employment was greatest during World War II in 1943 when it had more than 340,000 employees. By 2000, however, U.S. Steel employed approximately 52,500 people. The federal government has also intervened on other occasions to try to control U.S. Steel. President Harry S. Truman attempted to take over its steel mills in 1952 to resolve a crisis with its union, the United Steelworkers of America. The Supreme Court of the United States blocked that ruling that the President did not have the constitutional authority to seize the mills. President John F. Kennedy was more successful in 1962 when he pressured the steel industry into reversing price increases that Kennedy considered to be dangerously inflationary. The federal government also prevented U.S. Steel from acquiring National Steel in 1984 and political pressure from the United States Congress forced it to abandon plans to import British Steel slabs. It finally acquired National Steel's assets in 2003 after National Steel went bankrupt. U.S. Steel acquired Marathon Oil in 1982 as well as Texas Oil & Gas several years later. The corporation found itself at the end of the century deriving much of its revenue and net income from its energy operations.

U.S. Steel maintained the anti-labor policies of Andrew Carnegie, who had destroyed the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers union that represented his employees at the Homestead, Pennsylvania plant after a large strike in 1892. U.S. Steel defeated another strike in 1901, the year it was founded. When U.S.Steel built the city of Gary, Indiana in 1906 it maintained the sort of close, paternalistic control over the political and social life of its workers in a mid-size city that coal mine and textile factory owners had in company towns. It also maintained close surveillance of employees' activities, blacklisting many of those who had union backgrounds through spies placed among its workforce. U.S. Steel did reach an impasse with unions during World War I when under pressure from the Wilson Administration, it relaxed its opposition to unions enough to allow some to operate in certain of its factories. It returned to its previous policies as soon as the war ended, however, and defeated union organizing efforts by William Z. Fosterof the AFL and later a leader of the Communist Party of the United States of America.

During the 1920s U.S. Steel, like many other large employers, coupled paternalistic employment practices with "employee representation plans" which were quasi-unions under the effective control of management. Those ERPs, ironically enough, eventually became an important factor leading to the organization of the United Steelworkers of America. The company dropped its hardline anti-union stance in 1937, however, when Myron Taylor then President of U.S. Steel agreed to recognize the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, an arm of the CIO led by John L. Lewis. Taylor was an outsider, brought in during the Great Depression to try to rescue U.S. Steel, and had no emotional investment in the company's long history of opposition to unions. Watching the upheaval caused by the United Automobile Workers successful sit-down strike in Flint, Michigan and convinced that Lewis was someone he could deal with on a businesslike basis, Taylor sought stability through collective bargaining.

The Steelworkers, however, continue to have a contentious relationship with U.S. Steel but far less so than the relationship that other unions had with employers in other industries in the United States. The Steelworkers launched a number of long strikes against U.S. Steel in 1946 and 1959, but those strikes were over wages and benefits not the more fundamental issue of union recognition that led to violent strikes elsewhere. In 1959 a 116 day strike had a significant long-term effect on union versus management relations at U.S. Steel, by shutting down ninety percent of total U.S. steel production. This strike opened the door to steel imports which had been a negligible factor before then. The long decline of the United States steel industry had began. The Steelworker union attempted to circumvent the problems of competitive foreign imports by entering into a so-called Experimental Negotiation Agreement (ENA) in 1974. This was to provide for arbitration in the event that the parties were not able to reach agreement on any new collective bargaining agreements but it compromised the union's ability to strike.

U.S. Steel and the other employers terminated the ENA in 1984. In 1986 U.S. Steel locked out thousands of its employees when it shut down a number of its facilities as a result of a drop in orders on the eve of a threatened strike. Additionally, U.S. Steel and other steel producers demanded extensive concessions from their employees in the early 1980s. In addition to reducing the role of unions, the steel industry had sought to induce the federal government to take action to counteract dumping of below market steel by foreign producers. Neither the concessions nor anti-dumping laws have, however, restored the industry to the health and prestige it once had.

The U.S. Steel Tower in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is named after the company and the company's offices take up most of the building. Also, the Pittsburgh Steelers football team was so named because of the steel industry in Pittsburgh.

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