In its latest update, issued Monday, Lukens characterized last week's bargaining as ``intense,'' but said negotiations on major issues achieved only ``limited progress.''
Wage and pension proposals were not even discussed, and both sides remained at odds over the issue of contracting out work, according to the company's update.
But management reported progress on the issue of employment security. Lukens has outlined an employment-security proposal that would provide job protection for almost all of the Coatesville workers.
The two sides began formal talks in the fall, holding two fruitless rounds in November and December before reconvening Jan 15. Since then, they have been negotiating Monday through Friday behind closed doors at the Holiday Inn in Essington, near Philadelphia International Airport.
In December, Local 1165 members authorized their bargaining committee to call a strike if no agreement is reached before the contract expires early tomorrow. Union members struck for 105 days in 1991 and early 1992 before reaching an agreement four years ago.
The negotiations come as Lukens completes a $600 million, four-year restructuring to move the company beyond its core carbon-steel-plate business into new markets for high-end specialty steels. The company is going after new industries, including consumer goods, that can carry it through the slumps of its heavy-industrial customers.