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Geneva, union resume talks

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Negotiations are continuing between Geneva Steel Holdings Corp. and United Steelworkers of America Local Union 2701 after a tentative contract was rejected by union members this week.

A tentative agreement had been approved by union representatives last month, but a vote by workers failed to ratify the agreement.

The union's collective bargaining agreement with Geneva expired May 1. The 1,400 union members have continued to work through negotiations.

Both sides met Wednesday in negotiations but are keeping quiet about details of the contract and concerns raised by union members.

"We are optimistic that we can resolve the situation in a relatively short amount of time," said Ken Johnsen, president and chief executive officer of Geneva Steel. "Beyond that I really can't comment on the nature of the discussions."

Johnsen said negotiations likely will continue next week.

"Hopefully we can get it resolved quickly and get on with life," Johnsen said.

Union officials also expressed confidence in resolving "sticking points" in the proposed one-year contract.

Kelly Hansen, financial secretary for the union, said nothing substantial was discussed on Wednesday.

"Yesterday we just agreed to continue to work and give notice if we decided to strike," he said, adding that a strike was not imminent.

"For now we are going to leave the bargaining on the bargaining table."

Since 1997, the company has laid off nearly 1,000 employees. In January, it emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy thanks to a $235 million financing package from Citicorp USA, which was partially backed by the U.S. government.

E-mail: danderton@desnews.com