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Ruffner Page's January 2008 Statement

On Jan. 3, 2008, at McWane's AB&I Foundry in Oakland, Calif., McWane President Ruffner Page agreed to appear on camera with FRONTLINE correspondent Lowell Bergman. Page did not agree to a traditional interview, however, and instead read from a written statement. The full text of that statement follows below.

Page had previously responded to FRONTLINE in writing (PDF file). He also met with Bergman several times off camera to discuss the changes in the company since FRONTLINE's original 2003 broadcast. Page refused to comment on any of the government prosecutions against McWane and its employees.

McWane President Ruffner Page

I've always believed that good safety practice was simply good business. The two go hand in hand, and the well-being of our personnel is our top priority. In 1999, when Phillip McWane became chairman and I became president, we became responsible for this 80-year-old collection of heavy foundry operations. We learned we had work to do, and we started immediately. We began making significant capital investments and pushing for culture change within the organization.

We doubled our capital investment in operating expenses for environmental, health and safety, and decided not to settle for compliance but set goals to go beyond compliance and lead our industry in becoming best in class. I believe these investments move us towards being a sustainable enterprise for generations to come.

Changing a culture takes time. As we communicated our expectations of workplace behavior and engaged our people to work together as a team in safety and productivity, I even got my ten-hour OSHA safety certificate to demonstrate that we were serious about workplace safety.

Some of our managers chose not to follow this vision of a cooperative, team-based environment and retired, resigned or were terminated. However, our current personnel have worked together to achieve dramatic reductions in accident rates and our experience is now about half of the industry average. We also have been recognized with [Voluntary] Protection Program status in two of our plants, one of which is the first foundry in the country to be designated a VPP site.

Editor's note: Approval into OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) is official recognition of the outstanding efforts of employers and employees who have achieved exemplary occupational safety and health.

Working with our unions in each plant through joint safety committees and the steelworkers nationally, we've reduced the resistance to change, and our workforce is operating more as a team, treating each other with dignity and respect. This is the most powerful agent for change I have seen. This work is not finished, however, and we will continue to look for new ways to improve our environmental, health and safety performance while supporting a U.S.-based manufacturing operation for generations to come.

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posted february 5, 2008

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