WARREN - U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan is hoping his encouragement will lead to labor talks between striking steelworkers and management at Phillips Manufacturing in Niles.
More than 40 striking steelworkers have been off the job for more than two months, but no negotiations have been held since they walked out in mid-September.
''We want Niles and other areas like it to be a place where businesses prosper because workers are giving their best effort and are paid accordingly. It's good for business and good for the community,'' Ryan, D-Niles, said in a letter he sent Wednesday to management at the Nebraska-based company and to officials at United Steelworkers.
''I hope you will reach an agreement to re-start meaningful negotiations in the immediate future, as it has been more than two months since you have come together to discuss your differences,'' Ryan said.
Ryan said he stands ready to assist in any way he can.
United Steelworkers Staff Representative Dennis Brubaker, who has been leading negotiations for the striking workers, said he is hopeful Ryan's involvement might help get some talks scheduled.
A message left seeking comment from Brad Garlock at Phillips was not immediately returned Wednesday. Previously he has declined to comment on negotiations but said the company remains positive and hopeful that an agreement can be reached.
Since the strike began, Phillips Manufacturing was charged criminally with two counts related to employing replacement workers, a crime under Niles ordinances.
A company official has pleaded not guilty, and the company is scheduled to stand trial Jan. 7 in Niles Municipal Court.