Steelworkers, company president excited to get back to work

GRANITE CITY, Ill. - The phone has been ringing nonstop at United Steel Workers Local 1899 office in Granite City, with laid-off workers wanting to know when they are going back to work.

The union's answer is it may be sooner than you think.

The Granite City Works plant will begin firing up one of its two blast furnaces this month. It’s a process that could take three to four months.

The blast furnaces and its steelmaking facilities have been idle for more than two years.

US Steel President and Chief Executive Officer David Burritt issued the following statement:

“Our Granite City Works facility and employees, as well as the surrounding community, have suffered too long from the unending waves of unfairly traded steel products that have flooded US markets.”

Union officials described imported steel from China as cheap and illegal, since it doesn't meet US standards.

Both company and union officials are expecting increased demand for steel in the United States because of the proposed increased tariffs on imported steel.

"This is our chance to show everyone if given the opportunity, that we can compete," said United Steelworkers Local 1899 President Dan Simmons. "This is our chance to shine, so we're looking forward to having this opportunity and once they let us start, our job is to make them sorry they ever shut us down."

Simmons predicted the US-made steel will be competitively priced.

The original company announced Wednesday morning that laid-off workers would start getting phone calls later this month to come back to work. The union said those calls were being made that day, and some of those laid off workers could be back to work in about a week or two.

"This is such an important start to getting hard-working families back to work and I'm so pleased for the steelworkers there in Granite City and know that I stand with you," said Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois).