GRANITE CITY, Ill. – Picket lines continued in Wentzville outside the General Motors plant on Monday, as the United Auto Workers strike entered its fifth day. The Wentzville plant employs around 4,100 people. Union workers walked off the job at midnight last Thursday.

As those workers continue striking, a major plant from another big industry in our area said it may have to soon lay off workers temporarily. A statement from the U.S. Steel Corporation said, “Following the announcement of UAW strike actions, we are executing our risk mitigation plan to ensure our melt capacity is balanced with our order book. As a result, we have decided to temporarily idle blast furnace ‘B’ at Granite City Works and are reallocating volumes as needed to other domestic facilities to efficiently meet customer demand.

“We thank our employees for working to ensure the temporary idling of the furnace will be conducted safely and efficiently. We do not take these decisions lightly and will continue to monitor and assess market conditions.”

Dan Simmons, president of Local 1899, said the temporary shutdown of the furnace means some of the Granite City orders will be filled at a different plant. He said the decision to temporarily idle the blast furnace in Granite City and the autoworkers strike are two separate issues.

“Three days into a strike and it’s a spot strike at best. There has been no impact or zero impact to the steel industry as of yet due to the strike,” he said. “So, I think that’s just an attempt to have workers look negatively at the other workers. Pitting one against the other, which is baloney.”