ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – A huge blow today for steel workers in Granite City. U.S. Steel has announced that the entire Granite City plant will shut down for an unknown period of time. Meaning, basically all of the workers there will likely be laid off. U.S. Steel officials say the exact date is May 28th.
A U.S. Steel spokesperson says a total of 2,080 workers from Granite City Works will get pink slips.
U.S. Steel is calling the move a temporary idling of the plant. But, a company spokesperson tells us that there is no definitive time-frame for how long the shutdown could last.
U.S. Steel officials say the Granite City plant is being idled because of challenging conditions in the steel market and the high level of steel imports coming into America.
We`re told U.S. Steel is consolidating its operations to plants in Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Alabama.
However, production in Alabama is also being adjusted.
Union officials say this is all a reflection of U.S. trade problems.
A union spokesperson says the low price of oil and gas means less exploration; that means companies buy less steel for pipes; when they do buy it, they buy from cheaper, foreign suppliers like china.
The International Vice President of the United Steelworkers, Tom Conway, issued a statement this morning.
It reads in part, “The U.S. system of trade is fundamentally broken and requires this kind of demonstration of injury to our workforce and communities before effective trade action takes place. America needs an overhaul of its trade laws. Not new ones doing more of the same.”
Union officials will testify before lawmakers in Washington tomorrow on this whole issue.
The last time the Granite City plan was totally idled was in 2008-2009.
Workers will get benefits in their union contract.
U.S. Steel officials say this layoff announcement is separate from the 170 workers who got layoff notices in January at the coke making facility at the Granite City plant. That facility, which is where coal is converted into a raw material used in steel-making, is being permanently shut down.
USW International Vice President Tom Conway issued this statement:
US. Steel’s announcement this morning is a result of the continuing effect of a surge of unfairly traded, record-level imports.
These imports are landing at a time when the energy pipe and tubular business in oil and gas exploration has been cut in half and crude oil prices remain depressed. Despite a tariff placed on these imports from Korea, this material continues to ship into the United States.
The union and a number of companies are exploring their best options for challenging the imports but the U.S. system of trade is fundamentally broken and requires this kind of demonstration of injury to our workforce and communities before effective trade action takes place. America needs an overhaul of its trade laws. Not new ones doing more of the same.
Hopefully the market can recover during the period of coverage of the WARN notice and these steps are then not necessary but the notice is designed to give ample notice to the workforce of an impending layoff.
Representatives from the USW and steel industry are testifying before the house steel caucus hearing this week bringing this story to the country’s lawmakers.
We are closely watching this as well as other cutbacks throughout the company and industry and using the tools in out labor agreements to mitigate and minimize the impact on steelworkers and their families.