U.S. Steel Permanently Shuts Down Steel Operations at Illinois
U.S. Steel Permanently Shuts Down Steel Operations at Illinois

U.S. Steel Permanently Shuts Down Steel Operations at Illinois

  • 30-Nov-2023 11:43 AM
  • Journalist: Patricia Jose Perez

In September, U.S. Steel made headlines by announcing the temporary idling of a blast furnace at its Granite City facility in Illinois. The company attributed this decision to the ongoing strike and squarely pointed the finger at the United Auto Workers (UAW). Leadership at the plant framed the move as a proactive "risk mitigation" strategy in response to softened demand for steel from automotive customers during the strike.

As months passed, the strike eventually came to an end, but the clouds did not lift for U.S. Steel's Granite City facility. Recent developments reveal that the company has issued a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notice, signaling its intention to indefinitely shutter steelmaking operations, putting hundreds of jobs at risk. The initial temporary shutdown resulted in 265 workers being laid off, and now an additional 600 employees are expected to lose their jobs in January. This decision represents a significant blow to the workforce, slashing 1,450 jobs at the Granite City compound.

U.S. Steel, like many in the industry, has faced its share of challenges in recent years, and the future of the Granite City facility has been uncertain. The company has openly explored the option of selling blast furnaces, and the facility found itself at the center of a bidding war as U.S. Steel grappled to maintain a competitive position.

The circumstances surrounding the initial idling in September raised eyebrows, with skepticism greeting the company's rationale. Dan Simmons, President of United Steelworkers Local 1899, contested that the plant hadn't yet experienced the full impact of the auto strike. He believed that more time and additional striking workers would be necessary before the facility felt the effects. Local congresswoman Nikki Budzinski went further, dismissing the strike as a mere pretext for U.S. Steel's actions and accusing the company of making a "shameful attempt to pit working people against one another" by blaming the UAW.

This week, U.S. Steel's Senior Vice President & Chief Manufacturing Officer, Scott Buckiso, stated that the demand originally served by the idled operation would be absorbed by other facilities. He reassured that rolling and finishing processes would continue at the Granite City site, utilizing slabs sourced from alternative locations. The company seems to be reshuffling its operations to adapt to the changing circumstances, but the future of the Granite City facility remains uncertain, casting a shadow over the livelihoods of its workforce and the broader community.

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