From Illinois Business Journal news services
U.S. Steel’s decision to vastly scale back layoffs planned at its operations in Granite City is meeting with universal praise from area officials.
All three Congressmen representing Southwestern Illinois released a joint statement on the news that U.S. Steel is going to continue operating one blast furnace at its Granite City Works location, keeping the vast majority of local steelworkers on the job. The other furnace will remain offline temporarily due to the installation of a new caster.
Some 80 layoffs are now anticipated, far fewer than the more than 2,000 originally estimated.
“I couldn’t be happier that the vast majority of steelworkers at Granite City Works will remain on the job and able to provide for their family,” said Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro. “These hardworking Southern Illinoisans now have more certainty about their future, but that doesn’t mean the fight for our plant is over. You shouldn’t have to wait until your house burns down before being able to call on the fire department. That’s why we’ve introduced legislation that will help ensure companies have more effective and timely tools to combat illegal foreign trade practices. No American should lose their job because other countries violate the rules.”
Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, had similar sentiments.
“It is great news that 2,000 workers at the steel plant in Granite City will be able to keep their jobs and we must do everything we can to ensure these jobs, and other opportunities, are around for the long-term,” said Davis. “We can start by putting a stop to foreign competitors like China who break our trade laws and put good-paying American jobs at risk. I will continue to push for stronger trade enforcement policies that make it easier to punish violators and prevent this unfair advantage.”
“Today’s announcement is encouraging news and I applaud U.S. Steel for reversing their decision to fully close the Granite City Works,” said Rep. Shimkus, R-Collinsville. “I also want to thank Congressmen Bost and Davis for their leadership in mobilizing the House Steel Caucus to back bipartisan legislation that would speed up the process for challenging illegal trade practices that threaten American jobs.”
U.S. Steel had announced earlier this year its intent to temporarily idle all operations at Granite City Works, laying off 2,080 local steelworkers in the process. While the reduction in domestic oil and gas drilling was cited by the company as one of the primary causes of the previously announced decision, it is clear that illegal trade practices by China and other countries pose long-term threats to the steel industry and the U.S. workforce.
Bost and Davis recently introduced H.R. 2523, the Trade Enforcement Effectiveness Act that will improve the ability of domestic manufacturers to fight foreign illegal trade practices. The bill currently has 27 bipartisan cosponsors and has been endorsed by U.S. Steel and other representatives of the steel industry.
Illinois state Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, also weighed in.
“I am quite relieved that U.S. Steel has decided to keep their Granite City plant open. This mill employs over 2,000 people and offers good paying jobs that provide for working families. As one of the Metro East’s largest employers U.S. Steel’s continued presence will certainly be of great benefit to our local economy.”