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January layoffs announced by U.S. Steel for Granite City steel mill; up to 1,000 affected

U.S. Steel’s Granite City plant (IBJ file photo)

By MELISSA CROCKETT MESKE
macmeske@ibjonline.com

News sources throughout the region are reporting U. S. Steel’s announcement today as up to 1,000 employees are expected to be laid off at the Granite City Works steel mill by late January 2024.

Most of U. S. Steel-Granite City Works operations will go on “indefinite idle” as was noted in the WARN notice sent out to over 1,000 workers at the facility. The issuance of the WARN notice was confirmed by both U. S. Steel representatives and Madison County officials.

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act of 1988 is a U.S. labor law that protects employees, their families, and communities by requiring most employers with 100 or more employees to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of planned closings and mass layoffs of employees.

An estimated 600 of the workers notified are expected to be added to the company’s Granite City layoffs beginning Jan. 28, 2024, following the 400 workers were laid off in September 2023 with the idling of the “B” blast furnace.

U. S. Steel officials said that while they had previously announced its decision back in September to temporarily idle Blast Furnace ‘B’ at Granite City Works, this WARN notice was being issued because it is now expected that the idling will last more than six months. Employees already on layoff with the previous announcement would stay on layoff; additional employees would be affected starting in late January.

In an email correspondence received by the Illinois Business Journal from a U.S. Steel media spokesperson, it was noted, “U. S. Steel has indefinitely idled Granite City’s primary operations and will meet customer demand by leveraging the Company’s active iron and steelmaking facilities. This action was taken in order to help ensure melt capacity is balanced with our order book. Accordingly, the Company has sent the required notices to employees who potentially may be affected. We thank our employees for their contributions and will keep them informed throughout this process.”

Following the company’s announcement, Illinois State Representative Amy Elik (R-Alton) responded, saying, “I am disgusted and saddened to hear U.S. Steel’s plans to potentially layoff up to 1,000 employees in Madison County. Granite City employees and their families have provided loyal, skilled labor to the steel industry for decades, and U.S. Steel is pulling the rug out from under them. U.S. Steel should be doing everything it can to keep the Granite City steel mill operating at capacity, and I don’t see the company making that effort. I am willing to work with anyone to help keep these jobs in Granite City.

“My heart goes out to all the workers and families impacted, especially during the Holiday season. I join in the sadness and anger of the city of Granite City and the employees who have dedicated their livelihoods to the steel industry. I encourage employees impacted by this layoff to contact the Southwestern Illinois workNET Center located in Wood River at 618-296-4301 to receive job search assistance and potential training opportunities. If my office can be of assistance, please contact my district office in Alton at 618-433-8046,” Elik added.

The Illinois Business Journal also asked Madison County Employment & Training Director Tony Fuhrmann how his department would be moving forward in working with the employees affected. He said, “With the 400 that were already laid off we worked with the union and held the Rapid Response in Granite City.  I would anticipate the same process for the union employees. I haven’t seen the layoff list, but I think it may include non-union as well. We will work with the company to arrange events for those individuals.”

Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski (IL-13) also responded to the news that there would be additional mass layoffs facing employees at the Granite City Works steel plant. Budzinski said, “Two months ago, U.S. Steel handed out pink slips to 400 workers as they blamed the United Auto Workers strike for reduced steel demand. Today, with strong steel prices and operations resumed at the Big Three automakers, U.S. Steel is planning to make these layoffs permanent while putting another 600 jobs on the chopping block. It’s clear that these layoffs were never about the market and always about targeting organized workers. U.S. Steel must be held accountable.

“As U.S. Steel works to close up their union-represented shop in Granite City and move operations to a so-called “right-to-work” state, it’s clear that the company’s executives are more concerned with lining their own pockets than they are with the livelihoods of the workers who have built their company for generations. I will continue to closely monitor U.S. Steel’s Strategic Alternative Review Process as we maintain hopes that an American-owned company with strong labor relations can step in to better serve our highly-skilled workers and the Granite City community,” Budzinski further noted.

 

1 Comment

  1. John Merritt on November 29, 2023 at 4:55 pm

    This country is in shambles. What a pitiful place we call home. No good can come of this that’s for certain.

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