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U.S. Steel Corporation

U.S. Steel Lays Off Non-Union Workers In Granite City Due To ‘Challenging Market’

Nov 11, 2019
A U.S. Steel worker watches as a slab of steel moves through the production process.
Derik Holtmann | Belleville News-Democrat

GRANITE CITY — An undisclosed number of non-union employees at Granite City’s U.S Steel plant have been laid off.

In a statement U.S. Steel spokesperson Amanda Malkowski said the layoffs were due to “challenging market conditions.”

Granite City native Jason Fernandez, who serves as vice president of Local 1899, was laid off 10 years ago during the Great Recession.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

After a two-year wait for jobs to come back, steelworkers threw an old-fashioned street party on Saturday, just blocks from U.S. Steel’s Granite City plant.

It was a “fire up” party to celebrate 500 people finally going back to work to start up a blast furnace that was idled in December 2015, said Dan Simmons, president of United Steelworkers Local 1899.

Dan Simmons of United Steelworkers Local 1899 discussed what led to the announcement that U.S. Steel will be rehiring as many as 500 Illinois workers – and what’s next for the plant.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Ecstatic – that’s the word that Dan Simmons used to describe the mood in Granite City, Illinois, this week.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, the United Steelworkers Local 1899 president joined host Don Marsh to discuss the news that up to 500 workers will return to work at the steel mill around which the town was built.

Most of the operations at Granite City Steel were put on hold in early 2016.
Paul Sableman | Flickr

 

Updated July 27 with comments from U.S. Steel CEO - New leadership at U.S. Steel is linking the outcome of a federal trade case to the potential resumption of steel-making at the company's Granite City plant.  Chief Executive Officer David Burritt says strong action by the Trump administration following a probe into unfairly-priced steel imports could lead to further revival of the Metro East operation.

An illustration of pollution, 2017
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

For years, Granite City had some of the worst air quality in Illinois. But a new effort to track greenhouse gases could help reduce the city’s air pollution and improve public health.

For 18 months, Washington University researchers tracked levels of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide from Granite City municipal operations. The area has historically dealt with high levels of particulate matter pollution, largely from the local U.S. Steel plant. The plant idled temporarily at the end of 2015 but began operating again this year.

U.S. Steel in Granite City
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

Updated  at 3 p.m. Dec. 19  with news of the bill signing — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed a bill that would extend unemployment benefits for 2,000 laid-off Granite City steelworkers.

The legislature this month approved the proposal that will provide 52 weeks of benefits, instead of the current 26 for eligible workers.

“This legislation will help the hard working families of the Metro East who lost their jobs through no fault of their own,” Rauner said, in a statement. 

Doug Byrum poses for a portrait with his wife, Ruth Ann, at their Mitchell, Illinois, home on Nov. 7, 2016. Byrum is one of 2,000 U.S. Steel employees who has been without work for nearly a year.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Discussions are underway this week at the Illinois Statehouse about whether to extend unemployment benefits for laid-off steelworkers in the Metro East. A bill to lengthen the benefit period to a full-year instead of the current 26 weeks has been passed by a legislative committee.  

U.S. Steel continues to ramp up production at Granite City Works following an idling that lasted for a couple of years.
File photo | Davd Schaper|NPR

Tough market conditions continue to idle steel making  in Granite City. The chief executive officer of U.S. Steel says the company still does not have a timeline to restart production at the Metro East plant. Around 1,600 workers have been off the job since operations were idled roughly 10 months ago.

A view of the outside of the United Steelworkers office in Granite City.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 12:30 p.m., April 27,  with CEO comments — There is still no firm timeline for production to resume at the U.S. Steel plant in Granite City.  The company continues to describe the shutdown as temporary and operations will not start again until demand picks up. 

United Steelworkers Local 50 President Jason Chism after a news conference in Granite City in Feb. 2016.
File Photo | Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

A United Steelworkers local president is trying to remain as upbeat as possible, even though there is no indication when U.S. Steel might resume production in Granite City.

"I'm an optimistic person so my glass always runs half-full, even though it's been running close to empty here lately," USW Local 50 President Jason Chism told St. Louis Public Radio Friday.

U.S. Steel in Granite City
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 1:23 p.m., Jan. 27 with U.S. Steel earnings - U.S. Steel is not anticipating a strong year and that could further cloud the uncertain future for its Granite City operation. Under current conditions, the company says it expects lower results this year, compared to the $1.5 billion loss it posted for all of 2015.

With U.S. Steel set to start idling operations in Granite City next week, some Metro East leaders are calling on federal lawmakers to take a tougher stance on overseas steel producers selling on the U.S. market at unfairly low prices.

Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” host Don Marsh discussed the year in business happenings in the area — from Cortex to coal to NGA — with the reporters who know the subject best.

U.S. Steel continues to ramp up production at Granite City Works following an idling that lasted for a couple of years.
File photo | Davd Schaper|NPR

Updated at 1 p.m., November 24, 2015, to include comments from a union representative:

Dave Dowling, the sub district director for the United Steelworkers union, says he doesn't expect to know the date of the plant's idling for about two weeks.

Steelworker Jerry Koroby
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

Updated September 1, 2015 at 1:23 p.m.

A contract between the United Steelworkers and U.S. Steel is set to expire midnight Tuesday, and a last-minute deal is not expected. The company employs roughly 2,000 in Granite City, and operations at the plant will likely continue past the deadline.

Members of the United Steelworkers say they are not planning a strike at this point and the company says it remains committed to operating "without disruption as labor contract talks continue."

Geoff Turk, U.S. Steel
U.S. Steel

Steel produced in Granite City is part of an international trade case that is subject to new regulations signed by President Barack Obama.

Dave Dowling is a sub-district director for the United Steelworkers.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of the United Steelworkers are pressing U.S. Rep. Mike Bost of southern Illinois to vote against legislation that would fast-track a multi-national trade agreement.

(Flickr/Paul Sable)

The price of steel pipes and tubes are at the center of a rally in Granite City Friday afternoon.

It's one of six rallies planned around the U.S. this spring. The goal is to bring attention to what steelworkers and steel companies say are unfair trade practices by companies in nine countries.

The products are Oil Country Tubular Goods, used in natural gas and oil exploration, an industry that has boomed in the U.S. in recent years.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 11, 2009 - Word that SunCoke Energy has started the hiring process for its new coke-making facility that is nearing completion in Granite City could mean little -- or everything -- to more than 2,000 workers laid off from the idled U.S. Steel plant next door.

While SunCoke's projected hiring of about 100 workers is good news to the hard-hit local manufacturing industry, the real glimmer of hope -- or question -- is in the 15-year contractual agreement that has U.S. Steel buying the coke and steam produced at the Gateway Energy & Coke Co. facility, which is slated to begin operation this fall.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 28, 2009 - Though U.S. Steel's first-quarter losses are far worse than analysts had predicted, a local union official Tuesday encouraged 2,000 laid-off steelworkers from the Granite City plant not to panic.

Russ Saltsgaver, president of United Steelworkers Local 1899, said that U.S. Steel should be able to weather the economic storm because it is the first time the corporation has lost money in the last five years.