U.S. Steel, the industrial titan that built Gary as a company town and still remains one of Northwest Indiana’s largest employers, continues to shrink as it struggles with an unprecedented import crisis.
The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker just warned 2,000 workers in downstate Illinois they could be laid off.
U.S. Steel, which is a Fortune 200 company with an annual steelmaking capacity of 22 million net tons, announced Tuesday it is looking at consolidating its flat-rolled operations in North America. The company is specifically considering temporarily idling its Granite City Works steelmaking operations on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River in the St. Louis metropolitan area.
The steelmaker, which is now negotiating with the United Steelworkers union for a new contract, would idle the mill’s two blast furnaces as well as finishing operations that include a hot strip mill, a pickle line, a 4-strand cold reduction mill and hot-dip galvanizing lines.
The mill, which employs around 2,000 workers and has an annual steelmaking capacity of 2.8 million tons, is the primary flat-roll supplier to U.S. Steel’s Lone Star Tubular Operations, where U.S. Steel laid off hundreds of workers earlier this year.
Demand for tubular products, a strong spot for U.S. Steel during the downturn, has evaporated because the fall in crude oil prices plummeted, putting a halt to new drilling projects.
U.S. Steel said it is making ongoing adjustments to its operations to match depressed customer demand in North America, where imports have muscled in to take 31 percent of the market share this year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.
“The company routinely adjusts production at its operating facilities to reflect market fluctuations,” U.S. Steel said in a statement.
“The potential consolidation is a result of continued challenging global market conditions including fluctuating oil prices, reduced rig counts, depressed steel prices and unfairly traded imports. These global influences continue to have a significant impact on the business. The company will be working closely with its customers and will continue to operate its steelmaking operations in Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania.”
This article was written by JOSEPH S. PETE from The Times, Munster, Ind. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.