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US Steel to idle only operating blast furnace at Illinois plant, citing auto strike

Annika Merrilees, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Automotive News

GRANITE CITY, Illinois — U.S. Steel plans to temporarily idle one of the blast furnaces at its Granite City plant and shift some work to other facilities, citing softening demand from the automotive industry during the United Auto Workers strike.

That furnace is the only one currently operating at the plant. A local United Steelworkers representative said Monday that about one-third of the union employees there work in the areas that will be affected, where the plant converts ore and pellets into metal slabs.

The other two-thirds of employees work in areas that turn those slabs into the steel coils that are shipped out to customers on trucks and trains, said Dan Simmons, president of USW Local 1899.

A U.S. Steel spokeswoman said Monday that the company is still determining the number of employees who will be affected at the facility, where 1,450 people work — 1,250 of them represented by USW.

Temporary layoffs will begin in phases as equipment is idled, U.S. Steel spokeswoman Amanda Malkowski said in an email.

However, even in the portion of the plant that is idled, a certain number of workers will be needed to maintain the equipment and machinery, Simmons said.


"We'll argue for more people, and they'll argue for less," he said.

Simmons said he'll attempt to find other assignments within the plant for the remaining workers, but he still expects some will be temporarily laid off.

"There'll be fallout," he said.

Malkowski said the decision to idle the blast furnace was made after the United Auto Workers announced plans to strike at General Motors, Ford and Stellantis. UAW workers, as of Monday, were striking at one major plant at each company, including the General Motors plant in Wentzville, Missouri.


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