U.S. Steel to idle Blast Furnace B at Granite City works, says it is temporary

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Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 2:43 PM CDT
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GRANITE CITY (KMOV) -- U.S. Steel will idle its last operating blast furnace at the Granite City Works plant, citing “risk mitigation” after the announcement of the UAW autoworkers strike.

A U.S. Steel spokesperson confirmed Monday that Blast Furnace ‘B’ will be temporarily idled. The spokesperson said any layoffs would happen in phases but did not say how many workers would be laid off.

“Following the announcement of UAW strike actions, we are executing our risk mitigation plan to ensure our melt capacity is balanced with our order book. As a result, we have decided to temporarily idle blast furnace ‘B’ at Granite City Works and are reallocating volumes as needed to other domestic facilities to efficiently meet customer demand.

We thank our employees for working to ensure the temporary idling of the furnace will be conducted safely and efficiently. We do not take these decisions lightly and will continue to monitor and assess market conditions.”

U.S. Steel Press Office

There are currently around 1,450 employees at Granite City Works. U.S. Rep. Nikki Budzinski, whose Congressional district covers Granite City, called the decision to idle the furnace an “outrage.”

“U.S. Steel’s decision to idle operations in Granite City and lay off workers is an outrage. And their effort to blame this announcement on the United Auto Workers strike is a shameful attempt to pit working people against one another. We must hold them accountable.

“No company should be allowed to hand a pink slip to workers without notice and without recourse. In Congress, I’m actively working to strengthen the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act and improve assistance available to impacted workers through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). My team and I stand ready to assist the steelworkers affected by this announcement.

“I’ve been in touch with U.S. Steel, the United Steelworkers and the Mayor of Granite City as we continue to learn more about the extent of layoffs and the resources available to those put out of work. I believe in the working men and women of Granite City and the importance of their careers to the future of our local and national economy. I will never stop fighting to protect their jobs and their livelihoods.”

U.S. Rep. Nikki Budzinski

In a statement on U.S. Steel’s decision, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) said the decision to idle the furnace will “have a significant impact on its workers and the local economy.”

First Alert 4 has reached out to the local United Steelworks Union for comment. U.S. Steel recently declined a billion-dollar buyout offer from a rival company.