United States Steel Corp. of Pittsburgh says it plans to shut down “a significant portion” of its Great Lakes Works operation in Ecorse and River Rouge (on Detroit’s Zug Island) starting April 1, 2020.
The company expects to begin the indefinite idling of the iron and steelmaking facilities in April and the hot strip mill rolling facility before the end of 2020.
U.S. Steel will continue to runt Great Lakes Works’ pickle line, cold mill, sheet temper mill, continuous galvanizing line, annealing, and warehouse operations at the facility in line with customer demand.
“In order to further accelerate our strategy of creating a world-competitive ‘best of both’ U.S. Steel, we must make deliberate but difficult operational decisions,” says David B. Burritt, president and CEO of U.S. Steel. “In this case, current market conditions and the long-term outlook for Great Lakes Works made it imperative that we act now, allowing us to better align our resources to deliver cost or capability differentiation across our footprint.
“Transitioning production currently at Great Lakes Works to Gary Works will enable increased efficiency in the use of our assets, improve our ability to meet our customers’ needs for sustainable steel solutions and will help our company get to our future state faster.”
The company will be issuing Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notices to approximately 1,545 employees at Great Lakes Works, although it says it anticipates the final number of employees who will be impacted by the idling will be lower. The United Steelworkers has been notified of this decision, and the company will remain in contact with the union as it determines staffing needs at the portions of the facility that will remain operational.
“We are conscious of the impact this decision will have on our employees, their families, and the local community, and we are announcing it now to provide them with as much time as possible to prepare for this transition,” Burritt says. “These decisions are never easy, nor are they taken lightly. However, we must responsibly manage our resources while also strengthening our company’s long-term future – a future many stakeholders depend on. We will be taking steps in the weeks and months ahead to assist impacted employees by providing additional education about benefits available through our company, as well as community resources.”