2,000 jobs saved as Granite City Works gets reprieve
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, by Jim Gallagher
The Metro East dodged a major economic blow Thursday with the news that U.S. Steel won’t shut its Granite City Works or lay off 2,000 workers.
The Pittsburgh-based steel giant in March gave a 60-day warning that it planned to close the mill until the flagging demand for steel revived. In a surprise reversal, the company confirmed Thursday that only 80 jobs will go. The mill will continue to operate but at a lower production rate.
U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, revealed the change of plans Thursday. He said U.S. Steel gave him no reason for its change of heart.
Bost is pushing a measure in Congress that would make it easier and quicker for American steelmakers to win anti-dumping tariffs against foreign competitors — a key goal of U.S. Steel.
U.S. Steel said the decision to keep the plant open was “based on market conditions.” Spokeswoman Sarah Casella said she couldn’t speculate about whether more cutbacks might be needed in the future. “For right now, this is where we’re at,” she said.
Production will continue at one of two blast furnaces at the mill. The other was previously closed for the installation of a new caster.
Most steel produced at the plant is shipped to a Texas mill where it is made into pipe for the oil and gas business. A sharp drop in oil prices beginning last year led to a steep decline in oil drilling and falling demand for pipe.
The mill also makes steel for appliances and other uses.
“I have not had any indication that demand for energy tubular products is picking back up,” said Andrew Lane, an analyst at Morningstar in Chicago. Nor has he seen a rise in demand for other products made with Granite City’s steel.