Trump's tariff leads U.S. Steel to reopen Granite City steel facility

The additional capacity will support anticipated increased demand for steel in the US from the pending action announced by President Trump on March 1, according to a press release from US Steel Corporation.

GRANITE CITY, Ill. – The U.S. Steel Corporation announced it will restart one of two blast furnaces and the steelmaking facilities at its Granite City Works, an integrated steelmaking plant in Granite City.

The additional capacity will support anticipated increased demand for steel in the U.S. from the pending action announced by President Trump on March 1, according to a press release from U.S. Steel Corporation.

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“Our Granite City Works facility and employees, as well as the surrounding community, have suffered too long from the unending waves of unfairly traded steel products that have flooded U.S. markets,” said U. S. Steel President and Chief Executive Officer David B. Burritt. “The Section 232 action announced by President Trump last week recognizes the significant threat steel imports pose to our national and economic security. The President’s strong leadership is needed to begin to level the playing field so companies like ours can compete, win and create jobs that support our employees and the communities in which we operate as well as strengthen our national and economic security. We will continue to support our customers with the high-quality products they have come to expect from U. S. Steel.”

The company expects to call back approximately 500 employees starting this month. The process could take up to four months.

“We’ve worked closely and cooperatively with leadership of the United Steelworkers to develop a plan that will help us work through the restart process in the safest, most efficient manner possible while enabling longer-term collaboration designed to improve the plant’s competitiveness,” Burritt said. “We appreciate and thank the USW leadership and membership for their passionate efforts around the Section 232 investigation as well as in support of the restart process at Granite City Works. Together, we are committed to ensuring the steel industry remains a fundamental part of American manufacturing because American manufacturing is stronger with American-made steel.”

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Both Granite City Works blast furnaces and its steelmaking facilities were inactive in December 2015 and the plant’s hot strip mill was idled in January 2016 due to challenging market conditions, including global excess steel capacity and unfairly traded imports.

The hot strip mill was restarted in February 2017 as the company adjusted its hot strip mill operating configuration to meet customer needs after deciding to accelerate the pace of its asses revitalization efforts.

Bert Elliot was laid off from U.S. Steel 26 months ago. Since then, he has been able to make ends meet with unemployment benefits, supplemental unemployment benefits(SUB) pay from the company and a little creativity. He turned his part-time lumber hobby into a business.

“Your bills don't stop. You have your everyday bills and everything else,” Elliott said. “You have to make things happen, rearrange a few things and get creative and hopefully make it through it.”

The timing could not be better for Elliott. His SUB is running out. SUB is a percentage of a worker’s hourly rate; only employees with enough seniority are eligible.

“It’s a real good time for a lot of people,” Elliott said.

Dan Simmons, the President of Local Steelworkers Union 1899, said about 1100 people were laid off from U.S. Steel. However, many retired, moved away or found other jobs.

“I fully expect that anyone who was laid off will have an opportunity to come back to work and if that number exceeds that, I believe we might be looking to hire,” Simmons said.