GRANITE CITY, Ill. — United Steelworkers late Tuesday called United States Steel Corp.'s plans to sell two blast furnaces at its big Granite City, Illinois, facility a "betrayal" and another example of how the Pittsburgh-based manufacturer is reducing union facilities.
In a statement, USW International President Thomas Conway blasted U.S. Steel (NYSE: X) for its announcement to sell the two blast furnaces to an outside company, as well as its plans to only have one finishing mill at Granite City Works. It said the company "callously failed to mention a word about the massive job loss" at the Granite City plant, which makes hot-rolled, cold-rolled and coated steel for automotive, construction and other industries.
U.S. Steel told the Pittsburgh Business Times, a sister publication to the St. Louis Business Journal, that the sale of the blast furnaces would result in an estimated 550 jobs remaining out of 1,500 at Granite City Works. Tony Montana, spokesman for United Steelworkers, told the Business Times that USW estimates a potential 900 to 1,000 of the current 1,400 jobs are at stake.
United Steelworkers said the steelmaker was making investments in its electric arc furnace operations, such as the nonunion Big River Steel plant in Arkansas, at the detriment of union operations.
"U.S. Steel has established a trend in recent years of shutting down operations, as it has done at the Great Lakes facility in Detroit, Lone Star Steel in Texas, tubular operations in Ohio, and the company abandoned a previously announced major capital improvement project at the Mon Valley Works and announced the closing of its West Coast operations at UPI in California," Conway said.
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