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Granite City steel workers, businesses react to potential mill shutdown

The United Steelworkers Local 1899 told 5 On Your Side the transition could result in up to 1,000 jobs being lost.

GRANITE CITY, Ill. — Nearly 1,000 jobs could be in jeopardy at Granite City Steel after the U.S. Steel announced its plans to repurpose the plant’s blast furnaces Wednesday.

Instead, the plant would be sold to a company called SunCoke Energy.       

SunCoke would use the blast furnaces to produce a type of crude iron called pig iron.

United Steelworkers Local 1899 told 5 On Your Side the transition could result in up to 1,000 jobs being lost.

For more than 40 years, United Steelworkers Local 1899 President Dan Simmons has seen its share of challenges.

“It's more of a definite shutdown whereas in the past we've looked at idling or shutting down a facility or a portion of a facility but that was usually market-driven," Miller said.

For Simmons, the potential plan is a letdown after the same employees have brought the company record profits over the last two years.

"That's the devastation and the impact that they've turned their back on us as employees at U.S. Steel and their families," he added.

Granite City's population has dwindled over the last 50 years by about 30 percent.

Those who work at this Mill and others who live in this town say taking away this plant that's brought so much to the economy would only make matters worse.

A mile up the road, Owner Rudy Miller at Cionko’s Grocery Story and Meat Market was saddened by the possibility.

"Anytime a big business like that lays off people, it's not good for the community. Obviously, everybody has to have jobs and that's the biggest thing in this town," Miller said.

After urging the President to preserve steel tariffs former President Trump initiated in 2018 and taking other strides, Simmons added the Union was looking for a return on that same support.

SunCoke plans to have the facility complete in two years with discussions looming until that is finalized.

Simmons said he would reach out to get community support and from state senators and members of Congress to hopefully help the company realize employees’ value.

The U.S. Steel Granite City Works plant began operations in 1895 under the name Granite City Steel.

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