By Paul Ploumis
SPOKANE (Scrap Monster): The temporary closure at a portion of US Steel’s Lorain mill facility will be made permanent by first week of June this year, said recent press release issued by US Steel. The company cited the extremely challenging market conditions for tubular products and unfair imports of these products into the domestic market as the reasons that influenced the decision.
The tubular operations at the mill have been idled since April 2015. During December last year, the company had notified union officials of its intent to permanently shut down the portion of the mill known as the No. 6 Quench and Temper Mill, which produces smaller pipes. The notice was a 90-days notice as required by the terms of contract between the company and the United Steel Workers Local 1104. In its short-term outlook, the company had predicted that the decline in demand for tubular products is likely to persist.
On December 6th, the company had given notice to 39 workers. However, following the challenge by Local 1104, the job cuts were limited to 33 people. Almost half of the notified workers were from day shift production staff and the remaining half were from maintenance staff in evening and night shifts. Altogether nearly 60 employees have been on layoff since the line was idled. The company is yet to announce its final decision on transition of at least some of these employees to other parts of the mill.
The No. 6 Q&T Mill used to process seamless tubular products with outside diameters ranging from 2 3/8 inches to 7 5/8 inches, with wall thicknesses of up to .812 inches and a maximum length of 48 feet, used by energy industry, mainly in oil and natural gas exploration and drilling. Out of the “four seamless” portions of the mill, the company had been running only the three seamless portion of the plant.
Rep. Dan Ramos, D-Lorain stated that he is disappointed by the decision as it brings another blow to Lorain. He expressed concerns over Washington’s shortcomings in fighting the battle against dumped steel products as effectively as other states do. According to him, the federal inaction is extremely troubling, especially in the midst of President’s campaign to promote American made steel in all infrastructure development projects. Further, Ramos noted that he would write a letter seeking leadership from the White House and Congressional leaders to bring forth necessary changes in national policies to protect ailing sectors including steel.
Representative Marcy Kaptur called for President’s intervention on the matter. He recommended a meeting of President’s economic team in the presence of local and state officials with the company and labor representatives in order to prevent the closure. Kaptur wrote a letter Saturday, inviting Trump to visit Lorain and take necessary steps to save the tubular mill operations. Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer also announced that he would welcome a visit from Trump.
About US Steel
United States Steel Corporation, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., is an integrated steel producer with major production operations in North America and Central Europe and an annual raw steelmaking capability of 24.4 million net tons. The company manufactures a wide range of value-added steel sheet and tubular products for the automotive, appliance, container, industrial machinery, construction, and oil and gas industries.