More layoffs may come from US Steel furnace idle

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

More temporary layoffs could result from U.S. Steel Corp. idling a blast furnace at its facility in Ecorse.

Despite the Trump administration implementing 25% tariffs on foreign steel imports, the Pittsburgh-based steelmaker has cited "market conditions" as its reasoning behind continuing to idle the furnace at Great Lakes Works following a planned maintenance outage in June. So far, the company temporarily has laid off nearly 50 employees, but more likely will occur before the end of September, U.S. Steel said in a letter of notice of the layoffs to the state of Michigan.

In June, U.S. Steel said  said it was idling blast furnaces at Great Lakes Works in Ecorse (seen here) and River Rouge until market conditions improve.

"It is anticipated that further layoffs are likely to commence on September 30, 2019 and may continue periodically thereafter based on market conditions," Mark Tade, U.S. Steel's director of employee relations for the Ecorse facility, said in the letter.

The total number of layoffs is expected to be less than 200 based on the current market, Tade said, though they may exceed six months.

On Aug. 4, 21 employees were laid off, including two part-time workers. That followed layoffs of 27 part-time employees on July 21. Positions include technicians, utility workers and clerical jobs.

U.S. Steel also said in June it was idling a blast furnace in Gary, Indiana, and another in Europe. Great Lakes Works has an annual raw steelmaking capability of approximately 3.8 million net tons. The idling of the two U.S. furnaces through the end of the year is expected to reduce the company's flat-rolled shipments to 11 million tons.