US Steel to idle Michigan plant, layoff 1,500-plus workers

The silhouette of idle blast furnaces are seen during sunrise at the U.S. Steel Corp. Granite City Works facility in Granite City, Ill., on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. U.S. Steel Corp. announced Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, operations at its Great Lakes Works facility near Detroit, Mich., will cease by the close of 2020.
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The silhouette of idle blast furnaces are seen during sunrise at the U.S. Steel Corp. Granite City Works facility in Granite City, Ill., on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. U.S. Steel Corp. announced Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, operations at its Great Lakes Works facility near Detroit, Mich., will cease by the close of 2020.

Credit: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Credit: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Citing weak demand, lower steel prices and new corporate strategy, United States Steel Corp. announced Wednesday it will idle its Great Lakes Works facility near Detroit by the close of 2020, multiple news outlets reported.

The company's bid to stymie financial losses means more than 1,500 workers will be laid off, in addition to the 200 layoffs announced at the facility one month ago, The Hill reported.

“We are conscious of the impact this decision will have on our employees, their families, and the local community, and we are announcing it now to provide them with as much time as possible to prepare for this transition,” CEO David Burritt said in a press release.

“These decisions are never easy, nor are they taken lightly. However, we must responsibly manage our resources while also strengthening our company’s long-term future – a future many stakeholders depend on. We will be taking steps in the weeks and months ahead to assist impacted employees by providing additional education about benefits available through our company, as well as community resources.”

River Rouge Mayor Michael Bowdler told Reuters he was attending his grandchildren's Christmas play when he received a voicemail from a U.S. Steel official detailing plans to layoff 1,545 additional employees in his town of 7,500 about 10 miles south of Detroit.

In the voicemail, which Reuters reviewed, the official called the job losses "terrible news" and cited weak demand, lower steel prices and evolving corporate strategy making the cuts necessary.

According to The Hill, the plant's iron and steelmaking operations will cease by April 1, 2020, and its hot-strip rolling mill portion will close by the end of 2020. The Michigan plant's steel production will shift to a Gary, Indiana, plant in which U.S. Steel has recently invested $750 million.

The steelmaker has also invested heavily in its Mon Valley plant in Pennsylvania and Arkansas' Big River Steel, which it plans to acquire within the next four years, Reuters reported.

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