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U.S. Steel lays off more workers in third round of cuts

U.S. Steel lays off more workers in third round of cuts

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U.S. Steel lays off workers nationwide, including in Northwest Indiana

U.S. Steel's Gary Works facility is shown.

U.S. Steel laid off even more workers Friday in its third round of blood-letting since just November.

The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker laid off an unspecified number of non-union employees at its Gary Works mill and the Midwest Plant in Portage as part of another national round of layoffs. U.S. Steel, which lost $642 million last year, underwent a similar round of layoffs of non-union employees in November that also was national and that also affected both Gary Works and the Midwest Plant.

It also started laying off up to 150 United Steelworkers union-represented workers in November when it idled East Chicago Tin as it looked to consolidate its tin operations amid an abrupt collapse in the tin market.

United Steelworkers Union District 7 President Mike Millsap said he heard around 200 non-union employees were laid off, but the company won't say exactly how many people lost their jobs.

U.S. Steel spokeswoman Amanda Malkowski said the latest round of layoffs were companywide and affected only employees who don't belong to the union, typically those in managerial or professional positions.

"In line with the enhanced operating model and organizational structure announced in October 2019, U.S. Steel has made the difficult decision to eliminate some non-represented positions across our U.S. facilities. We are not disclosing the number of employees impacted by these actions," she said. "Our enhanced operating model and organizational structure and the changes associated with them are necessary to accelerate our strategic transformation into a world-competitive organization, and better serve our customers. We do not take these decisions lightly, and we have provided impacted employees with resources to aid in their transition."

While U.S. Steel refused to disclose exactly how many employees it let go, it did not file a Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notice or WARN notice with the state of Indiana, which is required for mass layoffs of more than 50 workers at a single facility. Advance notice of 60 days is required in such cases, so workers can prepare for the transition.

The embattled steelmaker is looking to cut its annual costs by $200 million a year because of tough market conditions and low steel prices that have crimped profitability. The troubled domestic steel industry has suffered from weak demand, slumping auto sales, huge stockpiles of inventory at service centers and record imports of household and kitchen appliances. 

U.S. Steel has scaled back its operations in Northwest Indiana, idling Blast Furnace No. 8 at Gary Works and East Chicago Tin last year. After an abnormally rainy spring and weak crop yields hit the long-ailing canned vegetable market hard, the company said it will consolidate its tin-making operations at Gary Works and the Midwest Plant for the indefinite future.

The company made $957 million in net income in 2018 after Section 232 tariffs of 25% were imposed on most foreign-made steel, but suffered a major loss last year, due largely to soft steel prices and $609 million in restructuring charges, such as for idling much of the Great Lakes Works steel mill near Detroit.

Gallery: World of Steel


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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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