Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

ArcelorMittal slashing work force by 171 at West Virginia plant

Back to Front Page


MORGANTOWN, West Virginia (AP) - Steel giant ArcelorMittal will lay off 171 steelworkers at its tin mill in West Virginia so it can remain competitive amid “extraordinary economic conditions,” a company spokeswoman said Monday.

About 35 workers were cut this week, said Mark Glyptis, president of United Steelworkers Local 2911. Another 100 or so have been on rotating, voluntary layoff since last year, and those layoffs will now continue indefinitely, he said.

The union is now trying to identify a few dozen workers who will volunteer for the additional cuts.

The Weirton local has about 850 members with an average age of about 57, Glyptis said, and almost every employee has at least 30 years of service. Some have 50.

“I’m confident we’ll figure out a way that no one will lose their job on an involuntary basis,” he said.

The time frame for the cuts is unclear.

Glyptis said severance packages and other details are being worked out under a layoff-minimization provision of the contract that requires a mix of volunteers, reduced overtime, fewer outside contractors and “equality of sacrifice” between management and rank-and-file personnel.

In December, Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal said it would cut an unspecified number of jobs during 2010, mainly through attrition and “optimization of production.” It declined to say when or where.

On Monday, company spokeswoman Mary Beth Holford said cuts in Weirton are critical to remaining competitive as a producer of tin-plated steel.

In an e-mail to The Associated Press, she said ArcelorMittal “remains cautiously optimistic for a slow and progressive recovery, and does not expect additional layoffs in the U.S. at this time.”

Last year, the former Weirton Steel celebrated 100 years in the business. Its massive complex, covering miles of property along the Ohio River, once produced raw steel as well as finished product and employed about 14,000 people.

Now, it’s a finishing mill, sending steel that other plants have produced on to companies that make it into cans.

ArcelorMittal has been working with the union to scale the work force to its new production needs.

“This development is in no way a reflection on the professionalism and dedication of our Weirton employees,” Holford said.

Laid-off workers can join a program that aims to pair them with jobs at other ArcelorMittal facilities.

Officials at United Steelworkers headquarters in Pittsburgh declined comment Monday.

The USW represents about 14,000 U.S. employees of ArcelorMittal.

ArcelorMittal is the world’s largest steelmaker, with operations in more than 60 countries and about 115,000 employees in Europe. At the end of 2008, it had 315,867 employees worldwide and 36,686 employees in North America.

It also owns finishing plants, and iron ore and coal mines.


Posted 1/26/2008




Custom Search