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
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
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
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.