The American steel manufacturing sector continues to contract as Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel moves closer to permanently shutting down its last operating blast furnace in Granite City, Illinois.
America’s manufacturing is on the fast track to disappearing entirely, forcing all of us to be beholden to foreign suppliers for our raw materials.
Officials at the U.S. Steel plant in Granite City, just across the river from St. Louis, said this week that the blast furnace will stay idle indefinitely — furthering a closure initially billed as temporary — and that 600 more employees have been notified they might be laid off, according to the St. Louis Dispatch.
The plant has been under a cloud since last year, when U.S. Steel began talking about plans to sell part of the facility to Chicago-based SunCoke Energy. If that deal goes through, it could mean the end of close to 1,000 of 1,450 jobs at the U.S. Steel plant.
Adding more uncertainty, U.S. Steel said this past summer that it was mulling a sale of the company.
According to Recycling Today, U.S. Steel said it was considering statements of interest from other steel companies. U.S. Steel eventually noted it is leaning toward an agreement with Ohio-based Cleveland-Cliffs but added it has a confidentiality agreement over the discussions.
Recycling Today also reported that U.S. Steel is accepting final bids on Friday, and Cleveland-Cliffs and Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal are front-runners.
This is the second blast furnace that U.S. Steel is shutting down in Granite City. Earlier this fall, the company projected the newest closure would last less than six months, according to the Post-Dispatch, but now it seems that scenario has changed because of the 600 possible layoffs.
The news comes on top of 400 workers who temporarily were laid off. The additional 600 have been told their layoffs might take effect as soon as Jan. 28.
U.S. Steel initially said the temporary closure of its last blast furnace was due to softening demand of the auto industry. At the time, the industry-wide United Auto Workers strike was ongoing.
But now U.S. Steel says the closure was an effort to “balance” its production with client needs.
Granite City Mayor Mike Parkinson said he is worried about land and buildings that would become vacant and how those properties would be maintained after a shutdown.
“I’m going to force them to start thinking about that,” Parkinson told the Post-Dispatch. “My citizens deserve better.”
Shutting down the facility would stand in stark contrast to the situation only five years ago when, as president, Donald Trump made deals to keep the important facility open.
The news is emblematic of the differences between the Trump and Biden eras. Trump’s pro-America agenda resulted in enthusiasm and the opening of manufacturing facilities.
In the Biden era, companies are quick to shut things down and bail out. Sadly, Americans are losing their jobs. In all industries.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.