Dan Voorhees, president of United Steelworkers Local 1104, said the company has notified the union that the plant’s rolling mill and bar mill operations will be idled. He said the exact timeframe and number of workers who will be affected still hasn’t been determined.
“It’s a pretty devastating impact,” Voorhees said.
Company officials did not respond to calls and emails Friday.
Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer said his understanding of the reason for the shutdown is a slowdown in orders for steel from the plant. He said he also was unaware of exactly how long the plant will be offline.
“The hope is they’re back to work as soon as possible,” he said.
Voorhees said there are roughly 525 union workers at the Republic plant and even that figure is too low for the plant to be operating at peak efficiency. To be fully staffed, he said, Republic should bring on another 60 or 70 workers.
He also said it’s unclear exactly what work plant employees who remain will perform once the plant shuts down, although it will probably include maintenance work on the plant’s equipment.
Voorhees said another concern is what effect idling the plant will have on work on the new electric arc furnace Republic is constructing at the Lorain plant.
Republic broke ground on the project last May and company officials said at the time they expect the first steel to come out of the arc furnace in the second quarter of this year.
The company estimated that the project would create 449 new jobs and generate more than $1 billion in annual economic activity in the state.
Voorhees said the union still doesn’t know the exact number of new hires who will be brought in to run the electric arc furnace, but the union estimates the figure at between 350 and 375 new jobs.
Ritenauer said he’s been told that the arc furnace completion date was in August, but that Republic might complete the job sooner.