December 18, 2014

Elyria
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Layoffs may be topic at union, U.S. Steel meeting

The head of the steelworkers union in Lorain said Thursday a meeting was set for today for workers at the U.S. Steel Corp. No. 3 seamless mill — a meeting that could include word on possible layoffs.

Tom McDermott, president pro-tem of Local 1104 of the U.S. Steelworkers Union, said a meeting was set but he could not verify the subjects to be discussed. Company officials also would not discuss the meeting.

“I’ll know more Friday morning,” McDermott said.

McDermott did verify pending layoffs of employees at the company’s No. 4 seamless mill for about three months so upgrades can be made inside the mill. McDermott indicated there is a chance that an unknown number of workers in the No. 4 mill might be temporarily re-assigned to other jobs.

McDermott said a ruling Wednesday has steelworkers worried.

A Department of Commerce preliminary ruling Wednesday that imposed import tariffs on eight steel-importing countries except South Korea, the single largest exporter of steel tubing into the U.S.

“Dumping” is the term used when a foreign nation sells products in the U.S. at below fair value costs, according to the Commerce Department.

Tariffs were levied on Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines.

U.S. Steel Corp. — the biggest producer of domestic steel — and other American steel-makers filed a trade complaint in 2012 alleging South Korea was selling steel tubing in the U.S. below cost.

The ruling potentially could lead to the loss of “thousands of jobs,” according to McDermott, who said such a development would be a major blow to the Lorain County area, which is seeing a turnaround with the investment of nearly $200 million between U.S. Steel and Republic Steel — which have a developmental partnership and operate alongside one another on East 28th Street.

The U.S. Steel Tubular Plant has seen a $100 million finishing line commissioned as part of its seamless steel pipe operations.

Republic Steel is expected to add 450 new employees for its $87 million electric arc furnace, which has experienced problems including a multi-million fire last November that set the project back.

“The Koreans make the same tubeless pipe we make here in Lorain,” McDermott said.

A final ruling on the anti-dumping issue is expected in August by the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.