March 4, 2009

U.S. Steel idles two Canadian plants

Some 1,500 steel workers in two Canadian cities were laid off indefinitely as U.S. Steel announced plants would be idled until the economy recovers.

The announcement from its Pittsburgh head office sent shock waves through the Ontario cities of Hamilton and Nanticoke, where 684 jobs have already been trimmed from the plants formerly owned by Stelco, the Hamilton Spectator reported.

U.S. Steel bought Stelco 16 months ago for $1.9 billion.

The company said it intended to focus production at plants in Alabama, Indiana and Pittsburgh during the downturn, the newspaper said. It has already closed operations in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Texas.

Rolf Gerstenberger, president of the United Steelworkers union in Hamilton, told reporters he was furious.

Not that long ago, they were telling me how lucky we were to have U.S. Steel buy us, he said. We were the last Canadian steel company and now all the decisions are being made outside the country as far as what's good for Hamilton and what's good for Canada.