Thousands of steelworkers and their families have received some disheartening news on the cusp of the holiday season. Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel, one of the nation’s largest steel producers, said Monday it will temporarily idle operations at its plant in Granite City, Illinois, indefinitely laying off about 2,000 workers.
“You always hear rumors at the mill and most of us knew something was coming,” Randy Jones, 57, a veteran steelworker at Granite City, said. “How hard would it have been to wait until after Thanksgiving?”
The move is the latest sign of the struggling domestic steel industry. In a statement, U.S. Steel blamed the temporary closure on tough market conditions “including fluctuating oil prices, reduced rig counts and associated inventory overhang, depressed steel prices and unfairly traded imports.”
The company sent notices to workers last month warning them it may soon be forced to temporarily idle operations. According to U.S. Steel, the Granite City mill is the “primary flat-roll supplier of the oil and gas industry” — a sector that has sputtered amid sagging oil prices.