ArcelorMittal has notified the steelworkers union that it plans to lay off steelworkers at its Indiana Harbor steel plant in East Chicago, per a letter issued to union members.
The company employs approximately 10,000 people in the region and has now ordered that probationary workers, those hired in within the past two years, be laid off. The union has called for a minimization plan for handling the layoffs based on prior agreements, according to the letter.
Negotiations between the union and ArcelorMittal are ongoing and the company has not issued a statement yet. The layoffs could foreseeably affect hundreds of workers at the East Chicago mill.
Sources also inform that ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor released 63 hourly, probationary employees on Thursday.
Declining demand due to the COVID-19-related auto manufacturing shutdowns is heavily impacting steelmaking in Northwest Indiana, leading to reduced operations or temporary suspensions and shut downs of blast furnaces in the region.
ArcelorMittal announced last week it will shut down one of two blast furnaces in Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to that, on March 20, the company announced it would be idling its no. 4 blast furnace in East Chicago, while blast furnace no. 3 was idled Nov 2019, leaving blast furnace no. 7 as the only operational furnace.
The company also recently announced the idling of no. 3 blast furnace at its Dofasco plant in Hamilton, Ontario. ArcelorMittal Dofasco employs about 5,000 workers and ships about 4.5mn nt of steel annually.
United States Steel informed on March 27 it was starting early on its planned 48-day maintenance shutdown of no. 4 blast furnace at Gary Works. The blast furnace will remain idled until market conditions improve. The company also said it has decided to hold off on planned upgrades of its Gary Hot Strip Mill investments.