US Steel stuns Illinois town with plans for hundreds of firings

U.S. Steel issued layoff warnings to 1,000 employees of its Granite City, Illinois, mill this week, saying they expect to fire 60% of them due to indefinite idling of iron and steelmaking operations at the facility.

The warnings rocked the local community, which will be severely impacted by the move.

"You’ve got these small businesses that depend on that income to come in, and these businesses want these people to come in and spend their money," Edith Arnold, a woman whose relative has worked at the mill for more than 30 years, told local KTVI. "You shut them down, what are they going to do?"

The mill has a total of 1,300 steelworkers, according to KTVI. Those numbers will be cut nearly in half with the 600 expected firings. Already, 400 employees have been temporarily laid off due to idling in September.

U.S. Steel Corp. Granite City Works signage stands on display outside the companys facility in Granite City, Illinois, U.S., on Thursday, July 26, 2018. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

State Rep. Amy Elik said in a statement she is "disgusted" and "saddened" by the company's decision.

"Granite City employees and their families have provided loyal, skilled labor to the steel industry for decades, and U.S. Steel is pulling the rug out from under them," Elik's statement reads. "U.S. Steel should be doing everything it can to keep the Granite City steel mill operating at capacity, and I don’t see the company making that effort."

In a statement to FOX Business, U.S. Steel explained the factors that went into their decision.

American and U.S. Steel Corp. flags fly at the companys Granite City Works facility in Granite City, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

"The plan ensures that our melt capacity is balanced with our order book. Because we can meet customer demand by leveraging our active iron and steelmaking facilities, we have made the decision to indefinitely idle Granite City’s primary operations," the statement said. "We thank our employees for their contributions and will keep them informed throughout this process."

The company added that rolling and finishing lines will continue to run using slabs from other facilities in order to meet customer needs.

Aerial view of US Steel factory with smokestacks, Granite City, Illinois. (Visions of America/Joseph Sohm/Universal Images Group via Getty Images / Getty Images)

U.S. Steel was founded in 1901 "with the joining of American business icons Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan and Charles Schwab, led by Elbert H. Gary, U. S. Steel's first chairman," the company's website states. In October, the company reported third-quarter 2023 net earnings of $299 million.