U.S. Steel to idle Granite City furnace B, blames UAW strike for decision

Kevin Killeen, KMOX
Photo credit Kevin Killeen, KMOX

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - One of the furnaces at a longtime Granite City, Illinois, plant whose future has been in question for over a year, has been temporary placed idled by US Steel.

U.S. Steel has temporary idled furnace B at the Granite City steel plant as part of a 'risk mitigation plan'. The company blames the ongoing United Auto Workers strike for the decision.

Following the announcement of UAW strike actions, we are executing our risk mitigation plan to ensure our melt capacity is balanced with our order book," said U.S. Steel's statement, "As a result, we have decided to temporarily idle blast furnace ‘B’ at Granite City Works and are reallocating volumes as needed to other domestic facilities to efficiently meet customer demand."

Local United Steelworkers president Dan Simmons released a statement immediately following the decision, with Simmons hinting skepticism of the logic of using the UAW strike as the main cause of the decision.

"The company is claiming this decision is due to a combination of order book softening throughout the corporation, specifically in the auto industry. We will be meeting with the Company to put together a layoff minimization plan per the contract," said Simmons in a statement.

U.S. Representative Nikki Budzinski (D) issued a statement on the decision, calling out the company's logic of using the UAW strike as a reason to idle a furnace at the plant.

"“U.S. Steel’s decision to idle operations in Granite City and lay off workers is an outrage. And their effort to blame this announcement on the United Auto Workers strike is a shameful attempt to pit working people against one another. We must hold them accountable," Budzinski said in a statement.

The future of the Granite City plant has been up in the air for over a year since U.S. Steel said in June 2022 that it was planning to sell two blast furnaces to Suncoke Energy, which would've cut nearly 2/3 of the Granite City's 1,500 people workforce and turn the plant into producing a type of crude iron known as pig iron.

However, the plan has been in flux since, due to a potential sale of Pittsburgh-based company.

Simmons previously told KMOX that he believed U.S. Steel was considering the drastic change due to the company's concerns that there could be a glut of steel on the market in 2024.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Kevin Killeen, KMOX