US Steel lays off 677 workers in US, Canada

PITTSBURGH (AP) - November 13, 2008 The Pittsburgh-based company said Thursday the layoffs, effective immediately, include 500 employees in the U.S. and 175 in Canada. All of the workers are union members.

The U.S. layoffs affect workers at the steel maker's Edgar Thomson and Irvin plants near Pittsburgh; its Gary Works in Gary, Ind.; its Midwest Plant in Portage, Ind.; its Great Lakes Works in Ecorse and River Rouge, Mich.; its Granite City Works in Granite City, Ill., and its Fairfield Works in Fairfield, Ala.

In Canada, the layoffs affect workers at the Lake Erie Works in Nanticoke, Ontario, and the Hamilton Works in Hamilton, Ontario - both of which make up U.S. Steel Canada.

John Armstrong, a company spokesman, declined to provide details about the number of workers laid off at each facility.

"We regret having to do this, but it's necessary in order to control costs and maintain our competitiveness in this difficult environment," he said.

The cuts primarily reflect weaker demand for U.S. Steel's flat-rolled steel, a sheet product used in autos, appliances and construction, Armstrong said.

The dramatic downturn in the economy has negatively affected U.S. Steel's overall business, he said, and the company has already cut production to stay in line with customer demand.

"Now we're forced to adjust our work force to match our production levels," he added. "When the jobs will come back is dependent on when we see customer demand strengthening."

Gerald Dickey, a spokesman for the United Steelworkers union, which represents at least some of the workers, said the layoffs were handled according to seniority. "Basically, business is slow," he said.

Last month, U.S. Steel said its third-quarter profit more than tripled as higher prices led to record gains in its tubular and flat-rolled steel businesses. But it warned softening demand in North America and Europe would hurt results for the rest of the year.

U.S. Steel, the largest domestically based steel company, said it cut production late in the third quarter to match declining order rates for its flat-rolled and European segments.

Shares of U.S. Steel rose $3.85, or 14 percent, to $31.23 on Thursday.


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