WARREN - A total of 263 union workers at RG Steel's Warren steel mill have been laid off as the plant finishes filling customer orders before being shut down, a union leader said Monday.
United Steelworkers Local 1375 President Darryl Parker said Friday was the workers' last day, as the mill's primary end - blast furnace, basic oxygen furnace and continuous caster - were idled.
A total of 499 union members are still active but face layoff as the shutdown process continues through the 56-inch hot rolling mill, then finishing, slitting and shipping.
Tribune Chronicle file photo
RG Steel’s Warren blast furnace.
Parker said the timetable for those layoffs hasn't been decided yet because orders are still being filled. He said some production may continue.
RG Steel spokeswoman Bette Kovach said the company isn't taking future orders but that some units will operate for several more weeks to fill current orders. Shipping products to customers would take a few more weeks after that.
"The timing of layoffs will vary by department and depend on a number of factors," she said.
The company also employs about 135 salaried and nonunion workers.
Meanwhile, workers are "winterizing" the mill - taking out some fluids and putting in others - a process that can be reversed, Parker said.
Workers, who he said are reacting with "a little bit of calm but also uncertainty," will be eligible for Supplementary Unemployment Benefit pay through the labor contract and unemployment compensation through the state.
Healthcare coverage will continue, with seniority accruing for two years and recall rights running for five years according to the union contract, he said.
RG, which warned May 24 of layoffs due to weak business conditions, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Thursday in Wilmington, Del., listing both assets and liabilities of $1 billion.
The company on Friday received court preliminary approval of a bankruptcy financing plan that includes as much as $50 million to pay workers, vendors and others to fill orders and preserve asset value.
But the deal with secured lenders, who are owed about $450 million, requires the company to sell some or all of its assets by July 27.
The Steelworkers issued a statement Friday saying the union will work with management to find buyers.
The company said it employs about 3,500 hourly and 500 salaried workers at major mills in Warren, Sparrows Point, Md., and Wheeling, W.Va., along with smaller operations.
The company, which was formed March 31, 2011, with the $1.2 billion purchase of the mills and other operations from Russia-based Severstal, listed more than $1 billion in both assets and liabilities in its paperwork.