STEUBENVILLE - RG Steel laid off 175 workers at its coke plant in Follansbee, United Steelworkers of America Local 1190 President Ernie Gambellin said Thursday.
Gambellin said the workers were furloughed at the Mountain State Carbon coke plant, a joint venture between bankrupt RG Steel and Severstal NA. Three batteries in what's referred to as the "old block" at the coke plant were hot-idled last week, a process Gambellin previously said means they can be restarted when and if conditions warrant.
"We had 400 employees this past week," he said. "We'll be going down to 225 at the coke plant. And on the Ohio side, it looks like we'll go from 67 to 31 workers."
RG Steel sought protection from its creditors on May 31. Despite the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings, Gambellin said the newly laid-off workers are entitled to sub-pay.
James Bouchard said his company, Esmark Inc., hopes to purchase the RG Steel building on Market Street in Wheeling, as well as most of the Wheeling Corrugating facilities. Esmark does not plan to purchase Mountain State Carbon.
Mountain State Carbon was RG's second-largest unsecured creditor at $22.4 million. Mountain State is a 50-50 joint venture between RG Steel and Severstal.
Meanwhile, local Steubenville leaders are hoping the company that buys a 112-acre parcel bankrupt RG Steel is trying to sell in downtown Steubenville will be open to redeveloping part of the site they don't need.
Wheeling-based Herman Strauss Inc. and a partner, River Rail Development LLC, have offered to pay $15 million for the Steubenville plant, located at Third and Bates. The company's chief financial officer has indicated the recycling company is "looking to expand our business opportunities on that site."
It will be up to a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in Delaware, however, to decide if the deal goes through. Other companies interested in the property have until 5 p.m. June 20 to make an offer.