WARREN - Some workers will be laid off next week at RG Steel's Warren mill, a union leader said after the plant entered its second bankruptcy in nine years with its parent company's filing in Delaware on Thursday.
Warren, along with Wheeling-Pitt in Wheeling W.Va., and Sparrows Point near Baltimore, are part of parent RG Steel's voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.
Darryl Parker, who last month was elected president of 1,100-member United Steelworkers Local 1375, said he's waiting to meet with management to get more details, including numbers.
Tribune file photo of RG Steel's Warren plant.
Layoffs typically would ripple from the blast furnace, where iron ore is melted, to the basic oxygen furnace, where the molten iron is turned into steel, Parker said.
The continuous caster would follow, with finishing and maintenance workers coming near the end of the idling process, although the timing is unclear, he said.
Parker said he hasn't heard anything about a buyer for the mill but said he remains hopeful the owners will find a buyer that has "the passion and the financing" to keep the mill running.
The company, which bought the local mill and other operations from Russia-based Severstal for $1.2 billion, listed more than $1 billion in both assets and liabilities in its paperwork.
RG Steel filed first-day motions that included a request to pay wages, salaries, commissions and other compensation, as well as continue other employee-related programs. It also said any joint venture isn't part of the bankruptcy.
John Goodwin, chief executive officer of RG's Warren and Wheeling operations, said in a statement that the company has been unable to overcome "continued deterioration of the market and the inability of the industry to sustain a meaningful recovery."
Goodwin added bankruptcy was chosen "after a thorough analysis of the company's liquidity position and extensive consideration of available alternatives."
He said voluntarily filing for Chapter 11 will allow the company to use the court-supervised process to "implement an orderly asset preservation plan and explore other options, including soliciting offers to purchase all or certain of the company's assets."
The company already has begun a sales process to get the most value for the assets and preserve jobs created when RG Steel acquired these facilities, he said.
Besides the hourly staff, the company has 135 salaried workers, who earlier this month were part of roughly 500 salaried and nonunion workers across the company whose pay and benefits were cut in a cost-saving effort.
The company employs about 4,000 overall.
The local mill went through Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2003 until emerging May 1, 2006, when New York financier Ira Rennert lost it to his creditors. Rennert's Renco Group affiliate RG Steel bought the mill and other Severstal operations on March 31, 2011.