Steelworkers off the job; 200 Republic Steel employees idle because of shortage of raw material

By RICHARD PAYERCHIN
rpayerchin@MorningJournal.com
@MJ_JournalRick

LORAIN — About 200 Lorain Steelworkers have been laid off temporarily at Republic Steel. The workers left the plant last week but tentatively are scheduled to return April 15, said Daniel Voorhees, president of the United Steelworkers Local 1104.

Meanwhile, crews are building the new electric arc furnace at the plant at 1807 E. 28th St.

The Republic Steel mill produces special bar quality, or SBQ, steel used in axles, drive shafts, suspension rods and other parts of cars, off-road vehicles and industrial equipment.

Republic Steel has had an internal shortage of raw materials for its bar mills in Lorain and Lackawanna, N.Y., since its Lorain blast furnace was idled in 2008, said Republic Steel Executive Vice President Ted Thielens.

His comments were included this week in a report by American Metal Market trade magazine, published atAMM.com. A Republic Steel spokesman confirmed the report.

The shortage of raw materials “has led to staggered, temporary work force reductions in Lorain, particularly in recent months, when bar demand pulled back,” the report said.

However, until the new Lorain melt shop is running, Republic Steel remains in a “steel-short situation, dependent on the melt shop in Canton,” Thielens said in the report. “We are not able to operate all three bar mills on a continuous basis, so at Lorain we run the bar mills two to three weeks per month.”

The Lorain plant has operated on two-week cycles for about the last four years because Republic Steel shut down its blast furnace, Voorhees said.

“Our members at Republic have suffered tremendously over the last five years,” Voorhees said.

Construction continues on the new electric arc furnace at Republic Steel and a company spokesman said there are no plans to slow down that project.