Since US Steel further downsized its Fairfield, AL, operation last month, more than 1,000 workers have lost their jobs, and those remaining in employment fear that it is only a matter of time before they are cut as well.
US Steel made these cuts primarily as a result of increased imports. Therefore, under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2015, some workers and former employees are eligible for job search, training, and relocation assistance. These benefits will cover those from the production, maintenance, safety, security, and administration departments who have lost or will lose their jobs between May 2, 2013, and July 2, 2016.
Former employees may also be eligible for weekly benefits from the Trade Readjustment Allowance. To qualify, one will need to be enrolled in training and obtain a waiver from the state Employment Service Division of the Alabama Department of Labor.
US Steel laid off more than 1,100 workers in Fairfield last year after announcing the permanent closing of the Blast Furnace. Just last month, another 200 union-represented employees were let go from the Fairfield Tubular Operations site. US Steel has also laid off more than 120 nonunion workers in Alabama, Ohio, and Texas.
Spokeswoman for US Steel Sarah Cassella commented, “These actions are part of an ongoing adjustment in operations due to challenging market conditions, including fluctuating oil prices, reduced rig counts, depressed steel prices and unfairly traded imports. All of these factors continue to reduce demand for tubular goods.”
Though the amount of energy required to produce steel has been reduced by 34% since 1972, and the steel-producing process is more efficient than ever, US Steel has not been a healthy business for some time. The steel company reported a net loss of $1.5 billion last year, triggering the need to lower labor costs. US Steel said that their total number of employees will depend on “operational and maintenance needs.”