About 250 laid-off steelworkers at Sparrows Point were told to report to work Sunday, one of several signs that the financial crisis gripping RG Steel may be easing, allowing the steel mill to reopen.
Sources at Local 9477 of the United Steelworkers tell The Brew that workers on the ironmaking side of the mill, who were laid off shortly before Christmas, were given the message this morning.
Meanwhile, sources confirm, a smaller group of workers today began the slow process of restarting the “L” blast furnace, which smelts iron from iron ore and is the key production unit of the plant.
Altogether about 600 workers have been furloughed at the plant amid confusion and lack of information coming from the company. Many employees are worried that the company’s actions have scared away customers.
On Hot Idle
The L furnace was placed in “hot idle” on December 22 as a result of a liquidity crisis caused by the company’s inability to pay creditors following heavy operating losses.
Restarting the furnace will take a number of days, meaning that even under the best scenario, the plant won’t be making its own steel for awhile.
As previously reported in The Brew, RG Steel has been in talks with representatives of 12 financial institutions that have a $750 million credit facility with the company. The recent docking of an ore-carrying ship was an indication that the financial crisis at the plant may be easing.
We will continue to report on this story as more solid information develops.