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Weirton tinplate facility goes idle

By Craig Howell, The Weirton Daily Times

WEIRTON, W.Va. — The tinplate facility of Cleveland-Cliffs Weirton idled operations this weekend, potentially bringing to an end a 115-year history of metals manufacturing in the community.

“The workers are very concerned about their future,” noted Mark Glyptis, president of United Steelworkers Local 2911, the union representing the approximately 900 men and women who have been working at the Weirton tin mill. “It’s been very trying for individuals and their families.”

Cleveland-Cliffs announced its plans to idle the facility in mid-February, following a decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission, which voted 4-0 to overturn recommendations by the U.S. Department of Commerce to initiate tariffs on tin imports from China, Germany and Canada, and halting an investigation of imports from South Korea.

Company officials pointed to the decision as the reason for the idling, explaining once the ruling was announced, all of their tin customers looked for other sources of product.

“Our customer base pivoted. They went the easy route,” explained Clifford Smith, executive vice president of Cleveland-Cliffs, while taking part in a roundtable in Weirton with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and local officials April 4.

Smith noted, at the time, the idling is not a complete shutdown, with equipment staying on site and available in the event a decision would be made to restart operations. Of the approximately 900 workers employed in Weirton, around 300 received layoff notices last summer, with 200 opting to retire, at least 100 accepting positions at other Cleveland-Cliffs facilities and 100 or more others leaving the company.

On Friday, Glyptis explained those remaining will be on hand through the rest of the year to help keep the equipment maintained.

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