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ArcelorMittal Cleveland Plant Furloughs Nearly 250 Workers

Many of ArcelorMittal's customers have closed plants due to the coronavirus pandemic, creating a ripple effect through the supply chain that is only now hitting Northeast Ohio steel production. [ArcelorMittal]
Rows of coiled steel at an ArcelorMittal plant.

ArcelorMittal is furloughing nearly 250 employees from its Cleveland plant due to the coronavirus pandemic, the company announced this week, in addition to the 48 employees already furloughed from the company's Eggers Avenue site earlier this month.

Many of the steel mill’s customers have closed down plants due to COVID-19, the company said in a notice to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, even though ArcelorMittal itself is considered essential and therefore exempt from state-wide closure orders. The decision to furlough employees is a result of the coronavirus’ ripple effect on business, the company said.

“The temporary closure of these customers has a direct impact on our business and requires us to place employees on temporary, unpaid furlough,” the notice said.

The 247 employees began their furlough on April 19, according to the notice. While the furloughs are not expected to last beyond six months, but no official end date was provided.

The Cleveland plant employs 1,887 workers, according to ArcelorMittal’s website, and covers 870 acres. It provides steel to the automotive, construction, converters and distribution markets.

The company is continuing to follow CDC guidelines to protect remaining workers, a spokesperson said in an email statement to ideastream.

“As always we have been focused on Health and Safety practices and processes to protect the health and safety or our employees in their work environments,” the statement said.

The layoffs include both salaried and hourly employees, according to the statement, in order to align with current demand for steel production.

“Our customers and their customers have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and the collective national response required to contain it,” the statement said. “Therefore, we also must adapt our production and cost structures to match our customers demand in these challenging market conditions.”

ArcelorMittal is working with the United Steelworkers union to “minimize impacts on the workforce,” according to the statement.

“We look forward to the world returning to a new normal which will hopefully enable our employees, our operations and our customers to return to more sustainable levels of steel demand,” the statement said.