County & Local Union Hold Informational Meeting For Laid Off Sparrows Point Workers
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SPARROWS POINT, Md. (WJZ)—Nearly 800 Sparrows Point Steel workers remain out of work as RG Steel has temporarily idled most of their operations.
Andrea Fujii explains Thursday they got some help moving forward.
After more than 100 years as a leader in steel manufacturing, the industry’s future in Sparrows Point is uncertain.
Since Dec. 23, RG Steel has laid off close to 800 workers of its nearly 2,200 employees, including 43-year steel veteran James Irving.
“It doesn’t feel right behind the fact that I’ve put in all these years and then you’re put out on the street with no notice,” Irving said.
In hopes of providing them direction, the county and local union organized an information fair on what benefits they’re eligible for.
“We’ve always maintained and survived and done well and came out, and here’s another blip that we have,” said Jeff Mikula, Local 9477 union president. “With the economy the way it was, the way it is hopefully it’s going to start taking off and we’ll all get back working again.”
Union workers say they were told a slow economy put operations on standby and they may head back to work in March.
“They’re not saying anything that I know of. They don’t give us any information that’s credible,” said Paul Jurkovitz, laid off worker. “I’m hoping to go back to work.”
At the first of the month the plant called back 300 workers, but soon after laid off about another 150.
“When you’re off like this you’d like to know just how long you’re going to be off or when you’re going to be back to work,” said a senior crane operator.
But they’re staying optimistic at the Local 9477 in hopes this manufacturing legacy is as strong as steel.
“I don’t know exactly when but I’m sure we’ll all be going back to work,” Irving said.
RG Steel did not return WJZ’s call for comment.
About 100 laid off steel employees showed up at Thursday’s event. For more information on what services and benefits are available, click here.