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Sparrows Point Braces For Upcoming Steel Mill Layoffs

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SPARROWS POINT, Md. (WJZ)– Nearly 2,000 Sparrows Point employees are preparing for pink slips as the plant’s owner searches for potential buyers.

Weijia Jiang has more on the difficult road ahead for employees, the company and the Sparrows Point community.

For decades, the plant was the heart of the Sparrows Point community. So when it stops running, many people who live and work there worry everything else could shut down with it.

The steel mill at Sparrows Point was once a thriving operation– Maryland’s biggest operation.

“It used to boom when I was here,” Jimmy Iman of Sparrows Point said.

But soon, it will be a mill that once was.

“Everybody thought they had the perfect job, but it went bankrupt on them. They got nothing,” Iman said.

Owner RG Steel announced it is laying off 1,975 workers starting June 4.

Though disappointed, state leaders say they are not surprised. The company has been struggling financially since RG Steel bought the plant last year.

“It’s not the employees who were the problem,” Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County Executive, said. “It’s the market price for steel and it’s the cost of raw materials.”

Kamenetz is hoping another company will buy the mill from RG Steel who explains that the cuts are the result of “continued uncertainty regarding the outcome of discussions with our lenders.”

That means anxiety for business owners like Gabrille Reson.

“I think it’s going to get really bad,” Reson said.

Reston runs Edge Rock Cafe and relies on steel workers to fill the seats and pay the bill.

“It’s sad to say but I don’t know what’s going to happen. Some of the people might have to end up cutting back some,” she said.

Reson says her own future depends on what happens to the mill. RG Steel is considering asset sales but no deals are done.

In the meantime, the Maryland Department of Labor is helping the workers with unemployment benefits, training opportunities and looking for a new job.

RG Steel is also closing operations at plants in Ohio and West Virginia.

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