SPARROWS POINT, Md. (WJZ) — Uncertain future and steel mill operations ceased at Sparrows Point. Now, as union officials desperately try to save jobs, workers discover they’re losing their benefits.
Meghan McCorkell has the latest.
Steel workers were laid off from the mill in June. Now union leaders are working frantically in what they’re calling the war to save Sparrows Point.
Steel workers gathered to learn their fate.
“I didn’t think we were going to get to this point. I didn’t think it would all shut down at once,” said Roger Church.
Church worked at Sparrows Point for more than 30 years, his two sons alongside him.
“They’re both young, starting their families out. Now they’ve lost everything,” Church said.
Steelworkers are now learning they’ll lose their health benefits at the end of August.
RG Steel went bankrupt and sold the mill at auction to Hilco Trading, a liquidation company. It’s a move that’s already been devastating to the area.
“Businesses are already closing. People are already having problems. It’s not just going to affect that mill; it’s going to affect all of us,” said former steelworker Candace Maxwell.
“There’s not going to be any money going into the supermarket, into the gas stations,” said Alice Lambert.
At one point, 32,000 people worked at the mill. When it idled in May, there were only 2,000.
“They didn’t call Superman the man of aluminium. He’s called the man of steel, so our people are proud to be steelworkers,” said United Steelworkers Local Union President Joe Rosel.
Rosel says he is working with Hilco to find a buyer for the steel mill to put people back to work.
“We’re in a tough business. We’re tough people and we know how to survive and we’ll survive this,” he said.
Others are less optimistic.
“I think it would be a miracle if it goes the other way. I hope it does,” Church said.
Hilco Trading has pledged not to destroy the steelmaking assets on Sparrows Point for six months. Now the race is on to find another buyer.
Sparrows Point has had five different owners in the past decade.