U.S. Steel is preparing to lay off 175 non-union workers between its Hamilton and Lake Erie operations.
Mike McQuade, the new president and general manager of U.S. Steel Canada, made the announcement in a letter to employees on Monday.
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“After taking a very close look at our operations for opportunities to make them more profitable and improve our cost structure, we have made the difficult decision to reduce our non-represented employment levels,” McQuade wrote. “The reduction is a part of an across the board, company-wide program to reduce high administrative costs.”
“The decision was not made lightly, but it is necessary to control our costs and help move our company into an era of sustained profitability.”
There are now just over 1,600 unionized employees and 723 non-unionized employees split between both sites at the company’s Canadian operations.
That’s a very high ratio of non-union to union employees, said Jake Lombardo, the grievance chairperson for the local 1005 United Steelworkers union.
“If you look at most steel markets in North America, the ratio isn’t nearly that high,” Lombardo said. Usually, it’s closer to one non-union employee for every ten union employees, he said.
Layoffs had been rumored at the company for months, Lombardo says, and seemed like “a long time coming.”
“But it’s hard. You don’t like to see anyone lose their job.”
Back in October, U.S. Steel announced it is permanently closing its idle iron and steel-making operations in Hamilton by the end of the year. Coke production at the plant will continue, officials say.