RG Steel has begun to recall laid-off workers to its Sparrows Point plant, and has restarted the “L” blast furnace which will reach normal operating rates within several days, according to a release by the company.
“I am thrilled that many of the dedicated men and women employed at Sparrows Point will soon return to work,” U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger said in a release. “These workers will now be able to provide for their families, help strengthen our local and national economies and maintain the century-old tradition of steel production at Sparrows Point.”
In March, RG Steel completed the stock purchase of the steel plants at Sparrows Point, as well as plants in Warren, OH, and Wheeling, WV, from Severstal US Holdings, LLC. The acquistion made RG Steel the fourth-largest flat-rolled steel company in the United States.
The company quickly began recalling laid-off workers to the plant, but in October there were signs of financial trouble when Severstal filed suit over a $125 million cash payment that Severstal argued it was owed.
In November, RG Steel Sparrows Point LLC consultant Nicholas Phillips Jr. told the Maryland Public Service Commission that the company was facing high monthly costs for natural gas and electric service from BGE.
Then came the lay-off of more than 700 workers just days before Christmas due to financial troubles.
Ruppersberger, along with Gov. Martin O'Malley and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, has advocated on behalf of laid-off workers at the plant, including communicating with General Electric, which financed the stock purchase that created RG Steel. Ruppersberger is also working with U.S. trade officials to develop relationships with raw materials producers overseas.
“I wholeheartedly believe the economy will rebound and the demand for steel will see an upswing,” Ruppersberger said. “In order for American steel to remain a viable industry, we must ensure the raw materials imported from other countries are obtained in a fair and reasonable manner.”