USW cautiously optimistic about announced deal impacting Weirton plant

WEIRTON, W.Va. — Ohio-based Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. plans to purchase the U.S. operations of ArcelorMittal including the company’s plant in Weirton.

Mark Glyptis

United Steelworkers Local 2911 President Mark Glyptis told MetroNews Monday afternoon he’s cautiously optimistic about the purchase.

“It could be a nice thing,” Glyptis said. “I don’t know yet. It’s too early to tell. Discussions on what it’s actually going to look like, at least from our standpoint, is still in its infancy.”

But Glyptis said the reported $1.4 billion deal has a couple of things pointing in the right direction for the Weirton operation.

Cleveland-Cliffs is a regional company and USW already represents workers at other Cleveland-Cliffs operations, Glyptis said.

“We know some of the top management in that company. I’m going to take the high road and believe it’s going to be a positive thing,” he said.

ArcelorMittal’s Weirton plant is currently running at capacity because of an increase in business related to the pandemic. Approximately 900 steelworkers there produce mostly tin plate which is used in both the food tin can and aerosol markets.

“A lot of people are staying home eating (food) out of cans and the aerosol business is out of sight,” Glyptis said.

The increase in demand since the pandemic began has created jobs for about four dozen new workers at the plant.

“We just hired 22 people today (Monday),” Glyptis said. “We hired about 20 a couple of months ago. Business is pretty good for us at this point.”

The Weirton plant is just one of two tin plate operations in the country.

Glyptis said one thing he knows is that the former Weirton Steel operation and its workers have had to make various adjustments over the last several decades because of changes in the steel industry and he expects that to happen again with mergers, improving technology and foreign imports.

“There’s no reason to believe that it’s not going to be a fight in the coming decades. It’s still going to be a difficult path to survival but we have a resilient workforce,” Glyptis said.

According to Bloomberg News, the assets under consideration for the purchase include six steelmaking facilities, eight finishing plants, two iron ore mining and pelletizing operations, and three coal and coke-making operations.

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