Metro-East News

Good news for Granite City steelworkers: Unemployment benefits extended

Signs of optimism at Granite City steel mill

U.S. Steel says a part of the Granite City, Illinois, steel mill will reopen in early 2017.
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U.S. Steel says a part of the Granite City, Illinois, steel mill will reopen in early 2017.

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday signed legislation that extends unemployment benefits for steelworkers who were laid off at Granite City Works to 52 weeks from 26 weeks.

About 2,000 people were laid off from the steel plant last winter when Granite City Works’ blast furnaces, steel-making facilities and the hot strip mill were idled in response to challenging global market conditions.

Roughly 220 employees are being brought back in mid-February by U.S. Steel, which plans to begin processing slabs on the hot strip mill at Granite City Works as the steel corporation plans to make upgrades at other plants.

This legislation will help the hard-working families of the metro-east who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. While we are encouraged by the recent news that more than 200 jobs will return to the Granite City facility, we hope that by extending unemployment benefits we are able to help the other laid-off workers bridge the gap until they are gainfully employed again.

Gov. Bruce Rauner

“This legislation will help the hard-working families of the metro-east who lost their jobs through no fault of their own,” Rauner said in a statement. “While we are encouraged by the recent news that more than 200 jobs will return to the Granite City facility, we hope that by extending unemployment benefits we are able to help the other laid off workers bridge the gap until they are gainfully employed again.”

State Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Belleville, was one of the original sponsors of the legislation, along with State Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton and State Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton.

“Through no fault of their own, the employees and families of the U.S. Steel plant in Granite City have been laid off, forced to make tremendous sacrifices and suffered greatly over the past year due to the illegal dumping of foreign steel into U.S. markets,” Hoffman said. “(The governor’s) action will certainly help these families during a very difficult time.”

Benefits will be paid out from the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which is a special fund derived from a state unemployment tax paid by Illinois employers, not the state’s general revenue fund.

“This will help hundreds of steelworkers make ends meet while trying to remain hopeful U.S. Steel will restart its Granite City facility in 2017,” said Local 50 President Jason Chism.

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