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ArcelorMittal to lay off workers as blast furnaces idled in Chicago steel mill

ArcelorMittal intends to lay off workers with less than two years' employment at its Indiana Harbor steel mill in Chicago, potentially affecting hundreds of employees, The Times of Northwest Indiana reported April 9, quoting the United Steelworkers union.

The lay offs come following the company's decision to idle its Indiana Harbor 3 and Indiana Harbor 4 blast furnaces, as well as the Cleveland 6 blast furnace, amid the coronavirus crisis.

The Luxembourg-based steel producer will be left with only four blast furnaces in the U.S. after the idling of the three furnaces.

"The company has mandated that all employees with less than two years be laid off. This is not in line with the collective bargaining agreement. Our interpretation is that the company must offer voluntary layoffs before anybody is involuntarily laid off," Steve Wagner, United Steelworkers local 1010 president, told union members in a letter.

Wagner said that the union will fight to get employees back to work as soon as possible if the company unilaterally imposes the layoffs.

Wagner also stated that ArcelorMittal was not following its plan of insurance and benefits for workers.

According to the report, the company employs about 10,000 laborers in Northwest Indiana.

ArcelorMittal earlier said that it was temporarily idling steelmaking and finishing assets and reducing production on a "country-by-country" basis, aligned with regional demand and government requirements amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Its unit in South Africa has issued force majeure notices to its customers and suppliers due to the company closing all of its offices and operations in South Africa during the 21-day countrywide lockdown, and will reduce salaries for all employees.