April 3, 2009 Volume 110 Number 7

More Steelworkers laid off at Cascade Rolling Mills

If there’s a recovery on the way, it’s not yet visible at Cascade Steel Rolling Mills.

The steel plant makes rebar, so it’s a good bellwether for the construction industry. If these steelworkers are busy, odds are somebody on the West Coast has placed an order for materials used in construction, and building trades employment can’t be far off.

Right now, they’re not busy.

About 75 Cascade steelworkers were laid off permanently in December, at which point United Steelworkers Local 8378 negotiated a “rolling layoff’ for the 325 who remained: For three months, they worked two weeks out of four, and the company continued to pay for health coverage during the two weeks workers collected unemployment insurance benefits. Because the maximum unemployment benefit doesn’t come close to their union wages, workers lost over a quarter of their income for the three months. But they kept their jobs.

That deal ended March 28, and 75 more workers were laid off permanently. Of the remaining 250, most remain on temporary layoff until April 13. The union learned that 16 of the company’s nonunion employees were also laid off, out of about 150.

Local 8378 President Joe Munger says company salespeople are starting to get inquiries from customers, but have no big orders yet.

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