By COLIN STAUB
Columbia Steel Casting Co. is permanently closing this fall after 121 years of operation, leaving 225 workers without jobs. At its industrial campus on 10425 N. Bloss Ave. in Portland, workers operate a foundry and machine shop, producing replacement wear parts used in the mining and metal recycling industries for crushing, grinding, and shredding.
In an Aug. 22 letter to workers, company president and CEO Martha Cox said the plant will close by the end of the year.
“Unfortunately, our efforts to secure a new owner or financing for Columbia Steel have not come to fruition,” Cox wrote. Cox said offshore competition, supply chain disruptions, COVID-restrictions hampering sales-related travel, state and local environmental regulations and fees on energy-intensive industries, and an inability to hire and retain workers “even after substantial pay increases,” all contributed to the closure.
The closure means job loss for 115 workers represented by United Steelworkers Local 139B, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notice the company sent to the state. Another 104 non-union workers will also be laid off, and so will six members of the Portland Pattern Makers Association (PPMA). The unions are currently bargaining with management over the effects of the layoff.
Layoffs are slated to start Oct. 22 and continue for two weeks until all workers are terminated, according to the WARN notice.
Labor’s Community Service Agency (LCSA) is helping workers through the layoff process, making sure they know about benefits they’re entitled to. LCSA is also planning a job fair for laid-off workers prior to the actual plant closure. LCSA executive director Eryn Byram says she and Oregon AFL-CIO State Workforce Liaison Josh Hall have already received numerous inquiries from unions who want to bring the displaced workers into their trades.