GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WPDE) - The Georgetown Steel mill is now short 20 workers. On October 26 ArcelorMittal, the company that runs the mill, laid off the workers because of lower production demands.
In the last decade, the Georgetown Steel Mill has faced a lot of uncertainty; bankruptcy, shutdowns, pay cuts, and a change in ownership.
And now another blow, a reduced its workforce and a cut back on operating hours. The 198 workers who are left are split into two crews who work 12 - hour shifts three days a week.
"It was a surprise to us that they took this action but it doesn't surprise us with the number of imports coming over here," says James Sanderson. He serves at the President of the local chapter of the United Steelworkers Union.
The laid off workers have filed for unemployment. Sanderson also went a step further, "If we are approved for the TAA benefits employees while they're going to school and becoming more trained and more qualified in another area they'll be eligible to received up to 130 weeks of unemployment to help them during this period of time."
The mill produces a wire rod that is in turn sold to other companies, but overseas competition is cutting into their business.
"These customers are able to buy wire rod from another company from China, imports at a lower cost than we can produce them," explains Sanderson.
He adds dredging the port in Charleston and Georgetown would help them become more competitive, "if we're able to move product commerce through the ports then it makes it much more I feel like advantageous to the citizens of South Carolina and to this country as a whole."
According to Sanderson , the mill is essential to the city's economy. He fears the worst if the situation doesn't improve, "I think if the plant goes down again or if we're idle. You'll never see this steel mill open back up."