By Emory Bryan, The News On 6
SAND SPRINGS, OK -- A major Sand Springs employer might close down. Gerdau Ameristeel notified the Steelworkers Union it is considering closing the Sand Springs mill. The company bought the plant in 2006, and had a major layoff in January.
The company blames a long term drop in demand for steel that shows no signs of improving. The plant in Sand Springs takes in scrap metal and makes steel rebar that's used to reinforce concrete. Now, it could close at the end of the summer.
Gerdau Ameristeel shut down production for a day to give employees time to deal with the news. While the company says the decision to close is not final, the indication is the mill will close after 90 days notice often required in union contracts.
"That is a process that will take some time and we have fairly little information on that," said Sand Springs City Manager Doug Enevoldsen.
The company laid off about 100 employees in January. Now, the town could lose the remaining 200 or so jobs and the company altogether.
"It's sad, a lot of people are losing their jobs and it's a rough road out here. And, people have kids and it's sad they're shutting down," said Evelyn McClain of Sand Springs.
The Sand Springs mill has always been an important part of the community and when Gerdau Ameristeel bought out Sheffield, that tradition continued. Losing not just the jobs, but the company, too, is a huge blow for Sand Springs.
"Well, it remains to be seen what will happen with the plant. The company is just beginning talks with the Steelworkers Union," said Sand Springs City Manager Doug Enevoldsen.
At the Dollar General store, business is up in the down economy, but they're worried about losing customers who lose their jobs and have to move to find work.
"I think it's heartbreaking. There will be a lot of families without jobs who have kids and the economy isn't very good for them to find another one I don't think," said Donna Orcutt, Dollar General manager.
Gerdau plans to resume production on Wednesday in Sand Springs, while it continues talks with the union about ending production for good.
The company has other steel mills across North America and announced on Tuesday that one will close for good and another will close until the demand comes back.
The Sand Springs mill is the only steel plant left in Oklahoma and has been in operation since the 1920's.
Gerdau Ameristeel is the second largest mini-mill producer in North America.