Warren coke plant cuts production


STAFF REPORT

WARREN — The jobs of union workers appear safe even though a Warren coke plant is cutting production because of the downturn in the economy, a union leader said.

ArcelorMittal started slowing production at the Main Street plant last week and will eventually be producing about 30 percent less coke than it had been, said Bill Prejsnar, unit president of United Steelworkers of America Local 1375.

He said the plant still will need its 126 hourly workers because all the coke ovens will continue to operate. If the ovens in the plant are shut down, the bricks will collapse.

The plant has 85 ovens, each of which are 18 inches wide, 14 feet high and 44 feet long. They sit side by side in a battery that is 300 feet long.

Different types of coal are placed into the oven and baked, creating coke. Coke, iron ore and limestone are used in blast furnaces at steel mills to create molten iron.

Prejsnar said demand for steel is so slow that much of the coke produced at Warren is being placed into storage. Plant officials could not be reached to comment.

Prejsnar said about half of the plant’s coke had been sent to ArcelorMittal’s steel mill in Cleveland, but blast furnaces there were shut down at the end of October because of reduced demand for steel.

ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, said last week that it planned to cut 9,000 jobs worldwide because of declining demand, primarily caused by a slump in car sales and a slowing of the Chinese economy.

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