LONE STAR, Texas (AP) -- U.S. Steel will temporarily stop production at its East Texas plant near Lone Star, indefinitely idling as many as 1,200 union and salaried workers, according to papers filed with the Texas Workforce Commission.
The notice, which does not give a call-back date for the workers, indicates that about 800 production workers and another 400 salaried workers could be affected. The Lone Star plant produces steel pipe used mainly in the oil and natural gas industries.
"We continue to adjust our work force to keep pace with customer orders," U.S. Steel spokesman John Armstrong told the Longview News-Journal for its Thursday editions. "We can't see the future and can't predict when things might improve."
He said the Pennsylvania-based company hopes to bring back workers as needed to meet orders.
In the letter dated Friday that was sent to the Texas Workforce Commission, Roger Brown, manager of human relations at the plant, said that they are idling the plant because of the recent downturn in the economy in the U.S. and worldwide.
He also said that steel from foreign countries comes into the U.S. market at less than production cost.
Randy Dean, president of Local 4134 of the United Steelworkers of America, estimates most of the 800 union workers at the plant will be affected.
"They've told us they're planning to stop production at the end of February and may call people back as enough orders come in to make it worthwhile," Dean said told the newspaper Wednesday. "It could be on-a-month, off-a-month after that. We just don't know what's going to happen."