Gerdau workers search for new jobs after mill's idling goes into effect

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Gerdau workers search for new jobs after mill's idling goes into effect

By Justin Jones Nov 15, 2016 


After the idling of a Calvert City, Kentucky, steel mill went into effect at the close of business on Tuesday, 130 people are unemployed.

In August, we first told you the Gerdau steel mill would stop production.

Todd Devine has a lot more time to focus on his duties as assistant fire chief at the Palma-Briensburg Fire Department. It's still hard for him to process why.

"It is emotional, very emotional," Devine said.

For 33 years, he supported his family by working at the Gerdau Steel Mill. Now he's one of the 130 employees without a job.

"There's not a lot you can say when they tell you your plant's closing. It's just something you've got to deal with and get over," Devine said.

A Gerdau spokesperson says the closure comes as the steel industry deals with significant losses, because more steel is being produced globally than can be sold. 

Nine employees will remain at the plant as late as Dec. 16 to remove all finished products and scrap material. On top of that, a maintenance crew of five to six employees will be there until a final decision is made on the future of the plant.

"With the wage that they were making, it'll be a long road, but it's not impossible," said Gina Johnston, regional program manager at the Kentucky Career Center.

Johnston says the average wage for these employees was $26 to $28 per hour. She's working with them in their search for new jobs.

"After 33 years, you become a family. So, you care about everyone down there, and it's hard to watch some of them who are going to struggle," Devine said.

Devine says he's found a new job, but his fellow workers are coping with much more than the loss of a job.

Right now, the company says it does not know if or when the mill will officially close.

The Kentucky Career Center will be at the mill from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday to help employees file for unemployment insurance.