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Skeleton crew works Ormet’s Ohio smelter

Keywords: Tags  Ormet, USW, John Puskar, United Steelworkers union, bankruptcy court, Judge Mary F. Walrath, potlines, shutdown layoffs

CHICAGO — Only a skeleton crew of about 40 hourly workers and a "small" salaried work force remain on the job at Ormet Corp.’s smelter in Hannibal, Ohio, according to a United Steelworkers union official.

The bankrupt aluminum producer, also based in Hannibal, previously employed a minimum of some 650 workers to qualify for electricity discounts under the terms of an agreement with Columbus, Ohio-based utility American Electric Power Co. (AEP), said John Puskar, a staff representative for USW District 1, which represents workers in Ohio.

Apart from the skeleton crew, which is working to "bump" motors, winterize the plant and perform maintenance, "all the rest were laid off," Puskar said in an e-mail, adding that all six of Ormet’s potlines in Hannibal are now shut down. The company for several months had been running only two of the six, he said.

News of the reduced staffing levels at Ormet came as the company was granted another extension of its deadline to file a Chapter 11 reorganization plan, according to documents filed Oct. 16 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

Ormet now has until Feb. 20 to file a reorganization plan and until April 22 to gain creditors’ acceptance of the proposal, according to an order signed by Judge Mary F. Walrath.

The mass layoffs and the potline shutdowns came after Ormet failed to win approval for a lower fixed power rate or to gain permission to break its agreement with AEP so that it could buy electricity on the open market in 2014 (, Oct. 4).

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