The Lifeline of Granite City: US Steel


Bailee Palmisano, Staff Writer

When you ask people who have lived in Granite City over the years, “What is one of the most valuable assets to your town?,” the answer is undoubtedly the Granite City Steel Mill. Granite City Steel, now known as US Steel Granite City Works, was founded in 1901. Currently, US Steel’s Granite City location produces around 2.8 million net tons of raw steel every year. The mill produces steel to make products that we use in everyday life such as automobiles, appliances, industrial machinery, and construction equipment. With an operation this large, it requires a lot of employees. Almost half of all employees at Granite City Works live in the Granite City area. Therefore, any layoffs or idling of the facility would have a huge financial impact on our town.  

Granite City Works is vital to many families and companies. So if the mill is forced to close its doors, what will that mean for our local businesses and our school district? Superintendent of District 9, Jim Greenwald, said, “With working in downtown, at lunch time you can’t go out to eat or into any business without seeing a US Steel worker with their ID around their neck or hardhat on.” The businesses around the mill have a high percentage of mill workers coming in and out each day. They will lose lots of their daily business if Granite City Works shuts down.

If I walked down the halls in every school in Granite City, there would be family after family being affected by the mill possibly idling.”

— Jim Greenwald

Greenwald said, “If I walked down the halls in every school in Granite City, there would be family after family being affected by the mill possibly idling.” 40% of Granite City citizens are employed in some capacity at the local mill. Greenwald said, “This all really hits home with me. My grandfather came to the United States just to be employed at US Steel.”

If Granite City Works closes, District 9 will take a huge hit. Greenwald also stated that the tax revenue from US Steel’s Granite City Works feeds into District 9. Without the mill and its tax dollars, the district will suffer. Individual families will struggle without a weekly salary, and there will be less money spent in our area because less money is being brought in, and there will be fewer tax dollars for the entire city. US Steel Granite City Works is the lifeline of our town.

I personally am living through the recent US Steel layoff. My father, Brian Palmisano, is a current laid off employee. He checks the status of the mill weekly with hopeful optimism that they will not idle the whole facility and that workers will soon return to their duties. Our family income has been dramatically reduced and so has our spending. When I asked my dad why he thought these changes were happening, he said, “There are multiple factors for what is happening right now. One is oil prices are down and there is less drilling. Two is that the union contract is up. Three, the government is allowing too much subpar foreign steel to be dumped in the United States, which is driving the steel prices down in the US.” It is obvious that there has to be a bigger change nationally to affect what is happening at the local level.

We have no idea what the future holds for US Steel Granite City Works. All we can do right now is hope and pray that the mill returns to full force soon. In the meantime we wait and try to come together as a community. Superintendent Jim Greenwald offered a list of community services to help families in need. Some of those services include Christmas basket distribution, the Salvation Army, and other local social agencies. The mill is integral to the success of Granite City, but it’s not the only thing that holds this town together. We are a great community with strong citizens that will come together and rally to support each other.