Joe Rosel, president of United Steelworkers Local 9477 in Sparrows Point, said many workers were coming in today to sign up after hearing of the tight deadline set by bankrupt owner RG Steel.
"They're doing them like 10 or 15 at a time," he said. "It's a lot."
Tyrone Sharpe, a Sparrows Point maintenance worker, said he couldn't believe the short notice — starting a few days ago by word of mouth. He's three years shy of being eligible, but he's trying to contact colleagues who are old enough to qualify.
"I'm just calling people, just trying to spread the word, because they have to get down here by 4:30 today," he said.
RG Steel filed for bankruptcy protection in May. The Baltimore County steel mill's sale to a redevelopment firm and liquidation company was approved by a federal judge on Wednesday. The deal should close shortly.
The buyers said they hope to find a company who will restart manufacturing there, but the plant's future remains uncertain.