Details emerge on Sparrows Point tin mill shutdown

The tin mill operation at the Sparrows Point steel plant in Baltimore County will begin its shut down later this month and be entirely suspended by the end of April, according to a letter from the top union representative for the tin mill.

"I met this morning with management to discuss the present and future plans for our Tin Mill," wrote Michael Baskerville in a letter with Friday's date to mill workers. "The Tin Mill is being put into what is called Asset Preservation Mode, because of the loss of annual contracts."

Early operations will begin shutting down "on or about March 24th," he wrote. Operations that are at the end of the tin-making process will be wrapped up by May.

Voluntary layoffs are expected, though arrangements are being made to absorb tin mill employees in other parts of the steel plant, the letter said.

The letter's contents were confirmed by said Chris MacLarion, vice president of United Steelworkers Local 9477, which represents workers at the Baltimore County steel mill.

Though Baskerville said he expected the tin mill to re-start operations "as early as next year," MacLarion said the plant may re-open as soon as late fall.

Likewise, 80 to 90 people will be laid off from the plant by Baskerville's count and MacLarion said he anticipates a far lower number of layoffs from the temporary closure.

Baskerville did not return a phone call Friday evening.

The Sparrows Point steel plant closed in late-December and reopened in mid-January after RG Steel received fresh capital from its owner, The Renco Group Inc., and Cerberus Capital Management LP, a New York private equity firm.

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