AK Steel may fire up soon

Published 11:14 pm Saturday, January 3, 2009

ASHLAND, Ky. — The first steps to bringing AK Steel’s Ashland Works back to operation appears to have begun.

On Monday about 40 laborers will be back at the Ashland mill to check out the furnace that had been idled since November. That’s when the workforce of almost 700 found out they would be without jobs during a temporary shutdown of the mill ordered by the steel plant’s West Chester, Ohio, headquarters.

The first wave of steelworkers will determine “what the furnace needs and what they need to prepare it and bring it back,” according to Mike Hewlett, president of the Ashland-based Steelworkers Local 1865, whose 696 members work at the West Works of AK Steel in Ashland.

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Next, crafts workers will be going to the basic oxygen department to check out the piping.

“There will be some more after this week in preparation to slowly start to bring back that furnace,” Hewlett said.

Starting Nov. 22, the first of 654 steelworkers found themselves without a job.