Emotions run high after Sparrows Point worker kills himself

Facebook page of Local 9477 filled with comments after the death of a steelworker is announced.

Robert Jennings and his daughter  Jeanne Jennings

Robert Jennings in a 2008 photo with his daughter, Jeanne Jennings, at her wedding.

Photo by: Facebook

The suicide of a veteran steelworker – despondent over his future following the shutdown of the Sparrows Point mill – has shaken up workers and union officials.

“They just don’t really understand what all of this involving the job did to us,” said one worker on the Facebook page of United Steelworkers Local 9477, which exploded with comments yesterday after the union announced the death of 59-year-old Robert (Bob) Jennings.

“Sparrows Point was not just our job it was our life our family,” wrote another worker, who went on to urge fellow displaced steelworkers to seek help for feelings of depression. “No one will think any less of you for calling and saying hey I am having a rough time right now do you have a minute.”

Other comments: “He was part of my dads crew for 25 years. Great family man and friend. He will be missed.”
Daughter speaks out: See bottom of this article
For many the tragedy sparked not just sadness, but anger.

“Damnit, this shit is messing with everyone,” said one worker.

“I feel like sending the obituary along with a letter to Ira Rennert, Hilco, and the bankruptcy judge [all players in the steel mill bankruptcy],” commented a union officer.

“The end result of corporate greed runs deep, separation, divorce, substance abuse to mask the pain,” wrote another.

“Greed will destroy the mighty US!” was another Facebook comment.

“Just Snapped”

Deborah Jennings confirmed today that her husband shot himself Saturday in a shed on their property in southern Pennsylvania.

“I think he just snapped,” she said. “He was so sorry. He thought he was a failure. You work your whole life for your dream and they take your job away from you.”

Jennings said her husband was terrified that the “dream house” that they had built about eight years ago in Pennsylvania, just north of the Maryland border, would be taken by the bank.

“He talked to the job counselors in Baltimore County and they kept saying to him, ‘Don’t worry.’ To say don’t worry if you have a lot of bills, that doesn’t help. The government keeps raising taxes. Gas goes up, and people can’t make it.”

More than 1,000 steelworkers lined up at the Local 9477 Hall on Dundalk Ave. last August to hear that their jobs were gone.

More than 1,000 steelworkers lined up at the Local 9477 Hall on Dundalk Ave. last August to hear that their jobs were gone. (Photo by Fern Shen)

Jennings was well-liked and respected by other members of the close-knit central maintenance department, where he worked for more than three decades, said Joe McDermott, union rep for the department.

“I worked together with him for 22 years. He was a gifted welder. He was a dedicated worker. This is hard to take,” McDermott said today.

Chris MacLarion, vice president of Local 9477, added that he was “very afraid” that the Jennings suicide might not be the last.

“The younger guys can start over. But the long-term employee at Sparrows Point – the guys that came out of the old school – their attitude is, ‘I provide, I provide for my family.’ And now they can’t provide.”

Baltimore County – which is using a $1.8 million federal grant to set up a Steelworkers Assistance Unit in Essex – should consider reaching out to the more than 2,000 unemployed steelworkers with grievance and other psychological counseling, MacLarion suggested.

A number of steelworkers have told him that they are dismayed and confused by the red tape and “foot dragging” in the job search process.

Locals Should Get Demolition Work

According to McDermott, the real need among older steelworkers is not job counseling or long-term retraining, but immediate work.

Alice Lambert holds up a sign on Dundalk Ave. last summer expressing solidarity with steelworkers who lost their jobs. (Photo by Fern Shen)

Alice Lambert holds up a sign on Dundalk Ave. last summer expressing her feelings. (Photo by Fern Shen)

“I am five years younger than Bob, but if I go back to school for two years, I still don’t think I’ll get a job because of my age.”

McDermott said there’s plenty of work in retooling Sparrows Point for future use, such as a terminal for the Maryland Port Administration, where former steelworkers could play a vital role.

He suggested that County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Gov. Martin O’Malley  put pressure on the new owners to hire local crews to demolish Sparrows Point.

When purchasing the property at the bankruptcy auction last August, the Hilco-Environmental Liability Transfer venture freed itself from any obligations to hire ex-RG Steel employees or members of the Steelworkers union.

A handful of ex-employees were hired at a $20-an-hour flat rate to perform several specialized functions, but the Hilco-ELT group has indicated it would bring in out-of-state crews to handle the major demolition, which is expected to begin soon.

“These guys are coming in from Chicago and they want to use their own crews, while people of Baltimore County don’t have work and are hurting,” McDermott said.

Met at Sparrows Point

Bob and Deborah Jennings were born near the mill at Bowleys Quarters and Back River, respectively. They started going out around 1974 when Sparrows Point employed more than 20,000 workers.

“Bob was a welder in the shipyard and I worked at the Bethlehem Steel metallurgy lab,” Deborah said.

Shortly before the couple wed, Bob transferred to central maintenance, where he specialized in crane inspections and repairs, and Deborah found work elsewhere.

They raised two daughters and saved to buy an acre of land in Pennsylvania to build their “dream house.”

“Bob loved everyone he worked with at the Point,” Deborah recalled. “Nothing bothered him. He was happy.” She said he did not even seem terribly upset at first when he lost his job following the bankruptcy of RG Steel.

But he became increasingly anxious as he faced the job market, which required him to learn computer skills and take a test indicating his skill level. “They give you this crazy, crazy test. He stressed himself out over the test. He passed it with flying colors, but he still didn’t get the approval he needed.”

Not in Vain

He still harbored the hope – fanned by union officials – that a new operator would step in and buy the Sparrows Point plant from Hilco.

When that hope was officially dashed last month, he entered into periods of frantic activity followed by depression, according to Deborah. He worried that he would lose his unemployment benefits if the federal government fell off the “fiscal cliff.” He fretted that paperwork had not come through for a course he wanted to take at the York County (Pa.) School of Technology.

Deborah said he left a note behind saying he loved her and asking her to call 911.

“I hope he doesn’t die in vain,” she said, saying that her heart goes out to other former steelworkers and their families who are facing difficult times.

“I am not embittered, but I think the government, the Congress, no longer cares about steelworkers.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Robert Jennings’ daughter, Jeanne Jennings, put these comments on our Facebook page. With her permission, here they are, slightly edited for length.

I am the daughter of Robert Jennings. I truly want to thank you for writing this article. I really hope this article can give others strength to seek help before another tragedy takes place.

My father was a very hard working man. He worked his whole life to provide for my family. All he wanted was to retire and enjoy his life. He very much deserved to live the rest of his life living happily with his family.

After my father lost his job, he began to feel like a failure. He was afraid to lose the things that he worked his whole life for. I just wish he would have given my sister and I the chance to provide for him, like he had always done for us. I feel like a failure because I will never be able to repay him for the wonderful life that he had given us.

Please, people, if you are feeling depressed please seek help. Things get better, and really are never as bad as they may seem. Our family has been torn apart. I can’t even begin to imagine my future without my father.

Now it is too late. But it isn’t too late for some families who may be having the same feelings, though. Please I urge you to seek help because suicide is not the answer. I would give anything just to hold my father again and tell him how much I love him and tell him that he was my hero. I love you daddy and you will always be with me in my heart. I have always been so proud to be your daughter.

Thank you again for writing this article. I truly hope it helps other families.

Jeanne Jennings
Some people to call/contact if you are in crisis and need help

* National: @800273TALK 800-273-8255
* Local: Baltimore Crisis Response 410-752-2272

Mark Reutter, who wrote the definitive history of the Sparrows Point steel mill: Making Steel: Sparrows Point and the Rise and Ruin of American Industrial Might (2004), has been covering the mill for The Brew. He can be reached at


Be sure to check our full comment policy before leaving a comment.

  • alleah51

    fax that right over to dime bag mccall.

  • My2Cents69

    Sorry to whomever knew our brother that we lost.

    The county is spending  a $1.8 million federal grant to set up a Steelworkers Assistance Unit in Essex for counseling???
    How does that help?  Just think about that one.  1.8 Million can be split up between 2500 people that lost their jobs. 1.8 MILLION??? I bet the found the smallest shack in essex to rent out. How fast is that money going to dissapear. How fast will the union get it’s hands on it?

    • George Lopez

      Baltimore County should limit it to Baltimore County residents only. Why should Baltimore County foot the bill for people who don’t even pay Baltimore County taxes?

      • baltimorebrew

        FYI: The Steelworker Assistance Unit, which you are referring to, is funded by a FEDERAL grant.

      • displacedsteelworker

        Lopez it is not Baltimore County tax money it is a federal grant money being distributed by Baltimore County to assist RG workers.

    • displacedsteelworker

      It is not in Essex it is Eastpoint One Stop. As far as a place sat up for counselling not sure where Rutter got that info I do not believe that part of his article is accurate

      • baltimorebrew

        See last paragraph of this release from Baltimore County about office at 7930 Eastern Blvd., Essex:

      • displacedsteelworker

        The counseling is job seeking not grief as one may think because of the article. I do understand that grief counseling is always available through the heath department for all Marylander s not just ex RG employees. Just some clarification. Its all good. 

      • IronworkerSP

        You are correct, its in Eastpoint and East Point is in Dundalk, just Google map it. Mark was only quoting Kevin and Kevin is from Pikesville and his staff made a typo. Essex starts at the Back River Bridge. The press release has the wrong location name, no big deal.  We all know here Eastpoint Mall and can find the place.

        The center is very well run and they are helpful, its the best we have. Yes, it a long drive for the guys who live out in West Baltimore and up over the line in PA. Many of the guys moved to PA, so maybe Kevin can set up a northern area branch office so they do not have such a long drive? No one should give up on retraining, job searches, or be too proud to ask for help, but I can understand how overwhelmingly sad at times we all become. We must all move on and stop looking back.  I will never return to Sparrows Point even if they offer me the best job in the world, the Point has too many bad vibes and has hurt too many people over the years. This latest news is only a long line of bad endings coming out of the Point.

        Our family sends its prayers and thoughts to Bob’s family, he was a good man and may God bless him and his family.

    • Steelworker1974

       1.8 million divided by 2500 equals about $700 per individual. Not a whole lot to offer another career. I guess we should bow down and thank Mikulski, Cardin, and Obama. PS – Where does a retrained 60 year old apprentice electrician with no experience get a job?

      • My2Cents69

        My point in saying that was that not all of those 2500 will take advantage of the counseling services and the other crap that this is going to pay for. Not even half the amount will. So it’s 1.8 million of useless money.

        A buddy of mine, 58 years old, got a job at a steel mill. The direct related experience (and the lack of younger drug free candidates) helped him get that job. There are steel mills all over the US that need experienced people. I know people will say, “But you have to move”. I say, WHATS THE ALTERNATIVE? This is as real as it gets people. This is where you have to prove whether or not you are willing to do what it takes to provide for your family. You can’t expect to stay there and get a job where none exists and opportunities lack. Believe me, picking up and moving does suck ass at any age, but I did it. Just got to take one step at a time.

        • OxygenMaskedMan

          If I were younger and not sick I would move as far from Dundalk and SP as I could. Why? Because things are only going to get worse in the communities of 21219 and 21222. No real jobs planned other than trucking centers, bulk chemical and trash “recycling  dumps. The “CLEAN ENERGY” the economic development committees are planning for Sparrows Point is nothing more than a trash dump, tire and building material recycling, and  waste chemicals they can incinerate to get rid of them and generate a little electric from toxic laden steam and smoke in the process. Great place to raise a family! Live Work and Die in Dundalk! 

           At least Southeastern Baltimore County will not loose its top rank as the Cancer Capital of America. Since they are in the statue building mode, maybe they should build a Statue in Turners Station or Dundalk to celebrate our proud history of unchecked pollution and rabid cancers?  Can we go any lower?Curtis Bay can take no more chemical or toxic dumps as they are full up. What better place then SP to locate these types of toxic industries relabeled as CLEAN ENERGY?  No wonder everyone is so depressed at what they have planned for the Point. Maybe they can retrain us to learn how to sort through the toxic trash before it goes into the ovens?  I just hope that the toxic clouds and dust does not blow over on to the highly paid marine terminal workers eyeing up the mill? Let’s face the music friends, the Point is too toxic to place anything other than bulk chemical imports (take a look at the newly rising mountains of black powder at the RT. 151 entrance to North Point State Park, yes next to the nature preserve, behind Micky’s Gas, some type of bulk storage terminal is rising up next to the cattails). This is just a mild taste of what to expect our former steel community to turn into.  A few low paying filthy jobs and large cash flow for the connected and powerful. Its no wonder the economic news is becoming more depressing. The rich get richer and the working families cannot make ends meet. The working middle class in America is finished, we are being taxed to death, no real jobs, just dead end low paying service sector jobs, and the ones still making a dollar must give most of our paychecks away to support the almost 50% of the population getting free benefits.  But the government will sell my house at public auction if I am late on my water bill!!!  I am in total agreement that this country is going to hell in a hand basket.  No good news anywhere and our rulers cannot understand why we wake up in a cold sweat and doom and gloom is our constant companion. 

  • H S

    The state of MD exacts the ultimate price. Sparrows Points demolition is a direct result of the corrupt (and likely illegal) backroom manipulation of the auction process by the state government on behalf of the omnipotent real development industry. This makes me sick to my stomach. I’ll bet they’ll be icicles in Hell before the Sun ever prints this.

  • Jamie Sanderson

    My condolences to the family. Thank you for exposing the tragic reality of corporate greed.

  • unioncaught

    We did not hear from Joe Rosel or  Dave McCall who many feel it’s their faults of this suicide. There was no reason for McCall to stop our earned benefits before just signing off on them away. Rosel was promising a new white knight every meeting. Even a month ago he told the membership that the new company will need 1000 Steelworkers to restart the plant. The family should sue the union on Bob Jennings death.

    • bocephusjr

      unioncaught you should be hung up . . . for trying to politicize a man’s death.  Let it go brother and move on!!!!

  • tablecolcks

    i  worked  with my friend  bob  in the shipyard in the 70s…then  in  the steel  mill  till i  retired…bob  was  a  realy  good  friend  at  work  and  a  realy  good  man….moe  moe

  • Dr. Raymond Boothe

    I am so very sorry to hear about this. The same situation happened when Weirton went down and a blast furnace employee killed himself. When a man loses his entire working life it is almost impossible to move on.

    What drives me crazy that the people involved in this situation are not lifting a finger to help out these employees. The State, the USW and Ira Rennert should be putting in thousands of dollars in employee benefits, job replacement help, mental health and other services. Instead they took the money and ran away. They are roaches of the highest order.

    No man or woman at Sparrows Point deserves to end like this. A death of a good man is not worth keeping Ira Rennert in a multi-million dollar mansion. This is the final straw. Its time for men and women with huge nuts to stand up and take back the rights of these workers. That is the only way justice will come. 

    God bless Bob and the rest of the workers at Sparrows Point.

  • ushanellore

    To be severed this way from their jobs and to have their identities and their financial security torn from them, has left the steel workers bereft of much comfort.  The sense of failure and sadness are overwhelming for some.  Unmoored and adrift, life loses meaning and joy.  What are we becoming, as a nation?  A land of predators, a band of thieves and kleptocrats at the top, for whom life is cheap and profit is everything?   They have given most of their lives to their jobs, these steel workers.  What is the thanks for that?  A society where few are praised, so many suffer punitive actions and damage, a society where few are supported at work, where labor laws are being shredded, where labor and management seem cut from the same cloth, where labor gains earned by the suffering and sacrifice of humans over decades are being eviscerated, where folks are being reduced to numbers, a whole lot shivering if they will be eliminated before their time is up, several underemployed and unable to raise a peep against injustices perpetrated against them by upper management, a society where each person is as disposable as toilet paper, is not a good place to be.  We obviously lost a lovely man in Mr.Jennings and we ought to cringe in shame that we inhabit a land where he felt so unhappy and isolated, so hopeless, he took his own life.  We are the poorer for such a loss.  I never knew Mr.Jennings but I send my condolences to his family and I beg other steel workers to stay put.  The fight for justice is long and arduous and this fight, today, will define who we are tomorrow.      

  • discer

    A tragic situation.  While his pain is over the pain his family is dealing with is just beginning. 

  • P Bennett

    My condolences to the Jennings family.  Many of us can relate to the difficult challenges this family were facing.  FYI:  To everyone, take FULL advantage of the programs available to find new employment.  These program are provided by the Fed. goverment (TRA TAA) and the State goverment (WIA). Most employers now accept applications on-line.  YOU must get familiar with setting up an account with these employers, setting up your personal profile and have a quality resume to up-load with your application.  I’ve found that most employers will respond back to you for interviews or inform you of your status.  You also might consider keeping in contact with these companies on the status of your application. If granted a job interview, send thank you letters to persons of contacts for these companies.  You want to convince them of why your are the best candidate for the position.

    I am 59 yrs old, with 39 yrs @ Beth Steel – Rg Steel.  I’m in the process of being hired by a company in the Baltimore area.  I hope my comments will help many of you who are seeking new employment..

  • CMfriend

    Melancholly and the infinite sadness that the end of a mill may be the end of all of us.  Find a new path and leave the scrapping of steel and mortar to the vultures.  We need to save our friends and souls by cleansing our anger and deceit. Bob will be missed by his friends in the Ironworkers and Central Maintenance. RWT

  • Mark Adams

    The daughter’s comments are very gracious. 

  • displacedsteelworker

    Ira now wants to file to get the courts to approve a motion filed that would require all companies and vendors that RG paid 90 days prior to filing for bankruptcy.  his guy in unbelievable. I agree he should have another day in court but it should be because his is  charged with the wrongful death of Mr Jennings not to try and get money back from people he screwed. 

    • Nashorn

      The 90 day preference “clawback” period is standard in bankruptcy. It was put in place to give all creditors a shot at whatever assets remain and to defend against fraudulent or preferential payments being made just prior to filing.

      Great examples of fraudulent payments are dividends or bonuses paid to friends and family, examples of preferential payments would be a big vendor getting wind of what’s happening, contacting a buddy in Accounts Payable and demanding payment prior to anyone else.

      The clawback period aims to recover all of these moneys and then re-dole them out equally across classes of credits.

      From what I read here, business as usual at the Pint was full of insider and back-room deals, maybe worse, so I can see how this provision might be important.

      Finally, I doubt that Ira is behind this, more likely the creditors committee, they’re the ones standing the most to gain.

      • FormerBethSteelEmp

         Regarding the “clawback” period, it is my understanding that the entire plant was in a state of chaos at the end. After just a few months under the leadership of RG Steel, the plant was selling receivables and eventually borrowing against in-process inventory to pay bills. The misguided management team of Goodwin and Mikaloff ran the plant completely out of money and available credit. After a cash infusion, the management team continued to operate the plant in the same manner until they were again out of money. Deals were struck to pay creditors needed for day-day operations while others were simply not paid. Even the deals to pay critical suppliers were eventually reneged upon. I have never seen in decades of business dealings a management team more incompetent.

        • My2Cents69

          Look man, you got to step back and realize that Renert didnt WANT to pay his bills. It wasn’t about management screwups or union politics, Renert wanted these mills closed, PERIOD. He’s a billionaire with a capital B and an ass with a capital A. He didnt pay his bills from the start. He stiffed everyone. He screwed management, union, contractors, and creditors all the same except for a few very top managers that got paid off in the end. If you want to blame anyone, blame Renert. It starts at the top. There is no way you can think that he paid for this company, being a billionaire, gave it his best shot, and somehow mishandled his business . I think he made out more by crippling this collection of steel mills. If management was struggling towards the end, it’s because their lifeline dried up – INTENTIONALLY.

          • FormerBethSteelEmp

             Who urged the workers to support a deal offered by Ira Rennert, a man who had already taken the Warren plant into bankruptcy years earlier? Who called the deal, the last best deal after turning down better deals from other companies? Who called Rennert an owner, not a renter even though past history suggested otherwise? What organization refused to work with any serious operator? What organization sat idly by while a liquidator bought the plant? Now ask yourself who really wanted these plants closed?

          • Walter

            Do not put all the blame on Mr. Ira because it started years ago when Beth Steel sold off all of our ore and coal mines.  With no cheap captive raw materials the downward spiral began.  They were covering their loses to keep their stockholders in the dark. Beth Steel was stockholder owned and to hold up a good face and cover the their tails they did not put any money into upgrades (other then the NCM).  Everything started to fall apart and we fell behind the Japs, Europeans, Chinese, and the South Americans.

            Beth Steel dumped us to an insider Mr. Wilbur, all the Beth big shots got out with golden parachutes. All of the other owners got burned and were happy to unload the place after they found out the books had been cooked for decades. Maybe even Mittial was behind the DOJ decree so that Alexie thought he was getting a fair bargain by paying over a billion at a court ordered fire sale? Then Alexie had a rude awakening too and closed down our hot side and sold it to Mr. Ira after by taking a billion dollar loss! Mr. Ira got the deal of a lifetime and wanted to be the next Andy Carnegie steel baron, but could not keep the red ink off of the books too.  Everyone of us, from management, workers, government officials could not believe it was as bad as it was at the Point for so many years.  Now we all have egg on our faces, so we were all suckered in as much as Mr. Ira and the rest of them were! We were worst off than we ever imagined. We did not believe Mark and Dr. Boothe how screwed up the Point was.  But that is all changed now the the ugly truth of how far behind Sparrows Point really was compared to even our third world competitors. We could only do the impossible for so long and the truth finally caught us with all of us when the well went dry.   


    I worked with Bob, a wonderful man, a wonderful soul who HAS a wonderful spirit.
    He is Spirit now, with our FATHER WHO IS IN HEAVEN.
    The only one who deserves blame of this tragic act is the DEVIL. His job is to Steal, Kill and Destroy, and he is on his job 24/7, as we can see by the events of the past few months.  
    To all my Rg Steel/ Beth Steel EXCOWORKERS dont let evil tempt you TRUST IN GOD , and see what he has for you to do.

  • Elizabeth Kennedy

    This is so sad and it is happening everywhere. Having lost my adult son recently, this is killing so many of us and it is not just Sparrows Point.  It is everywhere.  This world right now appears pretty dismal and anyone wonders why anyone is depressed.  My thoughts are with this family.

  • unioncaught

    The $500,000 left in the local union treasury needs to help the members before another tragedy like this happens again. There is still no mention about Jennings suicide on the unions website. He paid union dues for 35 years and the only website that speaks out is the Baltimore Brew. 

    • tablecolcks

      what would you like then to do with the 500k ? that is money that has been paid for 100 yrs  by  over  100s of thousands of people that worked there  and paid dues at one time or onother

      • OxygenMaskedMan

        MoeMoe the State Delegate is proposing a statue of the Steelworkers at the entrance to the mill at Wharf road. Talk of a Baltimore County waterfront park next to the Yacht Club with fishing pier, boat ramps, and picnic tables is a very appropriate and fitting memorial to all of the men and women who sacrificed so much to keep the mill running. Not only will the park be dedicated to the steelworkers, it will benefit a community  environmentally raped for over 100 years by the plant’s robber baron owners. 

        Did someone forget that the government is broke too and they are even selling off the Wise Ave. county police station and rec center to raise funds for our schools (this is a great idea too)!  

        I am all for the Steelworkers statue and adjoining park, it would be nice for the union to pitch in with the money to help fund this project. At least you will see that your money is being used to build something to honor the mill workers and not going to Las Vegas junkets.

        • tablecolcks

          yes..that money will represent all of us and past menbers

    • BillatSP

      Mybe the union could donate at to the Steelworkers statue and park?

      • IronworkerSP

        Bill this is a great idea!  The Delegate and County Executive could get us the land at the Wharf Road cloverleaf for the park to locate the Steelworker’s Statue and Memorial Park. We should all support this NOW because soon the mills will be removed and the ground completely cleared of anything to remind us that a steel mill complex once stood at Sparrows Point where 30,000 worked day and night.

        Using the leftover dues money is the best use to honor all who worked, lived and died making iron and steel for America! County and State Recs and Parks money along with small private donations can make it work. The Senator said that the DNR  funds small boat ramps and parking. Add all this together and the Steelworker’s Statue Park project could be pulled off without breaking the already broken bank.

        To show that this is not a pipe dream here is the story reported in the Dundalk Eagle. With their kindness I will pass the only positive story coming out of SP in years along to all of our steelworkers. We need to get the word out about the Statue and Steelworker’s Park project and thank our Delegates and Kevin for thinking of something positive to honor our Steelworker’s 
        Wednesday, 02 January 2013 12:24by Bill GatesIf the steel industry is truly finished at Sparrows Point — and every indication is that it is — then some people feel the era shouldn’t pass unnoticed.    One of them is Del. Joseph “Sonny” Min-nick, who wants to introduce legislation in the upcoming General Assembly calling for a monument to steelworkers and their contributions over the past century.    “There’s 100 years of history at that mill, and no one has talked about recognizing it yet,” Minnick said last week.    “Some sort of monument should be erected on North Point Boulevard to honor the contributions the steel mill and the steelworkers have made to this county, state and nation.”    With the project pretty much still in the inspiration stage, Minnick doesn’t have any specifics on the type of monument and what would be featured on it. In fact, he intends for those aspects to be handled by others.    He does think it should be located on North Point Boulevard near the entrance to the old mill.    Minnick has already pitched the project to County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s office, and “they think it’s a good idea,” he said.    “After we get in session, we’ll form some kind of group, meet and talk about it,” Minnick said.    “That mill made steel through two world wars and served as the economic engine for the entire area. It would be sad if we did nothing to honor this industry and these men.” 

    • alleah51

      dime bag dave says serve the boys up again.

      • Lblastfurnace

        Take the money that is left and go after ira. The union should take him to court for our vaction and serverance pay that he signed a contract and agreed to pay. Go after that son of a bitch, do something with our union dues besides paying for you guys to sit down at the union hall.

  • fordtrkfan

    I have not been on in a while, got on to see how things were going and saw this article. I must say that I am very saddened. I was aware of all the unfortunate news about the Point, but this is truly sad news.

    Have faith in yourselves and trust that you can get through this. It may take some time, it may be a fight, but most of you have been fighting for a long time!

    Some have gotten new jobs already, some are still training to get new jobs. Learning new skills is definitely a challenge. In the end, it may be worth every second that you put into.

    My best wishes to the family and friends. Also to the rest of you in getting a new job!

    Stay strong, and conquer!

  • Lblastfurnace

    The local union is dead, they can not set in front of us anymore at meetings promising us some one is going to buy the place. The government is totally to blame, when we were mittal they stepped in and made them sell us and they kept werrington steel in west virginia. We were sold to severstal and they were supposed two run us for two years. So they got a loan from the government and buildt a new plant in columbus mississippi. They took our customers there and sold the left over plant to ira rg steel, he was only looking for a write off and never intended on spending to much of his own money. So how come the government dont step up and help us, johnny o and his son. Ken kamaniski, norman stone, barbara mukulski, minick, omalley and cardin all did nothing we walked DC and annapolis working with all of them help get them elected stood on corners holding signs for them to help us. We did fund raisers and collected money to help everybody. To hell with spell check you get the point.

    • alleah51

      they stayed until they could suck up the last paycheck.

  • Walter

    I talked to these politicians and they are as upset and feel as helpless as the rest us. They helped us when there was a steel mill to keep going, but they cannot help us when  it was realized that it would cost billions to bring Sparrows Point up to speed to compete with the newer mills in the South and mega mills in China and South America.

    I was the last holdout that believed we still were the biggest and the best at SP, but after reading the papers and listening to the facts and not what I wished, there is no way in hell that any union leader or elected politician can reverse the Global market place to make the investors dump billions into the Point when the market is dead and even if it was not we still could not compete because we are too far from the ore and coking coal supplies that out competitors own and control. 

    I am still going to stand on the street corners for our local politicians because they did more than expected of them to keep the wolf away. They cannot do the impossible, be happy they are funding the retraining and have moved on with a new vision for Sparrows Point.  I really do like the fresh new ideas that the planners are coming up with.  I give in, its time to move on and we should all consider the new ideas our politicians have.  Maybe a Cheesecake Factory, Nascar, Casinos, and a Cruise Ship/ Container Marine Terminal would not be so bad after all?  Is clear the mill is being shredded as we speak.  The past is killing us, we must all move on and think out of the box or we are doomed.

    • alleah51

      you mean it took you that long to realize its over.

  • unioncaught

    The union officials who gave us false hope of the plant reopening must feel guilty right now. They kept getting paid from the local union treasury for months after the shutdown having members believe there would be a buyer for the plant. The union should have used this money for their members bills instead of insisting they get paid a full 40 hour work week when there was no one else working. There is still no mention of Bob Jennings on the unions website.

    • Walter

      Was it false hope or were they like Walter’s boys too and could not believe the potential buyers were just window shopping? Like Walter said, all the tire kickers were made to sign confidentiality agreements and this only fueled the rumors and speculation. In all fairness to the union I think that they honestly believed the bull sh!% the prospective operators were slinging around about a start up coming.  Just look how the Boobie Brothers jerked around the union, workers, news outlets, and all our government elected officials with the big take over tent party at the Point. Then a few days later we all learned that they did not have a pot to piss in and walked away making fools of everyone. Can you blame them and those that think like Walter and the other guys that think that it is impossible for anyone not to want the Point and keep it going as usual?  They were only hoping for the best for us and did not want it to end up this way because they had as much or more to loose then us.

      Old habits are hard to break and its just starting to sink in with the older guys and some union leaders that the entire mill is going to be leveled flat like the old GM Assembly plant on Broening Highway. ELT and Hilco are using their same proven methods to wipe the mills off of the face of Sparrows Point. Mark better get his camera down there soon to record the buildings falling because the burners are saying they have a lot of the prep done to start bringing the first of them to the ground. Should be quite a show.

      The Facebook site did note Bob’s passing and other guys that passed plus Dewey’s death. Not pleasant news but it must be known so we can say a prayer.

    • formermtm

      Union officials feeling guilty ????   Did you just fall off the turnip truck ? LOL

  • casbra

    Union meeting canceled this month and probably from this time forward.  The top 5 got approval from the membership until the January meeting to keep getting paid.  Well, since there is no January meeting, what does that mean for them?  I think I know, they will NOT lay themselves off and what is it their doing now?  HMMMM…  What a shame it is that everyone has been laid off and looking for work, everyone is struggling to survive, people are taking their own lives because of this mess and we have a band of theives taking advantage of a situation by paying themselves basically without a governing body now.  This makes me completely sick.  They are no better then the ones they claimed were so bad!!!  Shame on all of you!!!  God Bless the Jennings family, outside of the top 5, there is someone who truly cares!!!

  • unioncaught

    Lets hope the family gets a part of the settlement if the members win their pending lawsuit against the international union. The international union should have fought to preserve our health care,severance and sub pay.

    • alleah51

      how do you sue moorons

  • Bruce Brown

    who has info for the lawyer, contact info, etc about a lawsuit?
    who is doing a suit against the local to force them to sell all assets and distribute all funds to the members?

    • bocephusjr

      contact  Maclarion i think he’s handling the lawsuit.

  • FormerBethSteelEmp

    There was an article in the financial press last week about fast-track bankruptcies. RG Steel was mentioned. The article mentioned that Wells Fargo and RG Steel management supported the fast track bankruptcy; Wells Fargo to stop the cash drain and RG management to get a new owner as quickly as possible.  The plan backfired. It was reported that Wells Fargo only got back about 200 million of the 400 million owed; consequently, unsecured creditors will most likely get nothing. As far as getting a new owner, the fast-track process resulted in insufficient time to put together a bid for anyone interested in operating the plant or parts on the plant.

    • George

      200 million is a lot of money to be owed. The mill only went for 72.5 million, so its time to get Wells Fargo to have the courts place a stop work order on any demo at the mill until they can review the case. This would stop the planned demolition of all core iron and steel making assets. The new owners can still demo non-essential assets to keep their cash flowing. This could be a win-win for everyone because the mill could be started up again, the creditors get paid when the mill is once again producing iron and steel products, and the new owners now own a working steel mill again!  How can anyone loose?  

      Something must be is the wind, because none of the supporting services like DTE, Air Products, Voest Alpine, and Maryland Pig have picked up and left town?  Could it be that the creditors and the new owners are holding back on the demo work in anticipation for some form of restart? The uncertainly of the election is over and the economy is already seeing an upturn in consumer confidence. Why should the Point’s new owners settle for a onetime windfall from just scrapping the place when they could start the mill back up and reap continuing income from from steel production?  I am sure that the creditors would like to see the cash flowing again and the new owners will have long term income. The creditors pushing for a restart is the key to all of this.

      This is no time to kill the Goose that can lay Golden Eggs for another 125 years. Do the locals in Dundalk, Tuners Station and Fort Howard want the unknown of the trash burning “alternative energy” generating plants planned by the economic development gurus? Do they want the burning all of the East Coast’s trash and waste down in Sparrows Point, or to stay with what we know and just continue as is?
      For me the answer is easy.

    • George

      FormerBSEmp, The fast-track had nothing to do with it. The Brazilians were looking at Sparrows Point for years before the last sale and know more about our operation than some of the crackpots we had in the Main Office. Its time for all of the creditors to help resolve this situation by working to get the Point back to producing income again to generate real income and stop looking for a handout from Uncle Sam or the courts. They should be part of the solution and stop their whining to the financial news services. Stop crying over spilled milk and help clean up the mess they in a small part due to greed helped cause.

      • FormerBethSteelEmp

         George, the Brazilians were not the only group that looked a Sparrows Point. Any party interested in Sparrows Point needed to look at the assets, value the assets, determine how much to bid for the assets and arrange financing. One potential owner showed up in bankruptcy court indicating that they were willing to bid 10 million more than Hilco but because they could not get their financing together in time they were unable bid.

        I think you may be confused regarding the creditors. Wells Fargo was a secured creditor of RG Steel. RG Steel is defunct. Wells got what they could from the asset sales and they will need to write down the approximately 200 million they are still owed. Hilco-ELT now owns Sparrows Point. They may have some creditors but they are not in default as far as I know. Hilco is the owner and they will decide what to do with the plant.

        As far as the “crackpots” in the Main Office when RG Steel owned the plant, I think your assessment is correct. As I said in an earlier post, Goodwin who was friendly with McCall from their days together at USSteel and Mikaloff were some of the worst managers I have ever seen.

  • get_it_over

    Hilco is having a BIG auction this week and next on tools, equipment, machinery and etc.

  • wciheycraneman

    Been a long time mark, very sad article. Weve had one suicide and five stress realated deaths at warren

    • IronworkerSP

      Most of us are doing OK now that we finally realized that the Sparrows Point demo is being fast tracked and steel making has no future, so we just move on to something else and better for us. Sorry to hear that you lost so many to the stress, we have had several die, but I think that when you have over 2,000 on the books you are going to have some die due to age and health issues?

      Hilco is taking the steel making buildings down one by one and grinding them up into small mulch size pieces to be shipped out overseas. The big Air Products complex is also being cut up into small pieces too. Their plan is to clear and level the entire Sparrows Point peninsula, that way they will get top dollar from the developers who want a clean slate.

      The Sinter complex is just about scrapped out and they say that L Furnace will come down by the end of the year!

More of the Daily Drip »

Below the Fold

  • March 24, 2014

    • Last Thursday, I sent an email to the Mayor’s Office of Communications asking for some basic responsiveness: Please return our emailed queries and phone calls about stories. Please send us the same routine emails you send to other members of the media. Lately, more so than usual, they haven’t been. It’s a shame because, even [...]