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Gerdau Ameristeel to lay off mill workers, executives

Girding for a continued downturn in construction, Tampa steelmaker Gerdau Ameristeel is laying off an unspecified number of workers at mills across the country.

"They want to be able to rightsize against what is a pretty steep decline in demand," company spokesman Ramiro Prudencio said Monday.

Steel demand began to slow in September, and the company has forecast weak demand in 2009.

Gerdau employs about 400 in Tampa. Asked if any higher-level executives were included in the cuts, Prudencio said, "This affects the organization at all levels, so you can assume yes." Another company spokesman, Santiago Fittipaldi, said a decision on whether there will be cuts in Tampa has yet to be made.

Mario Longhi, Gerdau president and chief executive officer, and other Tampa executives were not available for comment.

None of the company's 19 mills in the United States and Canada will be closed. Gerdau has about 11,000 employees, about 60 percent of them working at its mills.

Gerdau did not specify where jobs were cut, but news reports in Calvert City, Ky., Wilton, Iowa, and Whitby, Ontario, confirmed mills in those cities were affected. The company's sole Florida mill is in Jacksonville.

Steel prices have tumbled recently amid the economic contraction. Last week, Pittsburgh's U.S. Steel said it would temporarily idle three facilities and lay off 3,500 workers.

Jeff Harrington can be reached at harrington@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8242.

Gerdau Ameristeel to lay off mill workers, executives 12/08/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 8, 2008 10:42pm]
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