Bayou Steel shutting down: Hundreds of employees laid off without warning

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, October 2, 2019

LAPLACE — More than 370 employees are without a job following Monday’s mass layoff at Bayou Steel Group in LaPlace, which is confirmed to be shutting down Nov. 30, Parish President Natalie Robottom said.

It’s a devastating outcome for St. John the Baptist Parish families and the greater community. Bayou Steel was the No. 4 employer of St. John the Baptist Parish residents in 2018 and a major contributor to the tax roll, with 400 employees accounting for 2 percent of the local working population.

Robottom is working closely with the Louisiana Workforce Commission, the Governor’s Office and elected officials to develop a plan for those who were recently laid off.

Parish President Natalie Robottom speaks with those affected by the Bayou Steel layoff Tuesday morning in LaPlace.

“Today we learned that the Bayou Steel Group was closing its LaPlace Plant effective November 30, 2019. This will affect approximately 376 employees,” Robottom said in a statement released Monday evening. “The closure was not expected and the timing relative to the holidays is disappointing for everyone. We are obviously very concerned for the families involved and our community.”

According to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, as of Monday, there were approximately 49,355 job vacancies in similar capacities across Louisiana. On Tuesday, the Louisiana Workforce Commission Mobile Unit arrived in LaPlace at the LWC Office behind the Donut Hole to assist laid off workers with career services and job placement assistance.

A Rapid Response Team will schedule group orientation sessions to provide laid off workers with re-employment and unemployment information. Session times were not announced as of press time.

Until the sessions are scheduled, workers are encouraged to visit the nearest American Job Center. The LaPlace Office is located at 421 W. Airline Highway, Suite F in LaPlace.  To get a full list of all 60 AJC locations statewide, visit

Another measures taken by the Louisiana Workforce Commission is the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, a federal entitlement program that assists U.S. workers who have lost or may lose their jobs as a result of foreign trade. This program seeks to provide adversely affected workers with opportunities to obtain the skills, credentials, resources, and support necessary to become reemployed.

This week, the State was preparing to file an online petition with the U.S. Department of Labor on behalf of Bayou Steel Group. If certified, affected workers will begin receiving Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits and services such as: employment and case management services, skills assessments, individual employment plans, career counseling, supportive services and information on training and labor markets, weekly income support for workers enrolled in full-time training, reimbursement for relocation costs for re-employment outside the worker’s commuting area, and more.

“Our goal is and will continue to be to assist those who were laid off and it is our intention to consolidate our resources to assist all citizens affected,” Robottom said.

Former employees said the layoff came without warning. Robottom said that, based on the feedback from some employees, many were devastated or unprepared.

Louisiana Workforce Commission Mobile Unit arrived in LaPlace at the LWC Office behind the Donut Hole to assist laid off workers with career services and job placement assistance.

Governor John Bel Edwards added the following in regards to a possible reason for the closure:

“While Bayou Steel has not given any specific reason for the closure, we know that this company, which uses recycled scrap metal that is largely imported, is particularly vulnerable to tariffs,” Edwards said. “Louisiana is among the most dependent states on tariffed metals, which is why we continue to be hopeful for a speedy resolution to the uncertainty of the future of tariffs. Meanwhile, we will do everything within our power to help those displaced workers.”

L’OBSERVATEUR did not receive a call back from Bayou Steel Group as of press time.

Located at 138 Highway 3217, Bayou Steel was founded in LaPlace in 1979. The first mill was commissioned in the same spot several years later, and recycling operations began in 1995.