Assistance efforts still underway for Bayou Steel employees

Published 11:10 am Thursday, October 10, 2019

LAPLACE — The unexpected closure of Bayou Steel, announced earlier this week with the sudden layoff of more than 350 employees, will have lasting ramifications on the St. John the Baptist Parish budget. Operations are expected to shut down permanently on or before Nov. 30, and it is yet to be determined how Parish administration, the St. John Sheriff’s Office and the local school system will adapt to approximately $1.5 million in cuts to local tax revenue.

Ongoing discussions will determine how and if Marathon Petroleum Company’s maturation onto the 2020 tax roll will ease the situation. However, less than one week out from the devastating incident, all hands are on deck to provide relief to hundreds of impacted employees, a scope Parish President Natalie Robottom said ranges far beyond the 376 laid off Bayou Steel employees.

“Clearly, when we’re dealing with government of this size and budgets the size we have, any type of reduction affects us. We are extremely concerned about that. However, my No. 1 concern are the employees that were laid off,” Robottom said.

“This is a traumatic event for the individuals involved. It was without notice, without pay, a lack of insurance and all things that help families to be whole. In addition, there are local vendors who have gone without pay who will suffer as well. There are contractors who work for those vendors. All the people who supply scrap metal will be impacted.”

In response, local businesses and people have stepped up to provide aid. Da King of Wingz and Popeyes of LaPlace are among the restaurants that have offered relief in the form of free food for impacted families. Express Employment Professionals Serving the River Region offered to help workers find new employment by calling or texting “Bayou Steel” to 225-644-9675.

A Facebook group called The Hope Chest is accepting clothing, uniforms and jackets, as well as non-perishables for Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets. There is at least one gofundme fundraiser open at

One of the employees laid off Monday told L’OBSERVATEUR the following:

“It’s hard for all of the families going through this right now, and it’s amazing how all of the load off employees are coming together to help each other search for jobs. Facebook is a huge contributor to helping us stick together and get through this tough time.”

Louisiana Federal Credit Union in LaPlace is offering financial assistance to impacted workers, and Robottom said she received information from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regarding mortgages and assistance.

Most of the assistance information will be funneled through the Louisiana Workforce Commission LaPlace office, located behind the Donut Hole at 421 W Airline Hwy Suite F. An LWC mobile unit was on-site by Tuesday morning to assist workers in building resumes and filling out job applications.

According to Robottom, local LWC director Tommy Scott said an excess of 200 laid off employees visited the LaPlace office within 48 hours of the announced closure. As of Sept. 30, LWC had 49,355 job vacancies in similar capacities statewide.

Ava Dejoie, secretary of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, attended a Wednesday press conference in LaPlace.

“Losing a job is similar to when you lose a loved one,” Dejoie said. “Losing a job is the death of what has traditionally been your livelihood.”

Dejoie said LWC has added two additional buttons at, one for impacted employees and contractors to register contact information, and another for employers to participate in the Hiring a Laid Off Worker (HALO) program.

““This is a steady pool of competent, capable, proven workers,” Dejoie said, adding LWC has funding available for employers to train new hires. She is in communication with the Department of Health and Hospitals to discuss offering healthcare benefits to workers.

In a release sent to parish administration on Tuesday, Bayou Steel stated the company had “conducted a reduction in force, idled most of its operations, and filed for protection under chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy code.”

The release stated the unfortunate situation was created by a severe lack of liquidity in the Company that rendered Bayou Steel unable to purchase raw materials. More information regarding the bankruptcy can be found online at

Robottom said Bayou Steel did not follow the normal process under the Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification Act, which would have allowed more time to assist employees that were going to be impacted.

“There are people working to hold them to the agreements they made in following the law, including that 60-day notice,” Robottom said. “There will be some ramifications for that, but our No. 1 focus is dealing with the employees.”

A job fair will took place at REGALA Gym in Reserve this week.

Dejoie said some employees have filed grievances that will have to be addressed in federal court.