The United States Steel Corporation (NYSE: X), more commonly known as U.S. Steel, is an American integrated steel producer with production operations in the United States, Canada, and Central Europe. The company was the world's 15th largest steel producer in 2014.
The company was renamed USX Corporation in 1986 and back to United States Steel Corporation in 2001 when the company spun off the oil & gas business of Marathon Oil and the steel business of U.S. Steel to shareholders. In 2001 it was still the largest domestically owned integrated steel producer in the United States, although it produced only slightly more steel than it did in 1902, after significant downsizing in the 1980s.
J. P. Morgan and attorney Elbert H. Gary founded U.S. Steel on March 2, 1901 (incorporated on February 25) by combining Andrew Carnegie's Carnegie Steel Company with Gary's Federal Steel Company and William Henry "Judge" Moore's National Steel Company for $492 million ($14.16 billion today). At one time, U.S. Steel was the largest steel producer and largest corporation in the world. It was capitalized at $1.4 billion ($40.30 billion today), making it the world's first billion-dollar corporation. The company headquarters was established in 1901 in the Empire Building in New York City, purchased from the estate of Orlando B. Potter for $5 million.
In 1907 US Steel bought its largest competitor, the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company, which was headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. Tennessee Coal was replaced in the Dow Jones Industrial Average by the General Electric Company. The federal government attempted to use federal antitrust laws to break up U.S. Steel in 1911, but that effort ultimately failed. In its first full year of operation, U.S. Steel made 67 percent of all the steel produced in the United States. One hundred years later, its shipments accounted for only about 8 percent of domestic consumption.
According to author Douglas Blackmon, the growth of U.S. Steel and its subsidiaries was highly dependent in the South on the labor of black workers and convicts. The company could obtain and exploit black labor at a fraction of the cost of white labor by taking advantage of the Black Codes and discriminatory laws passed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Southern states after the Reconstruction era. U.S. Steel had agreements with more than twenty counties in Alabama to obtain the labor of its prisoners, often paying locales nine dollars a month for workers who would be forced into their mines through a system of convict leasing. This practice continued until at least the late 1920s. Hundreds of thousands of forced laborers, particularly poor black men (though also children), built the company into the 'titan' for which it became known. While these individuals were seldom 'guilty' of anything, these workers did not receive payment or recognition for their work and thousands died from abuse, malnutrition, and dire working and living conditions .
The Corporation, as it was known on Wall Street, was distinguished by its size, rather than for its efficiency or creativeness during its heyday. In 1901, it controlled two-thirds of steel production and, through its Pittsburgh Steamship Company, developed the largest commercial fleet on the Great Lakes. Because of heavy debts taken on at the company's formation—Carnegie insisted on being paid in gold bonds for his stake—and fears of antitrust litigation, U.S. Steel moved cautiously. Competitors often innovated faster, especially Bethlehem Steel, run by U.S. Steel's former first president, Charles M. Schwab. U.S. Steel's share of the expanding market slipped to 50 percent by 1911. James A. Farrell was named president in 1911 and served until 1932.
U.S. Steel ranked 16th among United States corporations in the value of World War II production contracts. Production peaked at more than 35 million tons in 1953. Its employment was greatest in 1943 when it had more than 340,000 employees.
The federal government intervened to try to control U.S. Steel. President Harry S. Truman attempted to take over its steel mills in 1952 to resolve a crisis with its union, the United Steelworkers of America. The Supreme Court blocked the takeover by ruling that the president did not have the constitutional authority to seize the mills (see Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer. President John F. Kennedy was more successful in 1962 when he pressured the steel industry into reversing price increases that Kennedy considered dangerously inflationary. In the postwar years, the steel industry and heavy manufacturing went through restructuring that caused a decline in US Steel's need for labor, production, and portfolio. Many jobs moved offshore. By 2000, the company employed 52,500 people.
In the early days of the Reagan Administration, steel firms won substantial tax breaks in order to compete with imported goods. But instead of modernizing their mills, steel companies shifted capital out of steel and into more profitable areas. In March 1982, U.S. Steel took its concessions and paid $1.4 billion in cash and $4.7 billion in loans for Marathon Oil, saving approximately $500 million in taxes through the merger. The architect of tax concessions to steel firms, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), complained that "we go out on a limb in Congress and we feel they should be putting it in steel." The events are the subject of a song by folk singer Anne Feeney.
In 1984 the federal government prevented U.S. Steel from acquiring National Steel, and political pressure from the United States Congress as well as the United Steelworkers (USW) forced the company to abandon plans to import British Steel Corporation slabs. U.S. Steel finally acquired National Steel's assets in 2003 after National Steel went bankrupt. As part of its diversification plan, U.S. Steel had acquired Marathon Oil on January 7, 1982, as well as Texas Oil and Gas several years later. Recognizing its new scope, it reorganized its holdings as USX Corporation in 1986, with U.S. Steel (renamed USS, Inc.) as a major subsidiary.
About 22,000 USX employees stopped work on August 1, 1986, after the United Steelworkers of America and the company could not agree on new employee contract terms. This was characterized by the company as a strike and by the union as a lockout. This resulted in most USX facilities becoming idle until February 1, 1987, seriously degrading the steel division's market share. A compromise was brokered and accepted by the union membership on January 31, 1987. On February 4, 1987, three days after the agreement had been reached to end the work stoppage, USX announced that four USX plants would remain closed permanently, eliminating about 3,500 union jobs. The closure of many plants created the term "rust belt" for a region of idle and derelict factories.
Corporate raider Carl Icahn launched a hostile takeover of the steel giant in late 1986 in the midst of the work stoppage. He conducted separate negotiations with the union and with management, and proceeded to have proxy battles with shareholders and management. But he abandoned all efforts to buy out the company on January 8, 1987, a few weeks before union employees returned to work.
At the end of the twentieth century, the corporation was deriving much of its revenue and net income from its energy operations. Led by CEO Thomas Usher, U.S. Steel spun off Marathon and other non-steel assets (except railroad company Transtar) in October 2001. It expanded internationally for the first time by purchasing operations in Slovakia and Serbia.
In the early 2010s, U.S. Steel began investing to upgrade software programs throughout their manufacturing facilities.
In January 2012, U.S. Steel sold its Serbian mills outside Belgrade to the Serbian government, as their operations had been running at an economic loss.
On May 2, 2014, U.S. Steel announced an undisclosed number of layoffs affecting employees worldwide. On July 2, 2014, U.S. Steel was removed from S&P 500 index and placed in the S&P MidCap 400 Index, in light of its declining market capitalization.
U.S. Steel once owned the Northampton & Bath Railroad. The N&B was an 11-kilometer (6.8 mi) short-line railroad built in 1904 that served Atlas Cement in Northampton, Pennsylvania, and Keystone Cement in Bath, Pennsylvania. By 1979 cement shipments had dropped off such that the railroad was no longer economically viable, and US Steel abandoned the line. A 1.5-kilometer (0.93 mi) section of track was retained to serve Atlas Cement. The remainder of the right-of-way was transformed into the Nor-Bath Trail.
Through its Transtar subsidiary, U.S. Steel also owned other railroads that served its mines and mills. Those properties included the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railway in the iron-mining region of northeast Minnesota; the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern that served its Gary Works in northwest Indiana; the Birmingham Southern serving the U.S. Steel mill in Birmingham, Alabama; and the Bessemer & Lake Erie and Union railroads in western Pennsylvania that delivered iron ore and provided plant-switching services at its mill complex in Braddock, Pennsylvania and coke works in Clairton, Pennsylvania.
U.S. Steel also owned a large Great Lakes commercial freighter fleet, under the Pittsburgh Steamship Company, that transported its raw materials from the Duluth area to Ashtabula, Gary, and Conneaut, Ohio. The laker fleet, the B&LE, and the DM&IR were acquired by Canadian National after U.S. Steel sold most of Transtar to that company. The ships are leased out to a different, domestic operator because of United States cabotage law.
U.S. Steel is a former Dow Jones Industrial Average component, listed from April 1, 1901 to May 3, 1991. It was removed under its USX Corporation name with Navistar International and Primerica. An original member of the S&P 500 since 1957, U.S. Steel was removed from that index on July 2, 2014, due to declining market capitalization.
The Board of Directors considers the declaration of dividends four times each year, with checks for dividends declared on common stock mailed for receipt on 10 March, June, September and December. In 2008, the dividend was $0.30 per share, the highest in company history but on April 27, 2009, it was reduced to $0.05 per share. Dividends may be paid by mailed check, direct electronic deposit into a bank account, or be reinvested in additional shares of U.S. Steel common stock.
U.S. Steel maintained the labor policies of Andrew Carnegie, which called for low wages and opposition to unionization. The Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers union that represented workers at the Homestead, Pennsylvania, plant was, for many years, broken after a violent strike in 1892. U.S. Steel defeated another strike in 1901, the year it was founded. U.S. Steel built the city of Gary, Indiana in 1906, and 100 years later it remained the location of the largest integrated steel mill in the Northern Hemisphere. U.S. Steel reached a détente with unions during World War I, when under pressure from the Wilson Administration it relaxed its opposition to unions enough to allow some to operate in certain factories. It returned to its previous policies as soon as the war ended, however, and in a 1919 strike defeated union-organizing efforts by William Z. Foster of the AFL.
Heavy pressure from public opinion forced the Company to give up its 12-hour day and adopt the standard eight-hour day. During the 1920s, U.S. Steel, like many other large employers, coupled paternalistic employment practices with "employee representation plans" (ERPs), which were company unions sponsored by management. These ERPs eventually became an important factor leading to the organization of the United Steelworkers of America. The Company dropped its hard-line, anti-union stance in 1937, when Myron Taylor, then president of U.S. Steel, agreed to recognize the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, an arm of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) led by John L. Lewis. Taylor was an outsider, brought in during the Great Depression to rescue U.S. Steel, and had no emotional investment in the Company's long history of opposition to unions. Watching the upheaval caused by the United Auto Workers' successful sit-down strike in Flint, Michigan, and convinced that Lewis was someone he could deal with on a businesslike basis, Taylor sought stability through collective bargaining.
The Steelworkers continue to have a contentious relationship with U.S. Steel, but far less so than the relationship that other unions had with employers in other industries in the United States. They launched a number of long strikes against U.S. Steel in 1946 and a 116-day strike in 1959, but those strikes were over wages and benefits and not the more fundamental issue of union recognition that led to violent strikes elsewhere.
The Steelworkers union attempted to mollify the problems of competitive foreign imports by entering into a so-called Experimental Negotiation Agreement (ENA) in 1974. This was to provide for arbitration in the event that the parties were not able to reach agreement on any new collective bargaining agreements, thereby preventing disruptive strikes. The ENA failed to stop the decline of the steel industry in the U.S.
U.S. Steel and the other employers terminated the ENA in 1984. In 1986, U.S. Steel employees stopped work after a dispute over contract terms, characterized by the company as a strike and by the union as a lockout. In a letter to striking employees in 1986, Johnston warned, "There are not enough seats in the steel lifeboat for everybody." In addition to reducing the role of unions, the steel industry had sought to induce the federal government to take action to counteract dumping of steel by foreign producers at below-market prices. Neither the concessions nor anti-dumping laws have restored the industry to the health and prestige it once had.
During the 1948 Donora smog, an air inversion trapped industrial effluent (air pollution) from the American Steel and Wire plant and U.S. Steel's Donora Zinc Works in Donora, Pennsylvania.
"In three days, 20 people died... After the inversion lifted, another 50 died, including Lukasz Musial, the father of baseball great Stan Musial. Hundreds more lived the rest of their lives with damaged lungs and hearts. But another 40 years would pass before the whole truth about Donora's bad air made public-health history."
Today the Donora Smog Museum in that city tells of the influence that the hazardous Donora Smog had on the air quality standards enacted by the federal government in subsequent years.
Researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute have ranked U.S. Steel as the eighth-greatest corporate producer of air pollution in the United States (down from their 2000 ranking as the second-greatest). In 2008, the company released more than one million kg (2.2 million pounds) of toxins, chiefly ammonia, hydrochloric acid, ethylene, zinc compounds, methanol, and benzene, but including manganese, cyanide, and chromium compounds. In 2004, the city of River Rouge, Michigan and the residents of River Rouge and the nearby city of Ecorse filed a class-action lawsuit against the company for "the release and discharge of air particulate matter...and other toxic and hazardous substances" at its River Rouge plant.
The Company has also been implicated in generating water pollution and toxic waste. In 1993, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an order for U.S. Steel to clean up a site on the Delaware River in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania, where the soil had been contaminated with arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals, as well as naphthalene. Groundwater at the site was found to be polluted with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and trichloroethylene (TCE). In 2005, the EPA, United States Department of Justice, and the State of Ohio reached a settlement requiring U.S. Steel to pay more than $100,000 in penalties and $294,000 in reparations in answer to allegations that the company illegally released pollutants into Ohio waters. U.S. Steel's Gary, Indiana facility has been repeatedly charged with discharging polluted wastewater into Lake Michigan and the Grand Calumet River. In 1998 the company agreed to payment of a $30 million settlement to clean up contaminated sediments from a five-mile (8 km) stretch of the river.
With the exception of the Fairless Hills and Gary facilities, the lawsuits concern facilities acquired by US Steel via its 2003 purchase of National Steel Corporation, not its historic facilities.
The U.S. Steel Tower in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is named after the company and since 1970, the company's corporate headquarters have been located there. It is the tallest skyscraper in the downtown Pittsburgh skyline built out of the companies CorTen Steel. New York City's One Liberty Plaza was also built by the corporation as that city's U.S. Steel Tower in 1973.
When the Steelmark logo was created, U.S. Steel attached the following meaning to it: "Steel lightens your work, brightens your leisure and widens your world." The logo was used as part of a major marketing campaign to educate consumers about how important steel is in people's daily lives. The Steelmark logo was used in print, radio and television ads as well as on labels for all steel products, from steel tanks to tricycles to filing cabinets.
In the 1960s, U.S. Steel turned over the Steelmark program to the AISI, where it came to represent the steel industry as a whole. During the 1970s, the logo's meaning was extended to include the three materials used to produce steel: yellow for coal, orange for ore and blue for steel scrap. In the late 1980s, when the AISI founded the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI), the logo took on a new life reminiscent of its 1950s meaning.
The Pittsburgh Steelers professional football team borrowed elements of its logo, a circle containing three hypocycloids, from the Steelmark logo belonging to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) and created by U.S. Steel. In the 1950s, when helmet logos became popular, the Steelers added players' numbers to either side of their gold helmets. Later that decade, the numbers were removed and in 1962, Cleveland's Republic Steel suggested to the Steelers that they use the Steelmark as a helmet logo.
U.S. Steel financed and constructed the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, New York for the 1964 World's Fair. It is the largest globe ever made and is one of the world's largest free standing sculptures.
The Chicago Picasso sculpture was fabricated by U.S. Steel in Gary, Indiana, before being disassembled and relocated to Chicago. U.S. Steel donated the steel for the cathedral of St. Michael's in Chicago since 90 percent of the parishioners worked at its mills.
U.S. Steel sponsored The United States Steel Hour television program from 1945 until 1963 on CBS. U.S. Steel built both the Disney's Contemporary Resort and the Disney's Polynesian Resort in 1971 at Walt Disney World, in part to showcase its residential steel building "modular" products to high-end and luxury consumers.
U.S. Steel was also involved with Florida real estate development including building beachfront condominiums during the 1970s, such as Sand Key near Daytona Beach, Florida.
U.S. Steel has multiple domestic and international facilities.
Of note in the United States is Clairton Works, Edgar Thomson Works, and Irvin Plant, which are all members of Mon Valley Works just outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Clairton Works is the largest coking facility in North America. Edgar Thomson Works is one of the oldest steel mills in the world. The Company acquired Great Lakes Works and Granite City Works, both large integrated steel mills, in 2003 and is partnered with Severstal North America in operating the world's largest electro-galvanizing line, Double Eagle Steel Coating Company at the historic Rouge complex in Dearborn, Michigan.
U.S. Steel's largest domestic facility is Gary Works, in Gary, Indiana; Gary is also home to the U.S. Steel Yard baseball stadium.
U.S. Steel operates a tin mill in East Chicago now known as East Chicago Tin. The mill was idled in 2015.
U.S. Steel operates a sheet and tin finishing facility in Portage, Indiana, known as Midwest Plant, acquired after the National Steel Corporation bankruptcy. U.S. Steel acquired National Steel Corporation and operates Great Lakes Works in Ecorse, Michigan, Midwest Plant in Portage, Indiana, and Granite City Steel in Granite City, Illinois. In 2008 a major expansion of Granite City was announced, including a new coke plant with an annual capacity of 650,000 tons.
U.S. Steel operates Fairfield Works in Fairfield, Alabama (Birmingham), employing 1,500 people, and operates a sheet galvanizing operation at the Fairless Works facility in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania, employing 75 people.
U.S. Steel operates five pipe mills: Fairfield Tubular Operations in Fairfield, Alabama (Birmingham), Lorain Tubular Operations in Lorain, Ohio, McKeesport Tubular Operations, in McKeesport, PA, Texas Operations (Formerly Lone Star Steel) in Lone Star, TX, and Bellville Operations in Bellville, TX.
U.S. Steel operates two major taconite mining and pelletizing operations in northeastern Minnesota's Iron Range under the operating name Minnesota Ore Operations. The Minntac mine is located near Mountain Iron, Minnesota and the Keetac mine is near Keewatin, Minnesota. U.S. Steel announced on February 1, 2008 that it would be investing approximately $300 Million in upgrading the operations at Keetac, a facility purchased in 2003 from the now-defunct National Steel Corporation.
U.S. Steel has completely closed nine of its major integrated mills. The Ohio Works and Macdonald Works in Youngstown, Ohio closed in 1980, The Duquesne Works in Duquesne, Pennsylvania and The Ensley Works in Ensley, Alabama closed in 1984, The Homestead Works in Homestead, Pennsylvania closed in 1986, The Duluth Works in Duluth, Minnesota and Geneva Steel in Vineyard, Utah closed in 1987, The South Chicago's South Works closed in 1992, followed by The National Tube Works in Mckeesport, Pennsylvania closed in 2014
Internationally, U.S. Steel operates facilities in Slovakia (former East Slovakian Iron Works in Košice). It also operated facilities in Serbia – former Sartid with facilities in Smederevo (steel plant, hot and cold mill) and Šabac (tin mill).
U.S. Steel added facilities in Texas with the purchase of Lone Star Steel Company in 2007.
The company operates 2 joint ventures in Pittsburg, California with POSCO of South Korea.
U.S. Steel added facilities in Hamilton and Nanticoke, Ontario, Canada with the purchase of Stelco (now U.S. Steel Canada) in 2007.
The company opened a training facility, the Mon Valley Works Training Hub, in Duquesne, Pennsylvania in 2008. The state-of-the-art facility, located on a portion of the property once occupied by the company's Duquesne Works, serves as the primary training site for employees at U.S. Steel's three Pittsburgh-area Mon Valley Works locations. This site also served as the company's temporary technical support headquarters during the 2009 G20 Summit.