Union rep: Work stopped at Columbia foundry

Work has stopped at Colonial Metals Co. in Columbia and its workers have been laid off, said Leroy Atwater Jr., a representative of the United Steelworkers Union.

The layoffs took place June 1, Atwater told the Business Journal Friday. The union represents about 50 steelworkers at Colonial Metals, which employs just under 100 people overall all.  

“I’m still trying to work through some of the details and figure out what’s behind the plant closing,” said Atwater, who said he has spoken briefly with the president of Colonial Metals, Craig Friedman.

Efforts by the Business Journal to reach Friedman have not been successful. Phone calls to Colonial Metals were not answered, and voice messages were not returned. 

Atwater said he received a phone call from Friedman on the morning of June 1. Friedman informed Atwater that the plant was closing, Atwater said. 

Workers were under the impression that the company was closing temporarily because it was having trouble getting scrap metal, Atwater said. The company makes and sells brass, copper and bronze ingots, which it makes using scrap metal, according to its website.

Friedman said he was trying to work out something with his bank to stay open, Atwater said.

Employees are still waiting to hear if they will be going back to work, Atwater said. 

“I haven’t heard anything back from him since that statement,” Atwater said.

Atwater said he is advising the union members who were laid off to apply for unemployment.

Columbia borough officials and neighbors have been wondering what is happening at the plant.

“It’s empty. There’s one abandoned trailer in the lot. But there’s no note on the door,” said Beverly Shank, executive director of the Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce and Industry which represents businesses in Columbia, Marietta, Wrightsville and surrounding areas of Lancaster and York Counties.

Matt Rhoads, the president of Central Pennsylvania Transportation Inc., said his company has been doing freight hauling for Colonial Metals for the past year.

A Colonial Metals employee told Rhoads that the business shut down on June 1. Rhoads declined to identify the employee.

“They owe us $27,000. We worked with them for quite a while, and they were paying their bills timely. So it wasn’t like there were any red flags from that perspective,” Rhoads said.

Rebecca Denlinger, the assistant borough manager for Columbia Borough, Thursday said she and her colleagues have not been able to confirm what is happening at the company.

She did, however, notify the Economic Development Co. of Lancaster County and the Lancaster Workforce Investment Board that there may be some layoffs.

“We have heard of employees being displaced. We have also reached out to the company but have not made a successful contact yet,” Lisa Riggs, president of the Economic Development Co. of Lancaster County, said Thursday.

Shelby White
Shelby White covers banking and finance, law and Lancaster County for the Central Penn Business Journal. For tips, email her at swhite@cpbj.com.

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