Chesterton Tribune

Steelworkers call ArcelorMittal new contract proposals unacceptable

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Nearly four years after an eleventh-hour agreement averted a strike, the United Steelworkers (USW) is saying that negotiations with ArcelorMittal for a new basic labor agreement have begun badly.

The 2008 contract expires on Aug. 31.

On Friday, the USW’s Negotiating Committee released a statement to its membership which called the company’s opening proposals “unacceptable.”

Among those proposals, according to the USW:

•Redesigned incentive plans and labor grades which would “drastically reduce earnings and lower incentive opportunities.”

•Eliminate both retiree healthcare and pension plan for employees hired after Sept. 1, 2012. Those employees would only receive 401K matching contributions.

•Require the union to waive the right to bargain over retiree healthcare in the future.

•Discontinue the company’s contributions to the Voluntary Employee’s’ Beneficiary Association and increase healthcare premiums for current and future retirees.

•Eliminate vision coverage and allow the company to change healthcare benefits “at any time.”

•Freeze the Inland Pension Plan with no future increases and allow the company to withdraw from the Steelworker Pension Trust (SPT) retirement plan.

•Elminate voluntary lay-off options.

•Reduce Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) payments by 20 percent across the board and eliminate the minimum SUB payment.

•Elminate all shops and have the “discretion to contract out any work they deem appropriate.”

•The unilateral right to cut wage rates during periods of reduced operation and the unilateral right to schedule 32-hour work weeks.

“Your Negotiating Committee made it clear to management that their proposals were unacceptable and that if they continue to insist on rolling back our contract, after the contributions we have made to build this industry, we would not be able to reach an agreement,” the Negotiating Committee said. “We also reminded them of of the $3 billion in capital commitments and $3 billion in repair and maintenance capital that was committed to us during the 2008 negotiation, and that if they had lived up to these commitments they would have performed far better over the last four years.”

“We have developed a strategy to obtain a fair and equitable contract that respects our past and secures our future,” the Negotiating Committee added. “We are committed to bargain a successful labor agreement that provides for the sustainability of our facilities and protects our standard of living. Your support and solidarity is the foundation of our success and we will keep you updated as we continue bargaining.”

The Negotiating Committee is comprised of Paul Gipson, president of Local 6787; Jim Robinson, USW District 7 director; and David McCall, USW District 1 director.

Negotiations between the USW and ArcelorMittal began on May 29.

ArcelorMittal

ArcelorMittal today released this statement to the Chesterton Tribune: “In order to close the competitive labor-cost gap between ArcelorMittal USA and non-union mini mills, enable the business to become sustainable through the entire business cycle, and attract investment, the company has identified the following four areas to be evaluated during the negotiations process:

•Increasing shop-floor flexibility and employee engagement.

•Transitioning to a lower and more variable cost structure.

•Implementing changes in benefit programs.

•Maintaining industry-leading pay through industry-leading performance.”

Local 6787

Pete Trinidad, vice-president of Local 6787, had this comment today for the Tribune: “The company’s looking at the bottom line. They don’t care about us. We’re just parts in a line. They use us and if they don’t need us they throw us away.”

 

Posted 6/5/2012