MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Negotiations are under way on a new contract
between the United Steelworkers union and the world’s largest steelmaker,
The agreement expiring Sept. 1 covers 14,000 employees, including those at
West Virginia’s Weirton mill.
The parties were far apart on key issues, including wages and benefits, as
discussions began Monday in Pittsburgh.
Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal wants to slash wages and benefits by more
than $28 per hour, and to have the unilateral right to cut wages during
It also proposes redesigning incentives, freezing its contributions to
certain pension plans, and eliminating retiree health care and pension
benefits for workers hired after Sept. 1.
ArcelorMittal wants to reduce life insurance coverage for both active
employees and retirees, eliminate voluntary layoff provisions, and raise
health care costs for current and future retirees.
The USW says it’s also being asked to waive its right to bargain health care
issues for retirees.
In a recent membership update, union negotiators said managers have
repeatedly ignored workers’ suggestions for making operations more
efficient. Members have also complained about the lack of promised capital
to repair plants.
“If they had lived up to the commitment,” the June letter said, “they would
have performed better over the last four years.”
ArcelorMittal, meanwhile, said it is committed to “a fair agreement that
creates a sustainable future for the company and its work force.”
However, “to truly become sustainable, ArcelorMittal and the USW must
develop a long-term strategy that is successful through the ups and downs of
the business cycle,” it said.
ArcelorMittal owns and operates 15 facilities in eight states —
Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Louisiana
and South Carolina. Three plants are covered by individual USW contracts
that expire at the same time as the master agreement.