Chesterton Tribune


USW vows to protect coke ovens in event of work stoppage

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One day before its contract with ArcelorMittal expires, the United Steelworkers (USW) is vowing to protect the coke plants in the event of a work stoppage.

The USW released the following statement to its membership this morning:

“In response to our concern that the company was preparing to hot-idle our coke plants—actions that could result in damage to or even loss of these facilities—we have notified the company that we will take all necessary actions to ensure that, in the event of a work stoppage, our coke operations will remain viable and able to resume production for our blast furnaces when the time comes.

“We have to take this action to avoid any damage to the plants as a result of the company’s irresponsible negotiating positions and the resulting ‘asset protection’ plans that are being implemented.

“Steelworkers have worked in these plants for decades, producing profits for the company and strong, stable communities for ourselves and our families. We are committed to the continuation of these desirable results. While the irresponsible positions and actions taken by the company cause us to question whether the company shares in these commitments, we will not tolerate actions that undermine the future.

“We have reported to you that your Negotiating Committee continues to struggle with the dramatic concessions that the company continues to put on the table. The two-tier wages and benefits that they demand; the dramatic undermining of our seniority rights; and the outrageous expansion of the use of contractors are unacceptable.

“Yesterday the company took some steps forward, including backing off their demand for no pensions for new hires. But we remain far apart. We are standing strong and united, demanding a fair contract now.

“We will continue negotiations in good faith, and we expect no less in return. If they are serious they will stand down from their insistence on gutting our contract and reach a fair and equitable contract now.”



Posted 8/31/2012