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