Chesterton Tribune

 
 

Steelworkers union and ArcelorMittal reach tentative three year agreement

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The United Steelworkers (USW) is crediting the negotiation of a tentative new three-year contract with ArcelorMittal to the “incredible solidarity” of the membership.

USW Local President Paul Gipson, meanwhile, is saying that the new contract is comparable to the USW’s newly negotiated contract with U.S. Steel Corporation.

The USW released this statement on Saturday.

“From the beginning, one of the most important issues we grappled with was retiree health care. While this will continue to be a contentious issue in the future, we believe we have negotiated a framework that will protect ourselves as future retirees as well as our current retirees during this contract and put us in a good position for negotiations three years from now.

“In June of this year, management made irresponsible demands for major economic concessions and the elimination of many of our hard earned right. Although management admits we have ‘turned the corner’ on the worst economic downtown that any of us can remember, they still made serious demands that would in fact require us to pay for their operating mistakes and financial losses over the last few years.

“Instead of approaching this round of bargaining with a commitment to the future for both the company and its employees and a desire to jointly identify and solve problems, ArcelorMittal demanded major concessions and sacrifices from its union workers.

“Management’s approach was detrimental to the long-term relationship between management and union—and it was dumb. We have successfully defended our wages and pensions from management’s attempt to drive them down—including a demand for a two-tier system. We maintained our seniority rights and protections against the use of outside contractors. We negotiated wage increases and improved our health care without making contributions. We achieved our demand for capital investments in our plants and improved our training programs.

“The incredible solidarity shown by ArcelorMittal steelworkers has enabled us to fend off this serious attack by the company. We must never forget that solidarity as we move forward into the future.”

ArcelorMittal

ArcelorMittal, for its part, released its own statement on Saturday.

“ArcelorMittal has reached a tentative agreement with the United Steelworkers on a new, three-year labor contract covering nearly 14,000 USW-represented employees at 15 of ArcelorMittal USA’s flat carbon, long carbon, and iron ore mining locations. The tentative agreement will replace the existing contract that was originally set to expire on Sept. 1, 2012, and remains subject to ratification by USW membership,” the company said.

“We are pleased to have a new, tentative contract with the USW and to have reached a fair and equitable outcome without disruption to our business operations,” said Michael Rippey, president and CEO of ArcelorMittal USA. “We extend our appreciation to our employees, customers, and the community for their patience and support during the negotiation process.”

Gipson

“This is a fair agreement,” Gipson told the Chesterton Tribune on Saturday. “We did what we set out to do. We protected retiree health care. We protected our pensions. Going forward the pension trust is secure into the future. And we wanted to be sure it wasn’t concessionary, both on economic issues and work rules.”

In particular, Gipson said, ArcelorMittal had proposed capping retiree health-care premiums, such that anything over a fixed amount a retiree would have to pay out of pocket. The Negotiating Committee successfully got that proposal off the table.

Within 30 days of ratification, every member will receive a $2,000 signing bonus, Gipson added. In 2013, members will receive a 2 percent wage increase and a $500 bonus. In 2014, they will receive a 2.5 percent wage increase.

Gipson also said that the USW’s tentative agreement with ArcelorMittal “tracks the pattern” of the one reached last week with U.S. Steel Corporation but has “important differences reflecting the different structure and history of the two companies.”

 

 

 

Posted 9/10/2012