The United Steelworkers (USW) and ArcelorMittal failed to negotiate a new
contract before the deadline at midnight Sept. 1.
Members are still at work, however, after the Negotiating Committee “decided
that our best course of action in negotiations with ArcelorMittal is for all
of us to continue working while we continue to press forward in an effort to
reach an acceptable contract.”
Although the USW had warned members of the possibility of the company’s
locking them out, as of late this morning that had not occurred.
The USW released this statement after deadline on Friday.
“We are not taking the strike option off the table—we are saying only
that it is in our best interest to not call a strike at this time.
“We all need to make sure—above all—that the stress and uncertainty
on management does not interfere with our attention to safety on the job.
“We also need everyone to continue to stand strong and continue to say,
loudly and clearly, that we are united and we demand a fair contract now.
“If management chooses to continue with the dangerous and irresponsible
positions and actions they have taken up to this point we may have to
revisit our decision not to strike.
“Should that become necessary we will schedule strike votes and take the
appropriate action. For now we urge everyone to continue to work their
schedule, and to continue to work safe.”
The USW did include in that statement a reminder to members of their legal
status while working without a contract.
“By law, when a contract ends the company cannot make any unilateral changes
to terms and conditions of employment without negotiating those changes with
the union. The ‘terms and conditions of employment’ are the terms of the old
contract and the parties’ past practices.
“The company can only make a change if the union agrees or where the
negotiations have reached an ‘impasse.’ An impasse occurs when, after
exhaustive good-faith negotiations by both sides, neither party is willing
to change its negotiating position.
“Where the company and the union do not agree on whether an impasse exists,
the question is often resolved by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
If the company’s claim of impasse is not upheld by the NLRB then the company
will be required to return to the old terms and conditions of employment and
pay backpay for losses suffered by employees due to the illegally
implemented unilateral changes.”