Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Arcelor-Mittal: Upgrades don't jeopardize safety, won't cost jobs, will cut overtime

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By the Associated Press

and Tribune Staff

BURNS HARBOR, Ind. (AP) - A dispute over safety issues at ArcelorMittal USA’s Burns Harbor facility has slowed production because some union workers are refusing to work under what they term unsafe conditions.

The dispute began Sunday when 10 workers at the mill invoked their contract rights and refused to work at a slab caster that uses molten steel, John Moloney, United Steelworkers Local 6787 grievance committee chairman, told the Times. The union members fear “certain parts of the process could go wrong and cause an explosion.”

“It's a safety issue,” said Molony, who added that the dispute has slowed down work at other parts of the mill.

ArcelorMittal spokeswoman Mary Beth Holdford released the following statement today to the Chesterton Tribune.

“In a shared commitment to workplace efficiency, ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor recently completed upgrades to control systems and process automation at its basic oxygen furnace and continuous caster. The projects have resulted in many manual functions previously done by the workforce now being controlled and completed by the process computer and have replaced the need for human intervention during non-normal casting conditions.

“The upgrades will not result in workforce reductions and will reduce the amount of overtime required to meet demand.

“Benchmarks demonstrate that such improvements not only improve operational efficiency, but also improve workplace safety. Our No. 1 priority continues to be the health and safety of our employees.

“A small number of union workers have disputed these improvements on the basis of safety. The Basic Labor Agreement provides for an agreed-upon process for resolving such disputes, and that process is underway.

“ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor is working closely with the United Steelworkers to resolve the issue.”

The Tribune sought comment this morning from Local 6787, representatives of which did not return calls.

 

Posted 4/24/2013