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.