Chesterton Tribune



Steelworkers vote to authorize strike against ArcelorMittal

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The United Steelworkers (USW) is announcing that 13 locals representing some 15,000 workers have unanimously granted their negotiating committee the authority to implement a strike against ArcelorMittal if necessary.

The USW made the announcement in a communique released after deadline on Monday.

“The flexibility of our contracts and world-class efficiency and productivity of this particular group of steelworkers enabled ArcelorMittal to survive floods of unfairly traded and illegally dumped foreign imports that brought about the harshest market conditions our industry has faced in decades,” USW International President Leo Gerard said. “Now that the company is generating enormous--even historic--amounts of cash, it is an insult that bargaining progress has been hindered by management’s unrealistic concessionary demands and unfair labor practices.”

“ArcelorMittal can easily afford to negotiate fair labor agreements with us, but the company has instead insisted on concessions that would more than wipe out any pay increases in its proposal,” USW District 1 Director McCall said. “Management has even failed to address some of our non-economic proposals and ignored most of the local issues we have brought to the table, demonstrating a fundamental lack of respect for the men and women upon whose shoulders rests the company’s past, present, and future success.”

McCall added that although the union would prefer to resolve the outstanding issues without a work stoppage, USW members have delivered a clear message through their overwhelming support of strike authorization. “We are organized and mobilized and will not allow ArcelorMittal to bully us into accepting anything less than the fair contracts we have earned and deserve,” he said. “These are jobs worth fighting for, and we intend to keep it that way.”

The Proposed Contract

Earlier on Monday, in a separate communique entitled “The Real Facts about ArcelorMittal’s Proposal,” the USW maintains that the concessions demanded by the company “would more than wipe out any pay increases the company has proposed.”

The union then offers the following talking points:

* “ArcelorMittal can afford a fair agreement that meets the needs of our members and families”: “ArcelorMittal will make huge profits this year, and forecasts for the market and the industry are very positive for future yearsâ as acknowledged both by the company and Wall Street. Hourly workers have waited more than three years for a wage increase, yet management regularly rewards itself with pay increases and bonuses.”

* “USW members have already made sacrifices”: “As a result of market conditions created by unfair foreign trade, USW members went through the last three-year labor agreement without a wage increase.”

* “The company’s proposal would cost workers dearly”: “Over the three years of the company’s proposed contract, an employee with a family would pay over $7,100 in healthcare premiums, plus an average of $2,200 in out-of-pocket expenses for higher deductibles, drug copays, and copayments.”

* “This plan would devastate current and future retirees”: By the end of the proposed contract’s lifetime, current pre-Medicare retirees with families “would be hit with an increase in monthly premiums to $440 per month for its plan--more than doubling the current monthly premium.”

* Other proposed concessions: increased contributions to the Steelworker Pension Trust; elimination of the hot-rolled steel bonus program; capping vacation pay; the ability to force workers to use and/or change scheduled vacations for shutdown outages; required attendance at safety meetings outside the regular workday and work week.

“In addition to the company’s unrealistic proposals,” the USW said, “your bargaining committee has also been hindered by the company’s unfair labor practices, which include dragging its feet at the table; delaying and failing to respond to our proposals; and delaying in providing us with the information we requested months ago that’s needed for us to understand the basis for its proposals and to formulate counterproposals.”

“We have not worked and sacrificed to save the industry and these facilities for the company to force us to accept dramatic cost shifting and wage packages that are far below what we have earned and deserve,” the USW added. “The USW is prepared to negotiate a responsible settlement, but we are not buying into or playing their game. In order to do that, we must show management that USW members are prepared to fight.”


Posted 9/18/2018




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