Steelworkers (USW) has reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with
ArcelorMittal USA, almost exactly eight months after the previous contract
expired, on Sept. 1.
contract--subject to a ratification by the membership--would cover nearly
14,000 represented employees at 15 the company’s U.S. facilities.
The union declined
to discuss the proposed contract in detail, except to say, in a statement
released after deadline on Wednesday, that the deal “preserves our economic
security and other contractual protections.” If ratified, it would expire on
Sept. 1, 2018.
From the very
beginning of negotiations--well before the Sept. 1 deadline--the USW made
its position abundantly clear in its communiquŽs to the membership. First:
both ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel Corporation (USS) were trying to use a
temporary downturn in the market--caused by the oil slump, a strong dollar,
and galloping imports--to wring permanent concessions from the union. And
second: so long as members stood solid and united, the union would
eventually prevail. USW officials returned to both themes in a statement
released this morning.
“After almost a
year of difficult bargaining that continued eight months past the expiration
of our previous contract, our committee’s hard work and dedication have
resulted in a tentative agreement with ArcelorMittal,” USW International
President Leo Gerard said in a statement released today. “Our members’
unwavering solidarity throughout the bargaining process in the face of
management’s persistent demands for major cutbacks has been rewarded.”
USW District 1
Director David McCall, who chaired the union’s negotiations with
ArcelorMittal, praised the leadership and membership at all of the
facilities for resisting management’s attempts to divide them.
“Early in the
process, we committed to our members and retirees that we would not allow
the company to use a temporary downturn in our industry as an excuse to
reverse decades of collective bargaining progress,” McCall said.
“Thanks to the
solidarity of USW members within and between all of our locals, we have
negotiated a fair agreement that preserves our wages, benefits and other
contractual protections without lowering the standard of living for current
or future retirees.”
USW District 7
Director Mike Millsap, who served as the negotiating committee’s secretary,
added that local union leaders and activists gained valuable experience
throughout the extended bargaining process. “For ten months, our brothers
and sisters marched in the streets, rallied at their plant gates and
delivered our message to management every step of the way,” Millsap said.
“Rather than allow the company to divide and conquer, our committee shared
information to keep everyone informed, and our local union activists and
leaders truly held everyone together.”
In the coming
weeks, the USW will schedule meetings to present the proposed new contract
to members at each facility and deliver a summary with mail-in ballots and
instructions for the ratification vote.
CEO John Brett expressed his own satisfaction on striking a deal, without
saying anything substantive about it. “We are pleased to have reached a fair
and equitable agreement with the USW on a new three-year contract,” he said.
“However, we are
unable to comment on specific details out of respect for the ratification
process. After a lengthy negotiations process, we look forward to working
with our represented employees to fight market pressures due to unfairly
traded imports and create long-term value for the shareholders.”
announcement comes four months after the USW concluded its negotiations with
ratified that contract by a 2-1 margin on Feb. 1.