Chesterton Tribune



USW and ArcelorMittal reach tentative deal on contract

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The United 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.

The 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.

ArcelorMittal USW 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.”

Wednesday’s announcement comes four months after the USW concluded its negotiations with USS.

The membership ratified that contract by a 2-1 margin on Feb. 1.


Posted 4/28/2016






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