Chesterton Tribune

 

 

USW and USS announce agreement on tentative four year contract

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The United Steelworkers (USW) and U.S. Steel Corporation have reached a tentative agreement on successor four-year collective bargaining agreements covering approximately 14,000 USW-represented employees at all of the company’s domestic flat-rolled and iron ore mining facilities as well as tubular operations in Fairfield, Ala., Lorain, Ohio, and Lone Star, Texas.

The tentative agreements remain subject to ratification.

The announcement, made after deadline on Monday, comes 45 days after the previous three-year contract expired, on Sept. 1. Both parties agreed to a “rolling extension” of that contract, with the understanding that either could terminate it after 48-hour notice. Meanwhile, the union did something it did not do in 2015, the last time a contract expired without a new one in place: it prepared to go to the mattresses, seeking and overwhelmingly obtaining from its membership authorization to strike USS.

“U.S. Steel began this process insisting upon deep concessions from a group of workers who had already made major sacrifices to help the company through a difficult time,” USW International President Leo Gerard said. “It’s a testament to the power of solidarity that these workers were able to stand up with one voice and demand fair treatment.”

“Every member of this union should be proud of what we’ve accomplished,” added USW International Vice-president Tom Conway, who chaired the union’s bargaining committee. “This group of workers stood up to a hugely profitable company and demanded a piece of the success they helped to create.”

“We are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with the USW we believe is fair and in the best long-term interests of our employees and their families, as well as U. S. Steel’s customers, stockholders, and other stakeholders,” USS President and CEO David B. Burritt said in a separate statement. “Together, we’ve agreed on terms that will create certainty and stability for our many stakeholders, enable our company to implement our long-term business strategy, which includes continued, responsible investments in our people and plants, and position U. S. Steel to remain a leader in the highly competitive global steel industry.”

The union said that membership meetings will be held in the coming weeks to review the tentative contract prior to a ratification vote.

Throughout negotiations this summer and into the fall, the USW hammered one theme: concessions may have made painful sense three years ago, when the steel market was weak and USS struggling, but now would be both injurious and insulting to members, given the company’s renewed profitability. “Don’t forget--the company came to the bargaining table this summer intent on forcing us all to accept a bad agreement,” the union said in a separate communique released on Monday. “What they failed to consider was that the members of this union never back down from a fight. Thanks to all of you, we were able to reach a tentative agreement that includes none of the regressive, concessionary demands the company was prepared to shove down our throats. That is solidarity in action. Instead, this contract moves us all forward in a way that allows us to share in the company’s success.”

The USW, on the other hand, has still not reached a tentative agreement with ArcelorMittal, and in its most recent communique the union suggested it may have “little choice” but to strike the company. In the last bargaining cycle, 2015-16, the union didn’t announce a tentative agreement with ArcelorMittal until nearly four months after it had ratified a new agreement with USS.

 

Posted 10/16/2018

 
 
 
 

 

 

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