Chesterton Tribune



USW continues to meet with USS but reports little progress

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The United Steelworkers (USW) continued contract talks over the weekend with U.S. Steel Corporation (USS) but the going remains slow, according to a communique released late Saturday night.

The text of the communique in full:

“The USW and company have continued meeting a number of times over the past 32 hours. Progress is coming slow and the company continues its financial engineering, manipulation, and shifting the package around, but it’s always with the same sleight-of-hand outcome of trading bonuses, benefits, and wages against each other.

“The other issues of major contract language, protections, and benefit eligibility are still on the table and are not being adequately addressed, but they are every bit as important. We will continue to meet throughout the weekend and into next week in an effort to find a solution to a fair contract.

“We have also made it crystal clear to the company that they cannot try to buy a contract with the active workforce that brings hardship to our retirees, nor one that creates second-class citizens out of those new hires who will become members of our union in the future. Those tactics are a waste of time, and it is past time for them to abandon that fruitless approach to negotiations.

“Over the years, we have paid for our benefit packages with light wage gains, while our health was affected due to the conditions in the workplaces, and we lost family time as a result of around-the-clock schedules. Those benefits aren’t for sale.

“Your bargaining committee is standing strong and resolute on these issues, and we are prepared to fight for them no matter what shapes that fight takes. We all sacrificed when the company was in need of help, but that is not the case today.

“Stay ready, safe, and in touch with each other and your local union leadership and CAT teams. We will exhaust every single possibility to find a solution that works for us, as an entire union, before we take the steps to safely shut down the plants and operations. But the company needs to know that we are prepared to do so if they don’t start getting realistic about what they expect they can accomplish in this round of bargaining.”

On Incentives

Meanwhile, on Friday the USW released a separate communique on a USS proposal which the union said would permit the company to “align” members’ incentives with managements’.

Specifically at issue: USS seeks “enabling language to modify and consolidate existing union incentive plans to align goals with non-represented employees in the Operations Incentive Plans (OIP).”

“Management justifies its proposal to switch all hourly employees to the new and ever-changing OIP as an effort to make sure that we are all ‘pulling on the same oars together,’” the USW said. “But their proposal does not explain how this would work. In fact, the proposal is simply for language that would ‘enable’ the company--without union involvement--to modify and consolidate the existing union incentive plans however they see fit.”

“In short, if we agree to this ‘enabling language,’ we don’t really know what we’re signing up for,” the USW added. “And that seems like that’s management’s plan.”

“Giving U.S. Steel a blank check to change your incentives at their whim jeopardizes your earnings and is nothing more than another attempt by current management to undermine your union,” the USW concluded.


Posted 9/17/2018





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