committee met with U.S. Steel again tody”--Tuesday--“in what has become a
frustrating series of negotiations. The company continues to insist on a
long-term six-year deal that would allow them to avoid having to deal with
everyday issues and problems that arise and get addressed during collective
continues to demand $9,000 in healthcare premiums, which you would pay
monthly over the life of the agreement.
“They insist on a
unilateral right to change your incentive plans to align them with the
company’s operating incentive plans they created for the bosses, and they
have said if you don’t like the outcome we can grieve it and appeal to
arbitration. We just have to get in line behind all the discharge cases,
which allows them in large part to set the pace of cases being heard in
arbitration. They continue to refuse to fund the Steelworker Pension Trust (SPT)
or Carnegie pension funds.
concocted a new HRA (health reimbursement arrangement) scheme in which they
would put a total of $4,500 into an account that you could access years down
the road, once you’ve retired and they have placed further restrictions on
how you could use it. In order for you to get this money, they are demanding
that the union allow them to raid an existing VEBA (voluntary employees
beneficiary association) account designed to fund retiree healthcare and
life insurance and to allow them to use it to pay for SUB (supplement
unemployment benefits), to cover the cost of healthcare for active employees
when you are laid off, severance allowances for actives when they have to
pay severance, and any other kind of payment to active employees so they
don’t have to meet their own contractual obligations.
“This company is
fine with spending ‘other people’s money,’ and they are experts at
cost-shifting. Now they have turned to the retiree fund to pay for their
operating costs when they lay you off. Recall that only a week ago they were
selling us our own profit-sharing payments as part of their bonus plans.
This is how a real shell game works, run by genuine shysters. Imagine what
kind of games they will play if they can unilaterally open up incentive
plans and ‘align’ them as they see fit.
“Time is running
out. From Day One, U.S. Steel has built a series of proposals to try to
split our union by throwing sparkles and bonuses at active workers while
trying to separate future hires and retirees from the herd and isolate them.
It’s a tired old trick, and our committee isn’t falling for it.
“We’re going to
keep trying for a few more days to be sure we’ve exhausted every chance to
avoid a strike but soon your local leadership will be back home to walk
through the next steps with you. Stay strong, united, and determined.”