Chesterton Tribune


USW ratifies ArcelorMittal contract, but Gipson warns members to 'save money'

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The United Steelworkers (USW) membership has voted by a solid majority to ratify a new three-year contract with ArcelorMittal.

Of the 14,061 eligible active members at the company’s 15 facilities in the U.S., 9,241 cast Yea ballots; 528, Nay. Around 30 percent of the membership did not vote. Of those who did, 94.3 percent voted to ratify.

Of the 3,380 eligible active members at the Burns Harbor facility—represented by USW Local 6787—2,558 cast Yea ballots; 223, Nay. The turnout was better at Burns Harbor, where only about 18 percent did not vote. Of those who did, 92 percent voted to ratify.


Local 6787 President Paul Gipson noted, in a statement released after deadline on Thursday, that the “final vote reflects the opinion of a responsible union accepting a fair agreement regarding conditions of employment for the next three years.”

And he confirmed that members will be receiving their $2,000 signing bonus within 30 days.

But Gipson also issued warning.

Retiree and active member healthcare, he said—one of the main sticking points of the negotiations this summer—“raised the ugly face of ArcelorMittal.” And, Gipson added, “Let’s not forget the management decision to make irresponsible demands for major economic concessions and the elimination of our hard-earned rights.”

“ArcelorMittal is a major player involving a substantial bid for Thyssen Krupp’s modern Alabama steel operations,” Gipson also said. “This has taken place before the ink is dry on our new basic labor agreement. Maybe he planned on you and I making this purchase, relieving him from any future U.S. investments or upgrades of the Burns Harbor facility?”

And, Gipson said, “Management did accomplish one objective in this round of talks. The long-term relationship between our union and this multinational giant has been severely damaged. The solidarity that all of you brought to the table from each respective shop, unit, and department a Burns Harbor, including our Gary West Plate, enabled your Bargaining Committee to fend off the most serious attack by and company our union has ever engaged in bargaining with since 1959.”

“Save your money, three years is not that far away,” Gipson concluded. “Realize what you have, recognize who wants to take it away from you. . . . ‘Excellent, good, fair?’ Only fair, for many good reasons.”

The Company

“ArcelorMittal is pleased to receive confirmation that our new three-year collective bargaining agreement with the United Steelworkers has been ratified,” said Michael Rippey, president and CEO of ArcelorMittal USA. “While the new contract represents a shared commitment with the Steelworkers to enhance our competitiveness and create a business that is sustainable through the ups and downs of the business cycle, we recognize that works remains in the areas of productivity, employee engagement, and operational efficiencies if we are to fully achieve our vision for safe, sustainable steel.”

“We extend our appreciation to our employees, customers, and communities for their patience and support throughout the negotiation process,” Rippey added.





Posted 10/19/2012