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USW reports no real progress in contract talks with ArcelorMittal

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Talks between the United Steelworkers and ArcelorMittal continue in Pittsburgh but at the end of last week, with the Labor Day holiday in the offing, the union was reporting no substantive forward movement.

After deadline on Friday, the USW released its 12th communique since contract negotiations began earlier this summer. The takeaway: the union and the company appear to be bringing to the table radically different conceptions of what the new collective bargaining agreement should look like.

“Although the company says that it wants a new contract with our union, that desire has not been reflected in its proposals at the table,” the union said. “While we continue to meet, progress has been slow and ArcelorMittal persists in seeking major changes to our agreements that would reduce the security of our jobs, earnings, and benefits.”

“We remain committed to our goal of reaching a fair contract and we question whether we are dealing with people who have the authority to negotiate an agreement,” the USW added.

Meanwhile, the union expressed its gratitude to the many thousands who marched for solidarity on Tuesday in Burns Harbor, Chicago, and outside the company’s offices in Pittsburgh. “The negotiating committee truly appreciates your hard work and dedication while this long, difficult process continues,” the USW said. “ArcelorMittal management certainly saw our numbers and heard our voices in opposition to their unfair and unnecessary demands with thousands of Steelworkers rallying in solidarity outside their doors on Tuesday.”

“We must continue standing together and delivering to management the consistent message that we will not allow the company to take away the rights and benefits we have earned and deserve, nor will we allow them to dig into the pockets of our retires,” the union concluded.

The 12th communiquŽ included a summary of “some of the issues remaining between the USW and ArcelorMittal.

Wages/Compensation

Management is proposing:

* Three years with no wage increases.

* Reducing incentives and eliminating them for Labor Grade 1.

* Reducing vacation pay, sickness, and accident benefits.

* Reducing or eliminating premium time for overtime.

The union is proposing:

* A three-year contract with lump-sum payments and wage increases based on overall market hot-band pricing.

* No reductions in vacation pay, incentives, and S&A.

* No elimination of overtime pay.

The company’s proposals “are meaningless in terms of reducing the real cost of making steel,” the union said.

Active Healthcare

Management is proposing:

* Reduced coverage with “huge increases” in out-of-pocket expenses and monthly premiums of $150 for single coverage and $250 for family coverage.

* Single members who don’t use their insurance would pay $1,800 more per year, while families would see an increase of $3,000 per year.

* Those who do use their insurance would pay up to $2,600 more than currently and families could pay up to $6,600 more, not including drug costs.

The union’s response: “Our healthcare is part of our compensation and there is no need to reduce coverage or make monthly contributions because of a temporary downturn in the market. We have proposed a single PIB that will reduce the administrative costs by millions of dollars per year, yet protect our benefits and not require contributions.”

Retiree Protections

Management is proposing:

* “Significant increases” in monthly premiums for current and future retirees.

* “Pushing” Medicare-eligible retirees into exchange plans.

* And ending contributions to the voluntary employee beneficiary association (VEBA), “negatively impacting current and future retirees and eventually eliminating benefits for legacy retirees.”

The union’s response: “We have introduced a proposal that will reduce other post-employment benefit liabilities and drastically reduce the company’s accounting charge for retiree healthcare but maintain our benefits and contributions as well as benefits for legacy retirees.”

 

 

Posted 9/8/2015

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

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