Chesterton Tribune



USW reports progress in USS negotiations; talks to continue

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The United Steelworkers (USW) is opting to continue talks with U.S. Steel Corporation (USS), after some progress has been made at the bargaining table, the union reported after deadline on Friday.

“Our USW bargaining committee continues to meet with the company, armed with your willingness to stand up and fight and strike if necessary,” the union said in its latest communique. “A little progress had been made and the company has withdrawn some issues.”

“Still, some very difficult issues remain on the table,” the USW hastened to added. “But because of this progress, we are going to continue to bargain for a while longer to see if those gaps can be bridged and a strike can be avoided. Your union is willing to continue working on these difficult issues, and your continued willingness to fight is needed to persuade the company to withdraw its many unjustified, nonsensical proposals.”

Talking points from the communique:

Premiums Would Eat Up Wage Increases

“The company brags about the wage increases they have finally put on the table but, in their relentless sales pitch, they never mention that the cost of the premiums payments would erode any wage gains and you’ll be left with a healthcare plan that doesn’t provide the same level of coverage and benefits you have now,” the union said.

“The total premium you’ll pay going forward will cost you $145 per month for their healthcare and dental coverage plan,” the USW said. “Over the life of the agreement that will cost you $10,440.”

Company Unwilling to Share its Success

“Even the best salesman can’t argue with basic arithmetic,” the union said. “When you consider that we went the last three years without a wage increase and they are now proposing an additional six years, and then factor in their proposed premiums payment, the wage package is only worth about 1.7-percent increase per year over that time. USS also likes to talk about its proposal to pay two $3,000 bonuses, but one of them is three years down the road, and they are coming at a time of strong profits, when the company should be willing to share that success with the workforce.”

New Hires VEBA

“The company talks all the time about the ‘trough,’” the USW said. “Their plan to weather the trough, should it come, rests heavily on making new hires pay. The company proposes that union members hired after the beginning of the new agreement will now need five years to be eligible for SUB (supplemental unemployment benefits) when they get laid off. So they’ll get nothing.”

“The company’s plan to survive the next trough also is built on their demand to be able to reach into a retiree VEBA (voluntary employees beneficiary association) fund to pay for the cost of SUB, healthcare coverage while you’re laid off, and any severance payments for losing their jobs. The VEBA was never meant to be used the way the company now wants to use it.”

Union Didn’t Come Looking for this Fight

“These are only some of the open issues,” the union said. “Many others remain, such as pension funding, contractor usage, the wasteful shipping of repair work off site, the foolishness of a six-year deal, and many other issues. These unjustified demands, along with their bad-faith bargaining conduct, have made it difficult to negotiate the agreement you deserve.”

“Your local union leadership has taken the strength and leverage you provided them with the strike authorization votes and used it to advance our proposals and beat back some of the company’s,” the USW said. “That is working. In the coming days, our local union leaders are returning to the plants and union halls to strengthen our positions and continue to prepare in the event of a strike. We will continue to seek ways to a solution.”








Posted 9/24/2018




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