Chesterton Tribune



USW still talking with USS and Arcelor while Arcelor reassesses US footprint

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The United Steelworkers is still meeting regularly with negotiators from U.S. Steel Corporation, as face-to-face contract talks continue in Pittsburgh.

“Our meetings have touched on a number of unresolved issues on which we still have significant differences with the company, including contracting out, healthcare benefits for both active and retired members, as well as safety and health,” the USW said in a communique released on Monday.

“While we have made slow but steady progress on these issues, we believe there is still much work to be done to reach an agreement that is fair to both sides,” the union noted. “We look forward to continuing these discussions in the coming week, and we will keep all of our brothers and sisters up to date on the latest developments at the table.”

“We know that many of our fellow USW members are concerned and frustrated by the pace of these negotiations,” the USW added. “We share your feelings, but at the same time we are committed to continuing to bargain for as long as it takes to reach a fair agreement.”

Today is the 36th day the represented employees of USS and also of ArcelorMittal have been working without a new contract, after the previous one expired at midnight Aug. 31.

Re: ArcelorMittal

Late last week, the USW said much the same thing about its talks with ArcelorMittal, which after a two-week hiatus--caused when the company bolted from the table--resumed on Monday, Sept. 28.

“Most of our discussions with management since returning to Pittsburgh have focused on improving the long-term viability and sustainability of our facilities with capital investment to make our jobs more secure and ArcelorMittal more competitive,” the USW said on Friday. “Each of our local union delegations brought specific requests for equipment and infrastructure upgrades to the table to discuss with management.”

“While the company generally recognizes that many of these projects would benefit the company over the long term, it is unclear how willing ArcelorMittal is to commit money to our plants,” the union said.

“We have also tried to engage management in follow-up discussions about healthcare benefits for active and retired members and other issues in the basic labor agreement,” the USW observed. “In the meantime, we received a counterproposal from the company this week that did very little to address the differences we have outlined in previous updates.”

The USW was preparing last week a “comprehensive proposal to present to management” and was planning to hold talks through the weekend.

No word yet from the union on whether it’s put that proposal on the table.

“Asset Optimization”

Meanwhile, in response to speculation in the media that ArcelorMittal may be contemplating the shutdown of “upstream and downstream operations at Indiana Harbor West” in East Chicago, an ArcelorMittal spokesman released the following statement to the Chesterton Tribune.

“While it’s true that global economics, couple with internal cost and productivity challenges, have placed significant pressure on our USA business and forced us to re-evaluate our footprint, no final decisions have been made with regard to a USA asset optimization plan.

“What we can say is that, there is no doubt that in order to optimize our assets, we must find ways to achieve higher levels of capacity utilization with no loss of total production or market share and do not anticipate any impact on our ability to meet customer demand.

“Again, no final decisions have been made, and we are working closely with the United Steelworkers in Pittsburgh to identify how we can achieve higher utilization levels and reduce our operating costs.”


Posted 10/6/2015




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