Chesterton Tribune



USW Talks with Arcelor have stalled; strike vote is possible

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The United Steelworkers (USW) is inching in the direction of a strike against ArcelorMittal.

After deadline on Friday, the USW announced that negotiations with ArcelorMittal have “stalled,” not quite a week after the union and company agreed to a temporary extension of the existing three-year contract.

And should no substantive progress be made at the table early this week, the negotiating committee will return to their locals to seek members’ support for strike authorization, according to the union’s latest communique.

The USW added that a strike would only be a last resort, in the event of the company’s failure to come “to its senses.”

The text of the communique in full:

“This week, our negotiating committee continued to meet both internally within our committee and with ArcelorMittal management while 15,000 of our brothers and sisters at U.S. Steel facilities across the country unanimously granted strike authorization.

“Three years ago, when steel prices bottomed out due to the unfair and illegal trade, management sought to unravel generations of collective bargaining progress with contract demands designed to reduce our standards of living and destroy the ‘safety nets’ negotiated to protect us from lay-offs and plant closures.

“We resisted those concessions, and after almost 10 months of difficult negotiations, finally reached an agreement that provided enough flexibility for the company to survive the downturn--but more importantly--protected the security of our jobs, earnings, benefits, and pensions.

“Since then, as one of the results of our union fighting for the government to crack down on trade cheaters, the market has rebounded. Further, steelworkers at ArcelorMittal USA--already the most efficient workforce on the planet--continued to improve productivity, and as a result the company has enjoyed financial success.

“Rather than engaging in good-faith negotiations for a fair contract, management continues to bring the same 2015 backward-thinking proposals to the table, which of course are crafted to undermine everything we have sacrificed to achieve.

“Judging from its ridiculously inferior proposed healthcare plans and their refusal to make meaningful improvements in wages or pensions and the concessionary demands regarding supplemental unemployment, incentive, vacation pay, and our hot-rolled steel bonus, ArcelorMittal clearly intends to test our solidarity and our commitment to achieve a fair and equitable contract.

“If significant progress is not made by early next week”--the USW said on Friday afternoon--“we will return home to deliver detailed reports at membership meetings and seek your support for strike authorization. We will ask the membership to vote after everyone has been given an opportunity to ask questions and review information with their elected local leadership.

“Ultimately, our committee, after careful consideration, will determine if a strike is necessary only if other strategic alternatives to bring the company to its senses are unsuccessful.

“Our jobs are worth fighting for thanks to the hard work and determination of those who came before us. As long as we continue to work together and stand together to fight for justice, we will win the contract we have earned and deserve.”


Posted 9/10/2018




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