Steelworkers (USW) has officially opened contract negotiations with
ArcelorMittal--with its “first face-to-face meeting with management” on
Monday--and the union is already signaling to membership that the company is
seeking deep concessions.
Just about two
years ago, in June 2016, the USW ratified a retroactive three-year
collective bargaining agreement with ArcelorMittal, effective Sept. 1, 2015,
after working nearly 10 acrimonious months without a new contract.
On Monday, the USW
reported on its website--in a release headlined “ArcelorMittal Seeks Major
Concessions Despite Market Turnaround”--that ArcelorMittal’s initial
proposal, presented earlier in the day, includes “major economic and
non-economic concessions that would negatively impact every member of the
bargaining unit at each USW-represented location.”
In particular, the
USW reported the following:
* Active health
care: “ArcelorMittal has proposed forcing bargaining unit employees to
choose between paying expensive premiums to stay in a lesser PPO plan ($200
per month for a family) or enrolling in a Consumer Driven Health Care plan
with $8,000 per year in out-of-pocket expenses.”
* Retiree health
care: “Management has proposed doubling monthly health care contributions
Enhancement Payment (PEP): “ArcelorMittal has proposed eliminating the
$10,000 PEP for employees at former ISG (International Steel Group)
locations.” ISG acquired the holdings of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation
after Bethlehem went bankrupt in 2001.
* Sickness and
Accident, Severance, Supplemental Unemployment: “The company has proposed
changes to these provisions that provide earnings security for members when
they need it most.”
* Institute for
Career Development (ICD): “Management has proposed to end future funding for
* Other issues:
“ArcelorMittal is also seeking significant concessions and reductions in
areas like incentive pay, vacation pay, family and medical leave,
contracting out, seniority, scheduling, and others.”
initial proposal fails to include any wage or pension increases or specific
commitments to invest in the future of our facilities, even though the
market for steel and the products we supply has improved dramatically from
the historic lows we experienced in 2015,” the USW said.
committee has much work to do when bargaining resumes in Pittsburgh on
Monday, July 16,” the USW added.
When the USW’s
previous three-year contract with both ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel
Corporation expired on Sept. 1, 2015--following several months of fruitless
negotiations over the summer and huge rallies at both U.S. Steel’s Gary
facility and ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor facility--the membership elected
to keep working without a contract.
Members did so
throughout the fall, despite stop-and-go, hurry-up-and-wait negotiations,
and then in something of a surprise announcement, in December 2015, the USW
reported that it had reached a tentative agreement with U.S. Steel. That
contract was ratified by a better than two-to-one margin on Feb. 1, 2016.
The USW, however,
was unable to reach a deal with ArcelorMittal until April 2016. That
contract was ratified by 69 percent of the membership on June 23, 2016, just
about a year after negotiations between the union and the company first