United Steelworkers (USW) on Friday said it remains frustrated in labor negotiations with ArcelorMittal.
The USW and ArcelorMittal have been negotiating since July in an effort to reach a new contract agreement that would cover thousands of USW members who work at ArcelorMittal facilities in the United States. Among them is ArcelorMittal Minorca, a 2.8 million ton-per-year iron ore mine and pellet plant in Virginia.
“The company is back to their stall tactics of putting things back in that were taken out,” said Harold Anderson, president of USW Local 6115 at ArcelorMittal Minorca. “We gave them a proposal today, so it's in the company's hands. We're going to keep talking until Sunday and then we're going to come back home. We'll inform our members and ask them to be patient as we work through this.”
According to a USW update, the union has spent the summer to meet, discuss USW proposals in good faith, and recognize steelworkers' investment and contribution to the company's success.
However, ArcelorMittal's “persistent, onerous and unnecessary demands for concessions may leave over 12,000 members with little choice,” stated the update.
“We have been bargaining with ArcelorMittal since July, and our frustration with management's negative attitude and unwillingness to reward us for our efforts is growing by the day, the USW said. “The company opened negotiations by telling us how much they appreciated our contributions over the previous three years. They admitted since 2015, the company has made a financial turnaround and has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in cash. While they were improving financially, they continually ignored and violated our contract and disrespected our relationship.”
The USW says productivity has increased and steelworkers have gone three years without a wage increase. However, the company continues to propose changes in health care coverage, an almost 80 percent increase in premiums for retirees, and a raid of a Voluntary Employees' Beneficiary Association (VEBA) fund, stated the update.
The labor contract between the USW and ArcelorMittal expired Sept. 1.
USW members at ArcelorMittal facilities recently authorized a strike should negotiations break down.
About 304 USW members employed at ArcelorMittal Minorca continue to work under a contract extension.
“Nobody wants a strike, but if we have to, we have to,” said Anderson.