The United Steelworkers union said Friday little progress has been made in labor contract negotiations with steelmaking giant ArcelorMittal and called an economic proposal from U.S. Steel an insult.
USW officials and negotiators from the two steelmakers have for weeks been meeting to negotiate a new labor contract covering hourly paid workers.
Labor contracts for more than 16,000 steelworkers employed by U.S. Steel across the country and more than 15,000 employed by ArcelorMittal, expire at midnight August 31.
A pair of USW updates issued Friday said ArcelorMittal has failed to address steelworkers' need for wage and pension improvements and management continues to demand unreasonable health care concessions from active members and retirees.
“For the last six weeks, our committee has been working to engage ArcelorMittal management in good faith negotiations, yet we received another predictably unacceptable counter proposal from ArcelorMittal this week with little movement, if any, on the company's part,” stated the update on the USW website.
“As the company continues to thrive, we should not need to remind management that none of the facilities currently owned by ArcelorMittal would be operating if it wasn't for our hard work and the USW's leadership in the decades-long struggle for fair trade – yet that is precisely what we must do. Now more than ever, we must stand together to fight for the fair contract that we have earned and deserve. We are planning to hold gate rallies on Thursday, Aug. 30 at all of the plants to show management that we are united.”
An update on negotiations with U.S. Steel called a Thursday, Aug. 23 proposal from the company an insult.
“After our many sacrifices and diligent work to keep this company in operation through time times, and the misery our members have suffered in many locations, this is an extremely insulting proposal,” stated the update.
Several details of the Aug. 23, U.S. Steel proposal were outlined by the USW.
According to the union, “any future wage increases and economic adjustments would come solely through their profit-sharing/bonus schemes.”
The U.S. Steel proposal offers a seven-year contract, a $1,500 signing bonus to non-probationary employees as of Sept. 1, 2018, a 3.25 percent general wage increase effective September 1, 2018, a two percent increase effective Sept. 1, 2019, and a one percent increase September 1, 2020, according to the union. In years four through seven, potential wage increases would come from an annual lump sum bonus opportunity of 0-5 percent of an employees' earnings based on flat roll or tubular segment EBITDA vs. annual targets established by management.
There would no no changes in pension plans. According to the union, health care co-insurance and deductibles would increase and sickness and accident benefits for employees with 0-5 years of service would be eliminated. The length of sickness and accident coverage for employees with 5-10 years of service would be reduced from 52 to 26 weeks. The company also proposes to want to have the ability to unilaterally change insurance claims administrators, according to the union.
“With time running short, the company needs to come to its senses and make an honest and fair contract with the union and recognize the work we've done at U.S. Steel,” stated the update.
U.S. Steel owns and operates two iron ore pellet production operations in Minnesota, Minntac Mine in Mountain Iron and Keetac in Keewatin. U.S. Steel is also a part-owner of Hibbing Taconite.
ArcelorMittal owns and operates ArcelorMittal Minorca Mine in Virginia.