ArcelorMittal Still Pushing Changes/USW Still Frustrated by Negotiations
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As of Tuesday evening – 24 Days to Go…
ArcelorMittal continued their “sell” of changes to variable costs as a way of finding an answer to negotiations between themselves and the USW. In their latest move, AMUSA posted a video of the restart of the Georgetown mill – which has a memorandum of understanding regarding salaries and bonus programs separate from the other AMUSA facilities.
Here is what AMUSA posted on their website dedicated to the negotiations between the mill and the USW:
“Last week, discussions in Pittsburgh focused on ways to improve shop floor flexibility and employee engagement, two important drivers of a sustainable cost structure across the business cycle, as they help improve our transformation cost and quality performance.
While these are difficult subjects, the parties have a good track record of working together to develop solutions in challenging circumstances such as these. The video [on mill website] prepared for the Union-Management Partnership meeting earlier this year highlights the joint effort put forth in the agreement to reopen the ArcelorMittal Georgetown plant.”
The union is not immune to the sales techniques being utilized by ArcelorMittal in their press releases and on the mill website. The union response was made through an update by the USW negotiation committee to the union members. Here is what the union had to say on Monday of this week:
“Through its proposals, on its website and in its media presentations, ArcelorMittal continues to insist that major economic cutbacks and dramatic changes to our contract language are necessary to keep the company sustainable.
The company has also said that each USW represented employee costs the company an average of about $171 thousand per year, with $83 thousand in wages and another $88 thousand in benefits. The company’s calculations are misleading because they include non-cash liabilities for the cost of future benefits into the equation.
ArcelorMittal continues to insist that it needs a more variable cost structure to remain competitive during market downturns, despite the fact that USW-represented employee payroll expenses rise and fall with tons of steel shipped, as the chart below illustrates. In other words, our paychecks reflect
market conditions already. If the company isn’t shipping steel, our members lose opportunities to earn money. Further cut-backs only serve to reduce our standard of living and are unacceptable.”
The union update to their membership also contained further language referring to the frustrations of yet another week of negotiations had brought to the union. “As your Negotiating Committee continued to meet with the company last week, making realistic proposals that, as our stickers say, will respect our past and secure our future, the company continued to insist that the way forward is to go back to a past that generations of steelworkers struggled to reject. More control over our lives by management is not the way—we need to work together to maintain a steel industry that is both profitable and provides good wages and benefits for us and the next generation.”
SMU Survey Respondents are Starting to Pay Attention
As you can see by the graphic below – more steel buyers and sellers are becoming concerned about the prospect of a strike at ArclerMittal USA.