USW Ratifies Contract with U.S. Steel
The United Steel Workers Local 8782 reported this evening (Thursday) the results of the union vote to accept or defeat the tentative contract with U.S. Steel at the Lake Erie Works (Canada). The union ratified the contract with 88.5% of those participating casting their votes to ratify the contract.
“We didn’t lose a thing” retiree John “Reb” Felker told the Simcoe Reformer news – “It’s a gift.”
When the lockout started U.S. Steel was asking for concessions of $12 per hour plus changes to working conditions, holidays and other items. The workers, who average $42 an hour in pay and benefits, were not willing to concede concessions. The lockout began in August 2009.
The new contract provides each worker a $3,000 signing bonus, cost of living expenses spread over the life of the contract which are said to be worth $1.63 per hour while profit-sharing remains in place with modifications. The one area where it appears U.S. Steel won was regarding pension reform – new hires will not be eligible for the defined benefit retirement program once the contract is ratified.
Eighty percent of the more than 1,000 members of USW local 8782 voted on Thursday to ratify the contract. Once it passes, the union members have been told they will be back at work within two weeks. In other words the Lake Erie plant will go back to rolling slabs produced at their sister facility across town – Hamilton Works.
Here is a copy of the USW Local 8782 press release:
Members of USW Local 8782 have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new 3 year collective agreement. The contract was accepted by 88.5% .
Polls closed at 8pm this evening as more than 80% of members turned out to vote. Lake Erie works employees were locked out by US Steel on August 3rd 2009. The lockout followed the layoff of about 800 workers from the same facility in March 2009.
President Bill Ferguson credits the solidarity of the membership along with solid community backing in enduring the over 8 month lockout. “We appreciate all the community support and the pride and strength of our membership, and we are pleased to announce we are heading back to work!”
HAMILTON WORKS CONTRACT EXPIRES LATER THIS YEAR
The U.S. Steel finalization of contract negotiations with their Lake Erie facility is coming to a conclusion just in time as their Hamilton plant contract expires this summer. SMU communicated recently with the Hamilton USW union leader who advised us they anticipate contract negotiations to begin in early May 2010.
At this time the Hamilton facility is running their coke ovens, blast furnace, basic oxygen furnace (BOF), caster along with their #4 stand cold rolling mill and their Z-Line automotive galvanizing operation. SMU has learned slabs from the Hamilton facility are being sent to the United States (note the slab import statistics from Canada) and are being rolled in the U.S. and sent back to Hamilton where they are processed through the 4-stand cold mill and the Z-Line.
The Hamilton facility is not able to roll their own hot roll as the 56” hot strip mill was shut down after the mill (Stelco) came out of bankruptcy in 2006 when Rodney Mott took over the operations of the mill. The mill has had no choice but to send slabs to the U.S. for production due to the lockout of the Lake Erie plant.