Steelworkers Have Mixed Feelings For RG Steel's Proposed Labor Contract
After RG Steel LLC just acquired Wheeling; Warren, Ohio; and Sparrows Point, Md. from Severstal North America for over $1 billion, the proposed labor contract is bringing mixed feelings about the new owners.
In a Baltimore Brew article, it says that “Sparrows Point employees have received a 22-page pamphlet from the United Steelworkers union (USW) applauding its proposed labor contract with RG Steel and urging members to ratify the pact via mail-in ballot.” The members of the United Steelworkers Union met at the Mingo Junction Knights of Columbus about the proposed contract, where many left before the end of the meeting.
"It's the worst contract that the membership has ever seen," said Jack Rose. "I'm going to burn this contract book up," said Ernie Gambellin, who did exactly that, according to WTOV’s article.
Gambellin said workers have been lied to. He said they were originally promised a pattern labor agreement, now he said that's out the door -- and the same goes for seniority and eight-hour workdays. The contract language gives RG Steel the right to impose 12-hour shifts without employee consent, according to the Baltimore Brew. Furthermore, the incentive pay for six months is eliminated while “RG Steel [has] the right to review all job assignments, change seniority rules, alter pay grades and require employees to assist each other across craft lines,” The Brew article explains.
"No matter what the contract says, you're not working and there's no plans in the contract for us to work whatsoever," Gambellin said. Gambellin believes that the union members will stick together when it comes time to vote, with the vote going against the new contract. "To separate now and do what this company is asking and what the new agreement says, it would be catastrophic in my opinion," he said.
USW District Director Dave McCall said the proposal offers union members stability. "Sure there's people upset. They've been laid off and they want to be working. We need the market to come back," McCall said. He said there has to be a market demand for the product and, in his eyes, the end result looks promising -- especially on a local level. McCall said once orders pick up, the Ohio Valley has the blast furnace and electric arc furnace to assist production.
By May, the outcome of the vote is expected to be known.Sources: The Baltimore Brew & WTOV