ATI Flat Rolled Products presented its “Last, Best and Final” contract proposal to the USW negotiating committee on Friday. The more than 2,000 union represented employees at ATI have been working under terms of a contract that expired June 30, 2015.
ATI management told employees that changes must be made to adapt to a changing U.S. and global steel market. Allegheny Technologies Inc. reported a net loss of $16.4 million for the second quarter of 2015. President and CEO Rich Harshman called it a “challenging quarter due to business conditions in the Flat Rolled Products segment.” The Flat Rolled Products segment sales and volumes were down due to low prices and a continued weak oil and gas market.
“From the opening day of negotiations, our goal has been to reach a labor agreement that improves our opportunities for long-term success, while providing for our employees and their families,” said Bob Wetherbee, ATI Executive Vice President of Flat Rolled Products. “Our ‘Last, Best and Final’ proposal achieves that goal. It will enable us to manage rising costs against lower prices for our products, while at the same time continue to provide great jobs to current and future employees.”
The new proposal would increase health care premiums to $125 in the first year of the agreement that would bump up to $215 per month by the fourth year of the contract. Dental and vision benefits would remain the same. Health care benefits would continue for retirees and no changes to the pension plan would occur for active or retired employees hired before June 30, 2015.
The incentive program would be simplified while maintaining earnings potential. Rules for hiring subcontractors would be updated to “protect core job functions.”
“Throughout the negotiations, we’ve been straightforward with the union. The competitive landscape in the United States and globally has changed and will continue to change. If ATI is to remain competitive and continue to offer great jobs, we too must make changes,” Wetherbee said. “Our final proposal is a fair and competitive solution. It will allow us to address serious business issues, while still providing opportunities for a secure future for our employees, their families, our communities and our company. We urge the USW bargaining committee to accept our final offer and to present it to the bargaining unit members for a ratification vote.”
In response to the ATI contract proposal the USW issued the following statements:
“It is unfortunate that the company continues its destructive plan during these talks. ATI again demonstrated its desire to dictate, not negotiate, the terms of an agreement. Despite this, significant progress has been made since bargaining began.”
“The USW remains committed to reaching a fair agreement, one that works for both sides,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “We reiterated our offer to continue bargaining yesterday.”
“Reaching a sensible solution remains our objective here,” stated USW International Vice President Tom Conway, who heads the union’s negotiating committee at ATI. “This can only be accomplished with good-faith efforts by both sides at the bargaining table.”
USW members reviewing the proposal took issue with the statement by ATI that workers averaged an annual salary of $94,000.
“They’re not defining what that $94,000 includes,” said Todd Barbiaux, vice-president of USW Local 1196 in Brackenridge. “That includes working 12 hours a day for six or seven days and even 16 hours in the event someone calls off.”
On Thursday, July 30, ATI union workers took their grievances to the doorstep of ATI in Pittsburgh. The rally attracted hundreds of members including supporters from ArcelorMittal and US Steel.
The USW bargaining committee declined to take a July 24 proposal by ATI to membership for vote. The latest proposal will be evaluated by the committee before a deciding whether to present it to union members.
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