USW Plans Rally on Sept. 1

Written by Sandy Williams

The USW said it is committed to moving forward in contract negotiations at US Steel and is continuing to meet regularly with US Steel representatives in Pittsburgh. The current contract agreement will expire on Sept 1 and the parties are still wrangling over health care, hours, overtime and contracting out.

The USW wrote in its Aug. 26 update, “Unfortunately, the company has continued its attempts to take advantage of the current industry crisis to pursue unrealistic, long-term changes to our contract that would negatively affect active employees, retirees and their families. These would include dramatic increases in active and retiree health care costs as well as changes to contract language covering hours, overtime and contracting out, among other concessions.”

“We’re ready and willing to keep talking and keep working for as long as it takes to reach a fair agreement,” said International Vice President Tom Conway, who is leading negotiations with U.S. Steel.

Talks are expected to continue throughout the week and the weekend.

A comprehensive proposal was submitted by the USW negotiating committee to ArcelorMittal last week.

Although, an agreement at the bargaining table is the preferred outcome, steelworkers are preparing for the possibility of a strike or lockout.

“I think there’s always a lot of tension, but not like this,” says Randy Jones, a 25 year veteran at Granite City Works who’s seen his share of contract talks. “My gut feeling is there’s more this time.” Bargaining always involves some degree of give-and-take, he says, but “a middle ground on this one is gonna be a step back.”

A solidarity rally is planned for Sept. 1 outside US Steel headquarters in Pittsburgh and at ArcelorMittal headquarters in Chesterton, Ind.

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