ArcelorMittal USA has walked away from the bargaining table following submission of a proposal by the USW that “meets our members’ needs and protects benefits.” The union called the move by management “disappointing but not surprising.” The negotiating committee is returning to the plants and has scheduled informational meetings Tuesday in Weirton at 3 p.m. and in Warren at 7 p.m. The committee will meet with union steelworkers in Cleveland on Wednesday.
The USW wrote in an update to members, “ArcelorMittal continues to demand major economic and non-economic concessions on many issues, such as vacation pay, incentive pay, sickness and accident benefits and transfer rights. The company refuses to consider any healthcare proposal that does not include monthly premium contributions for active employees and significant increases in the amount retirees already pay for their benefits while shifting everyone into plans with considerably less coverage and much higher deductibles.”
ArcelorMittal says it remains committed to “productive dialogue” with the USW.
“ArcelorMittal remains committed to the productive dialogue that we have had with the USW thus far and to further engaging with the USW to address the structural challenges facing the domestic steel industry and the impact that high labor costs have on our ability to successfully compete,” said a spokesperson for ArcelorMittal. “Throughout our negotiations with the USW, ArcelorMittal has and will continue to stress the importance of achieving labor cost parity with our key competitors both in and outside of the steel industry so that we are not at an inherent cost disadvantage when competing in our core markets.
Workers at the plants have been instructed by the union to continue reporting to work as scheduled.
“While we are very disappointed by the company’s decision to walk away from the talks our members have been instructed to go to work as usual. I plan to be at work today speaking to our union members,” said USW Local 2911 President Mark Glyptis.
USW Local 979 President Dan Boone warned members to be skeptical of rumors on social media or from uniformed sources on the bargaining committees progress. “Unless you read it one of the updates, or hear it from an informed source, it very likely isn’t true.”
“In the interim, I cannot stress strongly enough that you report to work as scheduled,” said Boone. “During this time of uncertainty, maintaining your focus not only on your job, as well as SAFETY, should be your top priority. “
The USW reminded workers of the work the union has done to keep the US steel industry strong.
“Our union is at the forefront of the fight to stop unfair trade,” the USW said. “It seems management has forgotten that without our hard work and dedication, none of these facilities would have survived the industry crisis from 1998-2002, when 50 steel companies went bankrupt — including almost all of our previous employers.”
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