Steel Mills

USW Critical of Benefit Changes for ArcelorMittal Salaried Employees

Written by Sandy Williams

ArcelorMittal USA has introduced a new Consumer Driven Health Plan (CDHP) for non-represented salaried employees, effective January 1, 2016.

Employee contributions for single coverage under CDHP will average $65 per month and family coverage will be $198 per month. ArcelorMittal says the plan is still highly competitive with other plans in the industry. Employees will pay 20 percent of in-network costs after the deductible is met. To help offset a higher deductible, the company is offering a contribution for employees who enroll in a Health Savings Account.

In the company website blog, CEO Andrew Harshaw explained the changes were due to the “Cadillac tax” inclusion in the Affordable Healthcare Act that penalizes companies which offer “comprehensive, low deductible plans which encourage overuse of the health care system. “ Harshaw said that under the AHA the tax could cost ArcelorMittal USA thousands of dollars per employee.

A second factor contributing to the decision to change the benefit plan is the “significant financial challenge the industry is currently facing and the expectation that these challenges will remain for the foreseeable future.”

The USW/ArcelorMittal Negotiating Committee issued a statement last week calling the changes to the salaried benefits “unfortunate” and “unnecessary.” The USW said it is a “short-sighted attempt to cut costs only for the sake of cutting costs, knowing that ‘at-will and non-represented’ employees have no recourse to resist or fight back.”

The USW said that although it did not know the details of the salaried compensation plans, the USW benefit plans are below the threshold and doubts the salaried plans are more expensive.

Said the USW in its statement, “Obviously while we do not always see “eye to eye” with middle management, we generally live in the same neighborhoods. Our children go to the same schools, and at the end of the day, it’s just another attack on the middle class standard of living of many families.”

USW/ArcelorMittal negotiations are continuing but at a frustratingly slow pace. Healthcare benefits continue to be a contentious issue between the parties.

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