Steel Mills

USW Gets Unexpected Meeting with Lakshmi Mittal

Written by Sandy Williams

USW members outside ArcelorMittal headquarters in Chicago on Wednesday were granted an unexpected interview with Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lakshmi Mittal.

Mittal spoke with union members outside asking why they were rallying. Union leaders were invited in for coffee and a brief discussion with Mittal and ArcelorMittal Americas CEO Lou Schorsch.

Union leaders told Mittal that they were unwilling to relinquish hard-earned benefits or allow retiree health insurance contributions to triple.

“The company’s demands would immediately lower the standards of living for members and retirees,” said USW District 1 Director David McCall, who chairs the union’s negotiations with ArcelorMittal. “Further, these proposals are clearly designed to undermine our ability to defend our benefits in future negotiations.”

According to ArcelorMittal spokesperson Mary Beth Holdford the discussion was not contract specific but rather about challenges to the industry and the company.

“Contract negotiations with the United Steelworkers serve an opportunity to align our cost structure with the current realities facing our industry and create a more sustainable business, not just for our company but also for our employees,” said Holdford. “Mr. Mittal also stressed that the USW is and will continue to be a valued partner moving forward. The meeting was cordial, respectful and, frankly, Mr. Mittal’s willingness to approach the demonstrators and invite them in for coffee serves as an example of the transparent and honest dialogue the company is trying to have around the issues impacting our business and industry.”

According to the USW negotiations have been “slowed by management’s demands for significant concessions.”

“While USW negotiators have reported some progress in recent weeks, ArcelorMittal persists in demanding drastic changes to active and retiree benefits plans, including a proposal to triple the amount retirees already contribute in healthcare premiums,” said the USW in an update to members.

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