Steel Mills

USW: 'We Have Right to Share Prosperity'

Written by Sandy Williams

United Steelworkers labor negotiations with ArcelorMittal are yielding little progress, said an update from the USW to members on Friday.

“From local issues to major economics, ArcelorMittal has resisted engaging in meaningful dialogue,” said the communication.

USW officials complained that the delays could be a “tactic to undermine the bargaining process” as the Sept. 1 deadline nears. “Nonetheless, we remain committed to negotiating a fair agreement in a timely manner,” said the USW.

In a statement released by ArcelorMittal USA today, the company said improved results in the second quarter resulted in a payout of $3.59 per hour to the USW-represented workforce. 

U.S. Steel Focuses on Holding Down Labor Costs

Negotiations at U.S. Steel have progressed on some local issues and main agreement pieces, said USW’s update to members on Aug. 8, but so far the company is focused on keeping wages flat. Instead of raising wages, U.S. Steel proposes offering a variable lump sum payment based on the company’s financial performance. 

“We went through a three-year contract without a wage increase,” said the USW bargaining committee in its update. “We believe that approach made sense back then, but these are now very different times, and that approach doesn’t make sense today. The frustration with their proposed idea is further increased by the behavior of the management who revised their compensation programs and gave themselves significant bonuses during the past three years, while the company continued to lose money and after we froze our wages. For many reasons, both the industry and the company are projected to do well financially over the coming months and years, and we have every right to expect to share in that prosperity.”

A misinformation campaign is under way by U.S. Steel to convince hourly workers that flat wage costs are “essential to the company,” said union negotiators. Leadership is making “robo calls” and holding town meetings, said the USW, to convince workers to “align” with the company’s strategic goals.

“While the union has been sensitive to the industry and USS in particular, we don’t accept this approach as valid or fair, and we are reminded of their behavior during the past few years. This is another empty promise with a sales pitch attached to it. While the top management may like the idea of big annual bonus payments, our lives and finances aren’t structured the same way,” added the USW. “We have monthly and daily expenses and deserve wage increases commensurate with the productivity increases we have helped to bring about at USS.”

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