A strike authorization vote by U.S. Steel union members has received overwhelming support at plants across the Midwest.
“Every plant in Northwest Indiana that has voted has been unanimous. Not one member has said no (to a possible strike),” said Rick Bucher, assistant director of USW District 7 in a comment to the Chicago Tribune.
Bucher said that steelworkers are “hurt, disappointed, and feel they’ve been disrespected” by the U.S. Steel proposal. “We don’t want to strike. All we want is a fair contract,” Bucher added.
USW local 1066 workers in Gary, Ind., turned out in force, voting 1,055 to 0 for a strike, said President Mark Lash. Workers in Illinois at U.S.-Steel Granite City Works voted unanimously to authorize a strike. Granite City is still ramping up production after being idle for two years.
Union workers are angry that after helping U.S. Steel to turn around its losses, the company has not stepped up to provide a stronger contract. The company proposal calls for a six-year labor agreement that provides raises that would be offset by increased healthcare costs, said the USW.
“On its website, USS titles its summary ‘Just the Facts’ but leaves out a number of very important ones – including the possibility that a family’s out-of-pocket health care costs would nearly wipe out any pay increases the company has proposed,” wrote the USW in an update.
“U.S. Steel is trying to use smoke and mirrors to distract from the fact that a hugely profitable company is making a proposal with huge concessions.”
U.S. Steel said in a negotiations update on Friday: “Our current labor contracts are under an extension agreed upon by both parties. Our plants continue to operate in a safe and orderly fashion. While we are aware of the strike authorization vote, talks are ongoing and we continue to work diligently to reach a mutually agreeable conclusion.”
A strike would require the USW to give U.S. Steel 48 hours notification in order to shut down the facility in an orderly fashion. Union members are current working under a contract extension.
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