Steel Mills

ATI Workers Considering Strike Option

Written by Sandy Williams

United Steelworkers at Allegheny Technologies Inc. are preparing for a potential strike as contract negotiations break down at the bargaining table.

ATIUSW members have been working under a one-year contract extension after January 2020 negotiations were halted due to the impact and uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The extended contract expired last week on Feb. 28.

Contract negotiations have been ongoing since January 2021, but failed to reach an agreement by the contract termination date. With an impasse in negotiations, the USW bargaining committee is now calling for a strike authorization vote.

A strike would affect about 1,300 workers at nine ATI locations. Both sides are working to avert such action, but the USW committee wants to be ready to begin a strike if necessary. “We plan to return to bargaining with the hope that ATI will finally see that its confrontational bargaining strategy won’t work,” said the union in an update to members.

“While the contract expired at 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 28, 2021, both parties agreed to extend their labor agreement indefinitely under the terms of the expired contract,” said ATI spokesperson Natalie Gillespie. “ATI and the USW are working hard to reach resolution. We value our employees’ hard work and commitment, and our proposal reflects that.”

Disputed issues include wages, health insurance, contracting out protections, overtime pay and scheduling. The union is asking for a three-year contract as opposed to a four-year agreement offered by ATI.

Workers have not had a wage increase in seven years, but have had lump-sum payments and profit sharing during the period. ATI is proposing $2,500 upon ratification, a 2% raise in 2022, $1,000 in 2023, and 2% in 2024. The USW has countered with a 4% increase in 2021, 3.5% in 2022, and 3.5% in 2023 as well as a $4,000 signing bonus.

Company-proposed health coverage would increase annual deductibles from $300 per individual and $600 per family to $500 and $1,000. The proposal would raise monthly premiums from zero to $40 for an individual or $125 for a family plan beginning in year three and increase co-pays.

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