Steel Mills

USW Goes on Strike at ATI

Written by Michael Cowden

The United Steelworkers (USW) union has gone on strike at nine Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI) facilities.

The strike started at 7 a.m. ET on Tuesday, March 30, over what the USW contends are “unfair labor practices.”

USWThe union represents approximately 1,300 workers at ATI, and it says they have not had a wage increase since 2014.

“Through generations of hard work and dedication, Steelworkers at ATI have earned and deserve the security of a union contract,” USW International Vice President (Administration) David McCall said in a statement. McCall also chairs the USW’s negotiations with ATI. “We cannot allow the company to use the global pandemic as an excuse to reverse decades of collective bargaining progress,” he said.

ATI, in hopes of averting a strike, on Monday night offered a 9% wage increase and premium-free healthcare, a company spokeswoman said.

“With such a generous offer on the table … we are disappointed for this action, especially at such an economically challenging time for ATI,” she said.

ATI makes specialty metals and complex components and has been exposed to an aerospace sector hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company swung to a $1.57 billion loss in 2020 after recording net income of $257.6 million in 2019 in what the spokeswoman has said was “one of the worst years in company history.”

But the main impact of the strike, as it relates to the carbon flat-rolled steel market, is any impact it might have on ATI’s hot rolling and processing facility (HRPF) at Brackenridge, Pa.

ATI toll rolls carbon slabs into coil at the facility for a handful of third-party customers, including not only certain domestic mills but also slab importers.

There might be little impact on the market because the state-of-the-art Brackenridge HRPF can be run with a small staff and because it might have been processing only limited slab volumes ahead of the strike, some market participants said. Indeed, some said they had been informed there would be limited or no interruption in output from Brackenridge despite the labor action.

Still, it was not immediately clear what the impact of the strike at Brackenridge might be as of Tuesday.

“We remain dedicated to serving our customers and continuing to safely operate in the manner necessary to deliver our commitments with as little interruption as possible. We have activated our business continuity plan deploying our non-represented employees and temporary replacement workers,” the spokeswoman said.

She declined to comment on the status of operations at Brackenridge specifically.

ATI and the USW started negotiations in early January. Union members had been working under the terms of a previous contract that expired on Feb. 28. The USW gave notice of its intent to strike late last week.

By Michael Cowden,

Michael Cowden

Read more from Michael Cowden

Latest in Steel Mills