Steel Mills

USW Local 2251 Rejects Latest Algoma Offer

Written by Becca Moczygemba

United Steelworkers Local 2251, the union representing Algoma Steel’s hourly employees, has declined to accept a revised labor offer presented by the Canadian flat-rolled steelmaker.

AlgomaThe move comes ahead of a contract extension between Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario-based Algoma and Local 2251 expiring on Monday, Aug. 15 at 11:59 pm, both parties confirmed.

The contract was initially set to expire on July 31, and a strike was averted at the last minute when the two sides agreed to continue talks.

While Algoma believes the compensation package—which includes wage and cost of living increases totaling 15.2% over four years, signing bonuses of $6,000 upon ratification, as well as numerous increases to employee and retiree benefits—is superior to those offered by its competitors, the president of Local 2251, Mike Da Prat, has a different opinion. As he told “A good deal, there is no signing bonus.”

Da Prat contended that bad deals have signing bonuses, and the amount of the signing bonus is a reflection of just how bad the deal is. “It’s meant to attract the short view rather than the long view,” Da Prat said. “The fight for us right now, regarding the cost-of-living adjustment [COLA] is for the young workers going forward. … They are the ones who are going to be detrimentally affected when the COLA becomes part of the wage structure.”

Algoma Steel president and CEO Michael Garcia said in a statement that, “We have worked tirelessly over the last several weeks to come up with a monetary proposal that is seen by both the company and the Union bargaining committee as fair, competitive, and affordable through all points of the steel cycle. We accomplished this with USW Local 2724, whose bargaining committee and membership approved largely the same offer we have presented to Local 2251. We will continue our efforts to find a way forward that avoids a business interruption.”

Late in July, Local 2724—which represents Algoma’s salaried workers—ratified its own labor agreement with the steelmaker, with 59.9% of its membership voting in favor.

With an Aug. 15 deadline looming, Da Prat insists 2251 union members are open to continued discussions, but they will not entertain the current offer by holding a vote on it.

It’s also crunch time for Stelco, another Canadian flat-rolled steelmaker, where USW Local 2782 will be in a legal position to strike as of Aug. 22.

This means we could see two important flat-rolled steel suppliers to Canada and to the Great Lakes/Midwestern US come offline over the next 1–2 weeks should new labor deals not be reached.

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By Becca Moczygemba,

Becca Moczygemba

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