Steel Mills

Labor Negotiations: USW and US Steel Remain ‘Miles Apart’

Written by David Schollaert

The United Steelworkers (USW) said United States Steel Corp. (USS) and the union remain “miles apart” on their collective bargaining labor negotiations, according to an Aug. 31 update.


The latest proposal, according to the USW, only included minor adjustments to the steelmaker’s previous offer.

“We met with USS last night, but unfortunately, the USS proposal contained only minor changes to the company’s last, substandard offer,” the union said.

The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker told SMU that they submitted an updated proposal to the USW that they believe is responsive to the union’s requests and achieves their common goals.

“We appreciate the dedication of our employees to US Steel and the hard work they put in for our customers every day,” a US Steel spokeswoman said. “That’s why we’re working so hard to reach an agreement that is truly best for all, and we remain optimistic that respectful and productive discussions will continue with the USW.”

The latest proposal protects the provisions that USS employees view as key to their security, she said, including inflation recognition adjustment, no health benefit premiums, and a well-funded pension plan.

The revised proposal is in response to the USW’s request for higher wages. It does so by providing a $7,000 bonus, an increase in the proposed year-over-year wage increases, and uncapped profit sharing.

The USW said that the wage increases proposed by USS – a 13% wage increase over the life of the proposed four-year contract – were nowhere near the standard set by Cliffs, which saw base wages increase by more than 20% over current pay rates.

The union added that the wage increase was also well below the 17% increase the steelmaker’s CEO David Burritt recently received on his salary.

The USW remains concerned about other issues as well. This includes what the union contends is a restricted healthcare network and no increase in pensions despite rising inflation and costs. The USW also said that US Steel rejected its proposals on increased time off and parental leave benefits the union said are already standard for the company’s salaried personnel.

The bargaining committee told its members that US Steel will hold the ratification bonus “hostage if we don’t agree to this terrible proposal by tomorrow.”

“We continue to demand they recognize our work and sacrifices with real wage increases and a benefits plan that protects our families now, and through retirement.

The USW’s current contract with US Steel is set to expire on Sept. 1. Union representatives said, though both parties remain miles apart on a new agreement, an extension is possible.

If an extension is worked out, union members would continue working under the terms of the current contract for a negotiated period while bargaining continues.

By David Schollaert,


David Schollaert

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