Steel Mills

Tensions Rise Between USS and USW, Still No Deal

Written by David Schollaert

The United Steelworkers union and US Steel traded blows as bargaining talks on a new labor deal continued well past the Sept. 1 expiration of a prior agreement.

The USW said in an update to its members on Sept. 22 that the Pittsburgh-based steelmaker had failed to invest in its union-represented facilities as promised. The union also alleged that the company’s current proposal on investments was ultimately a “dis-investment” because it lacked “what is needed to keep our plants safe and competitive.”

US Steel hit back, saying that investment in USW-represented facilities remained a priority. The company underscored the $5.3 billion it has invested in its USW plants since 2018.

USWThe USW and US Steel agreed on Aug. 31 to extend the terms of their prior contract and to continue negotiating toward new deal. But the two sides have made little progress since bargaining began in mid-July.

A lockout or strike would begin in the event the extension is terminated. Either party can terminate talks provided they give a 48-hour notice.

At the crux of USW criticisms: that US Steel “broke promises” at its Mon Valley Works in western Pennsylvania. The union highlighted the cancelation of a planned $1.2 billion investment in a state-of-the art casting and rolling facility at its Edgar Thomson Plant, a union mill in Braddock, Pa. The USW said that capital had been redirected to US Steel’s Big River Steel Works, a non-union EAF sheet mill in Osceola, Ark.

The USW proposed that US Steel invest $4 billion at its union-represented facilities over the next four years to “keep faith with its workforce.” The union said US Steel should construct a new EAF mill and DRI plant at Mon Valley Works. It also said the company should rebuild the A blast furnace at its Granite City works near St. Louis rather than selling it to SunCoke.

“We’re already prioritizing investing in our facilities,” US Steel said in a statement. “The $1 billion investment in the current proposed agreement is just a continuation of the work we’ve been doing for years.”

By David Schollaert,

David Schollaert

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