Steel Mills

USW not sold on Nippon’s buy of USS after meeting

Written by Laura Miller

After meeting with Nippon Steel, the United Steelworkers (USW) union remains wary of the company’s proposed acquisition of U.S. Steel.

On Friday, Dec. 29, USW leaders had an introductory meeting with Hiroshi Ono, a Nippon Steel North America representative, and his team at the union’s headquarters in Pittsburgh.

In a letter to members after the meeting, Mike Millsap, USW District 7 director and chairman of the negotiating committee, and USW International President David McCall said they still have concerns about Nippon’s buy of U.S.Steel. Among those concerns are the extensive commitments in union contracts, the future of steelmaking operations, and a lack of commitment to capital expenditures, among others.

The union said, “neither Nippon or USS contacted the union prior to the [sale] announcement, which is a violation of many sections of our labor agreement that require USS to provide us information about critical developments.”

Combined with U.S. Steel’s history of breaking commitments, “This rocky start and lack of communication only deepens our concerns that Nippon would be no better than USS,” the letter states.

Additionally, there have been intentions made to shift production away from USW-represented facilities to non-unionized Big River Steel. This is “obviously also of grave concern to us,” the letter says.

Since Nippon Steel is a private company, U.S. Steel would no longer publicly report its financial results after being acquired. This also makes the union uneasy as it would directly impact its ability to verify profit-sharing payments.

Concerns on trade and future of steelmaking

The letter notes that the union is asking elected representatives to scrutinize the proposed acquisition as to how it will affect global trade, domestic steelmaking, national security, and supply-chain reliability.

Additionally, the letter says that Japanese steelmakers have been dumping products into the US market at unfair prices for many years. There are currently 12 antidumping duty orders on steel products from Japan, they say, including on hot-rolled and cold-rolled steel, tin mill products, and seamless pipe.

“In these cases – or any others where U.S. Steel may have an interest – Nippon Steel could order U.S. Steel to change its longstanding position and support revocation of the antidumping order,” the union leaders warn.

Neither Nippon Steel nor U.S. Steel could be reached for comment at the time of this story’s publication.

Laura Miller

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