Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Arcelor contract extended for short period; no word on USS

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The United Steelworkers (USW) and ArcelorMittal have agreed to extend, for a “short” but unspecified period of time, the union’s current three-year contract, only hours before it was set to expire at midnight tonight.

The USW announced the extension just before deadline today and added that it is subject to a 48-hour notice should either party opt to terminate it.

The USW did not say this morning whether a similar extension was, or might be, in the works for its current contract with U.S. Steel Corporation.

The union did say, on the other hand, that “little progress” has been made with ArcelorMittal since negotiations began on July 9. “Our negotiating committee has been patient in the face of ArcelorMittal’s attempts to frustrate us. We have sought out common ground where management seeks only to divide. We have provided reasonable alternatives to the company’s unreasonable demands.”

Under ArcelorMittal’s latest proposal for a three-year contract, the USW said, members would earn wage increases of 2 percent in the first year and 1.5 percent in each year thereafter, plus a signing bonus worth approximately $1,980 after taxes.

The raise and lump sum together would total an increase in a member’s annual take-home of around $2,365 per year or $7,095 over the contract’s lifetime.

On the other hand, concessions which ArcelorMittal is demandingÑin the hot-rolled bonus threshold, healthcare premiums, insurance plan design, and other provisions of the proposed contractÑwould cost the average hourly employee about $2,265 per year or $6,795 over the contract’s lifetime, the USW said.

“These concessions do not include all the company’s demandsÑsuch as to reduce SUB pay or eliminate the full week guarantee,” the union added.

“We remain committed to negotiating a fair agreement: ArcelorMittal steelworkers have earned and deserve wage and pension increases and health insurance without the $200 monthly premiums for family coverage,” the USW said. “Nevertheless, all USW members should plan to report for all scheduled shifts and continue to focus on working safely.”

2015

Three years ago, under pressure from plummeting oil prices, a strong dollar, and cheap foreign imports, steelmaking in the U.S. had tanked. ArcelorMittal was selling steel in 2015 at an average selling price of $734 per ton and posted a net loss in that year of $7.9 billion; while U.S. Steel was selling it at an average price of $696 per ton and posted a net loss of $1.5 billion. And both companies were announcing idlings and shutterings: ArcelorMittal, for instance, idled its East Chicago long carbon facility; while U.S. Steel closed coke operations at Gary Works, idled its Granite City, Ill., Works as well as multiple tubular facilities, and announced the end of steelmaking at its Fairfield, Ala., Works.

The fortunes of both companies have since changed.

ArcelorMittal posted a net income in 2017 of $4.56 billion and U.S. Steel a net income of $387 million. For the first six months of 2018, ArcelorMittal posted a total net income $3.05 billion and U.S. Steel a total net income of $232 million. And in the second quarter ArcelorMittal was selling steel at an average realized price of $853 per net ton, 16 percent higher than it sold a ton at in 2015; while U.S. Steel was selling a ton of flat-rolled at $819 per net ton, nearly 18 percent higher than it sold a ton at in 2015.

More: earlier this year U.S. Steel to great fanfare re-opened the Granite City Works.

The union’s contention since contract negotiations began this summer is this: members were willing to forgo raises when times were tough but the market has since rebounded, President Trump has imposed long-sought tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, and the sorts of concessions which both ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel are seeking don’t appear to reflect economic reality.

 

Posted 8/31/2018

 
 
 
 

 

 

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