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USW: ArcelorMittal seeks major concessions in contract talks

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The United Steelworkers (USW) has officially opened contract negotiations with ArcelorMittal--with its “first face-to-face meeting with management” on Monday--and the union is already signaling to membership that the company is seeking deep concessions.

Just about two years ago, in June 2016, the USW ratified a retroactive three-year collective bargaining agreement with ArcelorMittal, effective Sept. 1, 2015, after working nearly 10 acrimonious months without a new contract.

On Monday, the USW reported on its website--in a release headlined “ArcelorMittal Seeks Major Concessions Despite Market Turnaround”--that ArcelorMittal’s initial proposal, presented earlier in the day, includes “major economic and non-economic concessions that would negatively impact every member of the bargaining unit at each USW-represented location.”

In particular, the USW reported the following:

* Active health care: “ArcelorMittal has proposed forcing bargaining unit employees to choose between paying expensive premiums to stay in a lesser PPO plan ($200 per month for a family) or enrolling in a Consumer Driven Health Care plan with $8,000 per year in out-of-pocket expenses.”

* Retiree health care: “Management has proposed doubling monthly health care contributions for retirees.”

* Pension Enhancement Payment (PEP): “ArcelorMittal has proposed eliminating the $10,000 PEP for employees at former ISG (International Steel Group) locations.” ISG acquired the holdings of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation after Bethlehem went bankrupt in 2001.

* Sickness and Accident, Severance, Supplemental Unemployment: “The company has proposed changes to these provisions that provide earnings security for members when they need it most.”

* Institute for Career Development (ICD): “Management has proposed to end future funding for ICD.”

* Other issues: “ArcelorMittal is also seeking significant concessions and reductions in areas like incentive pay, vacation pay, family and medical leave, contracting out, seniority, scheduling, and others.”

“The company’s initial proposal fails to include any wage or pension increases or specific commitments to invest in the future of our facilities, even though the market for steel and the products we supply has improved dramatically from the historic lows we experienced in 2015,” the USW said.

“Clearly, our committee has much work to do when bargaining resumes in Pittsburgh on Monday, July 16,” the USW added.

When the USW’s previous three-year contract with both ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel Corporation expired on Sept. 1, 2015--following several months of fruitless negotiations over the summer and huge rallies at both U.S. Steel’s Gary facility and ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor facility--the membership elected to keep working without a contract.

Members did so throughout the fall, despite stop-and-go, hurry-up-and-wait negotiations, and then in something of a surprise announcement, in December 2015, the USW reported that it had reached a tentative agreement with U.S. Steel. That contract was ratified by a better than two-to-one margin on Feb. 1, 2016.

The USW, however, was unable to reach a deal with ArcelorMittal until April 2016. That contract was ratified by 69 percent of the membership on June 23, 2016, just about a year after negotiations between the union and the company first began.

 

 

Posted 7/10/2018

 
 
 
 

 

 

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