Sept. 2, 2015
Steelworkers Remain at Work as Deadline Passes
The Sept. 1 deadline for the United Steelworkers to reach a new labor agreement came and went without a new contract at either U.S. Steel or ArcelorMittal. Yet a major steel strike has been avoided, at least for the time being.
The United Steelworkers chose to remain at the table and negotiate, rather than authorize its members to strike. The nearly 30,000 union steelworkers at U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal will continue to report to work while the union negotiators and the mill representatives try to bang out a deal in Pittsburgh.
The USW issued a notice to all its workers, instructing them of their plans. “Working under the existing terms and conditions of an expired agreement is not the same as an extension, but demonstrates good faith while negotiations proceed and at least temporarily averts a labor dispute,” read a letter regarding USW negotiations with ArcelorMittal.
The union will continue to rally its members to exert pressure on management to reach an agreement. The letter assures its members that the union is “committed to negotiating contracts throughout the industry and will not allow them to use the current market as an excuse to gut our agreements or create hardships for our retirees.”
In its letter to U.S. Steel employees, the USW says there remain “major differences on economic and non-economic issues,” but the union is nonetheless pleased with the direction negotiations have taken with both companies. That’s a good sign. As is the union’s willingness to continue to negotiate past the deadline rather than engage in a labor stoppage that will serve neither the producers’ nor the employees’ long-term bests interests. It’s a far cry from a settled contract and labor stability for the next few years. But for a domestic industry that’s been battered from all sides over the past 18 months, it has to qualify as good news.