Dec. 23, 2015

U.S. Steel, USW Finally Reach Labor Pact

After dragging on for months past the normal summer deadline, contract talks between U.S. Steel Corp. and the United Steelworkers have finally yielded a tentative agreement. Details of the labor pact were not released, pending ratification by union members, but it’s safe to speculate that neither side walked away from the bargaining table with a smile on their faces. Much of the arm-wrestling no doubt involved the nitty-gritty of wages and benefits, health care and retirement, but the real underlying issue is how the two sides should share the hit from the illegal dumping of steel in the U.S. and ensure their mutual survival. As USW International Vice President Tom Conway said, “Our members were determined throughout this process not to be made scapegoats for the problems of unfair trade and global overcapacity.”

Bargaining between the company and the union began in June, in the midst of a crisis for American steelmakers. Low-priced imports from China and other countries, along with a decline in drilling brought on by record low oil and natural gas prices, hurt demand for domestic steel. Plummeting steel prices have forced U.S. Steel and other companies to idle plants and lay off workers at factories around the country. Negotiating a contract at a time when the mills face such an urgent need to cut costs, and the unions such an urgent need to save jobs, could certainly have taken even longer than six months. The three-year-deal—which probably reflects an abundance of shared sacrifice—will cover 18,000 employees at U.S. Steel’s flat-rolled and iron-ore mining operations, plus tubular operations in Fairfield, Ohio, and Lone Star, Texas.

"We believe this competitive three-year contract further supports the mutual success we have had with the USW in pursuing our Carnegie Way efforts and confronting unfair trade that is significantly impacting our industry," says Mario Longhi, president and CEO of U.S. Steel. Fellow domestic steelmaker ArcelorMittal will resume negotiations with the union after the New Year. Union employees at several Allegheny Technologies’ facilities have been locked out since August.
 

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Monday, December 18, 2017