U.S. Steel, union come to tentative agreement
By Christin Nance Lazerus email@example.com September 2, 2012 4:24PM
Updated: October 4, 2012 6:18AM
The United Steelworkers have reached a tentative agreement with U.S. Steel on a three-year contract, while negotiations are still continuing with ArcelorMittal.
Both contracts expired at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, but workers were not locked out and they were instructed to continue working.
Union members will vote on the U.S. Steel agreement, which covers more than 16,000 workers in the U.S., after they review details over the next few weeks.
“Throughout the summer, USW members worked tirelessly to achieve an agreement that we believe is fair to both sides,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard in a press release. “We are proud of the work we have done to ensure a stable future for our members, our retirees and the company.”
In a press release, U.S. Steel Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John P. Surma said, “We are pleased that a tentative agreement was reached with the United Steelworkers on a competitive three-year contract. We believe that this agreement is in the best interests of our company, our employees and all of our stakeholders.”
ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor workers reported that the No. 7 blast furnace started up around 3:45 a.m., then others followed, which was taken as a good sign. The furnaces had idled in the run-up to the contract expiration.
“We take this as a sign that the company may now recognize that neither the USW negotiating committee nor the union membership as a whole will be intimidated into accepting unwarranted concessions by the implied threat of a lockout,” said USW District 1 Director David McCall in a release. The ArcelorMittal contract has not been formally extended, but employees will continue to work under those terms.
In ArcelorMittal’s Sept. 1 statement, the company that negotations were continuing, saying “We remain optimistic about reaching a fair and equitable contract with the USW.” The company said it will not address specific issues being discussed between the parties.
USW District 7 Director Jim Robinson said that the union has made extraordinary efforts to reach a fair settlement. Nearly 14,000 workers at 15 U.S. plants are affected by the talks.
“We still face a number of obstacles — including our desire for modest wage and benefit improvements, outstanding contract language items, the company’s demands for concessions that remain on the table and issues that should have been addressed in plant-level negotiations weeks ago,” Robinson said. “We cannot and will not allow management to forget that we all have a stake in the plants — no matter whose name is on the door.”