Workers at Burns Harbor mill in talks with ArcelorMittal over safety dispute
By Christin Nance Lazerus firstname.lastname@example.org April 24, 2013 11:26PM
Updated: April 25, 2013 8:32PM
Nearly a dozen union workers at ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor mill are involved in a safety dispute with the company, and the parties are in talks to resolve the matter.
The company recently completed upgrades to control systems and process automation at its basic oxygen furnace and continuous caster. As a result, many manual functions previously done by the workforce are now being controlled and completed by the process computer, thus replacing the need for human intervention during non-normal casting conditions.
On Sunday, 10 workers at the slab caster refused to work. An ArcelorMittal spokesman confirmed that a number of union workers invoked their contract rights by disputing the safety of the upgrades.
“The upgrades will not result in workforce reductions and will reduce the amount of overtime required to meet demand,” according to a company statement. “Benchmarks demonstrate that such improvements not only improve operational efficiency, but also improve workplace safety. Our number one priority continues to be the health and safety of our employees.”
The company said it is working closely with United Steelworkers Local 6787 to resolve the dispute.
ArcelorMittal said the issue isn’t impacting its ability to meet customer demand.
Local 6787 Vice President Pete Trinidad and grievance chairman John Moloney did not respond to requests for comment.