Over 30,000 workers employed in the U.S. steel industry are wearing a days “Fair contract now!” sticker to show solidarity with their co-workers in ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel.
On 12 September ArcelorMittal stopped negotiation, leaving union negotiators “disappointed by not surprised, since management has drawn out the process every step of the way”, according to a USW statement released the same day.
Workers’ representatives had delivered a comprehensive proposal to ArcelorMittal management that would meet the needs of active and retired steelworkers, while maintaining benefits and saving the company millions of dollars in expenses and liabilities.
But instead of pursuing negotiations in good faith management decided to leave the room. The company insists on large economic and non-economic concessions concerning vacation pay, health benefits, incentive pay, sickness and accident benefits.
The USW declared that the union has been “flexible and creative in addressing many of the concerns raised by management”, but management seems to have forgotten of “workers’ hard work and dedication” which saved these facilities in industry crisis of 1998-2002, when many steel companies went bankrupt.
The negotiations of a new contract started in June, a few months before the expiry of the previous contract on 1 September.
Another steel giant, U.S. Steel is still demanding drastic cuts, as well as introduction of a two-tier scheme undermining solidarity among newly employed and current workers. Health care, occupational safety, extensive use of outsourced workforce, reduced profit sharing and cut benefits are the subject to major attacks from the side of the company. The USW committee is continuing negotiations to reach a fair contract settlement.
IndustriALL Global Union assistant general secretary Fernando Lopes says, "IndustriALL expresses full solidarity support to our affiliate USW and all steelworkers fighting for decent life, wage and benefits, and will continue regular reporting on progress of the negotiations".