Around 100 United Steelworkers (USW) members, retirees and supporters rallied at rush hour outside ArcelorMittal’s corporate offices in downtown Chicago on the morning of 27 January 2016 and delivered a loud and clear message directly to group chairman and CEO, Lakshmi Mittal, “We deserve a fair contract now!”.
Mittal and soon-to-depart ArcelorMittal Americas CEO Lou Schorsch were drawn to the USW rally from their offices, and invited a delegation of USW members inside for coffee and a brief discussion of the issues.
Once inside, the delegation told Mittal and Schorsch that tens of thousands of active and retired stand in solidarity against ArcelorMittal’s contract demands, that the USW cannot allow the company to take away the rights and benefits members have earned and will not allow management to triple the amount retirees contribute to health insurance premiums.
“The company’s demands would immediately lower the standards of living for our members and retirees,” said USW District 1 Director David McCall, who chairs the union’s negotiations with ArcelorMittal. “Further, these proposals are clearly designed to undermine our ability to defend our benefits in future negotiations.”
More than 13,000 workers at ArcelorMittal facilities in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Minnesota, South Carolina and Louisiana have continued to work under existing terms and conditions since contracts with the company expired on 1 September 2015, while negotiations for new contracts have been slowed by management’s demands for significant concessions.
Although the USW has reported some progress in contract talks, ArcelorMittal persists in demands for drastic changes to active and retiree benefits plans, among other unfair and unnecessary concessions.
“In order for us to fend off these demands and the company’s relentless and endless attempts to reverse decades of collective bargaining progress, we must continue to stand together,” McCall said.
The USW remains committed to negotiating in good faith for a fair contract with ArcelorMittal and the negotiating committee is confident that the union will achieve its goals.
IndustriALL Global Union assistant general secretary Fernando Lopes said:
IndustriALL Global Union supports our affiliate the United Steelworkers and we urge ArcelorMittal to listen to the just demands of its workers who have a right to the benefits they were promised.