IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the United Steelworkers (USW) is holding a week of action in the United States to demand a fair contract with steel giants ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel.
Rallies and marches have been planned from 19 to 21 August at ArcelorMittal facilities in four states: West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.
At the same time, USW members are also participating in a series of events targeting 12 plants in six states belonging to Allegheny Technologies (ATI).
In June, the Steelworkers entered into negotiations of new master agreements at both ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel, which employ around 30,000 USW members combined. Both contracts are scheduled to expire on 1 September.
The USW reports that both ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel persist in their proposals to drive down compensation and force union members to pay significantly more for active and retired health benefits that are unlikely to provide the coverage of the current plans.
“We recognize that this is a difficult time for the steel industry,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard, “but we also recognize that for generations, these have been good, middle-class jobs that have allowed workers to care for their families and support their communities.
“It is important that we make sure that remains true for our generation and for those who come after us,” Leo W. Gerard added.
Steelworkers at U.S. Steel have been organizing strike and lockout preparation sessions at local unions across the country. Local union activists at each site are coming together to make plans to organizing picket lines, mobilize community support, and administer strike or lockout assistance in the event of a work stoppage.
Elsewhere, steelmaker Allegheny Technologies announced on 14 August the lockout of 2,200 steelworkers at 12 sites around the country. The lockout is the culmination of a months-long campaign by ATI management to force workers to accept draconian and unnecessary concessions. The United Steelworkers say ATI is spending millions of dollars on bringing outsiders to replace skilled and experienced union members even though the union has never threatened to strike or even conducted a strike authorization vote.
IndustriALL assistant general secretary Fernando Lopes said, “IndustriALL and our 50 million member strong family fully supports the USW members in their fight for fair contracts for the welfare of workers and their families.”