PITTSBURGH (December 19) – The United Steelworkers (USW) union’s bargaining committee reached a tentative agreement today on a new contract covering 18,000 workers at more than a dozen facilities across the United States.
The contract is subject to ratification from the members of 26 local unions at those facilities. That process is likely to take several weeks to complete. Details of the agreement will be announced following ratification.
“This has been a difficult year and a difficult round of bargaining, but I am proud of the way the brothers and sisters of the USW stood up and demanded fair treatment,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard.
Bargaining between the company and the union began in June, in the midst of a crisis for American steelmakers. Illegally low-priced imports from China and elsewhere, along with a decline in oil and gas drilling brought on by low fuel prices, resulted in overcapacity across the globe. That drove prices and demand for steel down and led U.S. Steel and other companies to idle plants and lay off workers at factories around the country.
U.S. Steel’s opening proposal contained demands for major cuts in pay and benefits, along with changes to work rules and other concessions that could have cost workers and their families thousands of dollars per year. After agreeing to an extension, the two sides continued to exchange proposals well past the previous contract’s Sept. 1 expiration date.
“Our members were determined throughout this process not to be made scapegoats for the problems of unfair trade a global overcapacity,” said USW International Vice President Tom Conway, who chairs the bargaining committee.
Mike Millsap, who serves as USW District 7 director and secretary of the bargaining committee, said the union would continue to work with employers and politicians to address the problem of unfair trade.
“As we move on from a difficult round of bargaining, we look forward to building on this collaborative relationship with the company to address the problems that have led to this crisis,” Millsap said.
The USW is the largest industrial union in North America, representing workers in a range of industries including metals, mining, rubber, paper and forestry, oil refining, health care, security, hotels, and municipal governments.