Steelworkers Agree To Extend Contract Negotiations

Workers asking ArcelorMittal for guaranteed raises

Photo by Paul Giannamore Members of United Steelworkers Local 2911 at ArcelorMittal Weirton held a rally Thursday outside the company’s No. 13 gate, on the steps of the union local hall at the north end of West Street. They union said Friday it has agreed to continue contract negotiations after the contract expires today.

WEIRTON — The United Steelworkers and ArcelorMittal have agreed to continue contract negotiations beyond the expiration of the contract, which occurs at midnight tonight.

The union said Friday it and the company had reached an understanding to extend the current labor agreements.

The Steelworkers are seeking guaranteed raises instead of having them tied to steel pricing and demand as was done in the 2015 agreement. Officials of the union said the 2015 contract was concessionary because the domestic steel industry was struggling at the time.

In a statement issued Friday, the USW said it isn’t satisfied with the amount of progress in the talks since they started July 9.

Rallies were held by the 13 USW locals Thursday across ArcelorMittal USA’s plants regarding the negotiations.

The union said, “We reached an understanding to extend our current contracts for a short period of time while negotiations proceed, subject to a 48-hour notice if either party intends to terminate.”

The union and ArcelorMittal didn’t reach agreement in September 2015 and the contract wasn’t ratified until March 2016.

The union said ArcelorMittal’s latest proposal called for a 2 percent raise the first year and 1.5 percent in each of the next two years, plus a signing bonus of about $1,980 after taxes.

However, the union contended the contract proposal included concessions that would cost workers about $13,887 on average during the three-year run.

Although the union is dissatisfied with the proposal, it called on all members to report for their scheduled shifts and to focus on working safely.

“Unless the character and direction of our contract negotiations with ArcelorMittal change quickly and dramatically, we will plan to schedule membership meetings at all locations during the month of September to discuss our next steps,” the union’s Friday statement concluded.

The USW contract with ArcelorMittal covers 15,000 members. About 800 are members of Local 2911 in Weirton.

No one from ArcelorMittal was available Friday for comment.

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