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Steel Workers Vote to Authorize Strike

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

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As contract negotiations between United Steelworkers and U.S. Steel continue, steelworkers in and around Pittsburgh voted Thursday (Sept. 6) to allow the union to call for a strike if necessary.

During the Thursday meeting, steel workers from union chapters of Edgar Thomson Steel Works in Braddock, Pennsylvania, and Irvin Works in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, unanimously confirmed that they were ready to strike if officials do not reach a compromise soon. The company’s recently revised pay and benefits package was dubbed “far from fair.”

Steel Worker Strike

According to TribLIVE, the last three years have seen back-to-back wage freezes. U.S. Steel’s most recent contract renewal proposal included a seven-year contract extension, which breaks down to 3.5 percent raises this year, 2 percent raises the following year and 1 percent raises in 2020. The latest round of contracts were approved in 2015, and expired in the beginning of the month.

In the updated contract offer, the company calls for a six-year extension with a 4 percent raise in the first year that declines to a 3 percent raise in the second year and a 1 percent raise for the following three years. There is also the possibility of earning an additional 5 percent bonus. The healthcare benefits part of the package have also raised ire among steelworkers, as cost would amount to $2,000 or $4,000 more per year for families by the end of the contract period. Previously, U.S. Steel had covered employee healthcare completely.

In response, U.S. Steel has offered incentives including $6,000 in profit sharing and a $5,000 “health care transition bonus.”

The union prefers a three-year contract extension. Criticism from the union hinges upon the idea that the company is trying to get a long-term, cheaper deal with some upfront money, to distract employees from long-term costs.

With the new tariffs on the table, the union claims that company executives are capitalizing on the opportunity.

Steelworkers employed with Illinois-based Granite City Works also recently approved a strike authorization. In response to the activity of Pittsburgh workers, U.S. Steel noted that it did not anticipate a strike and that attempts to negotiate were being made.

“Nobody wants to strike, no one benefits, but if it’s the only way to get the message across, it’s what we have to do,” steelworker Mark Bukk told KDKA TV.


Tagged categories: Business operations; Contracts; Good Technical Practice; North America; U.S. Steel; Workers

Comment from Robert Bullard, (9/12/2018, 10:06 PM)

Whatever US Steel got from buying their way into the White House can be shared with their employees.

Comment from David Zuskin, (9/14/2018, 10:39 AM)

If the unions do not want to be reasonable, drop the tariffs and let them fend for themselves in the world market. They can relax at the house after they are laid off and dream of the big bucks they might have made.

Comment from peter grady, (9/18/2018, 6:23 AM)

NAFTA & all the other anti US citizen destructive trade & labor laws have eroded the middle class, taking over a million middle class jobs with it. The insane pure narcissism & greed of the wall st investor class has caused massive wealth disparity in the USA, the USA went from a sovereign country to a 3rd world global economic zone. We have outsourced over a million jobs, and in sourced tens of millions of 3rd world labor. You dont have a enlightened functioning healthy society if you dont create design build restore manufacture & produce anything. All you have is extreme wealth disparity w the greed & narcissism of the investor class turning the USA into a dystopian nightmare of extreme wealth & poverty. Carl Sagans' famous quote starting with - I have a foreboding of an America.... comes to mind.

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (9/18/2018, 11:34 AM)

Peter, while I agree that the US has outsourced a good amount of production, you can't just blame Wall Street and investors. Everyone wants their stuff cheap and wants to keep money in their wallet...Greed is universal. It doesn't matter whether it is Wal-Mart or Target stuff, cars and trucks (personal stuff), parts, raw materials and equipment (company stuff) or bridges and buildings (government stuff)...the US (and most 1st world nations) cannot compete with foreign countries like China, Taiwan, India and Mexico with a combined 2+ billion people working for pennies on the US dollar. You want to save money and/or get rich? You buy where the stuff you want is cheap...that's common to everyone from the slums to the ivory towers. In a globalized world you have two choices: 1) you embrace globalism and the challenges it poses (which the US hasn't been doing well lately) or 2) try to block yourself off from it, hope the rest of the world doesn't leave you behind and pray your economy can take it (hello Donald Trump).

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