Steel Workers Vote to Authorize Strike


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

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