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Union, U.S. Steel Reach Tentative Contract Agreement

By Submitted Report
The Tube City Almanac
December 20, 2015
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(The editor of Tube City Almanac has a conflict of interest. Please see the editor's notes at the end of this article.)

Unionized employees at U.S. Steel's Mon Valley Works have an early Christmas present.

The company and the United Steelworkers yesterday reached a tentative three-year contract agreement covering 18,000 employees in 26 local unions at a dozen U.S. Steel facilities. The union has been working without a contract since the previous agreement expired Sept. 1.

The agreement covers employees of U.S. Steel's domestic flat-rolled facilities, which include the Clairton, Edgar Thomson and Irvin plants of the Mon Valley Works, as well as pipe-making and iron-ore mining operations. The tentative agreement remains subject to ratification, a process that the union said could take several weeks to complete.

"We are pleased that we have reached a tentative agreement in the best interest of our company, our stakeholders and our employees," U.S. Steel President and CEO Mario Longhi said.

The agreement, he said, "further supports the mutual success we have had with the USW" in restructuring U.S. Steel in the face of what he called "unfair trade that is significantly impacting our industry."

Details about the tentative agreement will be made available following the completion of the ratification process.

"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 Leo W. Gerard, president of the USW International.

Bargaining between the company and the union began in June, in the midst of what the union has called "a crisis" for American steelmakers. A combination of low-priced imports from China and elsewhere, which American companies say are being illegally dumped in the U.S., combined with a decline in oil and gas drilling, resulted in overcapacity and widespread layoffs.

That included the August 2014 closure, termed an "idling," of U.S. Steel's McKeesport Tubular Operations, the last remaining vestige of McKeesport's National Tube Works. The facility remains closed.

The union said U.S. Steel's opening proposal contained demands for major cuts in pay and benefits, along with changes to work rules and other concessions.

"Our members were determined throughout this process not to be made scapegoats for the problems of unfair trade and global overcapacity," said USW International Vice President Tom Conway, who chairs the bargaining committee.

Mike Millsap, who serves as director of USW District 7 in Illinois and Indiana 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.

(Editor's Note: This article was written entirely from press releases supplied by U.S. Steel and the United Steelworkers. There was no original reporting.)

(Conflict of Interest Note: The editor of Tube City Almanac has a conflict of interest; he is a U.S. Steel stockholder.)

Originally published December 20, 2015.

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