Friday, September 14, 2012
A “tentative” contract agreement has been reached between ArcelorMittal and the union which represents about 14,000 company workers, including those at Georgetown’s steel-making plant.
The announcement was made Saturday, one week after the current contract expired. Specific details about the new contract have not been released.
A memo to workers says an announcement will be made soon about when a contract ratification vote will take place. One report says it may be about two weeks before a vote takes place.
“From the beginning, one of the most important issues we grappled with was retiree health care. While this will continue to be a contentious issue in the future, we believe we have negotiated a framework that will protect ourselves as future retirees as well as our current retirees during this contract and put us in a good position for negotiations three years from now,” the memo states. “In June of this year, management made irresponsible demands for major economic concessions and the elimination of many of our hard earned rights. Although management admits we have “turned the corner” on the worst economic downturn that any of us can remember, they still made serious demands that would in fact require us to pay for their operating mistakes and financial
losses over the last few years. Instead of approaching this round of bargaining with a commitment to the future for both the company and its employees and a desire to jointly identify and solve problems, ArcelorMittal demanded major concessions and sacrifices from its union workers.”
Union leaders say they have “successfully defended our wages and pensions from management’s attempt to drive them down – including a demand for a two -tier system. We maintained our seniority rights and protections against the use of outside contractors. We negotiated wage increases and improved our health care without making contributions. We achieved our demand for capital investments in our plants and improved our training programs.”