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No encouraging words for steelworkers considering strike

  • Sunday, September 2, 2012

There were no encouraging words from United Steelworkers officials Thursday as they briefed the 14,000 ArcelorMittal employees on the status of the contract negotiations that have been taking place for the past two months in Pittsburgh.
The current contract for the workers — including those at the Georgetown steel-making plant — expires at 11:59 p.m. Saturday.
“Throughout the day on Wednesday your Negotiating Committee continued to meet in an effort to move the company off of its irresponsible and dangerous course,” workers were told in a daily briefing. “We again made a comprehensive proposal designed to reach a fair and equitable contract, with movement on our part toward responsible compromise.
Unfortunately, the company has maintained its insistence on the kind of concessions that we have been reporting to you, including two-tier wages and benefits, attacks on our contractual rights, and cutting back our health care.”
In a statement, ArcelorMittal officials said the company  “is in continuous dialogue with the United Steelworkers and remains optimistic about reaching a fair and equitable contract with the USW without a work stoppage. However, due to the sensitivities of the negotiations process, the company will not provide updates on specific issues being discussed between the parties.”
Union leaders say they are at a “crossroads” and workers will be informed over the weekend if they are to report to work Sunday. There is a possibility the current contract could be extended.
“We can fight for our future, or we can surrender to failed short- term strategies that only enrich the few at the expense of the many,” union  leaders said.
James Sanderson, president of the local Steelworkers Union, has not returned calls this week.
"If you do not hear otherwise, and you are scheduled to work Saturday night, you should go to work. If there is a lockout, the company will not let you enter the mill. If there is a strike, you will encounter a picket line,” the letter to workers stated.

By Scott Harper
sharper@gtowntimes.com

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