Steelworkers still pushing for new contract

ArcelorMittal wants lower wages and reduced benefits for new employees

September 3, 2012

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(Photo provided by USW)
Steelworkers in East Chicago, Indiana rally last week for a new contract with ArcelorMittal. The contract expired on Saturday but talks are ongoing.

The contract between United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1010 in East Chicago, Indiana and ArcelorMittal expired over the weekend.

But talks between the two sides continue in Pittsburgh, and so far there’s been no mention of a lockout by the company or a strike by workers.

Union reps are upset over proposals by ArcelorMittal that would mean reduced wages and benefits for new employees at its various plants in the U.S.

The company, based in Europe, employs 14,000 at 15 locations in the U.S., but two-thirds of those people work at plants in East Chicago and Burns Harbor, Indiana, and in the small south suburban village of Riverdale.

Jim Robinson is on the negotiating team for the USW and is District 7 director for the union, based in Gary, Indiana.

“We’re attempting to move forward but we cannot and will not allow management to forget that we all have a stake in the plants no matter whose name is on the door. We’ll stay at this until it’s done and done right,” Robinson told WBEZ on Monday. 

USW International President Leo W. Gerard said ArcelorMittal restarted the blast furnaces that the company idled in the run-up to the expiration of the contract on Saturday.

“We have been exchanging proposals with the company and remain engaged in negotiations," Gerard said in a written statement. "Our members continue to work under the terms and conditions of our 2008 agreements with ArcelorMittal while this long, frustrating process continues."

Company officials could not be reached for comment on Monday.