Steelworkers Given Authorization to Strike Against ArcelorMittal

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The international bargaining committee for the United Steelworkers has been granted the authority to strike should talks toward a new contract falter with producer ArcelorMittal.

The United Steelworkers announced late Monday that 13 local unions representing 15,000 employees voted unanimously to give the go-ahead “to implement a strike against ArcelorMittal if necessary.”

ArcelorMittal operates a coke plant along Main Avenue SW in Warren and is represented by USW Local 1375.

“The flexibility of our contracts and world-class efficiency and productivity of this particular group of steelworkers enabled ArcelorMittal to survive floods of unfairly traded and illegally dumped foreign imports that brought about the harshest market conditions our industry has faced in decades,” said USW International President Leo Gerard in a statement. “Now that the company is generating enormous – even historic – amounts of cash, it is an insult that bargaining progress has been hindered by management’s unrealistic concessionary demands and unfair labor practices.”

In June, tariffs of 25% were slapped on steel products imported to the United States, boosting prices and spurring business for domestic steel companies. Last month, steelworkers gave authority for the international committee to strike U.S. Steel Corp. as well.

Granting an authority to strike does not mean a strike is imminent, but is rather a procedural measure taken in case a work stoppage is necessary.

USW District 1 Director David McCall, who chairs negotiations with ArcelorMittal, said that the company’s union workforce is “fed up” with management’s attempts weaken the contractual protections won through collective bargaining.

“ArcelorMittal can easily afford the negotiate fair labor agreements with us, but the company has instead insisted on concessions that would more than wipe out any pay increases in its proposal,” McCall said. “Management has even failed to address some of our non-economic proposals and ignored most of the issues we have brought to the table, demonstrating a fundamental lack of respect for the men and women upon whose shoulders rests the company’s past, present and future success.”

McCall said although the union would prefer to settle the issues without a work stoppage, the vote last night sends a clear message to the company.

“We are organized and mobilized and will not allow ArcelorMittal to bully us into accepting anything less than the fair contracts we have earned and deserve,” McCall said. “These jobs are worth fighting for, and we intend to keep it that way.”

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