Steelmakers in US demand historic concessions as contracts for 31,000 workers set to expire
31 August 2018
Contracts covering 31,000 steelworkers at US Steel and ArcelorMittal expire at 12:01 a.m. Saturday morning, September 1. Although the corporations are demanding sweeping givebacks, the United Steelworkers union (USW) has indicated it will not call a strike and will instruct its members to work without a contract or under an extended contract as negotiations continue.
Talks with two of the three largest steel producers in the United States are being held separately. The largest US producer, Nucor Steel, is a non-union company that uses mini-mill technology to produce steel from recycled materials.
On Friday, US Steel, which employs about 18,000 USW members, presented its demands. The company, which is expected to make $1.8 billion this year and even more in 2019 and beyond, is demanding an unprecedented seven-year contract, which provides a 3.25 percent raise in the first year, 2 percent in the second, 1 percent in the third and no wage increases afterwards. During years four through seven, hourly wage increases would be replaced with lump-sum annual bonuses of up to 5 percent of wages if company revenue hits targets set by management.
In addition, the company wants to establish a new permanently lower wage and benefit structure for new hires, similar to auto and other industries. New production workers would only earn 80 percent of current workers’ wages and would be put on a different health care plan with deductibles up to $3,200 and out-of-pocket maximums of $6,000 a year, according to the Northwest Indiana Times. Those benefits would be slashed in half if new hires got laid off.
Retired workers who do not yet qualify for Medicare will see…