Steelworkers continue contract negotiations

2012-09-02T00:00:00Z 2012-10-01T16:44:06Z Steelworkers continue contract negotiationsBy Marisa Kwiatkowski, (219) 662-5333

The United Steelworkers negotiating committee late Saturday night put out a notice for members at ArcelorMittal it is continuing to work on a new contract with the steelmaker.

The union's contracts with both ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel were set to expire at midnight.

According to a Saturday update from the USW bargaining team for the U.S. Steel contract, members were told to continue to show up for work as scheduled and that the union would work under the terms of the current labor agreement while negotiations are ongoing.

The union's bargaining team said that it didn't have a proposal that it was willing to present to members to ratify.

"We have advised the company of that, and we continue to urge them to improve their current proposal," the notice said. "Hopefully, as the day moves forward, the offer from USS will be improved and we will reach a tentative agreement suitable to return to you for consideration at ratification."

An update posted Saturday on the union's website said, "We are continuing to work diligently to reach a fair contract, but we have no intention of agreeing to a contract that does not respect our past and secure our future. Remember, we have not taken the strike option off the table, only concluded that now is not the time."

The committee also said it has not asked for nor been offered a contract extension.

Jim Robinson, United Steelworkers District 7 director and secretary of the ArcelorMittal negotiating committee, said he had no update other than what had been posted online.

An ArcelorMittal spokesperson could not be reached Saturday for comment.

Robinson previously told The Times the union's top issues remain the two-tier wage system proposed by the company, health care and the undermining of seniority rights.

ArcelorMittal said in an update posted on its website Saturday that negotiations are continuing between the company and the union.

"We remain optimistic about reaching a fair and equitable contract with the USW," the company said. "However, due to the sensitivities of the negotiations process, the company will not address specific issues being discussed between the parties."

In negotiations with U.S. Steel, United Steelworkers spokesman R.J. Hufnagel emailed a statement Friday that pointed to retiree health care as the most contentious issue still on the table.

On Saturday, he said they are continuing to bargain and will go to work tonight under the terms of the old agreement.

U.S. Steel spokeswoman Courtney Boone on Saturday said the company was not providing comment on the negotiations.

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