Voting under way for new ArcelorMittal contract

2012-10-01T17:00:00Z Voting under way for new ArcelorMittal contractBy Bowdeya Tweh bowdeya.tweh@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 nwitimes.com

The United Steelworkers will count ballots Oct. 18 from its 14,000 members employed at ArcelorMittal USA facilities on whether a tentative three-year agreement should be ratified.

The union's bargaining team and the company announced a deal Sept. 8, following about three months of negotiations.

If a majority of members approves the deal, the new agreement would expire Sept. 1, 2015 at 10:59 p.m. A committee of delegates from each local union will count the ballots in Pittsburgh.

Defending the contract secured for its members, the United Steelworkers said it fought off attempts to reverse significant gains workers made with the 2008 agreement that preceded a steel industry collapse, according to information provided to media Monday.

Similar to what U.S. Steel union employees obtained in bargaining, ArcelorMittal workers would receive a lump sum payment of $2,000 within 30 days of the agreement being ratified; a 2 percent wage increase Sept. 1, 2013; a lump-sum payment April 1, 2014, of $500; and a 2.5 percent wage increase Jan. 1, 2015. By the end of the contract, the range of pay grades for hourly employees would be between $20.45 and $27.52.

ArcelorMittal pledged to spend $1.5 billion on capital improvements at its U.S. facilities over the next three years.

The union said it avoided a lower tier wage scale for newly hired employees, the elimination of retiree health insurance and pension plan enrollment for people hired after Sept. 1, and the elimination of layoff provisions and the unilateral right to schedule 32-hour work weeks and potentially cut wages during periods of reduced operation.

The agreement provides six months of health care coverage for dependents of an employee who dies. The contract would also establish a wellness program designed to keep health insurance costs down for the company.

ArcelorMittal's American depositary receipts rose 8 cents, or less than 1 percent, to $14.52 per share in trading Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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